Lake Union Publishing


I Discover Alice Petherton
I am Discovered by Lake Union Publishing

My hand hovered over the spam box. I’d already had an offer from ‘A Keen Raeder’ who said she could ‘tranlate the novel’ to our mutual advantage.

This email said: Interest in A Love Most Dangerous.

Another scam, I thought. But just before I dropped it into spam, I paused. I looked at the email again. There were no spelling mistakes or wayward punctuation. I read it more carefully.

It began:

Dear Mr. Lake,

My name is Jodi Warshaw, and I’m a Sr. Acquisitions Editor here at Amazon Publishing. I wanted to drop you a note to tell you how taken I am with A LOVE MOST DANGEROUS. It’ beautifully written with a deftly woven plot. I was particularly impressed with how you portrayed Alice’s complex, conflicted relationship with the king. And to top it off, it’s a real page-turner!

I would love to talk to you about possibly forming a partnership and republishing the book under our Lake Union imprint, which is the home to our historical fiction and commercial literary fiction.


I sat back and read the rest of the email. Three times. Then I got to work.

I’d never heard of Lake Union Publishing. I did an internet search and realised it was one of Amazon’s own publishing imprints. I bit my lip. This must be a dream.

I did a search for Jodi Warshaw. She existed, she was real and I was able to confirm that she was who she said she was. Not only that but she talked enthusiastically about my book, and had clearly read it. And she was not pushy, far from it. I called my wife over to read the email. We were too stunned to speak.

I sent Jodie an email and we arranged to speak by phone. Seattle is 9 hours behind French time and I had a complicated time figuring out the movements of the sun, testing my geography and arithmetic skills to their limit. But we finally agreed a time, had to reschedule but talked on the 8 July. It was the first time that I learned that there is a comparatively small window of time when the clocks allowed us to speak.

It was a wonderful conversation. I was delighted at Jodi’s enthusiasm, her knowledge, at the way she had thought things through. Most of all I was delighted by the respectful way in which she spoke to me. Until now my dealings with publishers had shown precious little of it. A new author such as me seemed definitely to be at the bottom of the food-chain and publishers and agents appeared to think that the most important part of their role was to make quite clear that I was aware of this.

Not so the folk at Lake Union Publishing. I was wildly excited when I came off the phone. I danced across the room. Fred Astaire would have been nonplussed. (I’ve always seen myself as more of a Gene Kelly type to be honest.) I kept repeating what we had discussed, in my mind, and to my wife – who’d been in the room when I spoke so probably had a pretty good idea what was discussed.

‘She’s going to send me a contract,’ I babbled. ‘She’s going to send me a contract to look at.’ Which she did, the very next day.

I read the document early next morning. I had seen a couple of publishing contracts before and they had been written in arcane language. They emphasised that the author was even lower in the food chain than they had hitherto believed (plankton level) and were replete with mealy-mouthed provisos and slightly ominous threats. I would need considerably more courage – or more accurately fool-hardiness – to sign these.

The Lake Union contract on the other hand was written in plain English. Sure there were things I did not understand, technical terms but they were not written by the firm of Marley and his ghost.

And then I saw it. I read the clause again and again. I was devastated.

It looked as though I would have to sign away all my rights and freedoms as an Indie writer. I would never be free to publish what I liked, when I liked, how I liked. I would be a slave to Lake Union Publishing to my grave and far beyond it.

I am Spartacus, I thought 220px-Spartacus_-_1960_-_poster

But not the noble Spartacus at the moving finale of the film. I would be the Spartacus at the beginning, forced to slave in a quarry, punished for biting the Roman guard’s Achilles tendon and being rescued by Peter Ustinov.

Then I read the contract again and realised that I was mistaken. The whips and bonds I thought I had seen were merely a requirement to give Lake Union publishing the first opportunity to consider my next novel for publication. Phew!

I spent a few days getting clear on dozens of questions to needed to ask. Jodie spent a great deal of time in patiently taking me through them all. I felt I was being dealt with in a marvellously professional and supportive manner. And I knew that my book was going to benefit from a comprehensive range of editing, something which I was keen to happen. Equally excited, the novel would be published as an e-book, as an audio tape and as a paper-back (which would please my Dad.)

Happy as Larry, I signed the contract and sent it back.

I am not Spartacus. I am not a slave. I’m going to be published by Lake Union Publishing. I am not, to be honest, an Indie author, any more. I am a hybrid.


The new edition will be published on 27 January, less than a week. There is a Goodreads Giveaway of 20 books in the USA  books running 12/30-1/27 at


The Joy of Editing.


About Martin Lake

Martin Lake lives in the French Riviera with his wife. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director. A serious accident shattered his arm and meant that he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. He writes a wide range of fiction. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults. Martin has a series of novels 'The Lost King' which are set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. They concern Edgar Atheling, last representative of the ancient English royal dynasty and his fight to regain the throne from William the Conqueror. Martin has also published 'Artful' the further adventures of the Dodger and 'Outcasts' a novel about fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His latest novel, 'A Love Most Dangerous' is about a maid of honour who becomes the lover of Henry VIII. Martin’s work has been broadcast on radio. He won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society competition to write a story based on 'The Wind in the Willows.' You can get the collection, 'The Wind in the Willows Short Stories' from Amazon.
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7 Responses to Lake Union Publishing

  1. Congratulations, or llongyfarchiadau as we say in Wales!

  2. keaneonlife says:

    Martin, I’m sorry but I have to say this. It’s the cynic in me. I don’t know anything about Lake Union Publishing, and hopefully they are all that you hope them to be. But I cringed when you mentioned that their representative answered all of your questions. Your questions need to be answered by a contract attorney, who would be your advocate, not hers. its so easy for her to say “oh, don’t worry about that clause, it’s just lawyer speak” or such. I pray there are no bad surprises.

    • Martin Lake says:

      Thanks very much for this. I didn’t know there were such things as contract attorneys. I’m hoping there won’t be any bad surprises. Most of my questions were about technical issues such as the differences between trad and mass-market paper-backs etc. I hope I didn’t miss anything else. But I’ll check out contract attorneys if I ever have a contract again.

  3. YellowPearl says:

    Congrats Martin, so exciting, and the best of both worlds! Hybrid vigour is a boon in any field I think ;).

  4. Hi Martin … and what do you think of your experience now that many months have passed? Are you still pleased? Do you have any advice as I am planning to contact Jodi as well based on another author’s recommendation. All suggestions much appreciated. And congrats to you on your success.

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