Question for writers seeking publication: how many heads would a publisher need to have before you didn’t want them to publish your book?
Here’s the background:
Just before Christmas I went to meet a very reputable publisher. Yes, I know – exciting! I’ll blog about the circumstances leading to this, and the outcome of all my agent’s hard work, in due course. But the point of this post is that I went to those offices worrying mostly about what they would think of me and my novel. I hadn’t even considered that I was also looking at them; that potentially I would need to make a choice if I wanted to work with them…or not. Had I overlooked something important? How would you have been feeling in the same situation?
Perhaps it’s that as an aspiring author, publishing houses seem remote and the idea of ‘can we work well together?’ is a long way down the list of our concerns. But maybe it shouldn’t be? I’ve certainly found in my day job that the kind of people I’ve worked with, and the company culture, has made all the difference to how enjoyable I’ve found my working life: On leaving university I joined an amazing company. The people I worked with were clever and personable and ambitious and yet I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. Most of my colleagues seemed similar to each other and different to me. When I left that job I was lucky enough to land a job at a company where I felt right at home with the people. In ways hard to define, they were like me. I loved my time there, it was a privilege working with them. It was fun.
My meeting with these editors was very much like being interviewed for that second job: I met three people at different levels, all of who were lovely and engaging and passionate and – honestly – I realised how much I would love to work with them. Not just be published by them, but the working part as well.
I’d been mulling all this over whilst we all had a holiday, whilst publishing cogs turn and my agent does her thing, and then yesterday I read this blog post on Rachelle Gardners blog about her client who is having a nightmare publishing experience. To the extent that seemingly her editor insisted on a new title for the book and a cover the author was very unhappy with…without actually having read the manuscript.
This is not good. So, are we so driven by forging our writing careers and being published that sometimes due diligence is overlooked?
My questions for you – If you have an agent and/or a publisher, how did you decide to work with them? Did you meet them before you signed up? If you don’t have an agent and/or a publisher and you met with a reputable one with a view to working together, what would you be looking for and what, if anything, would be a deal breaker?