To contemplate being a bit of a diva and stamp my feet a bit WRT publishers?

(30 Posts)

It's all a bit alarming but I am quite cross TBH. The situation is that publisher A 'commissioned' me to write a book, which I did. Initially, publisher A was making all sorts of encouraging noises bout the new imprint etc, but they haven't done much with the other titles they put out (or rather, sneaked out as ebooks without even letting the authors know so they could promote themselves). Though the book has been written and copy-edited and they have designed a cover for it, I still haven't had a contract and nothing has been signed.

Publisher B has commissioned another book from me, and Publisher B is lovely, enthusiastic, organised etc. So I was having a whine to B about how tiresome A is being, and Publisher B would actually be quite happy to have the book given that A doesn't seem to give a flying fuck.

So AIBU to tell A to fuck off, I'm taking my toys home and not playing with them any more? Or should I do a 'more in sorrow than in anger' email and see if they offer me more sweeties?

escape Wed 24-Jul-13 15:08:09

Offer you more what though? They haven't offered you anything so far except asking you to write a book, which you have with no contract/terms? ( unless I read wrong )

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 24-Jul-13 15:09:27

Well, you have no contract with A, why not go with B? Have any expenses been incurred by A they could legitimately claim back?

MyNameIsSuz Wed 24-Jul-13 15:13:58

That no contract thing sounds dodgy to me. Have you asked them about the contract? If you've reminded them and they still haven't sent anything, then I'd take it to publisher B. However, I would be upfront with publisher A and tell them before you do anything what you are thinking of doing and why, they may pull their finger out. And if not, at least you have a clear conscience. I'd worry otherwise that if they've spent money on production already they won't be willing to let this go, contract or not.

Just out of interest, what kind of book are you writing - trade or academic?

wriggletto Wed 24-Jul-13 15:22:32

Did you tell Publisher A about book 2? If not, sell book 2 to Publisher B but do it under a different pen name, unless it's part of a series. And this time, make sure you get a contract from them before you give them the ms, or else you might suddenly find the terms have changed dramatically between agreeing it in principle, and them actually committing to a contract. You're in a much weaker position to bargain!

Well Publisher A have paid/will have to pay the person who did the copy edit. But if they themselves were to decide not to publish the book after it had been copy-edited, they would still have to pay the copy editor for the work done. I expect they will have incurred some costs for the cover design they did (though not sure whether they have an in-house cover design team who are paid a regular monthly salary rather than per individual cover).

They have said more than once that the contract is 'on its way' but no sign of it. I was even asked, a few months back, to finish the book faster so it could be brought forward in the list.

Sorry to be a bit cagey here but Publisher A, in particular, is a big firm. My specific book is (or was supposed to be) part of a range/series of titles in a small subdivision of the big firm. I am not sure that they are not going to pull the whole subdivision.

wriggletto Wed 24-Jul-13 15:27:56

Oh, sorry, I misread - you're talking about giving book 1 to Publisher B? I'm not sure that'd be easy to do, to be honest. If they've copyedited it, and have designed a cover, then arguably they've committed money to it, even without a contract. Was the plan to publish as an e-book first, then do a print edition?

I'd be leaning on them for a contract, asap. If they've already published digitally, then you'd be a due a publication payment, as well as signature and delivery advances! Have you tried the Society of Authors for some basic advice about where you stand legally?

Book 2 is already sold to B with signed contract (there has never been any mention of exclusivity from A because all of us involved with the imprint have other jobs).

wriggletto Wed 24-Jul-13 15:31:56

Has Publisher A listed Book 1 in its catalogue, or put it on Amazon? Have they paid you for it?

Wrigletto: part of my reason for wanting to sell book 1 to B is I am concerned that A might suddenly go oh well, actually, we're not going to publish it at all, we are closing down that imprint.

Signature and delivery advances? Bwahaha, does anyone get those these days?

B is also quite interested, I think, in the possibility of a little press coverage/industry gossip about how they swiped The Book from A and yah boo, etc. So it's all quite exciting but quite unnerving.

wriggletto Wed 24-Jul-13 15:39:56

Well, normally, in that case Publisher B would have to buy out your contract with Publisher A - not sure how that would work if they haven't already paid you for it, or issued a contract, and also if Publisher A got a whiff of any potential bestsellerdom coming from Publisher B, they'd be reluctant to let it go. But then if Publisher B is confident that there's money to be made...

As far as the imprint goes, are we talking a genre featuring black covers with random spotlit keys/shoes/spatulas, etc? What makes you think they're going to pull the whole imprint?

wriggletto Wed 24-Jul-13 16:41:27

Sorry, sorry, that sounded much less snotty in my head than it reads on screen... It's the heat... blush Apols if I'm making wrong assumptions, but had it in my head that you'd already written a fantastically well-received erotic novel? Which would certainly be the genre to be in right now.

Wriggleto. Erm, it's that sort of thing. Long story and please don't mention any names...

arabesque Wed 24-Jul-13 18:05:53

YANBU and am envy that you have two publishers wanting to publish you.

wriggletto Wed 24-Jul-13 18:36:49

Publisher A is being unprofessional and taking advantage of the fact you're unagented by dragging its heels over the contract - although some publishers are notoriously slow with contracts, most agents wouldn't let it happen (not least because they wouldn't get paid until you did!).

I don't think you need to worry about A not publishing; if they've done a cover and copyedited it, I'd be very surprised if they're not planning to go ahead, unless you've heard rumblings to the contrary? And even if they binned the whole imprint, the rights would revert to you anyway, as it'd be out of print, unless they transferred the books to their main digital list (although this is the sort of thing that you really need your contract to check on; with e-publishing, it's not as simple as 'there's no stock in the warehouse' - you need to specify a minimum no. of annual downloads to count as 'in print').

If it boils down to simply preferring to have Book 1 with Publisher B now, then you really need more specific advice - the Society of Authors is helpful, or ask an agent. Giving Publisher A a deadline to produce a contract might just result in you getting one by return email, which then ties you to that deal. What do you actually want Publisher A to do? Send you a contract? Pay you for the book (if they haven't)? Or release you from the contract altogether (unlikely, if they've gone this far down the production process)?

Mumsyblouse Wed 24-Jul-13 19:14:40

I am not sure on this one, wouldn't your correspondence show you have a verbal/written contract even if you haven't signed it? Crap not to have got a copy of the contract though. I would seek legal advice because I'm not sure how easy it is to jump.

Mumsyblouse Wed 24-Jul-13 19:18:54

And, I agree, if it's in the catalogue with a cover already decided, it's unlikely they won't go ahead now.

It's great that Publisher B like your stuff though, why not see how they do with publicity, I've used a very large publisher and although I like them, they are not that great at publicizing the book as the editor of that section left and I don't feel they are pushing it at all so it kind of negates going with a larger publisher for the wider distribution.

You have one with each now- see how both do, and then decide where to place any further books on that basis. I feel your pain though, having bothered to write, you want to get the best deal you can (unless you are trotting them out in your sleep).

Corygal Wed 24-Jul-13 19:23:47

Gold - I have had several book contracts and never signed any of them (am gladder than you MN is anon). Because I want control of my text in case, for instance, the ever-greedy pubs decided to anthologise or something in which case I could say it was mine and get paid again. And have right of veto about what of mine goes out and when.

Poacher turned gamekeeper, see.

Make sure B will buy book and for how much. Get draft contract/email of intent from B. Then email your editor at A and say you're pulling the book by the end of the month unless you hear or get paid. CC pub director.

Bugger them, A can't get you for anything. They won't want to pay a lawyer for a book they failed themselves to buy. Twats. Sell it happily to B. Who would be the better pub for you long term? B, presum.

Corygal Wed 24-Jul-13 19:25:12

Mind you, maybe the smart money is getting paid from A, waiting till the imprint is pulled, and selling it to B.

If A have anything like a catalogue, I haven't seen it. Since they started this imprint, they have commissioned a few novels and some anthologies of short stories. I have also contributed to the anthologies (and am waiting to be paid; no actual contract for those, either...) Given that the anthologies that have been 'published' so far have sort of crept out via a couple of download sites without anyone telling the authors that the anthologies are out I am really hoping that A carry on basically ignoring me and I can just throw a strop, bundle up my book and give it to B, who will treat me better.

kitnkaboodle Thu 25-Jul-13 01:00:12

I'm struggling to understand why you would write a book for anyone without having a contract in place ....??

And if they have published the books online without permission then they are breaking copyright law - especially if they are actually selling them

It all seems very fishy - please tell me that you haven't paid them anything/contributed towards the books' production ....

I'm a writer and I've always had a contract and advances on royalties. Very legit. That' academic publishing, tho'

Kit: Well, I trusted them. The (contracted freelance) series editor is someone I have known for years, and everything was all very exciting at the beginning. Also there was no need, or so it seemed, to fuss about anything while actually getting on with the writing of the book.
I can't name the publisher obviously but it's a big, well-known company - probably so big that the little minor imprints are just sort of ignored and allowed to be run in this sloppy manner.

loolooskiptotheloo Thu 25-Jul-13 07:59:28

Don't you have an agent? I thought it was very hard to get published without one and if so what do they say? Congratulations on your success so far in a very difficult industry.

No, no agent. But I have had a book or two out in the past and a lot of contacts - it's a small, specialist field (and actually one of the few where an unagented, unknown author still has a chance of sending in a manuscript and having the publisher look at it, like it and buy it.)

Now feeling miserable and scared. No word from either A or B, but have just sent email to series editor at A going, actually, I have no idea what rights I would be signing away, or how much I would be paid, or anything and I'm quite scared that they are going to put the book out on some obscure downloadable site therefore claiming some sort of publishing rights, and basically just bury it. Theoretically I think I could still just snatch it back and stamp my feet and self-publish, but then I'm going to look like a deluded whanger who never had a book deal at all...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now