Owen Brownstone Keeps Trying
by Channie Greenberg
When I read that your uncle had died, I thought about you, about Sam, and about Betty. I know that you and my cousin Liam are still friends.
I’ve long thought of you as Liam’s pal as much as I’ve thought of you as Sam’s little brother. (Liam hates it when I speak of him as “my little cousin” as he’s 50, after all. Nonetheless, some habits don’t fade as readily as do others.)
Anyway, I still have, somewhere, pictures of you and Liam from a birthday party. I could look for that photo album, scan it, and email it to you, if you would like. Regardless, you’d probably be pleased had you been aware that, intermittently, I’ve sent you regards through Liam.
Per Sam, your brother, when I was a confused junior high kid, Sam was one of the kindest people to me. He never made fun of my pet fish, turtles, and snails, and never mocked my interest in oceanography.
As per Betty, I only knew her as “Sam and Jeremy’s sister.” Sorry.
Anyway, I wanted to get in touch with Sam to wish him my condolences, so I googled him. Nada.
After graduate school, I essentially lost touch with everyone from my childhood. Thus, I didn’t know if he had become more private or, maybe, had taken up a religion that caused him to change his name. If it’s okay with him, would you forward his email address to me?
I googled your sister. It seems as though she’s settled and happy. I wish her all the best.
I googled you. You’re an agent! You’re Liam’s age. You are no longer my kid cousin’s equally young friend, but someone who climbed the rungs of the publishing industry! Wow!
Meanwhile, you’ve kept that great smile you had when we were kids.
As for me, I stayed in California after school, became a biology professor, and taught science writing on the side.
Anyway, I am taking a risk with the next sentence, with a request. Can I pitch Estuary Creature Delights to you? I’ve attached a tease (not an actual synopsis).
When might you be game to read more? I’ve had the fortune to meet all sorts of publishers, editors, agents, and writers in the last few years. However, I’d rather talk to you than to a stranger. I hope my boldness is not off-putting.
The above aside, I’m sending you my condolences per your uncle. Please ask Sam if I can have his email address.
Owmapow (Owen Brownstone)
Thank you for your thoughtful condolences and for your lovely memories. There is much to which to respond, but it may take me a few weeks as I am playing catch up after a lot of business travel and bereavement. I did however want to connect with you with Sam, who I know would enjoy a hello (he’s cc’d above.)
Thank-you for Sam’s address!! I’m going to drop him a quick email before I’m off to sleep.
I. am. so. grateful. to. be. reconnected. to. Sam!!! Thanks! (your brother is just as wonderful as he was when we were kids. I look forward to an ongoing email relationship with him.)
In other matters, may I pitch Estuary Creature Delights to you? Please advise. Also, sometime in the future, I want to write a poetry assemblage called Hedgehogs and Lobsters. Might you be interested in representing that collection?
PS: Some of my freestanding work includes: “Crustaceans in Deep Space,” in Creatures and Flowers, “The Care and Feeding of Rabid Hedgehogs” in Smarmy Friends, “The Elephant’s Toe” in Crazed Critters, and “Squamata’s Big Dance” in Squeaks and Roars.
The herbs are flowering. The otters are mating. Life is good.
I can’t wait to hear from you!
I’m heading off to vacation and am focusing on doing nothing professional for a few weeks. This is just a quick note to say I’m glad you and Sam reconnected
All the Best,
* * *
I’m sorry for the terribly long delay, but I wanted to discuss a few things with you.
Due to economic difficulties, we have decided to produce all of our releases in digital form first before going to print, i.e. we are exercising the “at publisher’s discretion” option in our contracts.
The independent book market has not been doing very well, and as we receive no grants or university funding for publishing non-commercial work, we have found that we have to reduce the amount of risk we incur for each release.
Jeremy Smith is still beloved to us, but no agent can restructure the market. So knowing him is no help to you, at this time.
Simply, if you would prefer to withdraw from your contract for Estuary Creature Delights, we will understand completely. Our press would be happy to provide you with endorsements that you can send to other publishers.
Alternatively, if you are willing to go with a digital publication first, then we would still like to have your book on our list. Please let me know. We are taking this route with all of our upcoming releases; our change in plans is no reflection on your work.
Thanks for your understanding.
I am happy with the tweaks I have made, so far for Estuary Creature Delights. I plan to continue editing and to get my redo of the manuscript to you by the first week of March, as you originally requested. I hope we are still preparing for a Nov. launch.
I’ve given a lot of thought to what you said about going digital. In Dec., I had a book of poetry go digital. That said, every book of mine that is broadcast in print, electronically, or in audio form, is a steppingstone. I try to act accordingly.
I don’t want to withdraw my book from your list or to part with you in any way, shape, or form. I do want to stay friends and associates. However, concurrently, I continue to hope that Estuary Creature Delights will enable me to cull more contracts with you, with other independent presses, and with larger presses.
Hence, I have an idea. Let’s do a two-eBook contract. Let’s package the contract for Estuary Creature Delights with a contract for Deep Water Creature Delights. Would that fit your calendar?
I think that if I could look to a two-book contract with you, I could also look to establishing myself as an eBook writer. Let me know what you think about my idea.
There really isn’t any difference between writing for eBooks and writing for print. The only difference is whether or not paper is involved. If you decide to stay with us, Estuary Creature Delights will be placed in the digital market, which is where we sell the most books, and then re-evaluated every ninety days for possible print publication.
We aren’t really open to adding any more science works to our schedule at this time; we’re tilting towards more commercial titles in the future. So, I’m going to have to respectfully decline your offer for a two-book deal.
Maybe we can put our creative heads together and think of something else.
Sebastian Press is truly not interested in any more science books and won’t be taking on any more beyond those currently contracted. Our decisions have nothing to do with the quality of your work.
I am sincerely sorry to hear about your company’s challenges. The publishing industry is anything but stable.
In the end, I think I will take up your offer to leave the contract. Sigh. I had so looked forward to doing business with you. Please send me whatever formal notice I need to sign. I want to make sure that we engage properly in closure.
I still care about you and about your press and hope to continue to have a working relationship with you. On balance, writers, even mid-list ones, must protect themselves. For now, I need at least a POD level of distribution.
Please include me on your future email lists. I sincerely wish you and Sebastian Press the best of all profit and publicity. You are a fair and savvy publisher, and I enjoy our relationship.
I can draft up a formal release of contract, but let this notice serve until then that we both agree to release each other from the contract with no contingencies. Thanks for your understanding. I wish things were different, but our press needs to pare down so that we don’t have to close our door.
I found myself on your mailing list for “Help Us Promote Your Books on Facebook.” I’m glad to see your publishing house is back on the track and is again offering new books in print and digital forms. To wit, I’d love for you to honor your contract with me for Estuary Creature Delights.
You asked me to release you from the contract since you thought I ought to publish not only digitally, but also in print. I released you. In the interim, I signed contracts for other books, but not for that one.
Now, from the email, I see you are again offering print products. How can we return to our commitment?
I’m sorry about the email mix-up. We are still producing only limited print copies and are only publishing in specific genres at this time. But thanks for keeping touch.
We had a contract. I sent you a 70,000-word book, Estuary Creature Delights, for which you have yet to formally revoke our contract. Meanwhile, your list of new releases, as provided at www.Sebastianpress.com, includes print and electronic releases of new titles.
I don’t feel good about this discovery. Perhaps, a year ago, your press was short-funded. This year, however, you seem to be printing plenty of books. Since I like working with you, I am going to suppose that we have a mere misunderstanding.
PS: On second thought, I don’t want to publish where I’m not appreciated. I hope you succeed with your press. Consider this email notice that I’m submitting Estuary Creature Delights elsewhere.
Copyright © 2019 by Channie Greenberg