Saturday, October 15, 2011
No, no! I'm not talking about Champagne Books--Relax!
I submitted a nonfiction mss to a publisher who may have overextended herself to the point of total paralysis. Promising to release a book within a certain amount of time encourages the author (that would be me) to begin marketing to target that time frame, such as printing promotional postcards, taking pre-orders, scheduling signings and talks with the notion that books will be in hand by the projected date, give or take a couple of weeks. It does not make for a happy author to 1) get no response to emails, and 2) be informed that said publisher now planned to "get to it over Winter Break." That could be reasonably interpreted as the book would not be published until after the New Year--missing the holiday gift season as well as all the previously mentioned scheduled talks. Timing is everything, and there are rare opportunities to promote this book during the next eight weeks that will never come again. I agonized, ranted and raved all last weekend and most of this week about what options I might have. As much as I hate quitting on anything, this arrangement was not going to work out. I asked to terminate the contract since no work had been put forth on it. After a rather snarky email the publisher agreed.
I'm not unsympathetic. I understand problems come up. Crap happens. But I would think a publisher would have a moral and ethical obligation -- or at least plain old courtesy-- to inform an author of snags and time management problems. A week or two delay, okay; I might not be thrilled but I can handle that. But to go from initially stating it would take a month or so to get the book ready and published to saying it has to wait until you "get to it" sometime toward the end of December to even start? I think that merits an email at least or a phone call--especially when said author had informed you of all the marketing efforts and events she'd already arranged around the original projected release. Honest and open communication could have made all the difference (to the point I might not have blogged about it) but what's done is in the past. We learn and move on.
Good news: another education-oriented publisher not only agreed to take a look at the project but sent me a contract within an hour of discussing it on the phone and is pushing the project forward with great enthusiasm. It is now not only likely but downright probable I'll have copies of this nonfiction book in hand in time for events I had scheduled for the end of this month.
Know when to fold 'em, when to walk away, and when to buy in on a fresh game with a new dealer.