Corrupted Chapter 12, Page 3Omar Tyree
Vincent smiled. “So, you think Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate?”
Thomas said, “He better be. I don’t see anyone else giving Obama a real run for his money.”
Vincent decided to leave that topic alone and stick to the business at hand. He never asked whether Thomas was a Republican or a Democrat, and he didn’t want to go there. It wasn’t important in their everyday business. So he broke away from politics and asked, “What do you think about the paranormal book craze?”
Thomas grimaced. “Are we on it early enough? That’s what I would want to ask. I don’t want us to jump on it the bandwagon at the end of the ride.”
“That’s understandable. But what if the ride ends up being longer than what we thought it would be?” Vincent questioned.
Thomas raised his brow. “You have something in mind?”
Vincent nodded. “I’m gonna find out in another month. I have a Puerto Rican guy from New Jersey writing an interesting werewolf series. Now, if we can link him up with Lauren, who already likes him, and build up a Latino sex symbol kind of thing, maybe we can turn the Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban and Spanish American teenagers on to this new heart throb, you know. We even came up with the idea of printing a sample chapter to give away during the Puerto Rican Day Parade.”
Thomas grinned and chuckled. “Vincent, you’re always at it, aren’t ya’?” You wanna strike lightning again with another Jackson Smith phenomenon for Hispanics. That’s a great idea, if it works.” Then he looked around at his overcrowded corner office. Books were all over the place. He said, “By the way, get yourself ready to move out of here for a bigger office next week. I spoke to Arnold yesterday, and he’s ready to move you up to a senior executive editor position, which means you’ll now get a chance to oversee authors, who may need a retooling across all genres, including our nonfiction, political titles. Arnold and Beverly are working out the deal points for you by Friday.”
Vincent heard that and smiled. It was about time he got another desirable promotion. He figured he would celebrate it by buying another Harlem-based apartment building that he had been eying.
“Well, that’s great news,” he commented. “Now we can move Susan into her little office.”
Thomas grinned and endorsed it. “Yeah, she deserves it. I can’t say that for everyone else though. So the heads are gonna roll real soon. Some will move up and others will move out.”
Vincent took it all calmly. It was only a matter of time before Williams & Klein cut back on their bloated staff. Other publishing houses had already begun to do so. And after the BEA conversations among publishing peers from a week ago, it was assumed and expected that W&K would be making their staff moves as well.
Vincent said, “I’m sorry to hear that. But at least they get a chance to refocus over the summer instead of being cut during the harsher fall or winter season.”
“Amen,” Thomas agreed. “And when your guy is ready with this ah, werewolf series, you let me take a look at it too.”
“No problem. You know I will.”
Over at the much smaller competitor’s building at Impact Publishing, it took no time at all for Hannah Manningham to rethink Brittney Enis’ idea of betting the house on Darlene Krause. So the ambitious editor was called back into her office to discuss the plans of execution that Thursday morning.
Hannah started with a nod and a smile. “Well, I had a chance to thumb through some of Darlene’s novel the past two days, and I really liked what I read. I think that a lot of readers will like it too. She’s ah, worth the hype.”
Brittney smiled so big her cheeks were ready to explode. She said, “Thank you.”
Then Hannah busted her bubble. “We’ll offer her eighty.”
Brittney’s smile disappeared as quickly as it came. “That’s not gonna work,” she commented. “Being offered six figures is her goal.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’ve spoken to her and been around her. She has an agent, she’s been well-schooled, and she wants to relocate to New York. So she’ll need enough money to do it.”
“I hear you even went out to a nightclub with her,” Hannah questioned.
Again, Brittney doubted that Jill had informed her, but obviously someone had. So there was no sense in being shocked by any of it.
Brittney admitted, “We did. We wanted to do as much research as possible on her vibe and personality. And we found out that she’s the real thing. That’s why I’m so confident in going after her.”
Hannah studied her again. She said, “You offer her the eighty, and you see how she responds to that first. And then we’ll raise it with one hundred thousand as our final number.”
Brittney continued to refuse the plan. She shook her head and said, “We’ll have an all or nothing deal here. If Williams and Klein starts at one hundred, which they will, and we’re down at eighty, they may not even come back to hear our final offer.”
“But if we match their one hundred out of the gate, then we can put pressure on her to choose creative control and input over just the money. And if she chooses to take twenty or twenty-five thousand more just because they offer it, then obviously she’s not the person that I would want to work with. As you’ve stated, we want authors who want to make an impact first, and the money will come. But a hundred thousand is far from zero.”
Hannah used her hard-eyed approach again. She said, “Do you realize that she’s not really gonna receive one-hundred thousand dollars? If she has an agent, then at most, she’s looking at eight-five thousand, because she’ll have to cough up fifteen or twenty percent to her agent.”
“And that’s gives us more of a reason to start at a hundred,” Brittney countered.
“But if you’re not gonna go higher than that, then that’s not really a bidding war. And we’re also only thinking about Vincent at Williams and Klein, but what if Random House, Simon and Schuster or HarperCollins jumps into the bid? Hasn’t she sent her novel out to everyone? We could end up being blindsided by a five-headed monster here.”
Brittney hadn’t thought much about that, but she was still ready for it. Knowing the struggles and tendencies of the other three publishers, she stated, “Random House has not really had much success with African-American authors, Simon and Schuster is in bed with black erotica and street lit, and HarperCollins is more concerned with nonfiction right now. And if you wanna add Grand Central, Kensington or St. Martin’s Press to the mix, I believe they’re positioned to offer one hundred thousand for a new African-American author right now.”
“Oh, so now she’s African-American instead of multicultural,” Hannah noted.
“We have a staff here to execute that fine line of cultural identification. And I’m sure that Vincent knows how to tightrope that line as well. He’s already done so with Jackson Smith, to a certain degree in making him seem more hip. But the rest of the editors at publishing houses . . . not so much. You have to design an entire program for Darlene and not just sign her up as business as usual.”
Just when Hannah began to feel that the editor was overconfident, Brittney smiled and told her, “Trust me, if none of this works, then we keep our hundred thousand, go back to our publishing goals, and wish her the best. But if we have an opportunity to sign her and launch her first babies, then let’s go for it and try it.”
Her lighter approach at the last minute swayed Hannah away from turning her down again. So she took another deep breath before she responded.
As soon as Brittney and Jill Miller could discuss the big morning meeting over lunch at a Subway sandwich shop, Jill was all over her for the urgent information.
“Okay, so come on already. What happened?”
Finally, Brittney broke into a smile. “She said okay.”
Jill was surprised as ever. She asked, “Really?” Brittney had kept her fellow editor in suspended animation for more than an hour with no hints either way. “All right,” she cheered, offering a high-five across their small
table. “But are you nervous now?”
Jill had never asked for more than sixty thousand to sign a new author, and she was okay with that. She understood the idea of getting an author published first before trying to make them rich.
Brittney told her, “Well, I’m not nervous, but . . . I have more work to do now to make sure that we win.”
Jill looked surprised again. “So, you actually plan to win a bidding war with Vincent Biddle?”
Brittney eyed her as if she should know better than to doubt her. She sipped her Coca Cola from the straw and said, “Yeah. Why would I bother to go through all of this if I didn’t?”
Jill paused before she reacted to her. “Well, I’m scared of you. You planned your work and you’re now working your plan.”
“And I’m nervous as hell,” Brittney finally admitted with a laugh. “But I think I only became nervous when she actually said yes. Because I was expecting the nos. There was no reason to be nervous about that. But when she actually said, ‘Okay, we’ll do it’, I was ready to ask her to repeat herself so I could hear it again. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t daydreaming”
Jill laughed along with her. She said, “Oh, tell me about it. I know that I would be nervous. I was nervous for you on both days this week. I’ve never been in a bidding war. Not to mention one with this guy. I hear he eats other editors for lunch.”
Brittney frowned and said, “Yeah, but I told you that. And since I’m so familiar with him, I already know what he’s gonna do. But he doesn’t really know what I’m gonna do. He’s gonna be surprised that I went out and ponyed up a hundred thousand.”
“But what if he bumps it up to a hundred and fifty?” Jill suggested for the hell of it.
Brittney thought of that with a pause. She said, “Well . . . I’d tell Darlene, ‘Congratulations and watch your back’.”
She shared another laugh.
Brittney added, “But in the meantime . . . let’s just wait and see what happens. We don’t really know what’s gonna happen yet. I just have to plan for everything now.”
“Well, that’s what you’ve been doing,” Jill told her. “Just do it some more.”
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