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mscelina
03-14-2011, 08:15 PM
I read this amazing blog post from Ian Tregellis (sf/f author of Bitter Seeds, the first book in the Milkweed Triptych trilogy coming from Tor) today and wanted to share it.

You always think that ONE you get the agent, ONCE you get the book deal, everything's going to go just as it's supposed to. But in his post Milkweed Update (or, what the hell is going on with The Coldest War?) (http://www.iantregillis.com/index.cfm?blog=212) Tregellis relates a series of disheartening delays and snafus that would be enough to break the spirit of a lot of writers.



Look... I know I'm not the only person to ever fall through the cracks of publishing. And, hell, even though I did, it's not like I rely upon writing to pay my mortgage. And other writers have been through worse experiences (although this situation is pretty extreme by most standards).

And in the grand scheme of things, considering the state of the world right now, it's small potatoes.

But you know what? This was still a crappy situation. Nobody denies it.
I haven't written much in the past few months. Once I figured out that Coldest War was getting delayed again beyond October 2011 (I say "figured out" because nobody ever told me up-front about any of these three delays), much of my desire to work on a new novel evaporated. Sorta seems pointless, you know? I already have two books languishing in an endless pipeline. I haven't felt motivated to exacerbate the backlog while it remains unclear how or when that goddamned pipe will get unplugged.


Can't blame him for that at all. But, this post is a good indication of how publication delays aren't always the fault of the author--and that even people with the best intentions can sometimes mess everything up. I thought this post was so informative and helpful that I'm off to the bookstore to buy Bitter Seeds. I thought the post would make for an interesting conversation over here.

Jamesaritchie
03-14-2011, 08:45 PM
He lost me when he says he hasn't been writing much the last few months. He isn't falling through a crack, he's busy causing a new crack, and making the existing one much wider than it should be.

Delays are not cracks, they're just a normal part of business. You handle them by writing your ass off, not by sitting around moping.

scarletpeaches
03-14-2011, 08:48 PM
I don't get why he says it's pointless to work on anything new. How does that help him get out of this rut? When this is all dealt with, he'll have nothing new to present to readers who have been waiting. Doesn't seem like a smart move to me.

Ineti
03-14-2011, 09:01 PM
One the one hand, I agree that it's sad that this writer had to experience the snail-like pace of traditional publishing.

On the other hand, writers who've done some research should know that traditional publishing is slow and that books are often delayed, for any number of reasons, often having squat to do with the writer.

On the third hand, this is a good reminder for some that epublishing/self-publishing may be a route to explore in addition to traditional publishing. He could be writing short stories or other novels and self-publishing them while waiting for the trad pubbed book to come out. By the time it comes out, he might have some sales or some readers to translate to print sales, and the two efforts could dovetail together.

Seems like a negative nelly, I guess. Reminds me of one of my editor's (Marco Palmieri) great sayings: "Pessimism is a misuse of imagination."

Medievalist
03-14-2011, 09:20 PM
He lost me when he says he hasn't been writing much the last few months. He isn't falling through a crack, he's busy causing a new crack, and making the existing one much wider than it should be.

Delays are not cracks, they're just a normal part of business. You handle them by writing your ass off, not by sitting around moping.

You didn't read the whole thing; he has written his ass off. He met all his deadlines, and delivered three mss. before having gotten the editorial notes on the first.

He got inadvertently screwed by his editor and publisher. We're not talking ordinary delays--we're talking waiting for two years for editorial notes on a completed book. We're talking two years of writing--without having had editorial input on the first books.

He met all his obligations. His publisher and editor had a massive fail--and given the publisher and editor, I am sure that it was not voluntary, and both feel terrible.

ETA: NOTICE THE BOLD

Medievalist
03-14-2011, 09:21 PM
One the one hand, I agree that it's sad that this writer had to experience the snail-like pace of traditional publishing.

This is not a typical publisher delay; this is extraordinary and unfortunate.

Medievalist
03-14-2011, 09:22 PM
I don't get why he says it's pointless to work on anything new. How does that help him get out of this rut? When this is all dealt with, he'll have nothing new to present to readers who have been waiting. Doesn't seem like a smart move to me.

He's understandably depressed.

Phaeal
03-14-2011, 09:30 PM
Glad to read his agent has hung in there and that the new editor sounds so enthusiastic.

I keep muttering the three P's: Patience, perseverence, production. Conditio sine qua non, unless you're pretty damn lucky. Or a reality show flavah-of-the-month. ;)

amrose
03-14-2011, 09:39 PM
How awful for him. I''m glad he was able to get another passionate editor and not lose the series entirely having to start from scratch.

I'd be depressed and sour about writing on the heels of that too.

On the plus side, I'm now thinking about picking Bitter Seeds up and he has a lovely website.

mscelina
03-14-2011, 10:11 PM
Exactly, Medi. The situation Tregellis relates is extraordinary, not typical. This author met all his obligations--superseded them, as a matter of fact. The original editor not only dropped the ball, he punted it completely out of the stadium. So anyone who dogpiles on the author for a very understandable bout of inproductivity pretty much needs to jump on the clue bus and pay their quarter for a good dose of reality.

I've been in the position of announcing a book release and having unforeseen problems with the publisher (that were entirely not my fault) delay that release. It makes you feel--and look--like an idiot, especially to the fans who are excited for the release and anticipating it. With some of those readers, you lose enough credibility that the series loses fans. Sometimes, that delay will kill off the fan base of the series entirely.

Look at all the whining about Martin's next book--some of which took place here. When the delays are the result of someone else dropping the ball, that knowledge isn't generally known--and certainly not by some of the reading public, who (in Gaiman's phrase) consider the writer their 'bitch' and want their sequels yesterday. So I think Tregellis' depression is completely understandable.

Amadan
03-14-2011, 10:23 PM
Delays are not cracks, they're just a normal part of business. You handle them by writing your ass off, not by sitting around moping.

This "crack" wasn't a normal part of business, and he's not "sitting around moping." As usual, you didn't read before you commenced your silly uninformed finger-wagging.


I don't get why he says it's pointless to work on anything new. How does that help him get out of this rut? When this is all dealt with, he'll have nothing new to present to readers who have been waiting. Doesn't seem like a smart move to me.

He didn't say that. He said he's been understandably dejected about the whole thing and hasn't written anything in a few months. He admitted to now and then feeling like "What's the point?" -- heaven forbid an author admit to having feelings like that! -- before saying that of course he knows that's counterproductive and that he is going to write again.

Also, to put it in context, as he alluded to, Tregellis is not a full-time writer. He has a career already -- writing is what he does on the side. (I would imagine he'd probably like it if he could become a full-time writer, but this isn't what he's depending on to make his living.)

Bitter Seeds, btw, is a great book, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

gothicangel
03-14-2011, 10:28 PM
On the third hand . . .

You have three hands?

Ineti
03-14-2011, 10:34 PM
You have three hands?

The two I was born with and a third I picked up at a rummage sale. :)

IceCreamEmpress
03-15-2011, 12:19 AM
Bitter Seeds is a really, really interesting book. It's a challenging read, but if you like SF and alternate World War II stories, you'll like it. It reminded me a bit of The Prestige in the way it combined magic and technology.

I am sorry to hear that Tregellis is having such a bad experience with the publishing side.

I also was surprised that Tor didn't market Bitter Seeds more aggressively. Alt-World War II generally does well with folks who don't ordinarily read SF, and I didn't see that kind of outreach happening. Perhaps with new editorial in place, there will be more of that?

Irysangel
03-15-2011, 01:23 AM
Something similar happened to me with my books. I was contracted in May 2007 and my books actually came out January 2010. It wasn't anything other than scheduling and rescheduling - I'd turned in both books by August of 2007 and didn't get edits until 2009 because I was so far out on the schedule. In my case, it was because the publisher wanted to give me a back to back release, and when the schedule got sorted, I got pushed out - and then out again.

Even with the best intentions from the publisher, it is absolutely devastating to your creativity to be in limbo for so very long. In that timeframe, I also changed agents twice and the economy went to crap. For a long time, I was convinced my books would never come out. I am not one that normally has trouble writing, but I felt the same way when I was stuck in the pipeline - what is the point of writing more things that will just continue to get lost in limbo? Sure, I could write for myself, but the stress of not knowing what was going on with my books was turning into a minor obsession, and it affected me even though I tried to work past it. Eventually, you DO work past it and get back on your feet again, but it's a very helpless feeling.

It's totally normal for an author to feel this way. The good thing is that there's light at the other end of the tunnel, even when the light seems very, very far away sometimes. :)

BenPanced
03-15-2011, 06:15 AM
And I can understand the paralysis: do I start a new project or do I wait for the edits to come in? Which will I have time for? Fish? Cut bait?

blacbird
03-15-2011, 07:28 AM
Does everybody posting in this thread recognize that the entire scenario is far advanced beyond the level many of us ever get to?

mscelina
03-15-2011, 07:36 AM
Does everybody posting in this thread recognize that the entire scenario is far advanced beyond the level many of us ever get to?

No. There are writers at all levels of publishing on this site and this type of thing can happen at all levels. What difference does it make if it happens to an author at Tor or an author at Jo-Billy-Bob's Mini-Press? It's still an issue within publishing and therefore worthy of discussion.

And seriously, blacbird--not meaning to be mean, but if all you're going to do is refer negatively to you not being published every time you post in a writing thread, why bother clicking the thread open at all? Not everyone on AW is convinced that they're never going to succeed in publishing.

Medievalist
03-15-2011, 07:37 AM
In my case, it was because the publisher wanted to give me a back to back release, and when the schedule got sorted, I got pushed out - and then out again.

There can also be problems when another author at the publisher misses a deadline and the book is one with a big print run--and that can mean every other book slips, to grab the print slots for the book with the large print run and the pre-orders.

That's the downside; the upside is that those books that have guaranteed pre-orders and need large print runs mean that publishers can afford to take on unknowns because they thing the books have lots of merit and will appeal to readers.

shaldna
03-15-2011, 05:24 PM
I do sympathise with the guy, the delays are awful, and following the announcements about publication dates etc, it's worse. But it happens sometimes.

I do understand that feeling a bit depressed about the whole thing, but at the same time, he's a writer, he can't afford to languish in self-pity for long. Stopping writing for a while because he is upset or disenchanted is understandable, so long as it doesn't become a habit over the course of his career.

I do hope it gets sorted for him though.

edit - that said, I do think what he said in the comments for this post http://www.iantregillis.com/index.cfm?blog=215 were quite unprofessional.

Torgo
03-15-2011, 05:48 PM
No. There are writers at all levels of publishing on this site and this type of thing can happen at all levels. What difference does it make if it happens to an author at Tor or an author at Jo-Billy-Bob's Mini-Press? It's still an issue within publishing and therefore worthy of discussion.

True; it's just more surprising and extraordinary given the house and especially the editor in this case.

AlwaysJuly
03-15-2011, 09:18 PM
That story's crazy to me. Honestly, I hadn't thought much about delays before in publishing - though I know it takes quite a bit of time for publications even once a house buys it - and I never realized things like this happened. Crazy. And I really wouldn't expect such a thing from Tor!