Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

From Debut Launch To Non-Existent

STATUS: I wrapped up a contract negotiation—which always feels like a nice accomplishment. A big check mark on the to-do list.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BE OUR GUEST from Beauty and the Beast

Today just saddened me I have to admit. When ALA Midwinter was here in Denver, I threw a shindig with fellow Denver agent Kate Schafer Testerman for the visiting editors and librarians at Cru Wine Bar in Larimer Square. We wanted to welcome everyone to our cow town.

Well, one of the guests was the very lovely Brenda Bowen of Bowen Press (HarperCollins) but Bowen Press is no longer as of today.

Here’s the link to the story. She formed her imprint literally only a year ago. In fact, she was launching her debut list at ALA Midwinter. I can’t imagine how any of the authors on that list feel—to be suddenly without imprint and editor. [Now do you understand how important an agent might be? This might be your only static person in this whirling maelstrom!]

Every day when I get my Publishers Marketplace email or PW Daily, I cringe every time I open the email. What bad news awaits me this week? What ax has fallen? Who else is now going to be listed under PW’s Comings & Goings with newly hatched gmail addresses?

In the same article, PW stated that HarperCollins was keeping its newly minted Balzer & Bray imprint. Thank goodness as I have an author on that launch list whose debut comes out this fall. Talk about a panic moment as I waited for the full article to pop up on screen.

And yet, despite the news, I plan to move forward agenting as I always have. Being deliberate and picky about what we take on but we are still looking for a great project.

And speaking of looking, Sara has her new page up at PM. Now isn’t that good news? Not only did I promote my assistant, we hired a new assistant to help us both. We are welcoming back our intern Julie who is now in her first year of college and a paid employee.

Hey, I’ve done my part for the economy!

12 Responses

  1. Kat said:

    All this bad news in the pub industry is so sad! I just want to give the publishing world a big hug and a band aid. And maybe some chicken noodle soup. Get soon well, Publishing!

    And grats to NLA for moving forward despite the hardships of publishing at the moment. Good job and good luck for Kristin, Sara and now Julie!

  2. Kristin Laughtin said:

    Wow, that sucks.

    It brings to mind a question re: authors with a book in the works with an imprint that gets shut down. I’m sure it varies depending on the contract that was signed, but can the agent then try to resell that book to another company? If so, would it generally work in that book’s favor that it was already accepted for publication elsewhere?

  3. Liann said:

    This is sad news indeed.

    I keep hearing this word and I’ve been wondering for awhile now, but:
    What exactly is an “imprint”? Why do publishing houses love them so much? And what function do they perform?

    It is like the way cosmetic companies like L’Oreal “own” subsidiary brand names like Lancome and Biotherm?

  4. Sarah Jensen said:

    I feel for everyone. The economic crunch is felt all around. I hope Harper Collins former employees and others are able to dust themselves off and find something soon. In publishing of course.

    And people, buy more books!

  5. Rebecca Chastain said:

    I try to do my part for the economy and writers, too: I buy lots of books!

    Also, as a writer trying to become an author, I started to keep my spirits up. On the blog, I interview authors who’ve made their first novel sale (including Jamie Ford). Check it out if you need a pick-me-up. Reading of their successes has been great motivation, too!

  6. Wes said:

    Congrats to Sara, Julie, and you. Small business is the engine of the economy. My employer (we’re in the same cow town) has laid off 4,000 people. You’ll have no trouble guessing which firm it is.

  7. Blythe said:

    I keep looking for a silver lining in book sales increasing as people cut back on more expensive forms of entertainment . . . This has happened in previous economic declines, I believe . . . But, with so many forms of communication available now, maybe the effect won’t be as noticeable . . . But we can hope it will! And all we can do is keep on generating great stuff to help!

  8. Anita said:

    I really appreciate your open, honest perspective on the business. I’m sure it’s not always easy for you to kick out a blog post, but there are a bunch of us out here who thank you, thank you, thank you for it.

  9. AstonWest said:

    Like Kristin Laughlin, I too would be interested to know what happens to a book that went through this tragedy. I would imagine that the agent would have set up the contract to revert the rights back to the author, but how much of a potential is there (barring the current economic downturn) that another house would be interested in picking it up? Would it depend on whether the book had been a straight sale vs. an auction, or otherwise?

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