More than sitting down, Newbie Author collapsed on his bed. By his side, he had the dozen or so rejection letters he’d got for his first novel, and on top of them, a creamy, expensive-looking business card. “Ancient Publishers Inc. Mr. J. Dust. Publisher” it said in elegant, black letters.What was he to do? He needed to speak to his agent.
Newbie had met Priscilla Bookworm at a café. She was the first agent who’d agreed to take him on her list, and he couldn’t help feeling grateful for that.
“I totally, absolutely, loved your book, dear”, she said, sitting beside Newbie. “I’m sure we’ll get you a contract in no time.” She fished Newbie’s manuscript out of her Vuitton briefcase. The pages were well-thumbed, as if they had been read may times.
Ms B. had painted a rosy future for Newbie. Traditional publishing was the right move. “Imagine the prestige of being in their catalogue”, she said flashing her bright, white teeth, so perfect that Newbie thought they were false. “Wouldn’t that boost your confidence as a writer? Because you are goood enough to be accepted by a serious publishing house, you’re not one of those losers who self-publish their books”.
“Yeah, sure”. Newbie looked at his manuscript. On the table, with Ms Bookworm right hand placed firmly on top, it didn’t look like it was “his” anymore. “I’m a bit worried, though”, he said. “I wouldn’t like the publishers playing around with it much”.
“Oh, dear!” One more flash of her teeth. “Of course they’ll take care of proofreading, editing, art, and design. But it’ll be done by pros, to make your book sparkle. And their marketing department is great. Think about all the publicity you’ll get. ¡You’re going to be a celeb!”
The no-time contract had in fact been a 10 month-waiting contract, but she finally landed one with Ancient Publishers, Inc. Things couldn’t be better. Or could they?
Ancient Publishers Inc. were on a respectable-looking building, all polished wooden floors, wrought iron balconies and marble staircases. And his publisher, Mr Jacket “call-me-Jack” Dust, was a perfect match for the background. All about him said: “Trust me. I know what I’m doing”.
“As you surely understand, Mr, Author”, said Dust, “it’s a big risk for our company to take unknown writers. Sales are not guaranteed, a huge investment in marketing is needed…we’d rather work with already published writers. Less risky”.
Newbie’s hopes begun to sink. Was he going to be rejected, after all?
“However, your novel is not without interest”, he said. “It’s far from perfect, but we’ll take care of that. Our staff will turn it into something we can sell. Of course, you’ll have to give us control over the manuscript, and that includes all necessary changes as well as the film and translation rights“. Mr Dust pulled a fat document out of his drawer. “Now, Mr. Author, if you care to sign this contract, you’ll get an advance, and our usual 7% royalties fee “.
Jack Dust took Newbie’s novel and placed it on a high pile of other worn manuscripts. “And this is where it’ll end”, Newbie thought. “Will my novel be my own after they’ve finished with it? Will it ever be read with pleasure?” He got up and walked to the door, leaving the contract behind. Unsigned.