Thursday, January 20, 2005


Publishers Marketplace columnist M.J. Rose tries to referee a difference of opinion between a disappointed author (no link; start reading at the M.J.'s 1/18 entry) and Max Max Perkins over the fate of any book.

Neither side in this squabble exactly qualifies for my Author/Editor Behaving Badly file, but there's a large order of blame being served with the whine here. Which brings up the ever-popular question: who gets blamed when a book tanks?

Not I, said the author. Not I, said the editor. Not I, said the publisher. So the Little Red Hen took the book and . . . oh, sorry, flashed back to elementary school there for a sec.*

We all have bad experiences and suffer disappointments. I could tell you a few stories that would give you an instant perm, and so could every other author, editor and publisher out there. When it happens to you, you can dwell on the bad stuff, and wring your hands, and wail, and point fingers, and eventually suspect everyone else is conspiring to keep you from success. At which point you'll talk yourself out of a career, begin qualifying for something with twelve steps, or get into wearing tin foil chapeau.

Or you could adjust your expectations. Consider that in the time it took me to write this post, about eight new books were published in the U.S. By the end of today, over four hundred new books will hit the shelves. Be great if they were all bestsellers, wouldn't it? 99.9% of them they won't be. So who do we blame for that? Beats me.

Welcome to the wonderful world of publishing, where not everyone gets to be a superstar. Or even a dwarf star.

What you do when bad stuff like this happens -- any pro with a solid career will tell you: you deal with it. Yes, be upset, cry on your best friend's shoulder, rant a little, take steps to make career changes if you must, but don't stay there. Move on. Do the next thing. Hit those shelves again, because the next book may be the one.

(Links blatantly filched from Tamboblog)

*All I know is, it wasn't my fault.

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