In today’s adventures in publishing, I was prepared to write an extended comic piece about dealing with Penguin UK in trying to contact Frances Hollingdale, representative of R. J. Hollingdale’s estate. I had emailed her at an address I had hoped was correct, but assiduity is the better part of something or other, and so I sent out feelers to the original publisher.
The first person who responded directed me to the actual permissions department, which responded with an automated email with a form attached, along with a stern warning not to bother without a publishing date. Since I knew that I was not asking Penguin UK for permission for anything but just trying to locate Frances, this was verkakte. I went back to the first human respondent, who then directed me to Penguin USA, which I knew was wrong since they were in no way involved in the publication of The Waste Books. (I will note that everyone has been very kind and trying to be very helpful in all of this.) Mercy.
Anyway, it is a moot email chain,—and no comedy for you—since yesterday evening I heard from Frances Hollingdale herself, cheering me on in that polite British way and offering a very do-able fee for the 21 aphorisms I’d like to use. The deal also includes my sending her two copies of Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, one for her and one for her brother. I think that’s sweet.
So that’s the major permission-getting done. Yes, I could have translated the things myself if need be, but why bother when R. J. Hollingdale has done such a nice job already?
But wait—there’s more!
I also heard yesterday from Hugo Piet Hein, who responded to my request for permission to use Piet Hein’s grook “Twin Mystery.” Again, very reasonable fee, and that was my second major permission accomplished.
Why, next thing you know, some agent will be emailing me and inquiring about the availability of this amazing new work.