Because I publish essentially everything I work on and have already been documenting the atrocities of literary agents I’ve had the misfortune to tangle with, today I begin to publish basic details of all or nearly all my dealings with publishers. (Including names.)

This form of disclosure has other aims, including bringing life to the term “accountability.” When an experienced writer pre-pitches an editor on a project, the editor has an obligation to respond and respond nicely. These postings will have, I hope, the salutary effect of exposing which agents either aren’t at their posts anymore (hence cannot answer mail sent to those posts) or just ignore potential authors. As publishing is a futures business, editors like the latter hasten the demise of book publishing.

If you think this is a bad idea, you must not be an author trying to sell a book. I’m just the one with the guts to do it.


  • Unannounced book titles remain unannounced. There are more of them than indicated here.
  • Ongoing discussions are not listed. In essence, I’m documenting old news.

Older items

  • Holly Root said no 2009.09.09, but referred me to another agent. Mailed him 2009.09.10; he mailed right back. Sent A pitch 2009.09.11.
  • Launched Cranky Copyright Book pre-project 2009.06.02.
  • Wrote Patrick Mulligan of Penguin 2009.07.07. He did Texts from Last Night via Erin Malone.
  • Mailed A proposal to Nick Douglas 2009.07.08 asking him just to alert Kate Hamill. Actually mailed Kate Hamill 2009.07.09.
  • Andrew Corbin, editor, Broadway Books: Asked him if he was the right kind of editor for A on 2009.04.29.
  • What Would Google Do?: Ben Loehnen, editor (Collins); Kate Lee, agent, inevitably. Mailed 2009.09.11.
  • The Jungle Effect: Jeremy Cesarec and Mary Ellen O’Neill mailed 2009.09.02 about A.
  • Many efforts to contact Globe Pequot Press (e.g., 2009.09.02).
  • Saw Heather Rubino on A Spring Without Bees and mailed her 2009.09.08. She wrote back right away and I pre-pitched her on A.
  • The Big Thaw by Ed Struzik (Wiley Canada): Robert Hickey, editor, mailed 2009.09.10; he mailed back. Sent Brian Will Cranky pre-pitch 2009.09.11; later said no more or less nicely.
  • Mailed Rob Kirkpatrick, Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s 2009.08.05 for B.

Current chronological list

  • Paradigm: Asked Jennifer Knerr who’s looking at copyright books 2009.08.26.
  • Joanna Green, Beacon Press: Looking at A as of 2009.08.17. Re-mailed 2009.10.02 to double-check. I’m not sure I ever got an actual no from them.
  • Mailed Shuster about Cranky 2009.09.02.
  • Mailed Jennifer Kushnier 2009.09.08.
  • Choire referred me to Julia Cheiffetz of HarperStudio 2009.09.15.
  • Mailed MetaFilter agent Ted Weinstein about A and B (after pre-querying) 2009.09.15.
  • Brought City Lights back from the dead: Mailed Robert Sharrard 2009.09.15.
  • 2009.09.22:
    • Judith Riven contacted. She asked for hardcopy. Mailed. She said no later. Re-asked 2009.10.29 in she said no rather less politely.
    • David Barker of 33⅓/Continuum: No response.
    • Vanessa Mobley of Broadway Books: No response.
  • 2009.10.02: Mailed Key Porter re editors. Remailed 2009.10.29.
  • 2009.10.05:
    • Jim Gifford; Joe Heath.
    • UCPress.
  • 2009.10.16:
    • Mailed Riverhead.
    • Mailed Greenleaf Book Group.
    • Mailed University of Wisconsin Press (Raphael Kadushin).
    • Mailed Ilene Kalish of NYU Press and brilliantly quoted Riverhead to her. (I’ve done this same thing more than once.)
    • Mailed UChicago Press.
  • 2009.10.29: Red Wheel Weiser reminder.
  • 2009.11.09: UNC Press about B.
  • 2009.11.18: Yale U. Press about editors. They eventually responded that B wasn’t their bailiwick.

Douglas & McIntyre

This desirable Canadian house gets its own section. After being treated nicely (said no to C 2009.06.25; assistant said no to A 2009.08.19), Chris Labonté essentially told me to go fuck myself 2009.12.07 after asking me to submit a proposal for Cranky. (“And if you criticize how I post my E-mail I might tell you to take a flying leap, but not in such gentle terms,” viz “Don’t bother sending anything. I don’t have patience for this.”)

Help from authors

  • “I’m being represented by John Brockman. Good luck” – Nick Carr (who is not Paul Carr).
  • James Howard Kunstler’s agent, Adam Chromy, mailed 2009.08.18; almost noncommittally said to send proposals. Sent A and mention of Cranky 2009.08.24.

Blind items

  • Which major “Canadian” publisher defends overlong, padded books because, in effect, they look appropriately scaled when a stockboy forklifts a skid of them onto the shop floor at Costco? (Not in exactly those words, but I was told this right to my face.)
  • Which major “Canadian” publisher rejects novel marketing techniques that combine E-books with independent bookstores with the complaint that Chapters isn’t gonna like that very much? (Hint: It’s the same publisher.)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.12.07 14:31. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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