Thursday, June 30, 2005

Publishing Professionals (or, Reasons for Unabashed Hatred)

Over at Mad Max's blog (for those of you who do not know, Max, like me, is in the industry and veiled) he has a wonderful entry from Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of THE THIN PINK LINE and CROSSING THE LINE (both published by Red Dress Ink. She discusses her relationships with her five (five!) agents over the years--or, as she calls them, marriages.

Why do I bring this up? In passing (while discussing marriage number two), she gets this feedback: "...we’d received a few incredibly glowing rejections from publishers – 'this book is so sad and funny, but we don’t know how we’d market it.'”

If you are a talented writer who happens to not write exceptionally marketable books, expect to see a lot of these types of rejections. But fear not: I (really, my agent) received plenty of these "marketing rejections" for my first novel, thought Penguin Putnam did a fine job of getting my book in front of folks.

Another lesson learned: you need to take control of your own career. No one--I repeat, no one-- has their finger on the high-blood-pressured pulse of this industry. Do what you have to to get your book published (as long as it is good, please.) Consider this from Lauren's post:

In November 2001, Harlequin launched an imprint called Red Dress Ink. I sensed that the editorial sensibility behind these books would be interested in yet another of my novels [#6] I had in my arsenal, The Thin Pink Line, a dark comedy set in London about a woman who fakes an entire pregnancy. I mentioned this to Three, pointing out, Hey, it’s always good to get in on the ground floor with a new publisher. After reading The Thin Pink Line, Three said it was very funny but that sort of thing had been “done too much already.”

[Right: that crowded comedies-about-fake-pregnancies genre…]

When I asked if Three would submit it to just this one publisher, I was told no: Three claimed to know for a fact the editor of Red Dress Ink did not want books with a London setting. I found this so hard to believe that I asked Three for permission to send it myself. This suggestion was greeted scathingly, and dismissively. I went ahead with the submission, and subsequently sold The Thin Pink Line all on my own to Red Dress Ink—indeed, I was offered (and accepted) a two-book contract. They even decided to publish The Thin Pink Line as the imprint’s own first-ever hardcover and came to me with the offer of an additional three-book contract before my debut had even pubbed.

Note also: Lauren buried her failed books in a box in her basement--books that agents and other industry professionals had believed in. And that, my friends, is a shame.