Monday, October 28, 2013

Nightmare Publishing Experiences


I've had a rough few days. As I popped aspirin today at the day job, I thought about how stressful and awful some parts of the last 7 years have been. Ever since I signed my first "traditional" publishing deal. This past weekend, another chapter ended. With a disappointing whimper. I'm somewhere in the vicinity of sad/pissed off. And I'm feeling demonic.

So, I invite you to share your most horrific publishing experiences here in the comments, simply because I am hoping they will make me feel better. [Yeah. It's all about me.]

Let's not use any names of publishing companies or editors or agents. I don't need any more bad karma. Give them a nice fake name and tell your tale. I won't breathe a word. Promise.

The more gruesome, the better.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When visiting New York an editor once left her office door open while she told me I wasn't a very good writer, so that's why I hadn't advanced in the system. Which is why they'd bought 15 books from me at this point. My shitty writing. The door being open so the world could hear was just one fun part of that relationship.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Yikes. That's shitty. Let's make a voodoo doll of that editor.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Done and done. Success far elsewhere has been the greatest revenge. LOL

6:13 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Yes. I keep trying to remember: living well [and making a lot of non-traditional money] is the best revenge.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying to hire a new agent, and I'm also having trouble with a deadline (as in, by contract, my revised manuscript is nearly due, but I haven't seen the revision letter yet).

I ask not-yet-hired agent if she'd make a phone call about the situation for me.

Agent phones the senior editor, explaining that I'm thinking about hiring Agent, and can we get me the revision letter or extend the deadline.

Editor just blurts out to agent I haven't hired yet that I'm an okay writer, but I'll never be anything special.

Gee, thanks.

I hired the agent. If we can laugh about something like that, I knew we could work together.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

I'm impressed. I expected you to say the agent got the hell outta Dodge, but if she stuck around and laughed with you, that's definitely a hopeful sign! Come on! You must have a more horrible tale than that!!

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just say the editor was known for not being the easiest person to work with. :)

6:24 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

LOL. That could be almost anybody! Divas abound.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Laura Resnick said...

For several years, I had an editor who was monumentally incompetent, unprofessional, irresponsible, unreliable, and mendacious. The continual nightmarish stress of dealing with someone that screwed up, inept, and dishonest, who had so much of -my- income and -my- career under his control, wound up making me ill for well over a year. I experienced depression, insomnia, chronic digestive and intestinal disorders, mysterious skin rashes, chronic muscle spasms and facial ticks, chronic migraines, and a weird psychosomatic pain that spread from my neck to my shoulder and down my arm until (clue! clue!) I COULD NO LONGER TYPE.

(I normally enjoy good health, and those chronic stress illnesses and weird symptoms were unique in my life--never happened to me before or since.)

Meanwhile, my then-agent, who was a pal of this editor's, was a manipulative and abusive control freak whose only goal seemed to be to make me roll over and accept this nightmarish editor's behavior. In pursuit of that goal, the agent regularly bullied me and lied to me.

I've been in very difficult career situations more than once, but the years of working with that editor, that agent, and the publisher were hands-down the low point of my career, the most miserable and hopeless I ever felt. (Which is ironic, since I was being published in hardcover and paid decent advances. Indeed, part of what made it all so surreal was that this chapter of my career was supposedly my big break! Go figure.)

Well, I decided I'd rather quit writing than continue living like that, so I refused to keep working with the editor (which decision the agent had mendaciously told me wouldn't be allowed, would ruin my career, blah blah blah) and then I fired the agent. I figured I didn't "need" either of them, since I was leaving the business...

And AS SOON as I got those two out of my life, the whole show turned around. My career revived and rebooted within a couple of months, and SO DID MY SANITY. I realized how much several years of being smothered between that nightmarish editor and that abusive agent had destroyed my confidence and warped my perceptions, to the point where I had wound up believing the utterly non-sensical garbage they fed me about me being a mediocre, disappointing, unmarketable writer whom no one else was willing to work with.

The editor subsequently left that company years later in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal. The agent continued being a thorn in my side for years after I fired him--which was annoying, but not damaging, and just seemed so pathetic.

And I am having a very enjoyable career these days, with 2013 being the best-earning year of my life. So take it from me, living well really is the best revenge! :)

Laura Resnick
THE MISFORTUNE COOKIE (DAW Books, Nov 2013)

12:43 AM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Laura: Now that's truly a horrible story -- dealing with so much crap it made you lose confidence and get sick. And I can absolutely relate. The only good time period I've really had in the last 7 years was a few months in 2010 when [because one of my agents had managed to keep the ebook rights to my first two novels before ebook rights were the hot property they are now] I put my novels and short things up myself. I was shocked by the amount of money I made. After I accepted a new print deal, everything went to hell again shortly thereafter. So, I think there's a lesson in there! I am hoping to also have a "best-earning year of my life" after the dust settles sometime in the near future. Thanks so much for sharing this! It really does make me feel better.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Thea Hutcheson said...

A story I submitted to an anthology was accepted by the editor. But the publisher had problems with the story. She kept asking for rewrites and the three of us discussed the story's "problems" for several weeks and the publisher and editor finally decided they weren't going to be able to come to an agreement and they dropped my story from the anthology. I understood, I guess. But it was a painful process and I have never picked up that story again or done anything with it.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Vonna Harper said...

I can't top Laura R.s experiences but as you know, I have a nightmare of my own. Unfortunately The End hasn't been written yet. Give me more time?

2:24 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Thea: I think we put up with too much crap. That was a crummy thing for them to do. How demoralizing. I hope you'll get that story back out someday and find a home for it. Thanks so much for sharing your terrible story!!

5:42 PM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Vonna: I'm hoping your nightmare turns out as good as it possibly can for you. Talk about arrogant, oblivious people. I'm shaking my head.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, last year I went 4 months without ANY income. I'm a full time writer, this I know, so I have savings. A NYT selling/multi award winning author told me she went A YEAR WITHOUT INCOME due to an incompetent editor.

And, BTW, I turned in book #1 in a tight-deadline series of 3, was in the middle of book 2 before I got ANY feedback whatsoever...luckily the feedback was no major revisions...but the adventure continues.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Ack! No income! If I went without income for one month, I'd be living in my car. I'm sorry your editor was so difficult. Seems like a pretty regular occurrence to me these days. At this moment, I can't imagine anything that would get me to seek out a deal from a legacy publisher. [Yes, these grapes are really sour.] I really wish I could quit my day job and just write. Maybe now that I'm not dealing with what others think, I can write and get a money stream going again.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Syed Kazim Ali said...

Latest All Hot Current Affairs, Bollywood News updates, funny and lol pictures
HotCurrentAffairs

5:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home