A friend of mine pointed me over to Phil Foglio’s site for Girl Genius about problems he is having getting hold of anyone at TOR about the Girl Genius Omnibus that is basically going nowhere, and another friend of mine pointed me to the rebuttal article of Nielsen Hayden over at TOR books going WTF over on something that he has no control over.
Someone needs to just get Phil and TOR together in a room and call it good. Not that both parties now don’t have something to talk about, but when dealing with big publishers with a lot of power, you generally shouldn’t poke the bear. When you are the author of an insanely popular comic book series like Girl Genius TOR really should have someone who is willing to be responsive if not responsible to an author that can help make the bottom line a little brighter.
We have no official opinion other than really these two parties need to get into a room and play nice. TOR should have acknowledged Phil’s existence and if Phil is correct have someone over there at TOR massage any hurt feelings, maybe a nice dinner, some good wine, and appoint someone who will actually talk to him on a regular basis. On the other hand, if Nielsen Hayden is correct, he should have gotten hold of the actual person who is responsible for Phil’s book to let him know that they had a “live one” who was interested in trying to maintain some kind of good relations with the author.
Some authors really need to know what is going on, they need a lot of communication, and they need to know they matter. Other authors not so much, they are just happy enough to get a check once a year and a statement. They could care less about how things are going because they know the publishing business.
That is one of the biggest problems with larger publishing houses working with an independent author. The independent knows their audience, how to make things work, how to sell the product, who they are selling it to, and how to manage it. Most independent authors are control freaks to begin with, and have to know every little bit of their business because they know who their audience is. TOR on the other hand is a big huge book printing company that probably has some kind of clue about who they are dealing with as long as it is Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and other middle men distributors. The distributors barely know who they are selling to, and they certainly do not have solid point of sales data being pushed back up to the publisher.
Phil knows his audience, and he could have really helped TOR sell the book. TOR has no clue who the audience is, but thought that they did, and thought that they could go it alone, and are probably surprised that the book didn’t fly off the shelf.
The problem is that they didn’t communicate, and now that they are communicating in the public realm, fans and fanatics on both sides, those supporting Phil and those supporting TOR are like the peasant army called up in the medieval ages knowing that they are fighting, but not really what they are fighting for. The honor of the king has been besmirched, the Visigoths are on the horizon, and we fight for honor.
When really what these two organizations need to do it talk to each other.
The sad part is that this all too public fight will cause damage on both sides. While I like Phil, and have talked to him on multiple occasions, he is not a personable kind of guy, he wants to sell product, and he is good at that, but he is distant and removed based on my experience with him. I know nothing of TOR other than what my Science Fiction writer friends tell me about them. I know I wouldn’t want to do business with a big publishing house because I am also a control freak and want to know everything I can know about my own audience.
And there it is, the public spectacle will cause damage on both sides, and the good part is that it will be over and we will move on to the next opportunity to be an idiot in public once this is all forgotten.