Pub Rants

When A Freeze Is Not Really A Freeze?

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STATUS: 16 days until the agency officially closes for the holidays.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS by Burl Ives

News Flash: It just hit the wires that Ann Patty has been fired from HMH. Whoa! And S&S just announced lay-offs. Not clear who was let go in editorial quite yet…

In case you aren’t plugged in to Publishers Marketplace (and if you aren’t, why not?), there have been several new reports regarding the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced freeze.

First off, HMH publisher Rebecca Saletan resigned. I can’t really tell you what that means. There’s lots of speculation on what it means but that’s all it is, speculation.

Then today I read an AP article (highlighted in PM) which reported a lessoning stance on the “freeze.”

From the report: “HMH spokesman Rosenfeld has called the current policy “freeze-lite,” … Rosenfeld confirmed that education and children’s books are still being acquired, did not dispute Penzler’s assertions and added that the “right” book, of any kind, would still be considered. He said talk of a freeze had been taken out of context.”

Rosenfeld continued with: “A headline about a freeze is very appealing, but in reality all we’re doing is taking a good, hard look at everything that comes in, much the way this company is watching all expenses and expenditures,” he said. “It’s just a higher degree of scrutiny.” Link to full article.

So the freeze isn’t really a freeze? Agents should be happily submitting to the adult division of HMH? I’m feeling the confidence….

Let me take another sip of my eggnog chai. It helps.

15 Responses

  1. AC said:

    Mmm…eggnog chai.

    Thanks for the update! I read all of this but rely on the agent and editor bloggers to explain what it really means 😉

  2. Miriam S.Forster said:

    Eggnog chai does cover a multitude of ickiness. Pumpkin spice eggnog chai is also amazing, second only to cuddly puppies.

    I am now permanently braced for bad news from the publishing world. (Although, the irony of the ipod song at the top of the post is amusing.)


  3. cla said:

    ha. i wouldn’t bother submitting at all. when this sort of action starts you can be sure that liquidation will follow soon.

    i foresee bad things. perhaps that’s just my negaitve side, but i’d rather be cautious

  4. Anonymous said:

    Perhaps the publishers can get a handout from the Uncle? Everyone else is. I say: get in the queue! Take a number! If there is any industry critical to a democratic society, could one not agree that the access to books is not a pillar to that society? Pony up, Uncle!

  5. AR said:

    If I had capital, I’d start a dime-novel line right now. Obviously not charging a literal dime for a novel. But say, somewhere between $1.50 and $4.00. It needs to be under $5.00 for a struggling housewife to not feel too guilty buying it for herself. (I know, because in real life that’s who I am. But for the moment imagine me a mogul; a capitalist; an entrepenuer of right daring spirit!)

    I’d use cheap paper. I’d use the same basic cover over and over again, just changing the title and author’s name. I’d pay small advances and generous royalties. I’d acquire only a certain kind of story: clean, thrilling, and ultimately happy, with a twist; think movies from the 30’s. I’d ignore the bookstores and sell these novels at grocery and drugstores. I’d advertise the line, not the individual novel or author. I’d try to own the distributor. And every novel in that line would always cost the exact same price, so people could budget for it. Also, I’d have a website where people could review the novels, talk about ongoing series and characters, and laud their favorite authors.

    The idea is that in this economy you want to try making money through vast sales of popular and dependable products, rather than through large profit margins and fashionable products. Also, an umbrella brand like this would be good for middle-of-the-road authors who can write good stories but are never going to be the Next Big Thing with their personal brand.

    I also have an idea for how newspapers can compete with the internet and how the short story market can be brought back.

    Dreamer that I am.

    (Word verification: holypec. Tee-hee, I’ve never had one that good before.)