UPDATE: Since publishing this blog post, Simon & Schuster made the executive decision to exclude distributed titles direct to consumer from their website. I leave this post up as a testament to the handful of days that Babylon was posted in their web catalog.***
Back when my first agent was having difficulty placing Babylon with a major publisher, she said in an attempt to comfort me: “Well, no matter what, you’ll always be a Simon & Schuster author.”
She meant that because my first novel – The Fruit of Her Hands – had been published by S&S, that I could always claim that a Big Five publisher (it was one of the Big Six back then) had accepted my work. And since that was considered the imprimatur of success for an author, I would always be able to boast of it. Even if I never acquired that level of recognition again.
So how ironic is it to see myself back on Simon & Schuster’s Author pages – for precisely the book my agent couldn’t place?
Now it’s absolutely true that Simon & Schuster isn’t publishing the book. Instead, Wicked Son, a small traditional imprint, accepted it for publication some 15 years after my agent tried and failed to place it. A surprising, even breathtaking circumstance which happened more than a decade after S&S said “no thanks” to their option for my next book – an earlier version of Babylon. (Read more about how this occurred in my blog post, “Why the Book of My Heart Languished for 15 Years.”)
S&S is, however, the novel’s distributor. One thing every author knows is that distribution can make or break a novel. If the book doesn’t land in the right bookstores, if booksellers have difficulty in ordering a copy for their customers – then a writer’s hopes for good sales can wither on the vine.
When Wicked Son offered me a publishing deal, one of the most attractive parts of the package was the statement: “We distribute through Simon & Schuster.” That means the book is warehoused and available through S&S’s massive and (one assumes) well organized distribution system.
And it means that they list me as one of their authors, including my forthcoming novel on their website.
But being back in the rolls as a “Simon & Schuster author” on the S&S website, especially for Babylon, is hugely gratifying. And it proves just how wacky, weird and – sometimes – wonderful the world of publishing can be.
For after all it’s true, just as my very first agent told me: I’ll always be an Simon & Schuster author.