WHAT WENT WRONG: The Publisher Version
1. The publication that never was. John, you mentioned in your recent post Strange but True, that you have received acceptance letters from publishers who then realized they sent them to the wrong person. I can do you one better (if you really want to call it that.)
This year, I received a very public congratulations from the Ontario Library Association for being a finalist for their YA award. I was thrilled! It was my first YA crime book, after 16 adult ones, and they don't usually give awards to crime books. I basked in glory and excitement for about five minutes until I realized the title of the book they mentioned was not the book I had written. There ensued a very public retraction. Everywhere. And apology. I am not sure there is anything more embarrassing than receiving a very public apology for an honour snatched back from you.
2. It isn't often a publisher buys ads for your book and we all celebrate when they do. The publisher of Rowena and the Dark Lord was out to create gold. The first book in the series was a bestseller. So they decided to throw money at book 2, advertising it at more than two dozen places. And throw money, they did. Throw it away, that is. Unfortunately, the ad company misspelled the title of the book in all the ads. ROWENA AND THE DARK LARD might be popular in cooking circles, but it didn't make a splash with the epic fantasy audience to which it was targeted.
3. Back in the mid 90s, I was making it, or so I thought. Had some stories with STAR magazine. Broke into Hitchcock. And later, big time, with Moxie magazine. Remember Moxie? Up there with Good Housekeeping and Cosmo? No, perhaps you don't. I was really pleased when they offered me a 50% kill fee of $750. Not that I wanted to collect it, but it was a status symbol back then to get offered kill fees in your short story contract. Unfortunately, if you story is killed because the magazine goes under, ain't nothing left for a kill fee. Big time becomes no time.
WHAT WENT WRONG: The Event Version
1. It's always tough when you are shortlisted for a prize and you don't win. It's even tougher when you are actually at the gala event, and all your friends are waiting for you to be named the winner. Tougher still, when you are shortlisted in TWO categories, and you don't win either.
But that doesn't touch the case when you are the actual Emcee for the event, you've just finished doing an opening stand-up routine to great applause, you have media there and a full house, you are shortlisted in two categories, and you don't win a sausage. And still have to run the rest of the event from the stage.
This is why they invented scotch.
WHAT WENT WRONG: The Agent Version
1. No fewer than THREE big production companies have approached my agent about optioning The Goddaughter series for TV. This has gone on for four years, and included hours of negotiating. "Really excited - back to you on Friday!" said the last one. That was last summer. I'm still waiting to see any money.
2. My first agent was a respected older gent from New York. Sort of a father figure, very classy. Like some - okay many - agents, he wasn't the best at getting back to us in a timely manner, particularly by email. We kind of got used to it. So it was with some shock that I got a phone call from another author, who had discovered that the reason we hadn't heard back from J is because he had died two months before. Nobody had gotten around to telling us.
I have a really good agent now. She's still alive, which I've found is a huge advantage in an agent.
Here's the book that was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award last year, along with that short story that also didn't win (pass the scotch):
Remember the A-Team? We're not them.
But if you've been the victim of a scam, give us a call.
We deal in justice, not the law. We're the B-Team.
At all the usual suspects including....