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16 August 2011

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Daryle

It sounds to me like maybe he could use a different friend. How do you ever say that someone is being "Woe is me" when their series is dropped before it's finished. I can only assume this friend isn't a writer and therefore vastly underestimates the work that goes into making a book, let alone a series of books.

Kelly McClymer

First, as a writer who has had life interfere with a deadline, I must say that real life trumps fiction, period. I highly admire J.K. Rowling for postponing one of the Harry Potters so she could deal with having a new baby. It shows the respect she gave her readers, herself, and her family.

Second, as a writer who also falls in love with my creations, I find self-publishing on Amazon to be a great fallback position on any book I happen to think is ready when a publisher doesn't agree.

Just because the publisher breaks the contract with the readers, doesn't mean you need to. Good luck!

Alan Gratz

Terrific interview. Rick was so great to be up front and honest here. As an author who has had a series canceled before its time, I sympathize. It's so hard to just "walk away," especially after you've spent so much time with the characters and their world.

Annie

Excellent interview. What a disheartening situation--not just for Yancey, but for readers in general. It's hard to trust publishers to put out anything of worth when they cancel books like these and hire Hillary Duff instead. Ugh.

tanita

Leila, you've totally gotten the SCOOP! Thanks for this.

It's really difficult to walk away from a series; back in the Dawn of Time when I wrote for a very tiny press just out of college, I had an agreed on three-book series, and only got to write two. I think that people's responses and outrage are really not something that the author has any control over; it IS the story that is loved, and I agree that perhaps Mr. Y needs better friends. Hello, is any of this his fault? No.

And I would like to encourage publishers everywhere to lose Hilary Duff's number just as a matter of principle...

Penny

I love these books too, and I desperately want the fourth book too— but I’m a little baffled as to why people keep bringing up that Hilary Duff deal. First of all, the Hilary Duff deal was announced in March 2010, over a year ago, so it has absolutely no relevance to Rick Yancey’s situation at all. But more importantly, publisher publish celebrity crap so that it sells lots of copies, and gives them a financial cushion to publish more literary fiction that might not sell as well. So the fact that S&S is publishing Hilary Duff is actually beneficial to Rick and other writers whose books may be struggling in this economy.

Rose

Wow. I'm so sorry to hear that. This is the third time this year that I've heard of an excellent kidlit series being terminated prior to the end of the story arc. It's incredibly disappointing for readers, not to mention the author. I hope, however Mr. Yancy chooses to finish the series, it sells a gazillion copies and continues to win awards.

Tim Pratt

My series got dumped by Random House a few years back, and since the fourth volume ended on a cliffhanger, my fans were pretty furious. I self-published the fifth book online for reader donations and sold print and e-books when it was done, and ended up making as much money as Random used to pay me. Obviously that's not ideal -- I had to do a lot more work myself, and no self-published book has the reach or distribution of something backed by a major publisher -- but in terms of reaching existing fans who were disappointed to see the series dropped, it worked great. There are lots of options for writers with an existing fan base now (though it's harder if you're brand new). Rick's a great writer. I'm glad he's committed to finishing the series.

Tabatha

I haven't read the series yet, but the various bits I've seen lately have put it on my short list. I'm sure my family will end up following Mr. Yancey's work wherever he ends up. Best of luck!

Lauren Myracle

Oh, Rick. Yuck! And as a huge fan of The Monstrumologist series, I am soooo sorry!

Colleen

First, this is outstanding and thanks so much Leila for contacting Rick and posting it so quickly.

As to the Hilary Duff bit, I have to say the biggest complaint I have is the $$$ that is spent on celebrity authors who have no shelf life. You throw them a ton of cash and you know - YOU KNOW - those books will not be around in ten years. It's nothing against Hilary Duff specifically it's that she is a tween/teen idol and they just don't last. A new generation comes up and brings in their own idols and by then Hilary is in her 20s and either out of the public eye or acting in films/making music that young girls aren't interested in.

Her books won't be valuable to either her then current older audience (for obvious reasons) or the new tweeners who don't know much about her (she's old news to them).

So should publishers put out celebrity books? Sure - Tiger Beat and all the rest of the teen mags have been around forever and that's fine. It's the money, or the MONEY that is wrong. A cycle has started where celebs get crazy cash up front and then crazy cash is spent to publicize their books (because they must sell big to support those huge advances) and it takes away from books with real staying power. If a celeb book has legs, it will sell itself (and garner publicity without publishers having to pay for front table placement, big mag ads, etc etc). But how many turn out like Snookie's - cash up front and then nothing to show for it? And how many nonceleb books are never bought because of this insane business model?

In my utopian publishing vision, publishers would pay less to celebs and frankly only publish the books they can afford to sell - meaning publicize. I'm not saying pour a ton of money into every book but at least enough to give them a shot. How many books are tossed out to sink or swim on their own and how many series, like this one, are cut short because publishers don't have the money to be patient? This is a series with staying power (the fan reaction and - as important if not more so - critical acclaim are proof of that) but S&S says it has no money for it. They are making a choice to spend $$ on a short term return and it will come back to bite them eventually.

Michelle B.

Thank you so much for this interview!! Very enlightening, and it was nice to see things from Mr. Yancey's point of view.

I have to say that I'm really peeved S&S is annoyed at the e-mail from fans and the campaign to revive the series. When you end something that's relatively popular before its time, people aren't going to be happy. How could they not see this coming? It's too bad they see it as an attack from Mr. Yancey himself (or rather, it seems they see it that way.)

Ms. yingling

I bought THREE copies of the first book for my small school library and made sure I wrote ro S and S to tell them this. but if I have some gift buying occasions, I will certainly buy more, because that would help.

Allie W.

Thank you to Leila for this awesome interview and Rick Yancey for giving us the straight scoop. I am saddened by S & S's decision but grateful to them for bringing the first 3 to us. I hold on to hope that they will change their mind for one more book or another publisher will rush in to snatch this up. I also hope S&S gets over being 'pissed' about the fan reaction and emailing campaign. Cause, ya know, there are worse things than getting a bunch of publicity for a series right before the next book is published.

MotherReader

Wow! I don't even read the series, and was transfixed with the interview - so honest and just, real. Thanks to Rick Yancey for putting it out there and Leila for putting it up here. And can I throw in a little BACA-off to Hilary Duff?

TrueReader24

Lelia-- It was an interesting interview, but you might want to get your facts straight and Mr. Yancey's. Anyone who does just a bit of digging on the internet will find out that the "series" was signed up as a three book TRIOLOGY. And as the third book is just now coming out, it means S and S did not "cancel" anything, they simply didn't sign Yancey up for a fourth book.

I wonder why that would be? We can believe Mr. Yancey's "woe is me" or we can look at some avaialable facts:

Since the triology was won at auction, it stands to reason Mr. Yancey was paid a considerable amount of money as an advance. And by checking out his rankings on Amazon and BN.com you can see that the books aren't selling too well despite great reviews.

Tell us, Mr. Yancey do you have to pay back all of that money when your book doesn't sell? Or is that just another thing the publisher has to absorb, making the book lose even more money.

Some more digging shows that this has happened twice already to Mr. Yancey. Two other publishers stopped publishing his books. Or as Mr. Yancey would call it "Cancelled his series". So this is a pattern then. High advances, poorly performing titles, and complaining from Mr. Yancey about how unfair the publishing world is while he counts the left over advance money that will never earn out.

The Hilary Duff thing is also just crazy. Press releases about that date back to 2009. And I have to say, I've heard Yancey got paid more.

Leila

Err... TrueReader24, if you'll go ahead and read the first question in the interview, I believe that I laid out my understanding of the situation there: That it was a three-book contract, and that S&S declined to re-up it. Which is their prerogative. I didn't use the word 'cancel'.

I'm going to leave the rest of your comment alone, as it came off as rather antagonistic and angry.

TrueReader24

Leila--

To clarify (because I really do love your blog) I never suggested you said "cancel". That is what Mr. Yancey has been saying across the internet. Or at least not clarifying as he goes.

It just feels like a strangely one-sided story at this point. Especially from a handsomely paid author.

I hope you didn't feel I was being antagonistic toward you! Oh my, that was never my intent. And my apologies if that is how it was taken.

Diana Peterfreund

For what it's worth TrueReader (I do not know the money specifics here) do not assume that an auction means anything more than that there was more than one offer for a book. I know of auctions that were won at 10k. It does not mean there was a lot of money on the table.

Leila

Gotcha, TrueReader24. And no worries about my feathers being ruffled! For what it's worth, I do agree that much of the coverage out there has suggested that the series was cancelled, rather than not extended, which are, as you said, two totally different things.

TrueReader24

Diana

For what it is worth the deal announcement in Publishers MarketPlace listed the deal for the three books was "significant". Which means for three books it was in the range of $251,000 - $499,000.

Rick Yancey

Leila,

I'd like to clarify a couple things, and pray I don't come off as defensive. But, like my father always told me, more precious than any possession is a man's integrity - he hated for his to be questioned and I've inherited that from him, I guess.

The contract with S&S was for three books, based on a proposal that included synopses for many more. Nowhere in my contract does the word "trilogy" appear, for obvious reasons. The publisher was hoping (and this is usual) for a huge hit. The series was never conceived, presented, planned or the three books composed to be a three-book story. In fact, the ending of the third book (not released til Sept.) clearly indicates the story is not over.


The series NEVER went to auction. I don't know where the blog commenter pulled this information, but what happened was this: my agent sent the proposal to several houses. David Gale, the editor at S&S, read the material on a plane flight to the west coast. Upon landing, he called my agent and said he loved it and wanted to make an offer - a preemptive offer, the specific intent of which is to KEEP a proposal from going to auction. After carefully considering the specifics, I decided to take the offer and not take the proposal to auction. Those are the facts.

I feel badly for TrueReader, who had to "dig" to find out that two earlier series of mine had been dropped. I say it right in the interview. I did not try to hide it - in fact, I brought it up!

Now about this business with advances. I, like 95% of other writers who work for years at their craft and who struggle through menial jobs and rejection after rejection after rejection, am not paid handsomely by any measure. The practice of advances (introduced by publishers, by the way) is a way for a writer to make ends meet while the book is being composed, edited and sold to retailers. It takes about a year to write a book, another year to get it to market. Since most advances are quite small, you do the math.

I have been incredibly fortunate since the publication of my first book. Some advances have been paid out twice over. Some probably never will. That's the risk publishers and authors take. I haven't been hugely successful as an author; I haven't been an abysmal failure either. I don't feel sorry for myself - I mourn the loss of something that mattered to me a great deal. Apparently, others have a sense of sadness, too. That's the wonderful thing about the relationship between a writer and a reader. They share something completely devoid of vitriol and cynicism.

Finally, I guess you could say the story IS one-sided. I don't have access to S&S's board room. I'm not included in the company emails. I live about 1,500 miles from New York, so I'm not invited to lunch very often. Since all this started, no one from S&S has contacted me to tell me their side. And anyway, I was asked questions about mine.

Thanks, Leila, for giving me an opportunity to respond.

Leila

Rick, by all means, use this space to respond: that's what it's here for! :)

And thanks for those clarifications: I didn't think I'd seen the word 'trilogy' appear anywhere -- which is why I've been using the more unwieldy 'three-book contract' phrase.

As for the one-sided aspect of things, well: it makes sense that it would be. For one, I haven't seen S&S publicly respond. (I'm not saying that I expect them to, or that they even should: just that without a response, of course it'll come off as one-sided.) Secondly, this post is an interview with you, conducted to get your side of the situation. Fan-wise, I wouldn't expect it to be anything but one-sided: of course they're going to be upset to see a favorite series threatened.

That all makes sense to me, at any rate.

Book Zone

A really interesting and honest interview regarding this sad situation. I spotted the first Monstrumologist book soon after it was published, and even had it shipped from the US to the UK as I loved the cover design of the hardcover much more than the UK edition that was still unreleased at the time. As a long time reader of books for young adults I found it to be the perfect springboard for those teenagers tempted to leap into the world of adult horror fiction, and it has been a popular title in our school library since we bought it. I really hope that Mr Yancey manages to find someone else to publish the rest of Will Henry's story and would like to wish him the greatest of best wishes in this endeavour. I read yesterday of an idea spawned by Neil Gaiman called All Hallow's Read, in which participants give horror books to their friends to celebrate this darkest of days - this year a handful of my friends will be receiving copies of The Monstrumologist.

Marcus

I'd just like to caution TrueReader24 about using Amazon and/or BN rankings as a way of judging a book's success or lack thereof. They are one piece of the puzzle and one piece only. They don't give a truly accurate picture of a book's overall sales.

Elizabeth

TrueReader24, it seems like you've gone out of your way to misunderstand and make faulty leaps of logic. The author did not start the write-in campaign--fans did. He didn't ask them to and he shouldn't be held accountable if they used inaccurate language ("cancel" instead of "discontinue", etc). I follow Rick on Facebook and Twitter, and I've never seen him complain publicly or even ask people to write in. At most, he's retweeted relevant blog posts and thanked people for their support. I honestly don't know of another author who has as inoffensive an online presence. I can say with certainty that your suggestion that he's had a "woe is me" approach is a flatly erroneous. It seems like you're interpreting the actions of fans as the actions of the author. So far, fans have been overwhelmingly kind, conscientious, and congenial, even toward Simon and Schuster. So, beyond the occasional misuse of the word "cancel", none of what you've said holds water.

TrueReader24

Not refuting falsehoods and misinformation is just as bad as stating falsehoods and misinformation yourself. That at least is my opinion.

It's pretty strange that I'd be accused of making faulty leaps of logic, and going out of my way to misunderstand, just because I presented facts that are readily available on the internet and questioning some of the rhetoric that Yancey is using (or not refuting).

As for "at most he has retweeted, etc. etc." how does that explain the fact that Yancey claimed the publisher announced a deal with Hillary Duff the day he was informed about his book begin cancelled? If the Duff deal was announce two plus years ago? How does that hold water?

Thing is, I am a very big fan of these books. I really am. I was disheartened to learn that an author who is at least according to Publisher's Marketplace was handsomely paid for a book that sadly didn't perform can complain in this fashion, when so many people are struggling to get a book deal. And I was disheartened to see people in the book community blindly listening a story that simply does not add up. That's all.

Lelia, question for you? Have you asked anyone at S and S for a comment? Just curious.

Leila

TR24, I haven't: I didn't think of it until after posting the interview, and even when it did, I figured that they'd probably prefer to go to a more traditional news source (or release a press... er, release) if they wanted to present their side of the story or even just make some sort of statement.

But, really, there probably isn't a whole lot for them to say, other than that they chose not to re-up the contract, right? As disappointing as it is for the fans of the series, it was S&S's call.

I do, though, think that it's perfectly understandable that the author is, like the fans, disappointed and disheartened, and he's perfectly within his rights to express that. (Just as you're perfectly within your rights to express your opinion, of course!)

As for the Hilary Duff thing, I can't speak for anyone else's commentary/claim (obviously!), but the reason I included it in my original post about the situation was just by way of comparison. (Meaning that it's sad to see books with staying power get passed over for books that are, most likely, disposable. If that makes sense.) Snooki's book probably would have been a better comparison, as I'm pretty sure it didn't do nearly as well as expected. Anyway, I know that you weren't asking me about all of that: Just my $.02.

SC Poe

Thanks for getting us a terrific interview, Leila.

In my own blog meditation on the topic, I asked two questions. (1) How many awards and starred reviews does an author need to earn before a publisher feels any obligation to keep publishing that author? (Or is it really only about money nowadays?)
(2) If hardbound publication doesn't profit them, why doesn't S&S publish any forthcoming books in the series electronically, and/or POD?

Allie W.

Thanks again, Leila and Mr. Yancey. What I love best about these books is the ballsiness (for lack of a better term) of the choices Mr. Yancey makes. Each time I think, oh he won't go there, he doesn't just 'go there' he takes it two steps past what I could predict. This is esp. true of Curse of the Wendigo. It is hard to believe the third one can possibly be better than the 2nd, but I have faith. :) Whether or not we get a fourth, I am grateful we got the first three. They will continue to inspire readers (and writers) in years to come.

S.J. Kincaid

I haven't read this series yet, but I'm impressed with the passion the author has for his own characters and his own work-- so I'm buying it today! I'm glad you're pursuing YOUR vision of the series, whatever course it takes from here. The passion of your fans definitely makes me suspect I might be missing something amazing.

tess

TrueReader24: It's 'trilogy', not 'triology'.

Lisa

I guess I just wonder why, when submitting the second finished manuscript and before starting on a third, the agent and author didn't push for a contract for books beyond the three already contracted? And why the author would write a third book with no conclusion without knowing whether he had a fourth book under contract? Seems like a lot of miscommunication from all sides.

TrueReader24

Tess-- Thanks. I saw the typo too late.

Lisa-- What great questions. If it was signed as a trilogy (or triology as I seem to want to spell it) or even if it was just a three book deal, how could both sides wait until this long to discuss what's next. Something is not right. But all of that is moot now as it seems a new deal has been struck. I wonder how that happened?? Curious.

Call Me Skarlyt

I've only read the first one, and I'm in love with the series. I'd love to learn more about Mr. Yancey, too. I'm not one of those people who only cares about the books!

Gingerfrost

I wonder, what did happen? Could it be your little "friend" Mr. Yancey?

Big fan

Do you know when the final book might be ready?
I just finished the 3rd and I'm anxious to finish the series

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