GNOME ENTERPRISES

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September 2000    THE BOOKER WILL HAVE TO WAIT

   Luckily Jean had not yet chosen her eight gramophone records because her little joke

about the publishers going out of business before “Olive” appeared in print has proved all

too true.

   She did have some happy weeks, after the contract was signed, manoeuvring

conversations round so that she could modestly let slip her triumph. She did enjoy

composing a blurb for the back page, choosing a flattering photograph for the inside cover

and writing her biography to be mined for publicity material. She even composed a mock

school song for the webpage they wanted her to create. Happy days.               

   She was not at all worried that Citron were weeks behind with the promised cover; she accused Norman of  being paranoid. Great things were happening to the company. They changed from being a writers’ co-operative to a PLC. They appointed a new whizzkid supremo from Simon and Schuster. Their news letters were getting glossier and glossier. The Telegraph and Observer couldn’t heap more praise on their initiatives.

  The first slightly worrying oddity was an e-mail from the editor’s secretary saying that they were moving to temporary accommodation and would be incommunicado for a while. Jean tried not to read Norman’s expression. Then a month later an e-mail arrived from the editor herself saying that she had been fired suddenly and was wretched about not, after all, being able to publish Jean’s book. She was probably even more upset to be suddenly out of work with no compensation; indeed the implication was that she hadn’t had her salary recently. Two days later the letter from Citron arrived couched in the terms of a First World War telegram: “It is with deep regret and great sadness that we are writing to inform you that Citron Press.......has been forced to cease trading with immediate effect.”

   Quickly Jean tried to join the Society of Authors to get some legal help but they won’t touch Citron authors with a barge pole. Suddenly the great white hope of the publishing world has become a setup no one with any sense would have wasted time on.

   

 

There was a meeting for Citron authors a week later in Hanover Square. There they were told Citron had entirely run out of money and owed huge sums for tax, rent, wages, royalties etc. They hope someone will come forward to buy up the rights and hope also to set up a new company creating e-books but the basic message was that the authors  might as well tear up their contracts and start approaching publishers ALL OVER AGAIN. Altogether, an interesting experience!