Another Publishing Reality

“All business and cultural successes spawn retroactive specious credit-taking. But because front-list publishing outcomes are so very unpredictable, the false and highly proliferative retroactive credit-taking in this enterprise can achieve a farcical if not surreal dimension, as it no doubt does in the other media, especially TV and movies. Sales departments will claim credit for dark-horse bestsellers that they miserably undersold when they made their initial sales calls. A publisher who didn’t want to acquire a book will often gladly accept and even court admiration if the acquisitions editor somehow overcame his or her resistance and the book was acquired and then worked. Publicity departments that didn’t bother to pitch a book with any conviction at all will run to get onboard when the train picks up speed and then say, out-of-breath though they may be, that they were onboard all along. This is all just human nature, but too often it dilutes the credit that should go to the persistent, passionate, long-suffering, and occupationally more and more vulnerable acquiring editors.” — Redactor Agonistes by Daniel Menaker

Now, let’s add to this the fact that writers are being told more and more often that they are 90% responsible for figuring out how to market the book. My goodness, I don’t have any money, much less any salesmen or a PR staff.

But I can read between the lines. The publishing experts have decided that while they don’t really understand why or how one book sells and another book doesn’t, they’re going to say that since writer is the star, he or she should figure out how to sell the thing. Right, Danny in Two Egg, Florida and Ethel in Hell, Michigan really know how to put their books on a map.

Should Danny and Ethel succeed, it appears that a lot of other people will be sitting with their thumbs up their asses waiting to take credit for the “amazing debut novel that comes out of nowhere.”

I feel warm and fuzzy after reading articles about the realities of publishing, don’t you?



4 thoughts on “Another Publishing Reality

  1. One day, perhaps, you and I will figure out how to load those dice and win that crap shoot. I’m beginning to think the secret lies in selling books to non-readers. Look at how few people read on a regular basis (or rather, buy books on a regular basis) and compare that to Dan Brown’s sales. Those buyers had to come from somewhere!

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