...not the news I was hoping to bring.
A few months ago, I sent the opening three chapters of my second to last book to a small American publisher. The Death and Life of Benjamin Harwood, if you're wondering. They asked for another few chapters after about a month. Then around late October/early November, they asked for the full ms. Result, I think, and send it. They reply - they have a couple of other books to read before mine, but they'll be in touch. I get on with going over TRG and working on the odd short story. I hear nothing from the publisher until the beginning of Februrary when I get an email with a contract attached and a brief message which is along the lines of 'we didn't hear back from you about our offer. Are you interested?'
There's a good reason they didn't hear back from me. I didn't get the email. As far as I'm concerned, the email is currently AWOL, probably on a desert island somewhere, working on its tan. So I of course replied to tell them (not mentioning the desert island bit) and asked for a couple of days to go over the contract. I tell my wife and resist the urge to tell the world I'm going to be published. Instead, I ask a fellow AW'er to have a look at the contract for me. She does and points out a few issues with it. Firstly, clause two is a little short. As in, short sections C and D. They're as AWOL as the original email. The clause goes from section B to E. You'd think I would have noticed this, wouldn't you? Anyway, a couple of other issues mainly to do with rights and copyright come up and while none of them were immediate red flags, they needed clarifying. So I replied to the publisher, asking if we could go over the missing sections and other issues. I hear nothing.
After a couple of weeks, I sent a gentle nudge. Still nothing. So after a lot of discussion with my wife and asking advice from a few published writers, I emailed the publisher yesterday and told them I was withdrawing my manuscript as it didn't appear they wanted to talk about the issues with the contract.
Here's the thing. This industry moves sloooooooooowwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllllyyyyyyyyy. I know it. I can handle it. While I wouldn't expect the publisher to drop everything to talk to me, I think I could expect at least a reply, a 'we're looking into this and we'll get back to you'. But since nothing came in reply, all I could take from that was they're weren't interested. And while that puts me back where I was with this book almost six months ago, I stand by my decision. Put it this way. Nobody would think it was a good idea to sign a contract for a job that didn't outline what the employer was offering for a salary, would they?
And if they offered a contract, somebody else might do the same thing.