As some of you may know, I have written an ‘epic’ novel.
Epic in size only.
That project started out mainly as something for myself. What I mean is that I wrote it as if it were a novel that I would like to read not specifically for general consumption. It has since been broken down into three separate books so that a publisher could look at it and take a chance to get it out there in the ‘real’ world.
But I digress.
This post is about publishers.
Returning to the moment when I finished my novel, a joyous event as it had taken me quite some time to finish it, I sat back and wondered who in their right mind would take on the task of publishing my scribbles.
Barely had I pondered that thought when through a friend, a small publishing house contacted me and told me that based on that friend’s insistence, they would accept and publish my work. Picture a happy dance and a celebration at Taco Bell. I was soon to be published. (That’s the Good).
Or so I thought
A few weeks went by and I expected an email or some other kind of contact from this publisher that would explain the royalties, the contract and other important items.
A month rolled by and still no contact. I know, people in the real world are busy, I for one am one of those people but maybe a follow-up email to let me know that I didn’t slip through the cracks would have been nice.
A month and a half later, I sent an email asking if they were still interested in my work and when could I expect the contract. I figured that was a reasonable question and I worded the email very professionally. The return was fast, the reply was that events had progressed a bit faster than planned and they were scrambling to take care of other issues but would have my contract sent out by the first part of the following week.
At last! Progress.
I checked my email the next week anxiously anticipating the email that would contain all the important information but nothing arrived. Not a problem, the last email they had sent stated they were busy so a bit of longer delay was not an issue for me.
I spent some time on Facebook and caught up with what was happening in the cyber world, set aside my alleged masterpiece and relaxed. Strange thing happened on Facebook, the publisher happened to be in my friend list and lo and behold they had posted several status updates, pictures of friends and family and the postings were just hours ago. Again, not an issue, the guy was entitled to some free-time, we’re all entitled to have some fun.
Fast forward another couple of weeks. All during this time, I noticed that the same gentleman that owned that particular publishing company kept updating his status and posting more pictures. I contacted him through FB and asked if he had an idea when the paperwork would be sent my way so we could get started on the whole process.
He quickly replied that it was in the works and should be hitting my email inbox later that month.
No problem, events transpire, I was in no rush and besides that gave me more time to break the book down into a trilogy that way when I did get the contract it would be ready to go once an editor gave it the hairy eyeball.
That month passed as well and still no email. I was getting a bit concerned. I fully understand that people and companies are busy. However, when the owner and CEO of said publishing company appears to be spending inordinate amounts of time on a social network posting drawings they have made of comic book superheroes, pictures of themselves in wacky hats and constantly updating their status, I had to wonder where their priorities were.
In case you’re keeping track, it had been almost four (4) months since they had accepted my book for publication and they had yet to send me a contract. Publishing contracts aren’t all that difficult to whip up. There was no advance so that made it a bit easier; it was strictly generic boilerplate with the names filled in at the appropriate spaces.
At the end of month five, I really began to wonder if they were serious about publishing or were just stringing me along. But, I’m a fairly patient guy and I realize the world does not rotate around me so I waited.
Middle of month six, I contacted the publisher again and asked, very professionally if they had any intention of sending me the contract so we could get this party started. I didn’t think it was unreasonable to ask that, after all, it had been six months since they had verbally accepted my work and I know the publishing world isn’t exactly traveling at warp speed.
The email response was very polite and stated that they would be in contact with me the first part of the following month and I’d have all the paperwork so we could move forward. OK, that kind of made some twisted sense. They were busy, that’s understandable. They were a small publishing house so that means that most likely everyone did double or triple duty. I got that. But realistically, is six months for a contract standard in the industry? Maybe someone who is a published author can clue me in if that is the average time or if I was being seriously dicked around.
I went back to the waiting game, not a problem. More time to work on the breakdown of the novel and more time to review it for errors.
By the end of month seven there was still no email yet the CEO/owner still found all this time to continue posting on Facebook about every little thing he could come up with. That was the last straw for me. I had been patient, professional in my correspondence to the publisher, even overly cordial and they had failed to send me a contract in all that time. That made me step back and really look at what was going on.
Was it possible that I was being strung along? Of course anything is possible but what ate at me was that in all that time no effort was made to follow-up,no email had been sent asking me for my address so they could send out the contract. I had initiated all the contact after the first email. In seven months there was no email notifying me that a physical copy of the contract was ready to go, no email concerning royalties, basically just emails in response to my emails about how the contract was going to be sent out next week, first part of the following week, early next month or the first part of the following month.
The way I looked at it was if they were having second thoughts about publishing my work then just tell me, I’m an adult and can take it. If they were totally swamped then please let me know that and not keep telling me the contract is on the way sometime.
As it stands now, no contract was ever sent and I stopped initiating contact with this particular publisher.
By now, you’re probably thinking this guy is a total whiner and really needs to just shut up.
Maybe I am and maybe I do need to shut up, but there is one other thing I’d like to pass on. An author friend of mine was also accepted by that same publishing company way before me, several months before me and wonder of all wonders, he actually had a contract sent to him.
He was so excited about it, we talked about it and discussed when the release date would be for his work and all the normal things related to publication. He recently got word that his book was to be released. He was so excited that when it hit Amazon, he ordered an epub version for a friend.
That’s when the shit hit the fan.
The epub version only had three chapters in it, basically his submission to the publisher. His book was a total of 33 chapters. There was no dedication page, no thank you page to those that had assisted and the final insult was that his name was spelled incorrectly.
As expected, he went off and demanded that the book be pulled and repaired. It was immediately removed by the publisher and they apologized profusely for the errors and promised it would be fixed and back up in no time. He requested that he be sent the complete file, the final proof, to look over and make sure it was OK. Eight days later, he finally received the proof and it too was messed up.
While that really puts my buddy in a world of shit, I can’t help but think that maybe I was lucky that I never received a contract from that publishing house.
As you can see, some publishers, obviously not all, fall into the bad and ugly category. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good publishers out there but sadly, there are also some really, really bad ones.