Hey everyone: forgive me in advance for such a long posting, but I wanted to share my story and hear your thoughts. Maybe this is all "part of the game," and I need to accept it. But I'd like to hear from you all.
I first sent my play “Above the Bitter Café” to Brooklyn Publishers on August 18th. It was sometime in early September that I emailed Brooklyn to say that I had been offered a contract by another publishing firm, and I was hoping I could get an answer from Brooklyn as soon as they were able. I got an email from the assistant editor very soon after that saying that she had read my play and “laughed out loud” and would show it to the senior editor. Now by NO MEANS did she say Brooklyn would publish the play but I was definitely given the encouragement that it was a strong possibility. She said she would have the senior editor read it and get back to me. She said there might be a few objectionable pieces of dialogue and I said I would work with that.
Two weeks went by and I called. She said the senior editor, still hadn’t read it, but would pick them up that Friday and would read it that week. He would then get back to me. I called a week later on a Monday. I had gotten a “curt” letter from my publisher asking for the signed contracts (they were going to publish two of my plays, not just “Café”). Brooklyn still had not read the play. I went over the contract my publisher had sent me: the time period for the contract was up. According to the wording, I had lost my contract because I waited so long for Brooklyn to get back to me.
At this point I do not think my publisher will renew the contract. Today I got a call from Brooklyn saying they had “passed” on the play. By no means do I want them to publish a play they do not want in their catalog, but in my opinion I got really “screwed.” If I would have known it was going to take this long, and if I wasn’t given any hope at all at signing with Brooklyn, I would have signed the original contract with my publisher. It now looks like I may not have a publisher at all.
Through all this, I never even got a personal phone call from the senior editor apologizing for taking so long, and I know he was made aware of my predicament. Instead, he made the assistant editor do the “dirty work." She DID apologize and say she felt responsible for letting me think they might publish it and especially for taking so long that I lost my other contract. Well, to put it bluntly I think this whole thing was handled unprofessionally. I worked really hard to write “Above the Bitter Café” and I think they've made it so I lost the one publisher I did have, and I think that is wrong.
I think I didn't treat my publisher very well either. They have been more than fair and patient, and I think I treated THEM unprofessionally.
Maybe I handled it incorrectly and should have just gone with the original publisher.
I don't think you can blame Brooklyn here. The long and short of it is that for whatever reason, you gambled and lost. You had a publisher in your pocket, but decided that you'd rather wait out Brooklyn. That didn't pay off.
The only "promise" you can ever take as gospel from a publisher is a contract. "Oh, we're looking at it" or "I'll have the editor look at it soon" means nothing. There's you and 10,000 other writers in line. You got your hopes up, played the game with the other publisher, and came away empty handed. Lesson learned, I hope.
Keep pushing the play, though. You've alread had two publishers interested, so there's obviously something there. Break a leg.
This is all true, but I've always been told that if you get a competing offer it is standard practice for other publishers to put that play on the top of the list. They would expect that of other publishers...
Although all this is true, i have a friend that works in publishing, and even put in it on top of their pile means it's on top with hundreds of others, not just the top ten, but hundreds. and it takes time.
If the other group was ready to publish, you should have gone with that other group.
I would have contacted Brooklyn Publishing and said, well, you can pull that particular play because It has been picked up by someone else, however, I can replace that play with another play which is equally as "laugh out" funny. That way you could have increased your at publication of two different works.
don't really understand why the original publisher gave you a time period to accept/reject their offer. if they like the play, they like the play. they think it could generate sales. unless they had to go to press or something, i don't understand why you can't go back to them and say you made a mistake and would like to publish with them. and why they wouldn't jump at the chance.
i too had one publisher want to publish, and i told a second publisher of the decision. the second put me on top of the list, but it took about three weeks to get an answer. and the first publisher patiently waited.
turned out well though. the second publisher (much bigger) also wanted the play.
Just two things I can say, based on a knowledge of what happened at Brooklyn Publishers (common knowledge, really, but reinforced with an experience just after David Burton got arrested):
1. Without a passionate person at the top, it won't succeed.
2. Like Leon says, what prevents you from re-offering it to the publisher who liked it? If it's good, it's GOOD and a publisher would be foolish to stand on ceremony and go, "Oh, but you took too long." Sure you did but it's a GOOD play and now it's unencumbered. Any publisher worth his salt would jump at it.
You think you have problems. I've taken to kidnapping the family pets of publishers as a "safeguard", but it turns out that the Editer in Chief had never liked his cats much anyway.
Now I have 47 of the bloody things to feed!
Talk about gambling and losing...
The good news is, that even though I can't seem to sell my plays, the pet shop and kebab house are both doing a roaring trade...
That sounds frustrating, sadly, it really is one of those situations you just have to roll with. Keep submitting, it sounds like your play must be pretty good.
Most publishers don't want to read mine, or express severe doubt about my writing's ability for success, so you're still 100 steps ahead of me.
I've worked a lot with the fine folks at Brooklyn, and even if I didn't, I still wouldn't blame them for what happened between you and the other publisher.
You always have the right to give a publisher a deadline to get back to you. The fact that you let an existing offer die in hopes that another would like it is your responsibility. Yes, it can be very tricky when doing simultaneous submissions and the like, but the play publishers are often quite different from each other, and to try and guess and predict all their needs and wants is a fool's errand.
As for how Brookyn Publishers is doing post-David Burton, I think the new team in place really has sorted itself out and has done some major catch-up work. I sense a new-found energy that had been missing since Burton's arrest, and I've found the current group at Brooklyn to be very supportive, patient, helpful and driven.
So keep on submitting to Brooklyn, and keep on submitting the play that got "lost" in this shuffle to other publishers. Each rejection usually leads you just one step closer to an acceptance, and you only need to hear one "YES" in this regard!
let's talk numbers here. if you have a play with brooklyn, and with another publisher, and they're both one acts for example, how many performances do you have with each?
i can't do this yet cause my one act with playscripts is relatively new. i have a one act with brooklyn, and it gets one or two productions a year (thus far). i have sold a lot of monologs with brooklyn. i think one has sold over 100 copies in just a little over a year.