Last night, Phil Foglio posted to his LJ, Facebook, and blog a story of frustration with Tor, who had opted to try launching a line of graphic novels starting with the first Girl Genius omnibus edition. They came out with a low-priced hardcover, but when the Foglios wondered when the paperback would come out they started getting the runaround. As they were trying to get the matter resolved, friends pointed them in the direction of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, ostensibly Tor’s editor-in-chief. (He actually isn’t, but I’ll get to that in a bit.)
So after a year of this (yes, an entire year. We are Slow to Take Offense, here at Studio Foglio), I write to Mr. Hayden, asking him if our editor is dead, or just fired? This question surprises him, as he saw her in the office that morning. He seems sympathetic. We even have a face-to-face meeting at worldcon the next week where he explains that TOR just really doesn’t know how to sell graphic novels, and when someone takes on a job they don’t know how to do, they tend to just stick their fingers in their ears and hope that eventually, it goes away. Fair enough, I am occasionally like this with The Experiments.
I mention that we’ve been selling graphic novels fairly well for quite awhile, and that we’d cheerfully give them pointers. However, if they just can’t wrap their heads around it, which seems obvious since after three years they have yet to sell through the initial print run (We’d have done it in 16 months- and that’s with no advertising, which is a fair comparison, as they did no advertising either), then we’ll just sing a chorus of “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You”, and then we’ll publish them ourselves, because if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s publish and sell Girl Genius graphic novels.
But we can’t. Because our contract with TOR says we can’t publish “a competing product” for five years. Okay, what can we do about this? But now, Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden has apparently decided that we’re too much trouble.
They closed by calling upon their readers to pester Mr. Nielsen Hayden [it’s not “Mr. Hayden,” it’s a hyphenated married name sans the hyphen] since they and their agent haven’t been able to get through to Tor themselves. However, it comes out that’s not the whole story.
On his blog “Making Light” this morning, PNH responded explaining his side of the situation. He is not in fact Tor’s editor-in-chief because Tor doesn’t have one.
. . . .
But then Phil made this public post ascribing all his problems with Tor directly to him, which he feels is more than a little unfair.
Bottom line: As far as I can see, Phil’s problems with Tor are being dealt with now. Sending me dozens of angry emails isn’t going to get them dealt with any faster or better. If you want to send me email telling me I’m a craphead for not having answered Phil Foglio’s emails from late November to mid-January, okay, guilty as charged. But I’m not the guy on a golden throne proposing and disposing the actions of all the other senior editors at Tor. I’m someone who had the bad judgement to offer to try to help with a problem, and then got sufficiently overwhelmed by other urgent matters that I wasn’t actually able to help in the timely fashion I said I would. This was reprehensible of me. My other mistake: Not clearly extricating myself the moment it became clear that Phil’s agent was going to persist in the impression that I’m Phil’s editor’s boss.
If you think these errors are a good enough reason for the stream of crap Phil is now directing in my direction—and exclusively in my direction—then I suggest you might want to reconsider.
. . . .
[T]here’s a lot of institutional inertia in big publishing houses. Authors going for months without hearing anything is a pretty common story.
Link to the rest at TeleRead