Monday, May 11, 2015

Query: not this publisher, not now not ever

 In contrast to the questioner on Wednesday, who seemed to have a list of favored publishers, I'm wondering how you handle a situation where a writer prefers not to do business with a certain publisher. Let's just posit that there are concerns of an ethical nature that probably have nothing to do with the quality of books being published. Let's also say the writer does NOT particularly want to make this known to said publisher, either publicly or privately.

Do you simply not pitch to that publisher? But what if a book is a perfect fit for a certain editor (who works for the "blacklisted" publisher) and s/he somehow gets word that you're shopping a book that's right up their alley, and asks you about it? Do you pitch it even though the writer doesn't intend to accept an offer? What if you do and they make an amazing offer, both money and terms, and it's not accepted-- do they ever ask why not? Would it be horribly awkward and perhaps damaging to your relationship to tell an editor your client doesn't want to do business with them? Or does this happen all the time and it's no big deal and everyone is fine with it?

More important, does this aversion to questionable business practices make a writer "difficult" and someone you'd rather not take on as a client? Is it something a writer should mention up front if an agent offers representation?

You've really been working yourself into a frenzy here haven't you?

Time to get off that hamster wheel and take a deep breath.

First, it's your book, and you don't have to sell it to anyone you don't want to. That said, if you arrive with a shiny new manuscript that I'm enamoured of, telling me you have a hit list of publishers, well, that's probably going to be it for me.

Here's why: Unless you can explain in pretty blunt and understandable terms, what your objections are to BigAssPublisher (ie the CEO is Ann Coulter in her spare time) my assumption is you have some irrational prejudices and that does not bode well for me being able to shop your book far and wide. It also does not bode well for future books; what if you decide This One and That One no longer meet your criteria?

If I sign you, and you reveal this prejudice only after I start talking about a submission list, you'd better have a VERY good reason, or I'm probably going to pull the plug.

This kind of stuff falls in the category "life is too short to deal with this kind of thing."  

Now, that said, I do know an author, back in the day, who refused to let his agent shop his book to anyone who had published a book on the OJ case.  (This was in the middle of the OJ case tempers were high, let me tell you)

His book did get published, but 20 years ago there were a lot more publishers to send things to.

Now if by some chance I think your reason not to want to do business with a publisher is sound, well then, I send it out, and if anyone asks why they didn't get it, I say what I always do: we had a very select, targeted list.

I will tell you this: I've only gotten calls a couple times from editors wondering why they didn't see something and every single time it's happened, it was after an exclusive submission and a pre-empt. In other words, most of the time editors are NOT looking to see what you didn't send them; they're trying to read the stuff they're behind on.

In the end you'll have to decide if this blacklist is something you really want to pursue.  I STRONGLY urge you not to. If you go ahead, you really do need to discuss this with prospective agents BEFORE you sign.

This kind of thing can be a deal breaker and you don't want to tell everyone you've signed with Agent R only to be back out looking for a new agent in a couple weeks.

This is on the list of things you fret about before you really need to.  Here, have a cookie and think about that really clunky sentence on page 400.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ann Coulter, CEO in her spare time, impossible because her full time job is defined as Asinus, a subgenus of Equus that includes the donkey and other asses.

I'd love to know why the publisher is blacklisted. Are some THAT bad.

I failed at bread and was given hamburgers reCaptcha. And I love carbs.

Anonymous said...

I'm with 2nn's.

I want to know the reason. I'm trying to think of a reason I would feel this way, and all the reasons that come to mind are more global...

Except for that one publisher who posted all those billboards with me in my underwear and the sound bubble that said "Go to college. Don't be a Brian. Carkoon University is now accepting MFA applications."

Yeah, they're on my blacklist.

YAY for RE-Pasta!

Unknown said...

Master Hamster Buttonwaiver runs his wheel.

Susan Bonifant said...

There's a book in here somewhere.

Donnaeve said...

I'm glad you answered this question this way - especially your very first sentence.

I only got about halfway through and I was doing that "really? really?" that Bo Dietl does for the fish in the Hardees commercials.

And I thought of the hamster wheel. And I thought "difficult author" before that came up too.

No offense, but how would anyone really know what it was like to work with BAP (BIG ASS PUB)? The only way I could deduce this would be if they have a friend/acquaintance, family member or someone close who did so and somehow got burned by them.

And by burned maybe this means the contract was dropped, not renewed, or something. But NOW I'm on my own hamster wheel trying to figure this out. HA!

Phew. Cookies are good. I'll have one myself, thank you very much.

OR - Ice cream! I can go with ice cream.

Unknown said...

I don't know any publishers well enough to be familiar with their ethics. Other than the one I'm dealing with now, and he's a heck of a nice guy.

Is making fun of lawyers a trope or a cliche? I'm thinking cliche but I'll stick with it anyway. Isn't a lawyer with few ethics a better lawyer? Maybe it's the same for publishers.

I suppose if I knew an author friend who was treated badly by a publisher, I might be leery of dealing with them. But if the contract was good I'd still probably trust my agent and go with it.

AJ Blythe said...

What a shame the OP feels they have to put themselves in such an awkward situation. I'm sure no-one would do that unless they really felt there was no other option.

The problem I see is that someone made the decision that has caused the OP to feel how they do. And that someone is just as likely to suddenly appear at the desk of a different publisher. Would that mean another publisher to be struck off? And what if their already contracted to that publisher?

I remember being asked to send pages to an editor at one of the Big 5. Went to do so, only to find they'd moved to a non-commissioning role at another industry organisation. Fast forward a couple of years and there she was taking pitches for another of the Big 5.

Good luck to the OP. Best advice is to listen to JR, she's not the QOTKU for nothing.

AJ Blythe said...

And that's why I shouldn't comment in the middle of the night.

They're (already contracted) not their.

Of too bed be four I make two many moor mistakes.

Lizzie said...

A friend was treated horribly by a BAP (contracted canceled over a year in, lawyers demanding the full advance back, publisher pointing to a gentleman's agreement clause that gives them right to consider any book unpublishable even though it was republished by another press). Life is definitely too short.

Colin Smith said...

I could see this happening, not necessarily for myself, but someone may only want to publish with, say, a Christian publisher--even if the novel isn't "Christian" fiction. I think that would be a reasonable reason. But I would also imagine the author would be querying agents who specialize in Christian lit., and therefore submitting mainly to such publishers.

Not a must-have requirement, but I'd love to be published by Penguin. I just love the look, feel, and smell of Penguin paperbacks. :D

S.D.King said...

I think aspiring writers worry about so many things, mainly because the industry is so layered that it is difficult to understand from the outside looking in (hence the need for this blog).

The set-up seems to make anyone not in NYC something of an outsider (not on this blog of course, where we span the globe). The wonderful thing about getting older is that I don't care nearly as much whether I get picked for their kickball team (or publishing house or literary agency).

Long ago I traded ambition for hard work, resourcefulness, and reliability.

Original poster? It's going to be OK. (pat, pat)

Craig F said...

Much Ado, Much Ado, Much Ado...

Frenzy is right. I had a hard time trying to figure any of it out. Janet is entirely right and without a concrete something I would say this writer would be a problem.

Big-Assed publishers today are just that, Big-Assed publishers. They are so spread out that one part could be publishing right wing nuts and another publishing left wing nuts. They are incredibly big business and at the top everyone is just a number. There are horror stories about that in all types of business.

If there is something solid that you can relate to an Agent you should polish it up now. You will probably need to be persuasive if you want to force an Agent to do twice the work on the behalf of a new writer.

It asked about burritos but one of the pictures was a wrap.

LynnRodz said...

Am I the only one with my mind in the gutter? The feeling I got from the OP is s/he has personal reasons to believe this publisher is unethical. Perhaps something transpired between the two of them and the OP in no way wants to have contact with this person again. The reason I think this is from what the questioner said, "...there are concerns of an ethical nature that probably have nothing to do with the quality of books being published." So it's not his/her ability to perform as a publisher that's being questioned.Then again, that word 'probably' changes things somewhat.

Okay, I don't know, but like others I would like to know.

Miss Curiosity signing off here.

Pharosian said...

Funny that you mention Penguin, Colin, as I was wondering whether the OP's concerns of an ethical nature about a certain publisher might be related to the Author Solutions fiasco.

Penguin Random House is the corporate parent of Author Solutions, which purports to offer publishing services to authors. AS is now facing two class-action lawsuits, and is accused of failure to pay royalties, predatory sales calls, and breach of contract, among a laundry list of other charges.

David Gaughran has been following this situation and has an in-depth analysis on his blog.

AS has signed 180,000 authors as clients (per its own website), and yet, according to Gaughran, they have exactly ONE employee assigned to calculate royalties for all those authors! But they have 732 sales reps (most of whom are based in the Phillipines).

One has to wonder why one of the Big 5 publishers would have a subsidiary devoted to selling self-publishing services. It probably has to do with the amount of money involved, as the average client spends about $5000.

Anonymous said...

Well, this question is high on the list of things I never thought about. Having done so, I have to say there are a few publishers that I wouldn't want my books sent to. Mind you, they most likely wouldn't be interested in my books, so no worries, eh?

And lol at Colin's REpasta :D

Megan V said...

Isn't a lawyer with few ethics a better lawyer? <-No. A resounding no. If anything, strong ethics tend to breed better lawyers. After all, who wants to work with a slime-ball? Not you, not the other lawyers, and not anyone else in the justice system. And I'd hope it's the same deal with publishers. :)

I'm not so sure that the original poster was burned personally though. I'm thinking, perhaps, its just a genuine disagreement with business practices. Whatever the case may be, let's hope the list isn't too long. It can be very easy to cross the line from refraining based on a genuine concern to just being picky-picky.

Sam Mills said...

If the publisher is unethical in their treatment of authors then I assume a good agent would protect you from signing a deal in the first place.

But if it is some perceived ideological difference (they publish so-and-so, therefore I believe they support so-and-so's politics!) then you are on a slippery path, because are you just against that imprint? Or that imprint and its parent company's parent company's parent... You might make a stand and then accidentally become a hypocrite by signing with a different name you didn't realize was the same publisher after all. See, I can overthink it too!

Dena Pawling said...

Well I'm pretty against having Publish America or Author Solutions as my publisher, but I certainly can't see an agent even submitting my ms there, altho the parent company of AS is a major publisher, so there is that.

“Let's just posit that there are concerns of an ethical nature that probably have nothing to do with the quality of books being published.” This sounds like the CEO wears furs and the writer is a member of PETA, or the publisher donates money to certain causes which the writer disagrees with, or Ann Coulter as Janet mentioned, or something similar like that. I know athletes and celebrities often lose their sponsorship contracts when they hit the news with unpopular actions/decisions. I suppose if I was VERY against such practices, it might make me not want to work with that publisher. But then I think 99% of humanity believes or does at least one thing I disagree with, and I'm sure the same can be said by other people about me. I just agree to disagree, and move on. Life's too short to focus on the differences, because differences are what make life [and literature] interesting. But I can see the dilemma here, if in fact this is what the questioner is referencing.

PS - lawyers without ethics make the blacklist among judges, and it then makes it VERY DIFFICULT for that lawyer to have positive results in that county, which isn't fair to that lawyer's clients, but even judges are people too. Then those lawyers don't have good success rates, which means they eventually lose clients. Even court clerks are people too, and if a lawyer has a bad rep among the clerks, their paperwork mysteriously disappears or is rejected for minor typos, etc. Lawyers with professional work habits and ethics get stuff done much more quickly and easily than lawyers without. You'd be amazed what good lawyers and paralegals can accomplish with one phone call that some lawyers have to make a trip to the courthouse and whine and beg to get the same result.

Julie said...

I'm back to it all being a Clue game again in which I'm pretty sure I don't understand - or maybe even have a copy of - all the rules.

I have no Clue.

So I suppose I'll just go back to writing and easing myself back into the shadows.

Gobi Fish

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are plenty of reasons someone may have an ethical problem with a publisher. Two huge ones are:

- Politics.
- Religion.

Although, rereading the post and seeing 'questionable business practices', it seems to be otherwise. Others have already mentioned possible such cases, so this can be a very real concern.

I do, however, agree with Janet: this poor writer is worrying her/himself a tad bit early.

I would say 'the Call' would be the time to tell an agent any strong political or religious views, and discuss different publishers and their practices. Perhaps the agent will have information that will make the writer feel better about this publisher. Perhaps the agent wouldn't be pitching to this publisher, anyway. But at that time, the agent would be able to decide if the author's ethical disagreement is something they can accommodate, or whether it would just be best to pass.

I was right with Janet, too, about the editor asking why they weren't sent the manuscript. I don't see any reason why an editor would care about an unsubmitted manuscript (other than the reason Janet gave). They get plenty to choose from.

So, I think the OP can be reasonably assured that their manuscript would not be pitched to an editor at a publisher they don't like. And I think only the OP can decide if they feel strongly enough about their stance to risk a chance at representation and publication.

I'm not saying the OP is right or wrong. Again, that's something only they can decide. I'm also not saying they're doomed if they choose to boycott this publisher, because they're not. They may have a harder road to climb, but they're not doomed. Ethics are a very personal thing, and sticking to them is commendable. As long as the person knows what they are risking. And I think this question was asked to find out exactly that.

Sandwiches again. Three times in two days. Oh well. At least they're easy to spot.

OpenID error, and another ReCaptcha - this time, ice cream. And one ice cream is just a picture of shaved chocolate sprinkled on something that could be a plate or MAYBE ice cream...

Craig F said...

As i wandered weak and weary through this already double ninety morning here I contemplated. I contemplated why this post seemed so muddy to me.

I think this writer might be transferring the actions of some writers to their publishers. You can do that but it does no good. The gambling adage is that sure the game is rigged but you can't win if you don't bet. Aspiring writers can change the world only if they get published. Railing against the machine doesn't go far if you don't have enough of an audience.

Remember though that if you rail against the machine when you become famous you might become what you wished to avoid. The world needs to be pulled together not pushed further apart.

Wow, burritos two reCaptchas in a row.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Reid,

I appreciate all your hard work securing me a publisher. However, as part of my research for this book I discovered Big Six Publishing requires forfeit of my first born son in order to ensure publishing success. I'm simply not willing to do this, so please don't submit to them. If you do, see if they will settle for my second born.



I'm curious as to what the questionable business practices are. It seems if they were that bad, agents would know about them.

I've marked some activist agents off my top 40 list because of comments on their professional twitter feed, but that really has no bearing on anything. They never knew they were on the list, and they certainly don't care that they have one less query to wade through. It only matters if I get down to the last set and no one has asked me to dance. Even then I'm perfectly content to go home danceless.

Maybe the questioner has a valid reason, in which case it might be a really good story. It reminds me of the Ellora's Cave dust up not long ago. It would really be a shame if they go under. Who else is going to sponsor sex position workshops at writing conferences to teach romance authors what will and won't work? Research is so important.

Anonymous said...

I've had several small publishers request Far Rider through the twitter writing contests. I've declined thus far because I want to go the agent route and let them decide where it belongs.

Some of them are legit and some are little more than vanity presses. Frankly I weep when I see those happy author faces on some sites. I imagine them sitting for their portraits to go on their books and then telling all their friends and family they're published! The company slaps those smiling faces up there. Voila! That'll be $5,000 please.

What price publication?

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, it seems we writers spend an awful lot of time working ourselves into a tizzy about things that are either way ahead of the game, or that we have no control over. Which five agents should we query (in the end, you will query 100. With luck No. 47 will fall in love with your work.) Which publisher will we not take any deal from, no matter how good. (Sell out for HOW much? Sure! Where do I sign up?)
Bottom line – It's the work. It's the book. It's the story. Concentrate on that. The rest of it is a waste of time and mental energy. THE BOOK. Make that as good as you possibly can, and the rest almost always will sort itself out.
As Mark Twain said, "I've had many worries in my life, and most of them never happened."

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

So BrianS...that was you, in your underwear, on the billboard. Egadds man, you ARE a man. No wonder all the ladies are clamoring for Carkoon.

I got sushi. It took me two tries, I hate sushi.

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...


The unfortunate part about blacklisting a publisher for unethical practices (or whatever the ethical clash is), is finding out later that maybe the publisher you do end up having does some of those things, too - but we can't know everything and sometimes we make compromises (and often we make compromises as a justification to make ourselves feel better.)

For example: I don't shop at Walmart- not because of quality or clientele or whatever. It's that I don't like their poor pay/benefits for their employees. Target and Kmart are better, right?

Well, turns out Target and Kmart and other similar retailers might treat their employees better, but they have poor pricing practice. Stores in lower-income areas carry higher prices than stores in higher-income communities.

It's all bad. What do I do? Boycott them all? In this case, I go with what I can live with. (And let's not forget my privilege that allows me to make this decision.)

If the pub in question is a Big 5 (or still big enough), it seems highly likely that the ethical clash will exist in the other Big 5 but you might not know about it. And if this is the case, that's a whole 'nother decision altogether, isn't it? Are agents, in general, not going to want to take on a client who will only work with smaller publishers if this is the client's preference?

Will it make you feel slimy to use a certain publisher? Or just uncomfortable? What compromises are we willing to make? How grievous is the unethical issue with the publisher?

Some say frenzy and overthinking, which I get, but part of me can understand the OP's dilemma, even if s/he has not gotten that far, yet. Hopefully Janet's response and the commentary here will help inform a larger decision overall about the publishing journey.

Jenz said...

If this were about a publisher using shady contracts or otherwise screwing over authors, a good agent wouldn't push you into a a bad deal.

If it were about having been in a personal relationship with an individual at a publisher, then as AJ pointed out, that individual could easily move to a different publisher. You can't logically blacklist an entire company for not liking one person.

So I'm betting this is really about some political/social issue. Perhaps a publisher associated with a certain outspoken author whose movie was boycotted over said outspokenness. Or related to the current furor over the Hugo awards.

Dammit, the captcha is still just asking me to prove I'm not a robot. I swear it's trying to tell me something.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

So Colin, how's your wife? Please keep us updated.

I got sandwiches, now I'm hungry.

Julie said...

Oh, crumbs. I step out of the room for a night and Colin's wife goes into surgery.

Sending prayers, hugs, and a slightly loved Winnie-ther-Pooh.

'Cause everyone needs a slightly loved Winnie-ther-Pooh when they're feeling icky.

Karen McCoy said...

I wonder if we could conduct a study regarding the ratio of self-induced hamster wheels.

I'd be particularly interested in how many are whirring at full speed, in cages lined with cookies, while the little woodland creatures insist they can't earn the first cookie until the wheel reaches 700 mph.

And I'd wonder what their exhaustion rate might be.

Tentative study title: "False Perceptions Within Cages."

Anonymous said...

My son worked for Wal-Mart when he got back from Iraq. He could have filed for unemployment and gone to school, which is what I advised him to do, but he refused to take government money if there was any other option. So, he got a job at Wal-Mart as a part time stocker and ate a lot of bargain food.

Target actually pays less than Wal-Mart and Costco treats its employees the best.

From the inside looking out, Will was very happy at Wal-Mart until their new manager came in and decided her mission in life was keeping everyone confused, including the shoppers. He had worked his way up to department manager and took a pay cut to go back to stocking in order to avoid her stupidity. Stuff like that has nothing to do with the company other than promoting stupid managers.

I avoid Wal-Mart, but it's not because of employee wages.

Flowers McGrath said...

Wow! Pharosians comment was a shocker. So much to navigate out there. It's like nestle trying to bottle all the water it can. Do I still buy nestle products now? Perhaps we should petition john Oliver to do a piece on penguin. He'd have the solution sussed out for us in a heart beat!

I loVed all the hampster images. 😊 thanks, as always, Janet.


Julie said...

With regard to OP (Original Petitioner's) question, I keep sitting on the "Never miss an opportunity to shut up" vs "This one statement keeps popping into my mind" teeter-totter.

Clearly, the latter has won.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

If one can afford to divest oneself of concerns at any point in the road, it's generally a good thing to do so.

HOWEVER - I rather suspect that they're valid in this case, and I say that because of the lengths to which said OP went to keep those concerns safely anonymous. Whether there was a lawsuit involved at some point or some harm that hit close to home, it seems likely to me that this wasn't a superfluous question.

In a situation in which an author - or anyone, for that matter - can make life easier and return to basics (the manuscript; sleep, food, and exercise; airway, breathing and circulation; etc.) - it can often improve outcomes in the end by reminding said author/whoever of what the initial goal was (a good manuscript; a healthy life; return of spontaneous circulation) rather than the tangent he/she might've wandered onto (as we sometimes do on this here thread right here). And then sometimes someone comes along and reminds us of the initial point/question, and we get back on target (or we get healthier or the patient does well), or nobody does that and the thread ends up wildly entertaining and vastly off-topic (and we end up drooling in front of Nineteen Sequential Episodes of "Blacklist," not that I'd know; or the patient... well... anyway).

See? I digress.

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah. Simplify. If you can. And if not - Take what you want - and/but pay for it. Set your priorities, and then abide by them; but remember afterwards that it was you who set them, not the Agent. (Shrug). We all choose our own hamster wheels and the rate at which we run.

That's my two bits.

Good luck.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for the prayers and well-wishes for my wife. She's doing fine. Had the surgery this morning and is now recovering. :)

Unknown said...

Ann Coulter! Every time I hear that name I-- Oops, Mama always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say..." Anyway, no need to worry about her becoming a CEO, she is too... Oops, stop that.

Back on topic. Corporations, despite what the Supreme Court might say, are not people. They are not ethical and they don't even make decisions in the same way that they don't think, or have a religion. People are ethical or not, and people make decisions, and people think, and people have religions. Corporations are only ethical or not in that their people make ethical decisions, or not.

I don't think, therefore, that criminal prosecution of corporations makes sense. You can't punish a corporation, you can't put it in jail. You can punish people. You can put a CEO in jail. Fining a company just punishes people who mostly have nothing to do with the corporation's said lack of ethics. Think little old ladies on a pension. I wonder what Dena's take on this would be.

Similarly I'm not sure refusing to work with a corporation based on an ethical concern is a very effective strategy. Maybe writing a letter to the CEO would be better.

And I would certainly weigh the balance of my book against any moral concerns. I think my book could do the world some good if it were published. I hope we all do. Get it published and, on the whole, keep a positive Karma balance.

Colin: Ditto on the Penguin paper backs. I've loved those things since I was a kid. Is that like the new car smell?

REJourneys said...

Not the hamster wheel! But that's my only exercise!

ProfeJMarie makes a good point and it's something I've seen recently. If you get to know any company, you'll find a multitude of things not right with them. You really do have to pick the lesser of weevils.

Of course, I don't know what the "business practices" are/were, but I wonder if it would be ok to go with that publisher after some time. In a lot of cases, it's one idiot who messes things up for everyone. If it was an employee or groups fault, maybe when your book goes on submission, that problem resolved itself in one way or another.

Coli, didn't know about your wife's surgery until now. Glad she's out. Best wishes on a speedy recovery.

Re-cake today.

REJourneys said...

Oh goodness, Colin, I am so sorry for the typo with your name!

I tried deleting the comment to fix it, but work computers are not my friends.

Karen McCoy said...

REJourneys: Feel free to dismount the wheel at your leisure and have a cookie.

Colin: Wishing your wife a speedy recovery!

I've heard some publisher horror stories for sure, but I think part of an agent's beauty is to help filter through the weevils to get authors the best possible deals.

Authors trying to wrangle things from the get-go might breed some possible role-ambiguity. I'd say just trust the agent.

Good thing I'm not on the ReCAPTCHA diet. Burritos and pizza today.

Lilac said...

Thank God, Colin! Sending many blessings her way for a fast and easy recovery.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Yes, what ProfeJMarie wrote so eloquently.

Though I object to how some corporations operate at the headquarter levels located in some big 'burb, there are real-life people working the registers, stocking the shelves, unloading trucks, and cleaning the floors.

Colin: glad her surgery went well and prayers for her continued recovery. May she be well-rested before she returns to a busy home with you and all the kiddos. (Is she in Carkoon with you?!)

Wow, reCaptcha--a Happy Birthday cake AND a cake with an angry duck on it!!

Colin Smith said...

Is my wife in Carkoon with me? Heck no. I actually like her. ;) She would never deserve such an exile. I have visiting privileges, though. :)

Anonymous said...

2nn's - It surprises me very little that you would say such a thing! However I should inform you that even Carkoon has photoshop, and it's equally effective here!

Colin - So sorry to hear about your wife as well! I hope she does make a speedy recovery! My thoughts and prayers go out to her! :)

And Julia - I'm never quite sure if I comprehend all of the subtle nuances and quips in your posts, but I always try to keep up -- sort of like how my Shih Tzu Poodle tries to keep up with me when I run... I end up dragging her along at some point.

And if you want a laugh, go ahead and think about what a 50/50 mix of Shih Tzu and Poodle ends up being... although she earned her name fully last week after the incident with the carpet...

It was terrible.

Anonymous said...

HAMSTERS!! But I'm confused. Some of you seem to be saying you only have ONE hamster wheel in your head? I have eleventy billion and they're all occupied, at all times.

I suspect Pharosian nailed it with the PRH/Author Solutions connection. I know it's something that has been a big concern to me and to a lot of other writers. Some people hoped Penguin would clean up that mess when they bought it, but it doesn't appear to have happened. What a shame. They've published so many of my favourite authors. I'd commit dire acts to work with some of those editors.

But I've got to admit, this concern has crossed my mind, on one of the small ever-spinning wheels in the back corner. It's sort of like a friend trying to set you up with a guy and saying, "He's smart and funny and literate, plus he's filthy rich and gorgeous. You'd love this guy."

"Wow, what's not to like?"

"Well, he does have a lucrative sideline peddling meth to children."

"He-- WHAT?"

"Oh, it's okay, you're not a child and you know better than to use meth."

"But, meth? And they're children, for godsakes."

"They should know better. Everyone sells a little meth in life."

"No. No, they don't."

"Did I mention he's literate?"

So, I don't know. I guess we all have to decide where to draw the line and then be prepared to deal with the consequences. Maybe by the time I have to make a similar decision, it won't be an issue.

Interesting answer. Thoughtful discussion. I think it's important to know when you're contemplating a relationship, whether professional or personal, what the deal breakers are. For you and for the other person, where possible. Good information, Janet, as always.

Amy Schaefer said...

Wow - I can't remember the last time a post attracted so much speculation. But since we have no idea what the OP's actual objection was, all this talk of politics, religion and self-publishing is just so much guessing.

Which is revealing. If you have an issue, people (your agent) will want to understand it in concrete terms.

We all have our limits and, as kdjames said, our deal breakers. Be clear on what those are and why you have made those choices. And be willing to live with the consequences. Only you can decide whether Issue X is fundamentally important to you. But the flipside is, other people get to react to that line in the sand as they will. Choose carefully, sparingly and wisely.

Julie said...

Brian - I always try to skirt the line between "Funny" and "I'm sorry - WHAT?" very carefully. Sometimes I manage. Sometimes I dive off into "I have no idea WHAT the heck you're saying, but I'll be polite and nod a lot" land and only realize I got there by the absolute silence.

Funny story. [SB: I'm an awful lot like my dad. Don't know that = won't get the point here.]

My dad was an organic chemist. Traveled a lot to Europe. He spoke fairly fluent German and Japanese, and was just becoming fluent in Swedish.

At one point, he went to a conference in Switzerland. He had a Kodak carousel of slides up, demonstrating a new product he was researching. He was well into his discussion when he made a joke. (We make lots of dry jokes in my family.)

Nobody laughed. Unusual for my dad - gregarious guy.

Then he realized he had, at some point, drifted into Swedish. But the crowd was too polite to say anything.

He was left with, "I'm sorry - at what point did I stop speaking German, and how many languages did I use?" And I THINK he had to ask it in English, because that was the only language they all spoke.

Begging the question of why he had to use German at all.

The answer? At the time, German was "The Universal Language of Chemistry."

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

I'm sorry... at what point did I stop writing in English? ;)

And now, back to my mystery (the one I'm writing. As for reading, the end of Louise Perry is approaching frighteningly quickly - PLEASE, any rec's for someone similar to her or Elizabeth George is really appreciated!)

(And as for the Shih-zu / Poodle thing, if you mix a Cockapoo and a Shih-zu, and throw an extra R in there, you get a Crock-a-... never mind. :) )

AJ Blythe said...

So after a number of references to Ann Coulter I had to google. Wiki informs me she's a journalist. No obvious link to your references - something to do with her political reporting I guess.

Must be an American thing =)

Julie said...

@AJ - I don't know who she is either. And I'm over here. Must be in the Clue rules.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I had to look up Coulter too, I though she must be an Opera rival, I think it's a long blonde hair thing, that's usually enough to get the hens warbling.

Yeah, ethics and publishers, not really the first association that would pop into my mind, although I hesitate to cast slight through generalisation. It would hafta be something a little more profound than politics or couffeur, something along the lines of: 'let me show you the snaps from the day me and the marines had a such gas with the villagers in My Lai'. Other than that, I would view such reservations with a certain cynicism. I'm afraid I've learned that ethics are something that are imposed on others, while adopted at convenience in personal context.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I have particulars with which brand of shoes I buy (nothing Nike or Nike owned; the fact that they endorse Michael Vick burned that bridge), the quality of dog treat and food I'll buy, that kind of thing. I'm a big fan of voting with my dollar.

But publisher? Publishers actually came up in my writing workshop this past Saturday, that most readers probably don't pay attention to what publisher the books they're reading came from. I know it's the case for me. I've got a general conversance (I think I made that word up) with who's genre publishers, who the Big Guys are, that kind of thing (and by "general", I mean I probably know more than an average reader but obviously not nearly as much as somebody actually in The Industry), but I've never not bought or read a book because it came from those bastards at _________.

Julie said...

I think we all have an internal code.

The trick is in coming to know what yours is; coming to accept it; and then being willing to live by it and accept the consequences.

And that's adulthood.

What Carcharodon gives out, free of charge, to those willing to listen (read), is a greater understanding of what "the consequences" might be given the "if/then" setup for certain codes.

As in, "If my code sets me in such a position that my blog posts read dry as dust but I'm pretty sure my MS is quite a bit more interesting, then what's the consequence likely to be when I meet the Agent running said blog? Is she likely to think that my MS is also pretty damn dry? In which case, ought I write my blog posts in MS voice?"


"If my internal code makes my queries read quite differently than my MS as I have a different goal when writing the former than the latter, what are the consequences of trying to impose my "MS voice" upon my query likely to be?"

Not that these are personally relevant in any way.

Because they aren't. (Cough). At all.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

Hmmmm, maybe "blacklisted" pub's CEO is douchy ex-husband? Mean Girl from high school? Woman who stole author's fiancee to marry him? There are a million possibilities, the speculation is entertaining! Author's former boss? The devil's in the details? And that's what we don't have.

@ Colin - glad you're wife is doing well.

Love the hamster pics, Janet.

Anonymous said...

I keep starting to write a small paragraph or two on this topic, to follow up what others have said, but the darn post keeps turning into lengthy rants. Since you probably don't need another lengthy rant from me today, I'll just say one thing:

Sh--y Poo is the only -poo name I'll use for a poodle cross, and that's because I really don't like those cutesy names for crossbreeds. But that leads into a rant or 10 on my own ethics, and we won't go there today.

(By the way, I love Shih Tzus. My current Little Girl Dog is a Shih Tzu/Bichon cross I got through a local dog rescue. My Koko - whose image is my avatar nearly everywhere - was probably a Shih Tzu, also from a rescue. Shih Tzus are such loving little dogs.)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Just got back to reading comments, been chasing a 16 month old all day. Hey Colin, so glad your better half is okay. Now I can go back to praying for myself.
Sandwiches again, hmmmm.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

One last thing, for those of you who do not know who Ann Coulter is. This started out be a rant but politics be damned.

All I will say is that Ann Coulter has the absolute right, (which she verbally exercises often), to give pretty women a bad name.

DLM said...

If I had a squick about working with anyone who'd pubbed an O. J. book: I would not be querying agents who repped O. J. books. (Indeed, I did make a point of reaching out to NOBODY who'd touched Dan Brown, because I would expect my take on the Merovingian Heresy to go over poorly.)

My concern right now is that the novel is morphing under my every keystroke and - fascinatingly - turning into something I have never expected, in the years the WIP has been on the back burner.

Oh, and who'll play whom in the blockbuster movie, of course. Casturbating is my favorite thing.

DeadSpiderEye ... um. "hens warbling" ... Did you just accuse all the women here of being catty about Coulter because we are jealous of her hair? I am having difficulty understanding what your comment was saying, if not that.

Coulter is actually a notorious harpy, of the sort who does it on purpose to get attention. It's made her a mint and a career, so good for her I guess. I prefer not to feed the hunger; but that doesn't mean it's a cat fight. I also have zero problem whatever with blondness, be it long or short.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Dead eye spider, cluckity, cluck cluck.

Bread again.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Google brought this up, but the basic thing about Ann Coulter is that she wrote How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must), Don't Trust a Liberal Over 3, and If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans.

On topic: I agree that you have to figure out which lines you'd rather not cross, what (if anything) would make you change your mind, etc. The world is full of compromises, but there are some things you just gotta take a stand on. I'm guessing this is a pretty big issue, so here's hoping you can do things with a clear conscience.

Anonymous said...

Note to agents: Find out if an editor, publisher, or CEO is an ancient Greek mythical creature that looks like a bird with the face of a woman.

Unknown said...

KD hahaha.

Why the OP might choose to ASK their future business partner to PLEASE not tell BAP that they don't want to work with them.?

It's hard to say, I usually detest speculation in conversation but this one has been very entertaining.

It sounds like OP is sure they have written a big-ass-book (BAB) and is convinced they have the pickings. I hope so, but tend to wonder (we're speculating) because if they did write BAB and had big ass Agent - not reffering to buttocks- then they probably wouldn't be asking the Queen this question.

I keep thinking about Arthur Rimbaud. Why? Because he quit writing when he was 21 to became a mercenary. Times were different back then, I supose.

Rimbaud doesn't make for a good comp reference, he wrote too long ago. Still, He was a big ass author who influenced lots of people including politicians. He didn't even use a word processor and he wrote all his works before the golden age of 21.

I'll speculate that OP is probably young and may one day change their life and mind. I wonder if a 6 digit offer would help.

Someone above said a publisher is a corporation. They probaly have diversified investments. Book sales are probaly not their only income.

As Janet said they probably would not be offended if you did not submit to them.

I had to choose ice-cream, there was a hamburger and two cakes. One of the cakes was decorated with giant mariujana leaf!

Unknown said...

probably probably... Shouldn't comment before coffee.

Laina said...

Hmm. Ellora's Cave, maybe?

DeadSpiderEye said...


Oops, I did cast slight through generalisation didn't I, my excuse? Er -- the half bottle of cheap rum on the table? Anyway, that blond hair thing, isn't inspired by jealous emotion, well maybe on a personal level but not as a collective motive. It's more like a dog in the pack with the wrong scent -- did I just imply an unfortunate analogy there? And I haven't even started on the rum yet.

DLM said...

DeadSpiderEye, blond hair as a red flag? :) That'd put paid to having more fun ...

Thank you for clarifying.

As quite a few have said, it's very difficult to comment competently on this question, as there is so much space for speculation. Certainly there are valid reasons to prefer not to do business with some parties (corporate or individual), but it is definitely a morass. For every prospect there is to object to, there are ten unseen ethical lapses which may never come to light. That may not mean it's worthwhile to go ahead and swallow a scruple. But as the theme has gone, it's definitely important to examine the scruple as carefully as the possible offender against it.