August 4th, 2006

books

it's not your fault, but I just don't want you anymore

I am having a rotten day. Yesterday I got some bad news and left a message for the client to whom I had to deliver said news. We just discussed it this morning. I had to tell this client that their publishing company was canceling their current contract. They will not be publishing the books. I'm not sure if it's a better or worse thing that it isn't the clients fault. It's not my fault either. But it's still a kick in the gut, and one that couldn't be forseen. The company has simply decided to change their overall direction and publishing scheme and these books no longer fit the bill. It's not the end of the story. We're going to pick ourselves up and take this out to other publishers. And it's a great story by a strong writer so chances are very good that we'll find someone else that falls in love with it. It's still a huge pothole (more like a crevasse) in the publishing road. I suspect we're both going to get a strong binge of sturm and drang out of it before we're ready to move on. I'm glad we talked and put together our plan. That will make this part a little less difficult.

A couple weeks ago, Agent Kristin apparently also got some unexpected bad news and has finally gotten to the point where she was ready to post about it to her blog. One of her clients decided they no longer wanted to be represented by her. In the comments, I found a URL to an article about this issue from the writer's side - ouch. I'm sure there are agents who are merciless, cold, and cut-throat about it. I agonize about such things for weeks or months if it comes to that. I really hope it never comes to that. Or that I don't get told to refocus my list, as happened to the editor in the first pararaph who probably was just as horrified to deliver the news as I and the author were to receive it.

There are authors who have the same agent for their entire career. I always think of Nora Roberts and her agent. They began together and they grew together until one of them is one of the most popular and most prolific writers out there and the other is a sought-after powerhouse agent. Amazing. But it's not hard to find stories about agents and authors who have gone splitsville. I think the hardest thing is when one party has absolutely no idea that it's going down, even if sometimes the signs are already there. And it's such a traumatic thing on both sides that no one seems to handle it as well as they should. It would be nice if they could talk about it and try to fix it first. But a break down in communication is probably one of the biggest causes so it's not surprising that at least one party is left with, at best, a sour taste in their mouth. Yeah, breaking up is hard to do.
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