It's a double-edge sword. Authors go crazy waiting for months for a publisher to give them the green light. But I have never heard of an author demanding a contract from two publishers at the same time. That is a no-no. I have submitted simultaneously and signed with the publisher who got back to me within a week. But that was a submission. I never demanded anything and no one had to do more than read my chapters.
The author side of things is that if I have to wait three months, I'm going to submit to someone else. If they get back to me in a week and want my ms., I'm going to go with them. I doubt you'll get another writer like this character. At least I hope not. But please, don't keep us waiting months.
Wow, that's ugly. As Jean said, this goes beyond simultaneous submissions. You allowed an author to demand a contract on a manuscript that wasn't completed? I assume his query must have been stellar, but still. He was playing both ends, period. I don't know how you can deal with him legally, but you can't be bullied by anybody. That's what he did. I love a welcoming editor, though that doesn't mean you have to cave to standards that don't fit your ethical or business model. It seems you left yourself wide open for him to take advantage. Decide exactly what your policy is with regard to contracts and timeframe, and stick to it. Also, perhaps clearly state this on your website.
Push comes to shove, spread the word with your industry peers about what he did. There are sites dedicated to publicly acknowledging bad agents and publishers. And there's always the balancing humor of karma. Sorry you had to deal with such a poop.
I agree with Kelly except for one thing. I wouldn't post anything about him. People are trashing others all over the Net and, frankly, it makes the trasher look as bad as the trashee (if that's a word.) Would I submit to a publisher who had trashed another author publicly? Probably not. Certainly they would be last on my list.
You can't go wrong taking the high road. Authors try not to respond to nasty reviews and you should take the lesson learned but ignore the author. Public trashing can backfire.
Unfortunately, there's no law against multiple submissions. Many writers (like myself) query a number of agents and/or publishers at a time. If we waited for an agent or publisher to get back to us before moving on, it could take years to connect with someone. If that's a problem for you, I'd suggest that you stipulate on your website or wherever that you only accept exclusive submissions. But then you might miss out of the next best seller.
Your scenario is similar to a realtor who has spent the last four weekends showing someone a house. Then, on the fifth week, he calls tell say he's bought a house through another realtor who held an open house. Frustrating, but nonetheless legal.
At least you now have a contract to use with someone else.
Author of HUSBANDS MAY COME AND GO BUT FRIENDS ARE FOREVER, recently optioned for the big screen.
Sorry this one didn't work out.
Thanks. I appreciate your taking the time to reply.
You have my sympathies. I absolutely HATE simultaneous submissions because they are a waste of time and resources. We make it clear in our submission guidelines that we do not want them. In fact, I wrote a blog post on my She Writes blog a while ago about this very thing.
I was miffed when I wrote it and I get miffed when I think about it! LOL
Some authors try to be slick and work around it, but you'd be amazed at how many editors and publishers DO talk around their own water cooler, and if an author is making the rounds with a submission, word will get around too.
Thanks for getting back to me. Much appreciated.