Blog Publishing Nightmare
When I finished my novel, Juliana’s Truth I was elated and ready to submit; let the publishing begin. I envisioned the film version after it became an international bestseller. I’d finally be able to pay off my (and my daughter’s) college loans. The novel began as a thesis for my M.F.A.—but that was merely the first draft; the revisions took another two years. I was no stranger to rejection as far as manuscripts go but my tenacity was stoic. This time, I didn’t make a plan B. I had been published in the past and knew the burning ropes of the industry. I sent query letters with the absolute of a child writing to Santa. Because the story begins in Monterey California and ends in the Italian village of Manarola, I was delighted that an Italian agent loved the story and wanted me as a client!
Here is where the saga begins—not Italy but rather a male who unbeknownst to me was a dedicated chauvinist. Initially he (I won’t reveal his true identity as I’m not vengeful and don’t want the bad karma) was enthusiastic and declared that my novel would be gracing the bookshelves of Italian bookstores from Verona to Rome. “Grazies” flew like dead dandelions. We agreed on the contract (after I had a professional take a peek.) My requests for changes were met with reluctance (harbinger number one) but in the end the agent agreed and we signed. Whew! I began whistling “happy days are here again” and pictured endless book engagements. Immediately I pulled out my Speak in a Week Italian.
I knew publishing is a laborious process—I’d gone through the hoops before with my book Frederick the Forgetful Ratter. Nothing is snap a finger done—but dear Mr. Agent kept reiterating my novel with its’ exquisite writing would be an exception. This was in March 2012. By the end of May, he emailed to let me know the book would be out in August. Bravo! But when I asked who the publisher was the response was similar to a jigsaw puzzle with the main pieces missing. Harbinger number two. Hmmm, okay I’ll let a bit of naivety sneak past after all he had an exact date. And after all, he was nice so very nice.
By winter of 2012 and no book, I was feeling bamboozled. He had required a hundred dollar one-time fee, which I had paid, something about the International rights. Perhaps he simply collects one hundreds from millions of writers and tucks their manuscripts in the to be executed file. Then came the clincher—the agent reported that he could publish Juliana’s Truth as an eBook on Amazon until a house in Italy picked it up for print. Once again, I felt a sense of relief. Everyone I knew read on kindles or nooks, why not? I offered my husband’s services for the cover he is a brilliant artist and did a mock that I loved. “Perfecto,” he (the agent) exclaimed via email as he didn’t have anyone. Finally the glorious day came when I and my awaiting fans could order the book. But rather than spelling my name Devaney he published Dewaney and never showed me a proof. He also set the price higher than the latest best seller!
I was now furious! When I called his attention to both issues, he refused to answer my emails or at this point phone calls. At first, I remained as calm as a meditating monk regardless of his blatant disrespect. Desperate I called my Italian friend and asked if he would intervene. Absolutely, he became my agent to the agent. The men chatted and the agent told my friend that he would no longer deal with me. He would correspond only with my friend. Wow! I sent a curt email stating that he (the agent in Italy) had exactly five days to fix the spelling and drop the price and if he did not, I was shredding the contract. Five days came and went with no response nor corrections. I put the book on Amazon myself at a reasonable marketing price and with my name spelled correctly.
The Grand Finale came when the dear agent notified Amazon that I had broken my contract and to pull the book. I guess spelling names as they are spelled on the contract is a mere suggestion. After sulking for a few minutes I got to work rewriting and creating a brand new beginning, ending, and title. In the end, I was grateful for the second chance. Time to stand up to this type of sexism and discrimination! You can join me by buying Artista by the Sea at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check out my website www.karendevaney.net. Juliana’s Truth became a catalyst for just that an expose of a publishing nightmare.
Causes Karen Devaney Supports
Eve Ensler and any organization that deals with issues supporting women and children and the advancement of their education.