Friday, August 13, 2010

My Publisher Just Dropped Me And I Don'[t Know Why?

So, I was standing in the bar at the Dolphin during RWA and heard a writer complaining to her best friend, "Yeah, I'm pitching like crazy during the conference. My publisher just dropped me and I honestly don't know why? I did a couple of great books for her and now she just didn't want another. I don't get it."

This happens a lot more often than you may think. Writers who signed with an author and then nothing more. This can be pretty devestating if you are a writer, but it is something that can be prevented, if you are a critical thinker and active in your writing.

Sure, editors want books to sell, but they also want a writer that can grow and develop over time. This means that it is your responsibility to find a way to keep progressing with your writing. Your job is to maintain that voice that you were signed for, but to always find a way to reinvent yourself and to provide new twists and turns to your stories. We don't want to see copies of your first and second book.

Now, when I see finding new twists and turns, it doesn't mean simply putting it in a new setting, or changing from vamps and weres to angels and demons. We are talking about twists with the plot or characters voices.

I was talking to an editor soon after I heard that comment and asked what she was looking for. I almost choked when I heard her say the same thing. All of the submissions she had been reading were copies of the same thing they were already doing. She knew these writers were missing the point when they heard the phrase, "read what we publish and you will know what we want."

As a writer, think about your writing as always moving forward and up. We don't want to see the same thing over and over again.


P.S. I do want to add a final note to extend this thought. Yes, there are times when an editor will drop a writer for other reasons. I know of one writer in particular that was dropped due to sales being low. Of course, after hearing this, I did some research and found that the publisher failed to get books to the book stores and then blamed the writer. Uncool.

Writers can also be dropped due to shifts in a business model, changes in editoral staff and so forth. A publisher sees a new direction and no longer needs that writer. Remember, this is a business.


  1. I imagine the problem that writers have is when an editor says "read what we publish" and then follows that with "always be changing, growing." And yet, there are no examples given. We read what you publish, and you published it for a reason. But what if that doesn't sell well? You're not likely to want to publish that again.

    And I think it's difficult for a writer to look at her own work and determine if she's growing. Writing (the actual act of putting a story together) is more of an art than a science. Sure, I can look at my sales numbers, reviews, etc. and get an idea of what worked. Writing is such a personal thing, we are so close to our books as we're writing them it can be difficult to know if our work is evolving. Heck, sometimes I feel like I'm going backwards. And books that I'm unsure about sell really well and get great reviews.

  2. Such an informative post. It brings to mind something an author friend once told me about writing the second book. She compared it to the variety of tracks on a music CD; they are different, but they have a recognizable connection to the listener. I liked that.

    My published folded earlier this year and found myself in this uncomfortable territory. You remind us to keep working on our craft no matter what.

  3. Very interesting. Usually the first thing said is what I remember so stands to reason the first thing we learn about our characters sticks with us.

    Hey Karen... your book sounds amazing! Read your prologue and first chapter. What an ominous tone. I just ordered it from Amazon and I'm now one of those tiny little heads on your blog. :)
    I hope you find another publisher and an agent soon.

  4. A writer should always strive to grow, learn, and become better in what they do.
    Good entry.