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The Chen novels

I have had a considerable debate with myself regarding how much I should go public with this, but I had a number of enquiries during Eastercon, and a number of emails as well, so this is the state of affairs.

I've been told by Night Shade that they are unlikely to be publishing any more of my novels. I don't know whether this includes IRON KHAN, or whether they'll be pulling it from publication. The reason why I do not know is that my publishers have not communicated with me directly for some considerable time, despite repeated phone calls from both my agent and myself, and numerous emails asking for clarification on current and future books, and royalty statements. My agent eventually got a response by calling from an unlisted number and has confirmed that this silence appears to have been a tactic of deliberate avoidance.

I have had emails from readers, and a couple of meetings with fans at E'con, who say they have tried to buy my books directly from my publishers - one guy paid about a year ago for a pre-order - and have had no reply. NS told me at one point that they were having computer difficulties: as far as I can tell, they have been having computer difficulties for somewhere in the region of 3 years, despite almost daily Live Journal posts. I have LJ messengered them, and also received no response. Lassen may be unwell, but still seems able to make Twitter and LJ posts. And surely, in the Bay Area, there are fans who would love to do some voluntary intern work for a SF press?

The reason for not publishing the novels is that the books are apparently not selling enough copies. I can completely understand this, in the course of a recession. It's part of the writing territory, and you have to put on your big girl pants and face it, but it is not encouraging, to say the least, to meet people who have tried to order your book from its parent press, and have been unable to do so. (I am in the process of doing book orders myself for a couple of you and will sort this out by the end of the week). And like most professional writers, I would rather be given any bad news up front.

I also gather, from other writers, that this is by no means a unique experience. It is a great shame, as on the production side, NS have done a good job - at least on the first 2 books. I have briefly seen the next two, but haven't been sent contributor copies for years: the first time I saw a copy of Shadow Pavilion was at Swecon. I will have to order my own books from Amazon if I want to see them.

Another press are extremely interested in the series and the film option is still extant. If I cannot place the remaining novel(s), I will bring them out myself.

I wish to stress that none of whatever you may infer from the above applies to my editor, Marty Halpern, who has been extremely professional, patient and helpful. But after a decade of trying to be as professional as possible with regard to the publishing industry, I have grown very tired of covering other people's backs when, if you'll excuse a tricky biological metaphor, they seem determined to piss all over me in the process.

Comments

( 109 comments — Leave a comment )
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steepholm
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
Shit. That doesn't sound good. Sorry your publishers have gone so unprofessional on you, Liz.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks - it's probably torpedoed my career in the US, for the moment, at least. I can cope with that, but not with a complete lack of communication.
(no subject) - queenmomcat - Apr. 12th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
jackiesjottings
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry :((
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
jess_ka
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Ugh, that makes me so sad, as far as NS goes.

I love these books, and have bought each one and will buy any and all future ones as well.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for your support!
wedschilde
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
What the hell? Oh Dear God, are you fricking kidding me? I can't tell you how many times I've pimped your book and Snake Agent was the "giveaway book" from Mysterious Galaxy last year at the Con. (They give out free books and yours was on the first day). People were EXCITED about reading it.

God, I'm... speechless.

I just bought all four for a friend while we were at Patricia Briggs' signing at MG last Wednesday. He was reading a review from my Kindle* because he was bored (not a PB fan himself) and he clicked on... I think Precious Dragon. I don't remember. But he was enthralled. I got him the books while we were there because they actually had them.

Speechless. Really speechless.

I do want eBook options :D
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - wedschilde - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mevennen - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
eBook options - mbernardi - Apr. 13th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: eBook options - wedschilde - Apr. 13th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - allaboutm_e - Apr. 18th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wedschilde - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC) - Expand
fredbassett
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
That's such a bloody shame. I don't understand why the hell people can't just be up front about things. Avoidance tactics are vile. I'm so sorry to hear this.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
With the large publishers, they're better about letting you know - although I've known people who have had to go and sit on office doorsteps to get some kind of answer.
(no subject) - fredbassett - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
heathwitch
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry, hon. I hope it all gets sorted out for you. Fingers crossed!
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Well, shit happens all the time in publishing. I'm not upset but I am pretty annoyed.
haikujaguar
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
...

Oh, I am sorry, I really am. :P

And also right there with you on that last sentiment.

You find you need book cover art, ping me. If I'm not the right person, maybe I can find you someone. :)
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I have some ideas...
lil_shepherd
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
That is so bloody awful.

The Chen books are great, and until now I had heard nothing bad about Night Shade.

At least they should tell you what is going on, and you need those royalty cheques,
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
There has been a lot of stuff simmering under the radar and maybe this will lance a boil, I don't know.
(no subject) - ccmmcc - Apr. 12th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
bat_cheva
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry your publisher is stabbing you in the back like this. :(

Please rest assured, I will follow where you may go, however long it takes. I too pimp your books out as often as I can, creating new fans. NS is unbelievable for doing this to you. :(
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! You know, my readers are great. And I am a fan of other writers, too, who have gone through similar stuff. We would not survive without you.
(no subject) - bat_cheva - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mevennen - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bat_cheva - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
txanne
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
Argh, I'm sorry.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
mayakda
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
I love this series and I hope you can find another publisher.
I will say I have not noticed them in bookstores though, despite how popular urban fantasy currently is over here, and I'm sure I would have noticed the fantastic cover art. I only heard about them through word of mouth.
So I hope you find a publisher who can market the series widely; it is so wonderfully written and deserves a wide readership.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
mimerki
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Add me to the list of people sputtering incoherently. As with the failure of the local sushi place, clearly this is my failure. I should have bought more Chen books. Given them as gifts. Something.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Hey, not at all - people who tried to buy them found that they couldn't!

If something doesn't sell, you have to accept it. What has made me irate about this situation is a complete lack of professionalism in communicating with me - about finance, about statements, about pretty much everything.
(no subject) - shewhomust - Apr. 12th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heleninwales - Apr. 12th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
mastadge
Apr. 12th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
I'm very sorry to hear about this. So frustrating. I noticed a couple weeks ago that Iron Khan had disappeared from NSB's catalog and feared the worst. And hey, it's worse than I feared!

I'd assumed their mass market reprint strategy was to bring in even more readers for better-selling titles, but now it looks like it may have been a last-ditch effort to get enough readers on board to keep the line sustainable. Who knows?

And as NSB has been printing fewer and fewer interesting originals and pulp reprints and more and more pop-fantasy anthologies I've unfortunately losing interest in what used to be one of the most exciting publishers in the field. I could understand the shift. They need to sell what sells. But hearing about such unprofessional conduct makes me even less likely to purchase their products. Successful capitalism is as much about trust and relationships as about profit, and if I can't trust them to do right by their authors (and their audience) they won't be profiting by me.

I hope you do find another publisher for these books (can't imagine you won't), and I hope if you do successfully take the series to another publisher they'll stick with the wonderful Jon Foster art instead of slapping on generic moon and animal and back tattoo covers.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
It sounds as though they will not, in that case, be publishing IK.

I am with you on the cover art - someone else is seriously interested, but we will see. I am intending to do some small press publishing of other stuff we have on the backburner, as well - at least I will have some control over things and some awareness of what the hell is going on.

It is a huge shame, as NS have been consistently an interesting publisher and I don't like doing this. But they've jerked me around, and a lot of other people as well, and have pretty much squandered all the goodwill that people have exhibited: I've been very flexible about payment schedules, for instance. Folk have given them a smoother ride than the big houses because we know NS love the genre - but when that goodwill is deliberately wasted, you have to wonder why you're bothering.
(no subject) - bat_cheva - Apr. 12th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
joecrow
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
Damn, I'm sorry to hear that. I always thought of Nightshade as one of the good ones.

I hope that film option works out; getting to see Chen's world on the big screen would rock hardcore.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, me too - but things change.

And indeed - I would love to see it on screen!
mizkit
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
What a shame, both in terms of the books not coming out and in terms of their lack of professionalism. I'd had hopes/goals of bringing something out with them, but this bit of news certainly shoots down my enthusiasm for pursuing that, even if it was an option. Hmph.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
I am sorry to be the bearer of this, but I have now heard from too many pros who say that they would never work with them again. I've passed the point where I care how damaging this is to them, I'm afraid.
(no subject) - mizkit - Apr. 12th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
frandowdsofa
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Sucks big ones. Hope you find a successful solution.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
suricattus
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'd really hoped (for my reader-interests as well as writer-interests) that things would take an upturn -- much annoyed that they have not.

Luck on the other fronts!
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks - there are some interesting options. I'm just sorry I'm having to pursue them.
vaughan_stanger
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
Depressed to hear of such unprofessional behaviour from a publisher that I'd only heard good things about until now. But I'm sure you'll find good new homes for your books.
mevennen
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks - they have done some great stuff, but a lot of people have kept quiet out of goodwill and professionalism - that I am doing this now should show how far this has gone. I've never spoken out about a publisher in public before, despite some fairly crappy behaviour.
slothman
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
They haven’t yet returned my money for my preorder of Iron Khan that I made last year. They certainly have been having difficulties; they lost my order for The Shadow Pavilion and it took me two tries to get the attention of their customer service in order for them to get around to shipping it.

Do you have a publisher for the Detective Inspector Chen novels in the UK? I’d rather prove that you have a market in the US, but amazon.co.uk gets the job done.
xenaclone
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I hope you get the royalties that you are due at least.
la_marquise_de_
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
Professionalism is supposed to go both ways, and they have let you down nastily here.
martyn44
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
What can I say? What can anyone say? Courtesy costs nothing and this is all extremely discourteous. So they've blown it. It happens. You pick yourself up, dust yourself down and keep on keeping on. You don't muck around those who have made business arrangements with you. Maybe I'm old fashioned. Maybe I spent too long working in an industry where my word is supposed to be my bond. Maybe I just don't like my friends getting shafted.

Hoping for the best (and sorry I didn't speak to you at Eastercon. Next time, I promise I will do the civil thing!) Nil carborundum.
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(no subject) - martyn44 - Apr. 17th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - martyn44 - Apr. 18th, 2010 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mevennen - Apr. 18th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC) - Expand
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missingvolume
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
I hope all this works works out.
cherylmmorgan
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, another reason for wishing I was in the Bay Area right now. I could have gone and kicked Jeremy myself. I'll do what I can remotely.

*sigh* This is enough to make me want to start a publishing house. Where's that lottery win when I need it?
pauljessup
Jul. 7th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I've often thought of using Kickstart to create my own small press, get enough $$$ up front for two year's worth of operations (advances, printing costs, costs of management, salary, etc) and then publish weird and strange books that no one wants to touch these days. Bizarre, meaty stories.
(no subject) - firynze - Jul. 8th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
dsgood
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Ouch! Sorry to hear that.

But I suspect you'll be getting published after Nightshade is out of business....
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