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The Mad Scribbler



The Fifth
Circle of Hell



“Ye who enter, abandon all hope.”
                           — Dante Alighieri, Inferno


This account of events which occurred some years ago is extracted from detailed records that I kept at the time. I have redacted the names to protect the innocent (me) from retaliation by people I never want to hear from again.

  • A week after I deliver Book One to Publisher, Editor says he’s authorizing D&A payment. It doesn’t come. I insist Agent follow up. Payment still doesn’t come. The check finally arrives 5 months later, only after much nagging. No explanation for the delays.

  • Around that time, Editor starts saying that I will soon receive revision notes. I keep receiving nothing. His notes finally arrive eight months after delivery. The edit is an incoherent, rambling mess. Portions of it don’t even apply to my book (but perhaps apply to another manuscript that Editor was reading at the same time?). I contact Editor with my questions, but he can’t explain his comments.

  • During production for Book One, I discover that the map we agreed on a year ago for the front matter doesn’t exist and a full page of text is missing from the galleys. Editor never responds to my various messages about these matters, so I insist that Agent follow up. Editor then responds by erroneously claiming he has already discussed these matters with me.

  • After I deliver Book Two, I wait nearly eight months for the acceptance check.

  • Then I ask for feedback on Book Two. Editor erroneously claims he has already given me feedback. He also declines to discuss the manuscript with me when I follow up on this.

  • Editor has ignored all messages about scheduling Book Two, so nine months after delivery, I finally convince Agent to go over Editor’s head to get it scheduled for publication. The date is set for 23 months after delivery, i.e. 14 months hence. (Spoiler: The book will miss its release date.)

  • Editor keeps telling me to expect revision notes, but they never come. Finally, 13 months after delivery, I again insist Agent go over Editor’s head and convince Publisher to set a deadline for Book Two to bypass Editor and go straight to the copy editor.

  • When the deadline arrives, the “edit” begins coming in chunks scattered over the course of a week. There are no notes, no letter, just one or two brief mark-ups every 20-25 pages (such as incorrectly changing a narrative verb from past-tense to present-tense). I have waited more than a year for this.

  • Book Two is unusually long. Editor has repeatedly assured me that the length is “not a problem.” But about a month after I deliver my revisions (a self-edit, obviously), production informs me that they have been telling Editor for over a year that they will not publish the book at this length.   

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