Spring Break: Day One (and an unexpected agent rant)


The kids are out of school for 10 days beginning today. Ten freakin’ days! That never happened when I was in school, other than the Christmas break. Will I remain (relatively) sane? Stay tuned!

We’re still unable to pick up Sara’s dog. It’s a bit aggravating. After we paid for the puppy, the animal welfare people sent it to a foster home for care until it weighs two pounds, at which point it can be neutered. Why couldn’t we just bring it home and feed it, then return it for the surgery? The only thing sadder than a puppy dog face is seeing the same expression on the face of your daughter after she finally wore you down about getting the dog, but still has to wait for it.

I’ve prepared a synopsis and three chapters of The Prometheus Syndrome for mailing to Leisure Books. The novel is already at Nocturne Press and Hellbound Books. Walt at HBB told me he’s had to cut back because of financial issues resulting from last year’s hurricanes; he doesn’t know when he’ll get to read it, and with limited slots available now, the chances of him accepting it are slim. Eric at Nocturne has had the book for months and, last I heard, he told me that when he gets around to reading submissions again he’ll get to mine. Okay. Leisure’s response time, according to the Web site, is six to eight months, so I figure if I’m going to give them a shot I might as well do it now since I’m already waiting. I’ve had work rejected by Leisure in as little as a month and sent other things, got confirmation it was received, and never heard back.

Why isn’t my agent submitting The Prometheus Syndrome? Good question. He has two copies of the manuscript, which he asked for, but he’s never sent them anywhere. He also has two copies of my juvenile novel Songbird, which he’s never sent anywhere. The bottom line is that, after asking for a more traditional horror novel, which TPS is, he decided that if Amara’s Prayer is not picked up by the publisher looking at it now, we’ll part ways. Eh, why beat around the bush at this point? I had to goad him into sending the book to Tor because I thought it fit their guidelines. He resisted; I insisted. He said he sent it, but I never got the usual invoice for the mailing and he’s ignored the part of my e-mails where I ask which editor he sent it to. Last week I ended up calling Melissa Singer at Tor, just looking for confirmation the book was submitted. I haven’t heard back from her yet.

I hated doing that. I know what a freakin’ hassle that must be to an editor. But I did it because I’ve now had two people tell me about an editor at another house who is interested in stories like Amara’s Prayer. I told Lantz about this last May when I first heard this editor was complaining about not getting enough good supernatural fiction, and he refused to send the book. I think his excuse was that all the publishers were getting ready for a major book fair and wouldn’t be looking at submissions. Now, a friend with an excellent track record — including books published with this other house — has read Amara’s Prayer and he suggested it might be a good fit with this house. Of course, it’s a house that doesn’t look at unsolicited submissions.

So, I’m in the position of having an agent who won’t send out my books. The bad thing is that I actually checked out this agent before signing with him. Yeah, he was new to the business, but the clients I asked were happy with him. And yet, here I am, stalled out again. Publish America. 3F Publications. That first crazy agent who will remain nameless here. Now this.

This is not what I envisioned when I began pounding out stories 20 years ago.

Hmm. This is not the direction I intended to go with today’s entry. I should probably friends-lock this … but won’t. If you’re a young writer reading this and it scares you, maybe you should stop while you can.

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11 thoughts on “Spring Break: Day One (and an unexpected agent rant)

  1. This is EXACTLY why I won’t be looking at agents until I absolutely HAVE to. I’ve had TWO just like that guy. Seemed all good and shiny on the outside, but then NOTHING. Wouldn’t send out stuff (or wanted me to do all that for them). If I’m going to do the work myself – why do I need to pay them 10 – 15% of my income?
    Agents (as a species – NOT as individual people) suck. But in some cases, they’re a necessary evil. I’m twice bitten. I won’t go softly into that good night again.

    • It sucks. You want the big deal, they say you have to have an agent, then you end up burned and no closer to your goal than you were months before. And yet, we choose this business. There are more pleasant forms of masochism. Or, so I’ve heard.

  2. Yeah. You can read all about my philosophies on agents in a few days. My essay (currently 5500 words and slowly growing, God help me) goes live on Storyteller’s Unplugged on the 12th.
    Are you going to WHC? They have oitch sessions for a reason, you know.

    • Those are 5500+ words I very much look forward to reading, Jim.
      No, I won’t be at WHC. Couldn’t scrape up the money this year. I’m hoping to make WFC since it’s in (long) driving distance. And Horrorfind. I hope to see you again at one or both of those.

      • No World Fantasy for me. No way I can afford that unless I suddenly get a movie deal or win the lottery (I suspect the likelihood is the same for either).
        But I’ll be doing my best to hit HorrorFind. I love that damned show.

  3. Say what?
    This is not what I envisioned when I began pounding out stories 20 years ago.
    What? You mean this writing stuff isn’t all big checks and swank soirees? That’s it, I quit!
    I’m with you on this ups and downs business, though. And I don’t know, it’s just me, but an agent that won’t do the footwork when there’s a promising avenue . . . I have to think this agent doesn’t have faith in you, Steve. (Which shoves him a good way toward duncehood, in my carefully considered opinion.)
    I know it sucks, but I’d toss him overboard and either find a new one or pay yourself 10-15% of whatever you make.

    • Re: Say what?
      I agree on the tossing overboard … I’m just not sure what would happen with Tor if I fired the agent before hearing back from them. I think the book would be a good fit there, and I’d love to have them publish it, but at this point I almost wish they’d just reject so I can move on.
      (And I’d settle for big checks and let you have the swank soirees.)

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