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First update in a while.

So back in April, I got an email from a literary agency that I had previously submitted to.  The sender said that they had left the agency where I had originally submitted Salvation to, and if I was still looking for a publishing house, they were now engaged in a new endeavor.  As it was put to me, "I want to be in the business of publishing good books instead of having to turn them down for one reason or another."  Was I interested in perhaps submitting to this new company?

Now, as you may or may not know, this sort of thing happens all the time.  Turning down decent books for bad reasons, I mean.  In order to get somebody to stand behind your book, you have to get their attention by the lapels.  This is not nearly as cut-and-dried as you might think that it is.  Think about all the times that somebody has given you a book and cheerily chirped, "I just know that you're going to love this!" and it just turned out to be a big ball of okay.  Or it was bad.  Or it was good, but not nearly as great as it was sold to you as.  Now, multiply this experience by about 150 times a week.  This is what it's like to be a ground-level book agent.

The thing is, even if you find something you really like, you still have to sell other people on this book.  Your boss.  The boss of your boss.  Other people at the agency.  Eventually, it's got to be sold to a publishing house, which is essentially like starting the counter for this gruesome body count by zero all over again.Also, they may be turning down the book for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the work, which is something that people outside the industry will probably never understand.  In the minds of most people, if something is good enough and has merit, it's going to get published.  If it's not good enough, it won't.  It's a pretty simple little equation.  Your book has been unpublished, despite numerous attempts to do so over the last ten years, and therefore it must suck like an Electrolux on steroids.  Elementary, right?

Not necessarily.  Agents have to pass on books they like all the time because they've already taken on two other clients in the last three months who do the same kind of thing, or because the boss didn't go for it, or because while they liked it, they just didn't feel they could make a sale.  This former agent, by going into business for themselves, was short-circuiting the process.  Now they are free to take on whatever clients they choose.

And they were asking for me!

I was late to roller derby practice that night because I sped home after work and sent off the submission package immediately.  I felt good; no, scratch that.  I felt great.  This of course heralded the beginning of The Waiting Game, but we're all fairly familiar with that little odious exercise.  However, it did not faze me in the slightest this time.  This was sort of like being a wide receiver in the NFL and sure,  you were cut by the New England Patriots in the preseason, but one of their studs ducks just came up lame, and they call your people asking if you can come in for a tryouts.  They are already familiar with your work.  They know what you have.  They are asking for you.  It's a slam-dunk, right?

Of course it wasn't.  In August, feeling a bit peeved that I had not heard anything from this neonate publisher yet concerning whether or not that Salvation was a go or not, I dropped a line and asked what going on.  The answer I got was health woes had gummed up the process, and while I understand that these can much up just about anything, it seemed that four months was more than enough time to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.  Especially since you can usually tell pretty quickly whether or not you like something.  But hey, we'll play it cool and give some more time.

Well, now it's December.  It's eight months later.  Today I decided that these were not the people I wanted being the co-pilots of my career.  If you can't even start the crawl toward publication after 2/3 of a year, or at least give a solid NO by then... then you're not playing ball. You're not in the game.  And how many stories do you know of that ended with, "And they were all published happily ever after!" when the author in question had to write back to the people who asked for them not once, but twice?

It doesn't exist.  So I reached out to another publisher today.

I wish I could feel good about this.  I wish I could say that I've learned a great lesson in all this, but the one to be gleaned here is just the same old one; money talks, bullshit walks.  I wasted eight months waiting to hear back from this publisher, and that's inexcusable.  If you're going to say no, then just fucking say no.  Don't let hope just wither on the vine.


( 2 Bullseyes — Fire Your Guns )
Dec. 11th, 2013 12:09 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry that publishers keep dicking you around. I didn't know much about the writing/publishing process until I started reading your LJ. But this just seems ridiculous. Eight months? Please. Go with someone else who appreciates your work. What saddens me is that they led you on, kept baiting you, and then didn't produce results. What a waste.
Dec. 14th, 2013 07:04 am (UTC)
I really don't know what to say about this whole experience. Well, scratch that; I do, and almost all of it is blindingly profane. I'm used to agents/publishers taking forever to respond (or not even responding at all, the new black this decade), but if you invite me to dance, you should have the decency to say no when it's apparent I'm going to tread on your toes.
( 2 Bullseyes — Fire Your Guns )