Bestselling crime author Steve Hamilton made headlines Thursday when his longtime publisher St. Martin’s Press announced the end of their 17-year partnership.
Hamilton quickly clarified that he had been the one to terminate the relationship, citing the publisher’s lack of support for his forthcoming novel The Second Life of Nick Mason, originally due out in October. This was almost even stranger; why would an author pull the plug on a book eight weeks before release? Hamilton and his agent, Shane Salerno, told EW it was because they learned St. Martin’s had no publicity plan in place for Nick Mason, which is the planned beginning of a new series.
“There had been a lot of promises made, but when Shane and I finally saw their real plans, we were honestly just shocked,” Hamilton said. “Two months before the release date, and there was no national marketing plan, no coordinated media, no interviews set up. Nothing at all – and it became clear to us that we were heading toward a catastrophe.”
Salerno compared this to another client of his, Don Winslow, whose recent book The Cartel had a very successful publicity campaign that resulted in a movie deal with Fox, with Ridley Scott set to direct. Hamilton said that similar problems had plagued him throughout his years at St. Martin’s.
“I did 12 books for St. Martin’s Press, and it was always up to me to get out there and do almost everything myself,” Hamilton said. “A number of authors had been urging me to leave for years, and after almost two decades, I was hoping things would be different this time around. Ultimately, they weren’t, and I simply had to leave.”
When reached for comment, a St. Martin’s Press spokesperson said in a statement, “After many years of publishing Steve Hamilton, unfortunately SMP has had a parting of the ways and will not be moving forward with the publication of The Second Life of Nick Mason. We wish Steve all the best with his new series and his future endeavors.”
Salerno and Hamilton expected to spend the next few months meeting with publishers and negotiating a new deal somewhere else, but unexpectedly found multiple publishers reaching out within the first 24 hours after the announcement. Hamilton now has a four-book deal with Putnam, and is all set to begin his new Nick Mason series.
One question raised by this whole debacle was whether publishers are doing enough, in this new digital age, to support established authors. Hamilton and Salerno said this came out of specific problems with St. Martin’s, and the response from fans and other publishers made them optimistic about the future of publishing.
“Somehow, this story really touched a nerve, and I heard from so many other writers who had their own stories of neglect and broken promises,” Hamilton said. “I was literally hearing from someone on Twitter, Facebook, or email every few seconds for most of the day. I don’t know what effect that will have on the industry, but for at least a few days, this was the story. That has to be a good thing for authors.”