Listen to Pilot Light

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lasagne and Publishers

Sometimes there are things in life that elude you. The two things I notice that I am never able to nail down are lasagne and publishers. I wonder if there is a connection?

I love lasagne. With meat. (Note to chefs, lasagne has meat. Meatless lasagne should be condemned to the same hell as light beer) Throughout my life I have had great difficulty getting lasagne in restaurants. I have walked into restaurants that specialize in lasagne and not been able to get it. They are out. I have ordered it ahead of time, going into the restaurant and saying, "I am coming in on Wednesday. The only thing I am coming for is lasagne. With meat. I don't care if you have running water, but promise you will have lasagne." They write down my name and my order.

When I arrive they don't have it.Or they made a mistake and saved some meatless thing that vaguely resembles what I ordered. Even if the waiter says yes they have it and takes my order, I won't get it (once a group of 24 people came into a restaurant and ordered all the lasagne about three minutes before they took my order.)

This has nothing to do with where I live. It has happened:
In the United States. (Boston, Austin, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland OR...)

In Italy (for crying out loud!).

And now in Cambodia.

A neighbor, out of pity for my plight, went to the same damn place that I struck out the last time and called to ask if I wanted her to bring me some as she was there and they had lasagne coming out of their ears. So sometimes I actually get some, but not when I go out to eat.

It has been this way all my life and isn't likely to change now. My wife laughed when I told her about. Now, lo these many years later she has seen this in operation too many times and always hints nicely that I might consider the lovely ravioli.

I've been writing for many years now. Magazine articles, nonfiction books, poetry, short stories and novels.
My luck with publishers, at least with fiction, follows a path reminiscent of my search for lasagne. I write a book, and after a great deal of effort, find a publisher who loves it. Hurrah, I cry.

But just because the waiter took the order, it doesn't mean you get the lasagne.

So the publisher loves the book. Contract is signed. Celebrate! The publisher gets to work (we are not talking cons here) and spends eons working on the book. Me too. Back in the old days I wrote a lot of science fiction and Ermine Publishing was excited about bringing out a double novella of mine. That was in the days of physical galleys. They hired someone to do the cover art. They edited the text. They typeset it. Lots of work.

Then they went out of business.

A few years later I sold a book to a publisher I won't name, but the editor got fired a week later and it turned out he didn't have the authority to sign the contract and anyway, they were changing their focus to cook books.

Then I sold a humorous novel (THE LEGEND OF RON ANEJO) to NovelBooks. They actually published it. A lot of angst and chaos later, they were out of business and, fortunately, the rights returned to me. (Lucky you can get it through the link on the right.)

A little bit ago, I announced that Glass Page Books was going to publish my murder mystery novel, based in Venezuela, called UNDER LOW SKIES. They did a nice cover. And then... went out of business.

So I will publish the book myself, along with the sequel, BANDIDO, that is almost done.

Fortunately, I've worked in publishing a lot of my adult life as a magazine editor, book editor (freelance) and sometimes publisher. I can see why the publishers I worked with failed. Float Street Press, my imprint, is a more cautious toe in those waters. I publish myself and a few others. We will try to develop the process and have fun with it.

Meantime, I have to remember not to expect to get lasagne or a publisher. And interestingly enough, I can actually do fine without either. It turns out that neither is particularly healthy.