The Highs and Lows of Publishing

I hope you’ve all seen the news about our exciting recent acquisitions: a pre-empt and four pre-Bologna deals. We are so happy with how our list is coming along, with so many fantastically talented authors, new and more established. And the response via Twitter yesterday was fabulous!

We’ve even outstripped all the erotica publishing news to be the most read story on Book Trade Info

But it isn’t all highs, and so before you think we are all smug, let me say that it doesn’t always work out that way. Did you know that publishers get rejected, too?

Like all publishers, we’ve done elaborate videos, sent crazy packages, delivered detailed (beautiful prezi) presentations… spent hours pouring over the content of the manuscripts to pick out just the right details to impress and ultimately not landed the deal.

But that’s just the way publishing goes. All the publishers who pitch think they are the best home for the author, and it can’t help but feel a little like being dumped when it ends up not to be you.

Our lovely intern Amy (@amyocelot) said it best when she said publishing is hard.

And so, we’ll wait and watch for announcements about who got those wonderful projects that we wanted and will wish all the best for those ones that got away.

(P.S. I didn’t actually get to offer on it because it was whisked off the table by those clever editors at Simon & Schuster last year, but one of these amazing books that you’ve got to read when it comes out is The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda. It’s awesome.)

We’d love to hear from any other publishing folk about their ones that got away…


14 responses to “The Highs and Lows of Publishing

  1. One that got away from me – The Weight of Water … a remarkable novel in verse by Sarah Crossan, which went to Bloomsbury. I knew it was special straight away, but couldn’t get in there fast enough …

  2. I was part of a pitch for the completely wonderful and amazing My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher. I so wanted to market that book, I had my campaign all planned out, and was gutted not to get to. I still grabbed a copy HB though and tell everyone I can how fantastic it is when I get the chance. Like now!

  3. Oh no! As an agent I feel even more miserable now about turning wonderful, wonderful publishers down. It’s the worst part of the job, especially when so much thought and creative brilliance went into their pitch. That is never, ever wasted however. Noted. Appreciated. And never wasted.

    Agents get rejected too. I’ve arranged last minute, emergency childcare; trudged through snow when trains were cancelled with the names of all the novelist’s characters written on a small card (I’ve got a terrible memory for names); and had lovely meetings with lovely authors whose book I adored, felt sure there was a real connection, and then discovered they’d picked someone else.

    You’re right, it is like being dumped.

    • Of course! Agents get turned down, too. I hadn’t thought about that. It is such a business of passion that we are in. And we definitely don’t regret going whole hog for those projects — we absolutely know they are worth the effort.

  4. Two weeks into a new job at Egmont, I fell in love with A Dog Called Homeless. But even my hand-baked, bone-shaped biscuits couldn’t keep it from HarperCollins. I still get a little choked when watching Crufts.

  5. Our jobs are so bittersweet. Sometimes you get to have a great surprise: I was working at publisher #1 when I read “How to rock braces and glasses”, which I loved to pieces. Unfortunatelly when I went to make an offer the agent told me it was already sold. But, surprise surprise! A few months later, I started to work at publisher #2… that was the one that got this amazing book! I was so happy! 🙂
    I used to have a great boss who teached me this: there are so many great books around; we will never be able to publish all of them. All we can do is wish they get good, loving homes, and buy a copy (or two) when it gets published!

    • I read HOW TO ROCK… when I was at Hodder and really liked it! Lucky you for finding it again. And it’s true — there are so many good books out there.

  6. Venetia Gosling

    Agh. This is too painful… I have loved and lost many books. My Sister… of course, Flipped, Love, Aubrey… It often goes in cycles, though, so you’re never down for long. Actually, just looking back through my unrequited offers, I spotted one for Astrosaurs, which obviously didn’t work out then, but we have just acquired the lovely Steve Cole for middle fiction, so there’s a happy ending for you!

  7. Painful indeed! The one above all others that I was devastated about was Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s Apprentice. I just felt that was MY book. I can remember the moment so clearly when I got the call to say it had gone elsewhere – I was gutted. I think it made it even more painful to see what a brilliant job Transworld did with it…

  8. I fell hard for Osbert the Avenger which will be published by Orchard in September. Really original and darkly comic… Can’t wait to see it in print and watch everyone else fall for it too. Just like true love, if you fall for a book and it’s unrequited, if you *really* love that book you just want it to be happy… even if it isn’t with you.

    • This is fascinating! I am still not over the marvellously silly Casper Candlewacks. As part of our pitch we wrote The Idiot’s Guide to Macmillan, featuring our stupidest moments ever – possibly doing too good a job of convincing the author and agent that wé were a load of dunces and thereby sending them straight into the arms of HCB! Doh. The Idiot’s Guide still gets talked about fondly at Christmas parties and is also quite useful for blackmail purposes.

      Also, Turf… Actually, I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about that one yet. I was GUTTED. It deserved to be fought over though, big time – one of the best voices I’d seen in ages. But, you know. Wh’evs. I’m over it. (Um, please can I have a finished copy, Random House?)

  9. I have two. I adored Ways to Live Forever – wept BUCKETS over that book – and was devastated not to get it. More recently, I fell head over heels for R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. I’m just pleased that the folks at Random have done a great job with it. It deserves to fly.

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