Thursday, January 06, 2011
The Manuscript That Destroyed Publishing As We Know It
To all the authors, editors, bookstore owners, and agents out there, I extend my heartfelt apologies. It’s all my fault. I admit it. All those publishers closing their doors or merging. All those bookstores closing…I’m just sick about it. But the first step to healing is admitting the problem. And the problem is my manuscript. Specifically, manuscript X. It has another title, but given its impact on the industry, I’m afraid to use the real title for fear of causing even more tragedy as it slowly spreads through the blog-o-sphere.
This is a true story.
Or at least mostly true.
Well, the beginning is true, and here it is.
About six years ago, I wrote a manuscript. It was a murder mystery. Call it X. X was pretty darn good. Maybe not great, but good. So I sent it to an agent. The agent was interested, but before anybody signed a contract, someone died in the agent’s family and she quit working for a while. Sorry. Just a coincidence and a sad one, at that. I sent flowers.
Then I started resubmitting X and pretty soon, found another agent. She was interested, too, but before we signed anything, she got ill and decided to stop being an agent for a while. I was really sorry about that. Sent more flowers and signed up to be able to send flowers to agents at the press of a button on my cell phone.
Started using a death’s head icon for the manuscript file. It was just a joke. Really.
But starting to fear the manuscript was not healthy for agents, I submitted the manuscript to a small press publisher. The publisher liked it. We talked about a contract but then the economy tanked. (My fault. Sorry.) The publisher went out of business as a result.
Now, despite these odd coincidences, I didn’t learn and I kept submitting the darn thing. As it wended its way through the publishing industry, more companies slowly went out of business. Or for those that survived, a series of editors quit. So did a few of the agents I sent it to at various intervals, still trying to maintain the pretense that I had nothing to do with this growing horror.
Finally, I stopped. And tonight, I’m looking at X and wondering…if I go the self-publishing route with Amazon, are they big and strong enough to survive the curse of X? Or will it cause the e-publishing market to implode before it even matures? Or worse, will I finally succumb to the curse since I will be stepping into the shoes of an editor if I self-publish? That’s a scary thought. My chickens may come home to roost.
That’s not pleasant. I raise chickens. I know what those little devils are capable of. In fact, I may someday write a true horror story about evil fowl. Assuming there is still a market for books.
If I was a thoughtful, decent person, wouldn’t I stop the destruction by deleting all traces of manuscript X?
Maybe. But like my chickens, I’m not that nice.