Mark Terry

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Baffled, Bewildered & Bemused

March 4, 2008
I have stolen this quote from Jodi Picoult and used it as my own, primarily because in my experience it's true. That is to say, something along the lines of, "New York publishing says, 'I hate you, I hate you, I hate you,' for a long time and then grudgingly lets you in. Hollywood says, 'I love you, I love you, I love you' then does nothing."

So here's some things that happened to me on Monday. First, my latest novel to make the rounds received its first rejection out of New York. It said:

It's a tantalizing premise and the author's hand with it is assured.  But I never found myself as surprised by the outcome of events as I would need to be, if we were to launch this aggressively into a woefully glutted suspense marketplace.

Then, later in the day, I received an e-mail from my agent with a hotshot Hollywood agent's take on the same novel:

"(The novel) is very good, but, again, we need to wait to see what the market wants these days. We don’t want to just rush Mark’s stuff out into a market place flooded with submissions. He’s a wonderful writer, and will have a career in Hollywood."

To the first I responded to my agent with the following message: "Huh."

To the second I responded to my agent with the following message: "As Cuba Gooding said, 'Show me the money...'"

To further make yesterday a little strange, around 1:15 or so I received a sort of breathless phone call from the personal assistant of a major technical publisher. This publisher had co-created a business publication that I'm doing work for, although all my dealings had been with the publisher's co-creator. She wanted to talk to me, could she call me at 3:00.

"Sure," says I.

At 3:00 nothing happened except my oldest son came home from school. At 3:30 still nothing had happened except it had begun to rain, so I left to pick up my youngest son so he wouldn't have to walk home in the freezing rain. When I got back there was a message from the PA apologizing, the publisher's meeting was taking longer than planned.

Whatever, so I went back to what I was doing. Around 4:00 the PA called me again asking if I would be available this evening to speak with the publisher. I said, "Sure," and she told me the publisher would call me at 8:00.

Now, you have to understand, this is roughly like getting a phone call from the head of Putnam. This is a major publisher. And right on the dot she calls me at 8:00. There have been some changes in the new publication, she'll be the point person for it now, tell me about yourself. So I did. She rather quickly (she has a reputation for not mulling things over) asked me if I was interested in doing more work and making more money and increasing my income by working with her overall publishing group. I said (yes, there's a theme here), "Sure." She told me to send her my resume as well as to re-send the invoice I'd sent her partner, she would send it on to her VP and to at least one of her specific publication's editor. She thanked me for my time, we said we looked forward to working with each other, and then we said goodnight.

Now, all things being equal, these are all pretty good examples of how fiction publishing works, Hollywood works, and nonfiction specialty publishers work, at least in a general broad way, and, I suppose I should add, for me. I remind myself that hanging on for the wild ride is at least part of the fun.

As for the freezing rain...

Yesterday, with temperatures around 40, my neighborhood streets were covered with about 4 inches of slush and water (I'm not kidding). This morning, it's about 20 degrees, so the streets look like the surface of a glacier. I walked my youngest to school and he fell three times (that's partly because he was treating the road like a skating rink, while I was treating it more like a sprained ankle and bruised hip; ah, youth!). The weather report for tomorrow? Five to eight inches of snow.

I am so looking forward to spring.

Mark Terry


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sound very exciting. As for fiction, does it seem like either there's no market for something or else, if there is a market, the market is invariably glutted?

8:51 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

My suspicion is that the world of "fiction publishing" always has one excuse or another.

Nobody's reading.

We're flooded with suspense, romance, mysteries (fill in the blank).


Ever see the movie Tootsie? There's the scene with Dustin Hoffman and Sidney Pollack in the Russian Tea Room where Pollack gives all the excuses why nobody wants to work with Hoffman: they want somebody taller, they want somebody shorter.

Hoffman keeps saying, "I can play tall. I can put lifts in my shoes."

Finally Pollack says, "They want somebody ELSE."

9:39 AM  
Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Spring? I've heard rumors of this (nervous twitch) in other regions of the world. Not here! Certainly not! Here's your (or my)next novel idea: An aspiring author goes insane sometime around March in Michigan, buries his entire family under a thin crust of snow then eats the neighbor's yapping dogs. I'll call it "Die Jack Frost Die you inscrupulous bastard DIE!"

I'm okay now...really.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Okay, Ron. Go lie down under a sunlamp somewhere.

10:58 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Love that title.

Hate the word, "glutted."

Your situation reminds me of the urban myth that says when your work is going well, your relationship is not, and when your relationship is going great, the work is not going well.

I don't believe in that, though. I'm crossing my fingers for you!

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