There is a naughty list.
As fair readers know, in addition to my starry-eyed writing adventures, I acquire and produce audiobooks. I also work as a developmental and line editor on print and ebook editions.
The last year, I've produced a lot--- a few hundred audiobooks and a handful of paper/ebook editions.
So let's say, 300 deals went down, just to give it a round number. Out of 300, 270 were spirited, rewarding, well-matched negotiations. I doff my furry cap.
But out of that ~300... I'd say 10%... flushed their author down the toilet.
Did you hear the drain circling? What does it take, precisely, to earn the Royal Flush?
Naughty Agent, Naughty Publisher....
1. Never responded to inquiry about their authors' subsidiary rights.
(e.g., ebook, audio rights, translation rights, etc.)
2. Responded to query but never reacted to offer.
3. Responded "Yes!" to offer, but never negotiated deal, disappeared.
4. Negotiated a deal to their satisfaction, but never signed and returned the contract.
5. Never told their author that there was an offer, money, a deal on the table.
6. Signed deal, never told author. Cashed the check.
7. Never furnished a manuscript to the publishing partner. Book missed its launch, thereby missing most of the royalties it would have earned its opening months.
8. Upon noting missing manuscript, informed partners their hands were tied because their own author wasn't allowed to have a copy. Hilarious.
9. Made the deal but complained bitterly that their author was sent complimentary copies of their work, as it was a surprise--- they had never informed author of deal.
10. Did not tell a single soul that the author had a new book or edition out. No emails, no phone calls, no Facebook, no Twitter--- best-kept secret in publishing history.
Extra points: Drunk and disorderly while executing above.
Really extra points: Showing up with no pants on.
Coup de Gras: Still don't realize this post is about them.
Santa doesn't like it when writers get the shaft. After all, Santa owes everything to fiction.
The Naughty Parties will not be getting a lump of coal, for that would only add to their footprint.
Instead, The Naughties will get shame. Among our peers, anonymity will not be preserved. Their prestige is a cruel joke. Their authors are being held hostage by their practices. And that last part is unconscionable.
What does a righteous publisher or agent do for their authors?
After all, a lot of foxes might be trying to raid the henhouse. Are they just supposed to roll over and sign anything to make a dime?
No, no, no. As their peer, I like'em feisty and quick-witted.
If a publisher or agent debates an offer over how much their author's work is worth--- that's the spirit. They should ask/demand everything they want. It's a negotiation, not a dropped ball.
If they call me-- or any editor-- and tell me that I'm the one who should be hurrying up, or that I've made a mistake--- they're the best representative you could have.
If they read the contract so closely they're noting a comma on p. 11, Paragraph 4, excellent. That's the kind of person I'd want to be representing me.
If they want to know what our marketing plan is, show me theirs, throw down the gauntlet and make sure I'm up to the task... I'm on Cloud 9.
If they regularly talk about sales and what we should be doing in the future... any author would purr in contentment. You are in the "good hands" we hear so much about.
And speaking of good hands: Happy New Year to all who write in public, publish without fear or favor— and never cease. May sugarplums dance in your heads at every turn of the page.