I’m Mad As Hell And I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore!

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Those were the words of Peter Finch’s character in “Network,” of course, but now I’m shouting them, too. Can you hear me? No? Then let me put it another way.

I’M. NOT. HAPPY. RIGHT. NOW.

I’ve worked in book publishing my entire adult life – from a publicist and a marketing executive to a writer of fiction and nonfiction – and I’ve loved every minute of it. But now and then I want to tear my hair out, and today is one of those days.
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Months ago, my agent shopped a proposal to publishers for an illustrated book about the Yankees’ 2009 season. More specifically, the book was going to highlight the 50 most memorable moments of the Yankee Stadium Inaugural Season; I was going to write the (hopefully witty and heartwarming) text for each key moment and Andy Friedman, whose wonderful illustrated portraits of famous people regularly appear on national magazine covers, was going to do the drawings. We thought we had a unique, commercial idea. But here’s what publishers said:
  “The project is too risky. We don’t know how the Yankees will do. The season might not be memorable after all, and we can’t take that chance.”

They also said:
 “The audience for a book about the Yankees is too narrow.”

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Yes, I tore my hair out when I heard those comments, especially because the audience for a book about the Yankees isn’t narrow; it’s enormous. But hey. They wanted to wait to see how the team did this season? Fine. We’d wait. Well, surprise surprise. The Yankees won the World Series.
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My agent went back to publishers last week and said, “OK, everybody. The season was memorable. Now do you want the book?” Once again, publishers said the audience was too narrow (no, it isn’t). They also said the market would be flooded with keepsake books about the World Series (ours would cover the entire season, not just the Series). And today, one publisher said this:
“The drawings would make the book too cerebral.”


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Yes, I tore my hair out again. Too cerebral? Does this guy think Yankee fans (or all baseball fans, for that matter) are Neanderthals? 
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Seriously. Take a look at Andy’s drawing of Yogi throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. Does it seem hard to comprehend?
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We had planned to include everything from A-Rod’s walk-off against the Red Sox in the 15th inning, to Girardi getting tossed in Atlanta, to A.J. pitching to kids from Camp Sundown at 3 o’clock in the morning during HOPE Week. We had it covered in a way that would be so different from a photographic chronicle. Publishers didn’t think it would sell, and I think they’ve been incredibly shortsighted. Such is life. Andy will go back to drawing movie stars, athletes and members of the Supreme Court, and I’ll go back to the novel I’m writing as well as the script for the She-Fan book. I just hate when good ideas end up in the dumpster, I really do.
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33 Comments

We all know Howard Beale was the only man to die because his network had bad ratings…

I’m sorry to hear about this, Jane. I think that you always have orginal ideas for your blogs and your book about the ’09 Yankees would be great. That publisher doesn’t knoww aht he’s talking about; where does he get off saying it’s a narrow topic? Unreal.

A.J., it’s been a frustrating experience because I know the market for the book is there. But publishers are so risk averse these days that I’m surprised anything gets published. Thanks for your support though!

Jane,
I definitely know how you feel here.
The publishing world is throwing themselves marketing books to the reality show anti-christs Speidi ( Spencer/Heidi), but do not seem to want to do good wholesome work right now.
Maybe the writing community needs to embellish a scandal to get our stuff done anymore.
But, that is the climate of the marketplace to seek the 15-minute of fame mongels and the instant celebrities.
Guess I missed the memo on this movement, but then it might be under all the books I still need to read this offseason ( I finished yours a long time ago).

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

It’s true, Renegade. It’s much easier to get published right now if you have a reality show or have written about a vampire.🙂 So glad my She-Fan book has been checked off your to-do list for the offseason. Whew.

Perhaps I’m a bit prejudiced, but they must be idiots to think that book would not sell. The topic, particularly considering the fact that its the first season at the new stadium and the results, would almost guarantee sales. Add the unique style and I think its a collectors’ item. Did they use that aging, “this is a bad economic period in the U.S.” phrase as part of the reason why they would not back your project? Again, idiots!!!

Sorry to change the subject, but we went to see “Bye Bye Birdie” on Broadway last night. It was a wonderful night. The only down side was the news that John Stamos was not performing. He apparently had to go to LA for his star on the Walk of Fame. Okay, yeah, I guess that’s big but we were really looking forward to seeing him. Anyway, the disappointment was short-lived, as his understudy, a performer by the name of Todd Gearhart, was amazing. I doubt that Stamos could be any better. The young performers playing the teens, and especially the young man who played Birdie, were all extraordinary and extremely entertaining. And who stole the show?…believe it or not, Bill Irwin, who plays the lesser role of the father who’s daughter is chosen to be kissed good bye by Birdie, was hilarious. When he sang the well known song “Kids”, he brought the house down. The friends we attending the show with know one of the young people who is in the show and he invited us all back stage after the performance. He gave us a complete tour of the stage and back stage area and showed us how the entire show works. So amazing. We got to meet some of the performers, including Irwin, who was so humble and thankful for our attendance and good review. I got a picture of my daughter, Marisa, and Erin, our friends’ daughter who is friends with the young actor, with him. I’ll forward you a copy. Anyway, anybody who has the opportunity to see this show should do so…and they are going to be on the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade so whoever gets that transmission can see some of the show from home.

Again, very disappointing news about your proposed book. Maybe instead of pulling out your own hair you should have threatened to pull out theirs.

That stinks Jane. I guess the publisher didn’t watch the parade coverage. . . or know that it’s Yankees Universe! If you had one picture of Matsui in there, sales in Japan would have been great.

I ran into someone this week who commutes to NYC. She said the day of the parade, the train was full of Yankees supporters and they were chanting and cheering the whole way down. Fun!

Melissa

Jane, I know you’re not into stats, but bare with me for a moment. Four of the ten top-selling sports books of 2009 were about the Yankees, including Joe Torre’s Yankee Years which has sold over 320,000 copies. Peter Golenbock has written 3 best-selling books about the Yankees all by himself. I’m not sure where the publishers are getting their information from, but they’re just wrong. BTW – Many baseball fans will read books about any team, not just their favorite one. Even if they did just read about their favorite team, attendance figures and TV ratings show that the Yankees are the most popular baseball team in the country.

Now, now Jane. I think you’re losing perspective. I can start printing the rejection letters I’ve gotten (still can’t find an agent) even as I’m kinda, sorta kicking at the door to modest success. (At least they kinda sorta know who I am, anyway; even as they think I’m a loose cannon/lunatic who can write a bit.)
Many times I don’t even GET a response. The publishing industry’s balls have dropped off and it’s dying as a result. Self-publishing is the wave of the future! Then what are they gonna do when the writers are telling THEM to screw off?
http://www.paullebowitz.com/
http://www.princeofny.blogspot.com/

Fools………they underestimate the power of the Yankees fans and she-fans of the world.

Hi Jane,
Just goes to show how sometimes people just don’t know what they’re talking about. The fanbase is bigger than ever right now, and all baseball fans, unless they’re part of the “Yankee H8rs” contingent, appreciate just how special the 2009 Yankees season was, all things considered. Self-publishing?Looking forward to more updates,Ana

I’m sorry Jane, those publishers are real idiots! Obviously they have no concept of the world wide market for the Yankees. When I traveled overseas I still saw tons of Yankees merchandise in the stores I went in to. NYC was apparently as crazy as or crazier than St. Patrick’s Day on parade day. The Yankees night after night pack not only their home stadiums but those on the road as well. People love or at least want to know about the most successful sports franchise in history! I think your book would have been wonderfully unique and perfect book to capture the magic of this season. Maybe your publishers should start reading your blog and some of the others to see just how much of a market there is for a book like yours (and of course that Yankee fans are perfectly capable of being “cerebral”).
~D
PS I am going to email you some pictures of Cooperstown. There’s one sign in particular that I think is perfect for you and this blog…

Idiots. All of them. Too cerebral? Unbelievable. Don’t they know who Nick Swisher is?!? Nothing cerebral about that guy… or Damon… or Joba. Jeesh. The good thing it seems you’re already over it and moving on — a very valuable skill… I need to live by your good example, Jane.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

I say write it anyway. Keep shopping it around. Sooner or later, somebody is going to bite. Now I’m not saying I know how the publishing industry works (because I don’t), but if you believe that much in it, then don’t stop. Start writing it drawing it up so people can see your idea come to life and maybe they will get a better perspective of what you want to accomplish.

I’m not a big reader of books (just blogs). I always joke by saying “Why read, if its any good they’ll make it into a movie”

Well now its time to make the movie (the season) into a book.

I hope it works out for you.

http://evilempire.mlblogs.com/

GET.A.NOTHER.PUBLISHER — at least, that’s my opinion. Or at least dangle an interested party in front of those dimwits — do they all live in New England, or what?? At least you have several irons in that fertile fire…a SCRIPT for “She-Fan”?…now, maybe you mentioned that b4, but my feeble brain can’t recall…how EXCITING! And “no market”? — look thru the latest SI mag, the one with Peyton Manning on the cover — ON the cover, they hi-lite an article, “The Yankees Plan To Rule The World,” on page 50…but before you get there…two pages in, a sexy full-page ad featuring Jeet and some cologne…pages 4 and 5, a BIG picture layout of The Parade…page 13, a full-page Nike ad of CC and Jeet…page 14, CARTOONS of LeBron and Jay-Z wearing Yankee gear…page 25, a Gatorade ad with Jeet and Somebody in a big man-hug, wearing their Championship gear…and this is a NATIONAL MAGAZINE, dumbkopfs!! I rest my case…

Ooops…ya know, I just finished my posting, and decided to keep thumbing thru that SI issue…guess what…on page 33, there’s ANOTHER full-page ad, plugging the Yankee Championship Commemorative Book…with MO on the cover…so that makes SEVEN AND A HALF PAGES of references to the Yanks b4 you get to their 5 1/2-page article on the Yankees…if I lived in Bahston, I’d barf and maybe cancel my subscription…and yet these mo-rons say there’s LIMITED INTEREST? Where, east of Fenway? Oh, Riiight…

Wow the audience is too narrow that’s why in Denver of all places I have heated Yanks/Red Sox rivalries with my co workers and have been booed in the grocery store and cheered people have yelled Go Yanks to me but I guess the audience is too narrow. The Yanks are one of the most popular teams in professional sports. Tell that publisher to leave the confinement of his office and look around once in a while. Good luck and I would buy a copy of your book!!!

http://denveryanksfan.mlblogs.com

No, Diane. The publishers didn’t trot out the “it’s a bad economy” excuse. They publish many books – too many, in my opinion – so it’s business as usual. They collectively felt there wasn’t a large enough market for this particular book and that it would only sell at Christmas time, which would be too soon for us to get them the material and for them to produce it. Blah blah. What a night you had at “Bye Bye Birdie!” When you started the story, I thought it was going to end badly, given that Stamos wasn’t there to perform. But it all sounds wonderful. So glad you had a great time.

You make a great point about Matsui, Melissa. I kept saying, “But the book will sell in Japan!” It all fell on deaf ears. And I guess publishers thought the thousands of people at the parade looked “un-cerebral.” LOL.

Pinstripepride, you’re absolutely right about those books and their successes. The difference is they’re not about a single season and ours would have been. The other problem is that they were published in the usual production cycle, allowing them to be marketed properly (whatever that means nowadays, since so little marketing is done). Ours would have had to be “crashed out” for February publication. Traditional publishers have very fixed schedules and any deviation costs them more money and trouble.

Self publishing may be the wave of the future, Paul, but Andy and I get paid for our work in advance and we like it that way. So for now, it’s not an option.

My sentiments exactly, ladyjane. Fools.

Ana, I appreciate your support and good thoughts. As I said above, self publishing isn’t the right direction for us on this project. You are so right about the fan base though. It’s huge. That’s why this is all so frustrating.

First of all, wirishrose, thanks for the pics of Cooperstown. I’ll post a couple in tonight’s entry. Much appreciated. And your commentary on the sales potential for the book is precisely what I wrote in my proposal, so great minds think alike. Unfortunately, nobody listened. GRRRRRRR.

I’ve been in this racket too long not to be able to move on, Jeff. It goes with the territory. You take an idea as far as it will go, and then you come up with another one. As someone once told me, if you throw enough **** at a wall, some of it is bound to stick.

Good thought, Kenny, but it would take too much time to write the book and then re-submit it to publishers, especially for Andy, whose drawings are in high demand from magazines. We gave publishers a very detailed proposal with sample illustrations. They knew just what they’d be getting. Besides, once they say no, it’s no. But hopefully I’ll have a movie for you to see one of these days!

There isn’t another publisher, Dave. We went to all of them. No is no. All your SI examples are great and they make the point I was trying to make about the audience. People devour material about the Yanks, especially if it’s different from everything else out there. But publishers would rather have Nick Swisher’s autobiography, I guess. As for the script, I’m collaborating with the writer and producer of “The Bronx Is Burning” miniseries. We’re trying to capture the spirit of the She-Fan book while writing a more mainstream romantic comedy.

Denveryanksfan, you’re so right about New York publishers needing to get out more. If they only saw what happens in the rest of the country – how well the Yankees draw on the road and how there are fans everywhere. I know just what you’re talking about. Good to know that you would have bought a copy of the book though!

The Bronx Zoo was about a single season and it did very well. I think the main difference is that many of the better selling books created controversy. After seeing what you said about the size of Michael Kay’s head in Confessions of a She-Fan I would think they would know that you’re not one to shy away from controversy. 😉

Controversy does help, pinstripepride. No question. In fact, the She-Fan book was so “controversial” that the Yankees refused to let us advertise in their Opening Day program, remember that? This book was going to be called “Highlights and Hi Jinks,” and it would have included both the ups and the downs of the season, meaning it wouldn’t have been a strictly sunny-side-up look. But the Bronx Zoo had Sparkly Lyle, don’t forget!

I know this is proably foolish, but what stops you from doing it yourself? There are pleanty of independent publishing companies out there. I mean I can get my blog turned into a book just by clicking on an ad from Facebook. If the book is good or even great it “should” generate pull from Amazon, your site and maybe even an I Tunes digital book. I just wouldn’t toss what work you’ve done out is all I’m saying.

Cob
http://cobf.mlblogs.com

Thanks for your input, Cob. And it’s not foolish at all to suggest self-publishing. It’s a great way for new authors to enter the marketplace. But we’re just not interested in going that route right now. We want to get paid!

I have lived in a lot of cities and states and NEVER have I had the opportunity to leave in NY. Wherever I have lived I am never the only Yankee Fan and I am always amazed at how wearing something with the NYY logo can start up a conversation and get people excited.

Even when I lived in Seattle when I would wear my NYY t-shirt or sweatshirt I was always spoken to and cheered. Okay a few not so nice cheers but most thrilled to see the NYY logo because they were die hard fans too. Listen NYY have been around longer than the Mariners. What the hell are these people thinking?

I now live in DC Metro (translation:Northern VA) And there are more NYY fans here 2nd only to NY. Once when seeing an Oriole vs. Yankee game the parking lot was filled with VA plates and everyone had NYY all over their car and the folks streaming out of the cars were decked in NYY gear. The parking attendant yelled, “WHERE THE HELL ARE THE ORIOLE FANS?” Not at Camden Yards!

I don’t call that narrow. The only thing narrow was their mind!

You’re preaching to the choir, mhugill. I know exactly what you mean about the predominance of Yankee fans across the country, which is why I thought the market for a book like this would be strong. So maddening!

It’s really a shame that this book won’t hit the stores. I know I’d LOVE one, it sounds like my type of book, and the market for it would be HUGe. Really a shame it’s not being sold.

Some people wouldn’t know brilliance if it shot ’em with a 9mm glock. *sigh* I’d buy that! And Andy’s drawing of Yogi is awesome! I swear, some people are so dumb, it’s disgusting.

– Lisa
http://perennialpinstriper.mlblogs.com/

I bet you would have loved the book, letsgoyankees. And publishers already do read my blog. You’d think it would help. Maybe I should have everybody sign a petition saying they’d buy it. LOL.

I love Andy’s drawing of Yogi too, Lisa. You should see his other illustrations. He’s really talented. And yeah, some people are dumb all right.

Just show the publishers this blog page, Jane. Problem solved.

Not only would it make a great case for your book, it would endear them to you too! (You know, what with all the comments about th publishers’ intelligence, sanity, and perspective, or lack thereof, that we’ve made about them.)

so sorry. so sorry for you jane and so sorry for us readers. i want to buy the book for me and for my dad. i want the heartwarming and witty text. i want to read and see more on this magical season. i want for the publisher to realize the error of their ways. so sorry.
barbara

Thanks, Barbara. You and your father would have loved the book. Publishers don’t realize how much we fans enjoy reliving a season like 2009 – even with some of the less-than-joyous moments – because we know there was a happy ending. I’m sorry too, but there will be other projects. Not to worry.

I don’t get that drawing. Why is his head so big? Why are his feet so tiny? Why is he bigger than the stadium? What is that round shaped thing in his hand? I’m so confused…

BTW, maybe change it from 2009 to “all time” or something. Though personally I like the annual idea better, especially if there was going to be one for ever year that follows. But then I like collecting stuff…

The drawing was too cerebral for you, kaiser? LOL.

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