Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Jungle Out There


Dim drums throbbing in the hills half heard...

Seems another of those crouching tigers and hidden dragons has leaped upon a safari.
Agent Kristin has the story.
Harlequin has confirmed, it seems, that their Bombshell line will close after January.
Some books have been cancelled outright, it is said.
Shrapnel is flying everywhere.
Not a good time, perhaps, to query any agent with an affected client or clients.
Through no fault of either agents or authors, some agents will be extra busy in damage control, picking up pieces, re-starting the whole process, carving a new trail through the undergrowth - just when the City of Ophra was in sight and they'd paid off the porters.
Of course they are professionals and will deal with the situation - as they probably have before - but they must feel intensely aggravated.
Some writers must feel they've stepped on a landmine.
Worst thing is - there is no defense against this kind of ambush.
I can certainly empathize.
It gives one little comfort, when you're lying there inert, to be told... Your writing is excellent...You will find the right publisher for this very fine novel...because a publisher has changed market focus mid-process and suddenly you no longer fit.
Such guilty praise merely slows the bleeding.
Of course you drag yourself upright and hobble onward.

This cancellation of an imprint is only one of the many tiger traps ( that's mixing them with a vengeance, isn't it?) that strew the path to publication.
A seeminly solvent publisher runs into money troubles.
An enthusiastic editor departs abruptly, leaving a MS high, out to dry, and flapping in the wind like old underwear.

The lion sleeps tonight...

Other carnivores lurk in the underbrush, more ambushes await.
Thoughts on this or other examples?

28 comments:

Ric said...

One level down from publishers.

Hot shot new agent - garnered three lines in Publishers Weekly for significant sale. Quick email query, immediate response for whole manuscript. Fedex'd end of June.
Nothing.
Follow up email in August - on vacation.
Follow up email end of August - auto response that agent has left for a bigger agency.
Phone call - "well, I don't know the protocol for your ms - I still want it but the agency has it. Don't know if they'll let me read it now."
Annoyed email from me to head of agency.
Phone call to agency - am told that hot shot agent swept in, grabbed the book and left - nobody happy.
Early evening phone call from hot shot agent -80 pages in- can't relate to characters in book. Twenty minutes into call, I ask, "How old are you?"
"26"
First 100 pages are about dating in the '60's.
Good grief. Can't even resubmit to the first agency because they know my name.

it's a jungle out there.

jason evans said...

Dear Lord, that's horrible. It gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach. There are many crushed people out there right now.

Jaye Wells said...

It doesn't just happen when they close the line. Luna is having problems too, so they've canceled some books to save the line.

This is not as bad as being canceled, however I have many published friends who are convinced bad covers ruined their book's chances. I have one friend who describes one of her covers as "Guido and the Prom Queen." At least she has a sense of humor.

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rick said...

Dim drums throbbing in the hills half heard...

Lepanto!

But back to the point, scary stuff! Off to read Agent Kristin now.

Bernita said...

That's a femoral artery bite, Ric.
But could you not re-submit to the agency?
They do say they don't remember people particularly, because they see so many names.

Yes, indeed, Jason.
They must feel like passengers in a train wreck.

Yes, the Curse of the Scrofulous Cover, Jaye!
A sense of humour is all one has at times.

Rick said...

I'll save my own jungle adventures for another time, but I can certainly attest that they happen.

I notice that Agent Kristin links to the Livejournal of another agent whose name is evocative: Nephele Tempest. A relative of Damie's, perhaps?

Flood said...

Someone was telling me recently that an Agent went on maternity leave and dropped newer clients that would be more difficult to sell, to focus on high earners.

Imagine getting your first agent and having to start all over again, just when you think you are inthe clear.

Ugh!

Bernita said...

Love that poem, Rick.
Have loved it for years.
It encapsules all.

Ric said...

Please note: ANNOYED EMAIL

Using computer savvy, directed email directly into the agency's named owner's mailbox. Trust me; they know my name. Especially judging from the way the receptionist reacted when I called.

Not as bad as having your publisher's line disappear, but not good.

Jen said...

OMG Bernita! Isn't it crazy? I've been thinking that subbing to a category romance is a mistake.
I was in K-mart once and a woman asked me (why, I don't know.)what authors were good in romance. When I tried to encourage "Forbidden Territory" by Paula Graves (HQ Intrigue), she looked me right in the eye and said, "I don't read Harlequin".
Whaaaaa? *Sigh*.
I'm thinking people have a negative view of HQ's categories. Even I went to Avon and others. For me, the books were longer, the plots more complicated and the sex scenes a little hotter.
Interesting isn't it? I don't know what to do anymore. So, I just keep writing and hope I'll find an agent who can find the right places for me.
Is that lazy? Or just admitting I'm ignorant and need help? I don't know.
I wasn't to impressed with the Bombshell line. *shrugs* I wonder what's next to go?

Bernita said...

Damie acquired her surname from the family tree six months before I knew there was an agent by that same name.
Five or six hundred years, produces many branches, Rick.
Who knows?

Rather a kick in the face, Flood, and possibly short-sighted.
One can understand the need to focus a limited supply of energy, but still...

Bernita said...

Saw something that suggests the Luna line is under review, too, Jen.
I don't think you're at all lazy - it's an extremely complicated world - if one spent one's time updating every bit of information like an intelligence agency, one wouldn't have time to write.
And I just discovered that the term "category" has implications for word count. Yet another thing I didn't know.
Apparently under 85,000 words and you're "category."

That smarts, Ric.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oh, argh! I feel so bad for all those Bombshell authors out there. It's awful to think you've finally gotten somewhere and then you find out that, well, you haven't. Had this happen with my first agent.

(((hugs all Bombshell authors)))

Other pitfalls, you say? Well, small presses close, editors leave houses for greener pastures, agents cut back or switch agencies (as has been mentioned previously in the comments).

Making it in once is hard enough. It's the worst feeling in the world to be pushed out the door once you get in, and realize you have to start knocking elsewhere.

Bernita said...

You've summed up the situation very well, Sonya.
One feels for them.

Savannah Jordan said...

First off, wonderfully written post, Bernita!!

Next, as to other examples: How about finally getting your text to into "the Big House," and on the desk of an editor who is actively seeking your kind of writing, and enthusiastic about your submission--then after a YEAR AND A HALF of waiting, the editor follows up with, "I'm just not as in love with the text as I had hoped," but is not yet ready to reliquish it??

HS Kinn knows who I'm talking about, but I won't drop the name as she is on some of your reader's link lists.

James Goodman said...

Oh, that is horrible. I feel for all those poor authors. Hopefully all of them will find homes for their works elsewhere.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Savannah.
That instance sounds seriously like a case of writer abuse.
At least in the Bombshell bombshell, one understands the market/ re-structuring reasoning at the back of the decision.

One hopes and expects so, James.
They have proved they are above the slush pile - but it must give them a bitter, helpless feeling.

Candice Gilmer said...

I feel bad for those authors as well, I don't blame them for feeling aggrivated and such...

I haven't had such a thing happen to me, (thus far), but I have not had any super exciting things bite it either, (thus far).. I'm still a fledgling...

Savannah -- I know what you're talking about, and I'd probably demand that the editor return the manuscript. But I can be a witch like that. :) (Course, demand in my mind, be politically polite in the actual letter)

M.E Ellis said...

Poor Ric.

Sorry for you.

:o(

Rick said...

A year and a half is unconscionably long to decide whether you're in love with an ms or not. And if the editor decides they're not, it's even more unconscionable not to release it!

MissWrite said...

As a victim of such orphanage in a similar form, I can tell you it is hugely devestating. Not only to those authors who now have to resell books that have been cancelled, but to those authors whose books are released, only to hover without quarter in the lonely world--no backing. (Tis this form I know of well.)

Impossible to predict. Impossible to prevent.

Shit happens.

But no one likes it happening to them.

MissWrite said...

Jen--Would it be so easy as to think this is simply a 'catagory' problem. These things happen all the time with all types of publishers big and small, catagory or single title.

Robyn said...

Ric, after reading that I don't feel so bad. I had an article I had subbed to Arabella magazine, which they had sent back for revisions. After revising the heck out of it and sending it back, I waited. And waited. And waited. And found out on a message board that they'd gone belly up.

Ric said...

m.e. & Robyn,

Thanks for the sympathy. Robyn, yours sounds terrible. - especially after all that work.

Would be worse, I think, to have sold the book and then .....

Tis a jungle out there.

Jeff said...

I feel sorry for the authors. It's almost like a roller coaster ride that suddenly runs out of track. :(

For The Trees said...

That's why I self-publish. And if I buy the international ISBN package, I'm in Barnes and Noble and Books, Bags, Bagels and Borders as well as Amazon etc etc et al.

All of which leaves me where everybody ELSE is: a writer who has to self-publicize.

Oh, well. My sympathies to you all who got lurched.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

It just goes to show, it's all a crap shoot!

Sometimes ya' win, sometimes ya' lose!