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The Reasons Why I Let a Good Publishing Opportunity Slip

collateral tales

collateral tales

It’s about time I went to work again on what I thought was a mystery novel, the working title of which is Make-Up. I wrote it several years ago (that’s why it’s still written in German), and the manuscript’s already been in the editing offices of a major publisher. Which happened, as I said, several years ago. The opportunity slipped away. And I let it. Here’s why.

Of course I was overjoyed to have my manuscript requested by a major publisher. But then, within the course of about a year, the following happened: 1) The publisher merged with another publisher of roughly equal size. 2) These newly-weds were bought out by the biggest player in the German publishing market. 3) My editor resigned. 4) The chief editor resigned. 5) Two written inquiries/reminders of mine went unanswered.

So why did I let it slip, after that? I could have knocked on their door a bit more energetically, and I’m sure that’s indeed what everybody would’ve expected. Or, I could have sent the manuscript to a second publisher, albeit a smaller one, who had also signaled their interest in my novel. Or, simply, I could have fired off another synopsis volley.

What stopped me cold from doing anything like that was this: 1) I started to tackle my finals at the university, followed by writing my doctoral thesis, both of which kept me busy for years. 2) Together with friends, we set up a freelancer network for advertising professionals, which kept us busy for years. 3) I began to make serious money as a copy writer. 4) I sold my soul (not really) for a couple days per week to an advertising agency as a Senior Creative Director (Concepts, Copy, Communications, Coding). 5) My love life became increasingly logistically complex, not to speak of demanding, for exciting and challenging reasons. 6) The third chapter was crap, and for many years I had no idea how to justify its existence even though it had to be there. 7) I began to have second thoughts about surrendering all of my distribution rights for a fistful of euros.

So much for the past. Now the present: 1) Checked. 2) Alive and well, but more relaxed. 3) Still the case, but with more professional leisure. 4) Ditto, but ditto. 5) Okay, that one’s got even worse. 6) I know now what’s wrong with that frecking chapter. 7) Creative Commons, pleased to meet you.

Sounds good, right? Except that what’s wrong with the third chapter is that it’s completely incompatible with the rest of the novel—back then, the fundamental difference between mystery writing and thriller writing had yet to enter my mind.

This is going to be hard, make no mistake. So it’s about time I went to work.


If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you on !

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2 Responses


  1. between drafts | Textual Transparency, With Birds
  2. between drafts | Des Schreibers Selbstverständnis. Teil II: Schreiben == Technik