the publishing blues
OK, I'm gonna rant for a moment.
This is directed at you publishers out there.
And you’re not going to like it. But, the truth hurts.
Now, I get that Amazon has altered the profit picture for publishers, and not in a good way. And a bunch of you big boys have even thrown your lots together, merging to withstand the pressure. Good for you! (And bad for us lowly scribes, by the way, who now have fewer outlets to try to engage with our work.)
Meanwhile, Amazon has also created a whole new self-publishing industry that usually starts with being rejected by conventional publishers before you move to Kindle Direct.
But you know what: none of this creates any excuse for rudeness. And that's a sad characteristic that's taken over the publishing business.
You entitled clods have decided you’re kingmakers. And the rest of us can go #%$@&^! ourselves. What am I referring to? The practice of not having the decency to even reply to an email. The custom of ignoring quality work because the author's name isn't Grisham or Rowling or Patterson or King. The standard of using a form note to reject work that serious people have devoted years and years to creating. The haughty, holier than thou: "It will take us a year to get back to you. Don't contact us!" attitude.
Oh yeah, I've heard your excuses. "We're so busy and with reduced staff." Sob, sob. "There's just no time." "Profits are awful tight." Well boo hoo. Welcome to the 21st century. Let me tell you something: if you don’t have time to at least show consideration to your most important asset – the authors who write the books you sell – then sorry pal, you shouldn't even be in business. You ought to move along and leave the industry to those who know how to do it. Cause you sure as hell don’t!
Have I got a dog in this fight? Damn right I do. Couple of 'em. And I've been awarded rejection notes for what I consider to be quality work that has received significant accolades elsewhere. But I'm a big boy: I can handle that. (And I'm always mindful that Jack Canfield, who has written the Foreword for my most recent book “Pushing The Boundaries”, received over 100 rejections from publishers before "Chicken Soup For The Soul" went on to become one of the most successful publishing series in history; James Patterson endured 31 book promulgators turning down his first in the long-running, mega-popular, Alex Cross series that's made him one of the most successful authors in the world; John Grisham received a drawer full of "Sorry, but…" notes before "A Time To Kill" finally got picked up, selling 1.5 million copies and becoming a movie; James Joyce, Joseph Heller, Samuel Beckett, Dr. Seuss, Elmore Leonard, Isaac Asimov, John le Carre, Sylvia Plath, Gertrude Stein, Rudyard Kipling, J.K. Rowling… hell, even Anne Frank… all received rejections from short-minded publishers who missed the boat.)
But I'm not ranting because I can’t deal with rejection. I'm ranting because you entitled snobs have decided you don't need to treat me and my fellow authors with dignity. And that's just wrong. And mark my words, it's gonna come back and bite you in the ass one day. Just you wait and see.
You see, what you're missing is that being a kingmaker carries with it responsibility. It never means playing the game with no intention of winning and basically just screwing over everyone else. Even Wikipedia knows what a self-adoring group of weasels you are: "A kingmaker is a person or group that has great influence on a royal or political succession, without themselves being a viable candidate (italics mine)."
Now, if you happen to be reading this and you're not an incipient author, you likely don't know how demanding it is to approach these self-described "book movers". Here's how it works. Each publisher has different rules that they use to allow you the privilege of communicating with them. And woe betide the lowly scribe who doesn’t follow each dictum to the nth degree. You’re warned: "Don't follow our rules and we won’t even read what you've submitted." What does this mean? Very simply, after devoting hours upon hours of trying to locate a publisher who might just actually accept a submission from you, then you have to read and interpret exactly what it is they want. Fair enough. Having gone through this process way too many times, my estimate is that it takes on average a full day to subscribe to each publisher's submission "guidelines". After which, when you push "Submit", you receive a form note saying "We'll be back to you within a year. Don’t contact us." Yeah. Right. OK. Well then, thanks awfully for your understanding and support. And #$@%! you too!
I'm about to launch my newest book "Pushing The Boundaries! How To Make Life Awesomer". I had hoped to attract a major publisher because with the 32 profiles of people I've interviewed who hail from Nigeria, the U.K., China, U.S., Iran, Australia, Belgium, Canada, etc., I wanted to see the book marketed internationally. But no takers. So, I'll self-publish: too much work invested here to let it sit on the shelf. Sour grapes? Sure, you can brand me with that label if you want. But when I think about the numerous accolades of people who are really bullish about this book… and when I recognize that the celebrated Jack Canfield does not write a Foreword for just any writer as he's done for my book… and when I consider my own opinion based on the significant market research I carried out about the book's competiveness in the big market, I just don't buy that.
I can't make you publishers love my book. But this isn't about that. It's about manners. It’s about breeding. It’s about propriety. You see, I was brought up the right way: you know, observing the Golden Rule (treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself), having empathy for other people, caring. That kind of thing. And this means taking the time out of your oh-so-busy day to respond to an email. To offer a bit of encouragement here, or bit of advice there. Yeah, I get how busy you are. But suck it up: you're in business, and that's part of the job.
The way I see it anyway.
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