Pub Rants

Publishers Behaving Badly

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STATUS: Cuddling with Chutney. What finer way to spend an evening?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? By The Lovin’ Spoonful
(Yep, I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head since Friday!)

There is definitely something in the water. Usually August is a slow time in publishing but heck, you couldn’t tell from the news as of late.

I heard a story from a publicist today about an agent who had some poor women’s manuscript for a year and a half and still hadn’t put it out on submission before the author fired the person (and I’m not talking about an author spending quality time with a manuscript via the revision process either). This was simply an inexcusable lapse. Bad, bad behavior.

But they aren’t the only ones getting into trouble lately. Publishers are getting into the game as well.

First there’s the whole “Random House is afraid of terrorism so we are canceling THE JEWEL OF MEDINA” story. It was enough to get Salman Rushdie (who is published by RH) to come out and admonish them. I’m thinking that this is an author who knows a thing or two about censorship sponsored by fear.

And then I read another article about F+W Publications, a big enough company that should know better than to mishandle reporting of foreign sales royalties. Yep folks, that’s what accounting systems are for and from this article, sounds like they need an update to say the very least. I imagine this story will inspire some close scrutiny of F+W royalty statements.

Sheesh, this biz is often madness. Sure you want to be a published author?

13 Responses

  1. AstonWest said:

    The big boys had better be careful. If they go too far down the path, they’ll start making a certain Maryland publisher look like a saint in comparison, and that would be a travesty.

  2. caseydancer said:

    I’m shocked & dismayed.

    Seems as if the opinion of one professor (from my home town of Austin no less!) caused a series of reactionary stupidity resulting in this travesty.

    The book looks fascinating though & I hope it becomes available soon.


  3. Anonymous said:

    This is NEWS to you?

    Open up the post and have writers share the ways they’ve been shafted by people in this business — THESE are the types of agents writers are leaving when they don’t “do the correct thing” and fire their agents before querying other agents. There are many agents out there like this. Trust me.

    And editors, they’re not all peaches and cream, either. I had an editor keep my ms for a full ELEVEN months (during which it passed the acquisitions process) before deciding, no, she guessed she didn’t want it after all.

    Gee, thanks…

  4. Julie Marie said:

    “Sure you want to be a published author?”

    Yep. The decision by Random House doesn’t surprise me. Since I make it a policy to try and avoid political rants, I will refrain from expressing my views on terrorism and the ripple effects. Suffice to say their stock in trade is instilling fear and they do it very well.

    As for the other, I’m saddened, but not surprised by that either.

    Crap happens. I’ve already had some less than stellar dealings with agents so I’m familiar with the real world.

    “My computer crashed and I lost the manuscript. Apparently the backup disks are corrupted also. Can you send me a copy of the final manuscript so I can start inputting.”

    “Well, uh, we can’t find your manuscript.”

    “I see. And how, exactly, have you been submitting it if you don’t have a copy?”

    My other agent was a gem. So, I’ve done the good agent/bad agent routine.

    Life happens and you move forward. In the meantime, writers write because that’s what they do.

    Besides, the characters walking around in their heads will drive them insane if they don’t.

  5. Lee said:

    It does seem crazy, and it does make you wonder why we are driven for publication. I’m not publishd, and haven’t experienced waiting to long, but a year without shopping, that is crazy. I’ve got mixed opinions about Jewel of Medina, if its ever released it will be a huge hit, just because of the cancelation.

  6. RK said:

    Hi Kristin,

    What I like about your blog is that besides informing and teaching,often making me laugh, you also make me think.

    I went and checked out the Wall Street op-ed because of your blog. While the story itself was very interesting, even more interesting were the posts in response to the story.

    Now reading those, really made me think.

  7. Anonymous said:

    There is also a well known male agent in the kidlit field who is famous for stringing potential clients along. He makes them do endless rewrites after endless rewrites and as much as a year and a half later, still doesn’t offer to represent them — even after the rewrites are “done.”

    He is a “popular” agent for people to query. Has an assistant as well. I cringe to think of the writers that query him in droves and unkowingly waste a year of their life with nothing to show for it. Too bad there’s no space on Preditors and Editors for these types of agents that simply break the hearts of eager writers.

    (BTW, I’m happily agented, but this guy makes my blood boil.)

  8. Anonymous said:

    Is it any wonder authors are getting fed up? Yet they’re told to keep their mouths shut for fear of seeming “difficult” or derailing their careers because “it’s a small world in publishing.” I hope agents and publishers are helping to keep each other honest. Lord knows authors often feel they’re out in the cold with little recourse but, perhaps, Predators and Editors. It’s easy to get the word out about blatant scam artists, but hard to let others know about agencies that are well-known and supposedly reputable but still treat authors poorly.

  9. Jessica said:

    Wow, looks like people are people, no matter if they’re publishers, agents or writers.
    I am sad to hear about that book. THe author should go ahead and self-publish. I bet it would do great with all the publicity it’s gotten.
    Jeez. Censorship always seems to come back to fear.
    (I know it’s not true censorship, but in way it seems like it.)

  10. Jessica said:

    Yikes, I feel like an idiot. Sorry Kristin, you already said the whole censorship by fear thing. 🙂
    If you want you can delete my whole comment.
    Double Yikes.

  11. Chumplet said:

    Same crap, different pile. No matter where you go or what business you’re in, you’ll always have to deal with people who don’t follow the Golden Rule.

    If you love what you’re doing, you’ll simply continue along the road. Just watch where you step.