Saturday, 21 June 2014

Strange Chemistry gone

Yesterday, there was some unfortunate news in the publishing world. Angry Robot's two spin-off imprints were shut down, kind of suddenly. No more Strange Chemistry (YA spec fic) or Exhibit A (crime). Here is a link to announcement on the Strange Chemistry website, the text of which I've reproduced below:
As you will be aware, Angry Robot Books has a history of innovation and we continue to go from strength to strength. We’re constantly trying out new concepts and new ideas, and we continue to publish popular and award-winning books. Our YA imprint Strange Chemistry and our crime/mystery imprint Exhibit A have – due mainly to market saturation – unfortunately been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success.
We have therefore made the difficult decision to discontinue Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, effective immediately, and no further titles will be published from these two imprints.

The core Angry Robot imprint is robust, however, and we plan to increase our output from 2 books a month, to 3. We have no plans to cancel any titles other than those of Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A.
There is a Publisher's Lunch article on the matter, which I assume most people reading this won't be able to read in full (I don't have a subscription either). In the search for more information, I found this article on The Bookseller about Osprey, the parent company. Apparently they are "undergoing a strategic review internally" and this is part of that process.

Whatever the reason, this is very sad news. I've reviewed a lot of Strange Chemistry books since they started up (and by a lot, I mean most of them), because they had been fairly consistently producing great books, many of which deviated from what more main stream publishers were doing. And now they're gone.

The good news is that, for now, you can still buy previously published Strange Chemistry books from the usual places (like the Angry Robot store for DRM-free ebooks). The really terrible news is that any books that were scheduled to be released from yesterday onwards have been cancelled. This includes book three of Kim Curran's series, which was slated for August, and Some Fine Day by (would have been début) author Kat Ross, which was slated for July, less than two weeks away. I've already read and reviewed Some Fine Day — and would have also run an interview with the author if the blog tour hadn't sort of fizzled out because of this. It was a really good book and I hope the author finds another home for it. In fact, I hope all the once future Strange Chemistry books find new homes and that there aren't any impending annoying rights issues with the published books. And, of course, that the staff that have been made redundant because of this all find somewhere nice to move on to.


 Browse my Strange Chemistry reviews here. (At least, all of them that I remembered to tag.)


  1. Dreadful! Hard on everyone affected. They won't be the first publisher to do this sort of thing. It isn't even the first time Angry Robot has scrapped planned books. Joanne Anderton's, for example, which has fortunately found a home with Fablecroft. But a book that was due out in August? Surely they have already spent money on it that would make it stupid to scrap it!
    Bigger publishers have done equally weird things. If my novel hadn't already been just about to come out when my publisher kicked out the head of the Woolshed imprint, perhaps Wolfborn would have been in the same position as the ones you mention. Sigh! I'd hoped to submit something to Strange Chemistry eventually.

    1. I thought the problem with Jo's series (and others I've heard of) was that they gave a two book deal for a trilogy with an option for the third and then didn't take up the option? Maybe that was just the other author I heard about. In any case, it seems like it was the parent company's move (Osprey's). The second and third links I included above make me a little concerned for AR in general, despite what the announcement says. There's also talk that they're looking to sell the whole SC list which... I'm not sure if that would be good or bad.

      Regarding loosing money, I have since heard that the last SC book published ended up being ebook only which I suppose implies that none of the upcoming books actually got printed. Looking through my reviewer promotional emails from them, the last few ending in late May and promoting books that are now not to be, didn't mention print copies (where earlier emails did) but there were still covers and book trailers which will be a loss. (And a loss to authors who now presumably can't have that nice cover art that matches the rest of the series :-/ )

  2. I'm also thinking of Felicity Pulman, whose six-novel Janna mysteries series was cut off after four. She ended up self publishing the last two - I bought them for my library because one f our students was reading and loving them. That was Random House, I think. She's a well known writer and the books were released overseas, so what was going on here? Yes, a shame about the loss of cover art. I assume the artists were paid, so for them just a nuisance. If it was stock art, perhaps anyone left out in the cold can suggest it to their new publisher, if/when they get one.

    I feel for them, though. I was the victim of a woman who had left her major education publisher to start up her own small press, then, after making us all write very specific books for a specific market, couldn't pay for it. She shouldn't have started what she wasn't positive she coud finish - and unlike the authors fom SC, I really have nowhere else to sell my manuscript; education publishers have very specific requirements. You can't just rejig it a bit.

  3. That's a real shame, and how devastating for the writers - to come so close and have your book pulled. No doubt there are tricky contractual issues as well which might delay their publication elsewhere.

    1. Yeah, definitely. I think the authors who were part-way through a series are in the worst position regarding rights. At least those whose first SC book was pulled are able to start looking for somewhere else straight away. :-/