Thursday, January 14, 2010

has anyone seen my shotgun?

[Phone rings. It is one of my authors, whose book is publishing shortly--long ago catalogued etc.]

Author: I've been thinking, the title of my book shouldn't be [TITLE HERE]. It would be much more powerful if it were [HERE TITLE]. More poetic and timeless, definitely.

YT: ...Yes. I saw the email you wrote to Robert the Publisher about that.

Author: Well, you said the title was out of your hands, so I thought I should explain my reasons to him.

YT: ...Yes, and now you have. [Much good may it do you.]

Author: Well, when do you think we'll hear back from him?

YT: So here's the issue. Your book was catalogued under the title [TITLE HERE] six months ago. I told you Robert would 90% not be willing to retitle after that point. The book has already been sold into the accounts under the title [TITLE HERE]. That means if we change the title now, all the accounts will be confused. You came in and met with Robert two weeks ago and he told you to your face it's too late to retitle. You can wait for his email, but I'm pretty sure you're going to be disappointed.

Author: But this is really important. Think about the long run! Ten years from now, no one will be interested in a book called [TITLE HERE]. [HERE TITLE], now, will still be pulling readers in! It's worth whatever cost is incurred, for the sake of posterity.

YT: Well, either way, this needs to be resolved right now. I need to have galleys ordered this week with the final title, and it absolutely cannot change after that. All the reviewers will be covering it with the title on the galley. So I'm just saying; we're really at the end of the road of this conversation.

Author: Well, can't you just use my title on the galleys and not tell Robert?

YT: ...

Author: Can't you?

YT: No. No, I absolutely cannot.

Author: Why not?

YT: Because he's my boss and publisher, and because it would hurt your book. Among other reasons.

Author: But he wouldn't even have to know until afterward, and then he would have to go along with it.

YT: I'm sorry to cut you off here, but I'm afraid I'm unwilling to continue this conversation with you.

Author: Well, call me tomorrow morning.

YT: To be honest, I probably won't.

Author: I understand.

[Excuse me now while I recover from a mini bout of apoplexy.]

58 comments:

Lu said...

Seriously??? And will you be eager to work with her on her next book?

Lu

Laurel said...

Hooting with laughter. Please tell me you got that on tape. You're gonna need it later when the "That's not what you told me" conversation happens.

Rick Daley said...

I haven't seen the shotgun, but I have a case of shells. You will need them too.

And now for a guessing game...

Current Title: OMG! READ THIS BOOK IN 2010!

Requested New Title: OMG! READ THIS BOOK EVEN IF IT'S PAST ITS POINT OF RELEVANCY!

josephrobertlewis said...

That is just stunning. They were capable/reasonable enough to write a decent book, secure an agent, secure a publisher, and now they want to manipulate the publishers into deceiving each other over the title?

Rebecca Knight said...

Nice display of boundaries, Moonrat! :D But seriously, holy crap. I think this is not only a great lesson in how not to anger your editor, but how to say "no" to less-than-normal folks.

Kristan said...

OMFG. You are a saint. And that author needs to take a chill pill.

Also, I totally thought Laurel's comment was going to end with "You're gonna need it later when the judge/jury asks why you killed [author]." :P

Carolyn said...

Wow. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that. I can understand the author's angst over the title even as I recognize that It Doesn't Matter. But asking someone to deceive their employer? That's just wrong. And a sign of a deeper problem.

Lydia Sharp said...

So glad I don't have to wear your shoes. They look better on you anyway.

Gina Black said...

It's been that kind of week, hasn't it?

Josin L. McQuein said...

There. Are. No. Words.

(btw - the shotgun was removed by your concerned co-workers with your best interests in mind.)


Ver. word: imingla -- the part of the brain that hurts after reading that post.

B. Nagel said...

I'm serious! "Office Space" will be dated and stale in, like, 10 years.

"Space Office" will be relevant for decades to come. We just have to insert the word gravity 3 times in every chapter. That's no big deal, right?

Derek Gentry said...

Wow. It amazes me that someone like this ever wrote a book worth publishing.

annathepiper said...

Good grief. *takes notes on Lessons in What Not to Do* I hope the book'll be worth it!

Whirlochre said...

I'm with the author, I'm afraid.

[HERE TITLE] is a surefire winner.

And while you're at it, change CHARACTER X's name to Billy. Cos Billy is hot right now.

And all the outsoor scenes need moving indoors. Claustrophobia is the new Bold New Horizon.

And talking animals in the sex scene. Go for all three.

In fact, wait.

To hell with the premise, the theme, the plot. Let's go with medieval Japan.

And ditch the novel format. This is a dance piece. Think Darcey Bussel meets Steve Paxton.

Why not stage it on the subway, with passers-by as the samurai.

And Moonie, you can collect cash in a tin.

Or am I getting ahead of myself?

Moonie?

Moonie?

Ok — I'll go and take another look at the pandas...

Susan Adrian said...

Oh my GOD.

Yeah, that's really all I've got.

Kiersten White said...

Seriously? Just, wow. No wonder my editor likes me so much. I didn't think being sane was a premium among authors, but maybe it is...

Diana said...

Wow. Just...wow.

Miriam S. Forster said...

Is it totally evil of me to burst out laughing? No? Oh, good.

BWAHAHAHAHA!

Ahh, the crazies. Whatever would we do without them?

nightsmusic said...

*blinks*

You have the patience of a saint! But I'm with Lu. Do you feel as eager to ever work with said author again?

bonniechernoff said...

"Author: Well, can't you just use my title on the galleys and not tell Robert?

YT: ..."

I just spit coffee all over my keyboard and now my coworkers are looking at me like WTH...

Thank you. I SO needed this today.

moonrat said...

Gina---YES IT HAS.

writtenwyrdd said...

Moonie, you made what must have been a throw-something-breakable-across-room experience into something funny.

Just how can that author think it's okay (just for her) to lie to your boss like that.

word veri (snicker): phail!

Ulysses said...

Thank-you for this beautiful illustration of why retroactive birth control is an idea whose time has come.

Anita Saxena said...

Umm...wow. I have to bite my tongue.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

At least tomorrow's Friday. Just remind yourself of that. You can get the rally monkey to give you all sorts of pep talks over the weekend and be ready to face another week with the crazies.

By the way, I think I saw Elmer Fudd swipe your shotgun. Bugs broke his so he needed a backup.

sylvia said...

That's scary and hysterically funny and omg seriously?!

I'm speechless.

hampshireflyer said...

That is.... wow.

How exactly do they get the idea they're entitled to do that?

Ebony McKenna. said...

*buries face in hands*

You poor, poor thing.

Gordon Jerome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela Hammonds said...

I hope the author reads your blog and realizes, once she sees her comments in print, just how ridiculous she sounded. But...probably not.

Gary Corby said...

Why didn't AUTHOR simply call the printer, claiming to be you, and order the title change?

Adam Heine said...

I didn't know George Lucas wrote novels too.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'd laugh but I hear this kind of thing from students about things like tests and such all the time.

moonrat said...

Gary--I must request you never, ever be in touch with my author, you with your good ideas over there.

Gordon Jerome said...

Fair is fair. If I'm putting it on my blog, I should at least put it here. The bad language is in place at:

http://literaryexperience.blogspot.com

----------
So, I’m over at Editorial Ass and the assistant to whatever is now telling everyone how frustrating it is to work with an author. She wants a shotgun to deal with it. And she definitely won’t return the authors phone calls or call said author back, which to an any author is far worse than a little double-aught in the back—or in this case a knife.

F... her.

You know, what bothers me most is that one of two things are occurring here: either she’s lying, which means she has no respect for her audience, or she’s telling the truth and the author-- who you know follows her blog--is now disrespected and humiliated by the lowest person on the totem pole of the company that holds the g..d... rights to her book.

Now, if the story is accurate, I’m not saying the author isn’t nuts, but that’s how authors are. With their little quirks and insanities, they produce the work that these ass.... sell and that pays their salaries and the dirt wages of that editorial assistant who is too good to call an author back.

Who gave them so much power? I'll tell you who: it's the same ol' crowd over there kissing anonymous publishing butt that kiss all the other publishing butts in the blogosphere. And of course they all agree it's only right and proper to blast this author. Wait'll it's them sitting by the phone.

To be fair, I’m posting a version of this over at Editorial Ass, but you know it will be deleted, so you might not see it there.

stacy said...

Hah - Laurel, I think you're right on.

Bernita said...

To steal a line from somewhere, my gast is totally flabbered.

Janet Reid said...

I'm not sure which is funnier: the post itself or the long comment from the guy who is giving himself a prostate exam with his nose.

Jill Myles said...

I like the part where you say "We need to resolve this right now, and it's not going to happen."

Author's reply? "So you'll call me tomorrow with the resolution, right?"

I always thought selective hearing was a myth... :)

Merry Monteleone said...

Moonie,

So sorry about your week, and mildly sorry I laughed (but you know, if you have to go through very unpleasant things at least you can make others chuckle :-)

Janet,

You are currently in the lead for funniest blog comment I've seen all year... it's only January, but still, thanks for that.

dianapoulsen said...

It amazes that no matter how old someone may be, they still act like a demanding child.

Miriam S. Forster said...

Wow, it's um... interesting to see you here Gordan. Running out of places to express your anger, are you? That's sad.

Jo Treggiari said...

Get the shotgun. Keep it under your desk. I think this author is seriously insane. Who knows what they might do.
You however handled the situation with grace and aplomb.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

The author probably doesn't have a clue his or her suggestion is ludicrous. Moonie, you demonstrate amazing restraint.

Gordie, my friend... you seem to spend an awful lot of time expressing your discontent on agent and editor blogs. Perhaps your energy could be more wisely spent running your publishing company.

How's that going, by the way?

DebraLSchubert said...

I didn't realize your title was "Assistant to Whatever." Nice promotion! ;-)

moonrat said...

Miriam--the world is a hostile place. There aren't many safe places to feel safe being hostile anymore.

AE Rought said...

I'd just like to say my hubby is a federally licensed fire arms dealer. He could sell you anything from a 50 cal sniper rifle to a teeny Derringer that'll fit nicely in your desk. Not that I'm promoting violence, or anything ;o)

Julie Weathers said...

Moon,

I'm really surprised this nitwit author has made it this far. Does she seriously expect you to put your job on the line because she's such a prima dona she can't take no for an answer?

I hope her agent explains the ways of the world to her before she submits another manuscript.

Suzan Harden said...

Man, I wish this type of stuff was only limited to one industry. At work tonight, I had a similar phone call. No matter how many ways you rephrase the request, the merchandise will not magickally appear on my storeroom shelf.

@AERought - How much for the 50 cal rifle?

Julie Weathers said...

Gordon,

It's curious that Ed Gordon, or the banned Geist at the Absolute Write Water Cooler and you have so much in common. Xystum Publishing, for instance. He started his own publishing company to publish his book. IOW, he self-published. Now your book is being published by Xystum after it shut down. Interesting.

He managed to be snarky enough to get banned with his lengthy rants against everyone there, especially Mr. McDonald. You seem to enjoy taking potshots at people who are well-liked and popular.

Hint, your bs attitude has probably already burned a lot of bridges. I noticed you stirred the stink with Nathan also and a few others.

Are you like Spam Query 109 and just enjoy harassing people?

I'm guessing it's an attention getter, but pretty sad you crave it that much.

Perhaps you should buy a puppy. You can name it Xystum and then you will get to hear it all the time!

moonrat said...

Julie (and others who've asked how the author made it this far)--to be honest, while encounters like this are frustrating for both parties, they're not super uncommon. This guy pushed a little harder than most do, which is why the whole conversation was surrealistically funny, but it IS a creative industry and you'd be surprised at how high emotions can run, especially toward the end. It's like being late in your third trimester of pregnancy--you're not always totally in control of your hormones.

Also, authors often don't or can't grip some of the business angles--I'm only used to them because I do deal with them everyday. But, for example, the time frame is always a problem. If a book isn't pubbing for nine months, for example, why does the manuscript need to be totally finished now? Surely we have some leeway, right? (No, we don't, but I DO see why it's hard to believe, regardless of how many ways you explain.)

And lastly I should say, again, I love agents. This is the point at which an agent would step in, ascertain if the author is ACTUALLY dying of distress or is just seeing how far he can push me, and then act as a businesslike mediator.

Kim said...

Julie, GJ is the same person you've seen, with the same "publishing company", which no longer exists, but supposedly will again. (read self-publish) He has lurked and trolled and posted under a handful of psuedonyms, and is only rearing his ugly head again recently for self-promotion.

With a little (very little) research, you'll find that "Gordon Jerome" (not his real name, by the way, although who the hell knows what it really is) has very different plans from those he claims.

His whole goal for xystum "publishing", is to get it up and running and then (get this) sell it to a major publishing house.

I know. I know. I'll wait until you stop laughing....

What he'll do now, is say that I'm so interested in what he has to say, that I've taken time to research him, and he'll probably thank me, in his own disingenuous way.

The truth is that I have done a little research, and as I said, it didn't take much effort. My intrest wasn't in he himself, but in the disinformation he spreads to aspiring authors. Not to mention the slanderous and libelous statement he makes on a daily basis about agents, editor, and publishers. (as well as other writers)

I usually avoid commenting on blogs, but I thought this information might be of interest, considering his ulterior motives.

Christine H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine H said...

Thanks for the background on GJ, Kim. I've come across him before and couldn't figure out exactly where he was coming from.

I really think people like him need to be ignored.

Don't feed the trolls. 'Nuf said.

Katherine said...

Dear Moonrat:

What I liked best about the transcript as you blogged it was this: you told the author the truth. You reminded them that the title was set six months ago. You told them up-front you most likely wouldn't be calling them the next day.

Maybe it doesn't say much about my day job, but that was completely refreshing. I really believe that the world could be spared a lot of angst if we stopped worrying about babying each other so much. Not to say we should be mean to each other, but just straightforward.

s.w. vaughn said...

I LOVE YOU, JANET REID!

(And I love you too, Moonie. :-)

word verification: unreal (seriously!). Much like someone's comment here.

Miriam S. Forster said...

Moonie- Good point. :) Although what I'd really like to see now is a G. vs The Rejectionist showdown. Talk about bread and circuses...

Annette Lyon said...

Comparing it to pregnancy hormones is pretty apt--it's easy to laugh when it's not you and your book and your title and your schedule. But I know I've flipped out over covers that were already a done deal and the like--and I felt the world surely would spin off its axis if it wasn't fixed. Looking back, I laugh at myself, but at the time, it was a BIG deal.

It's nice to have those in the industry aware of how emotional writers get so they can talk us off the ledge when we're in that third trimester.

(How's THAT for mixing metaphors? :D)