Monday, December 11, 2017

Memo from the corner office

Q: If you were in charge, what one big change would you make to the business of publishing?

- from Susan

I'd go backward in time, to the era when publishers felt it was their job to encourage, nourish, and support promising writers. Instead of pouring all their support into the few proven successes who bring in the most bucks, publishers would be delighted to help authors who wrote well, worked hard, had fresh ideas, and ambition to write The Best Damn Book of the Year.

No more using the star power of one author who is in his or her literary dotage by having junior authors take on the work for less pay as long as they were willing to drown their own styles and ambitions.

I'd go back to glamorous cocktail parties to launch books, budgets for author tours, budgets for ads in the New York Times for mid-list players, and in-house PR staff to court newspaper and magazines reviews for "our exciting new talent."

The people in charge of a company would be the taste-makers with taste, not those who count beans instead of reading. The point of publishing would be bringing wonderful writing to the world while making some money, instead of making as much money as possible by bringing only the most likely to make money to print.

This is why I am not in charge of a publishing company in the 21st century.

...and on that note, happy holidays to you all. May you find a corner of this unhappy world in which to enjoy a peaceful respite with family, friends, and a damn good book!


Paul D. Marks said...

Susan, I agree with EVERYTHING you say, especially the first graph. It's the Hollywood-ization of the publishing biz.

RJ Harlick said...

Oh yes, I agree. But you forgot to mention the editors that worked closely with all their authors to produce the best books possible. The good old days.

Unknown said...

Happily I know several debut authors getting a good head start with publishers big and small. Maybe it's a trend? Happy holidays to you as well, Susan! Publishing aside, let's hope some amazing turn of events -- oh now what could that be? -- happens in 2018.

Susan C Shea said...

Yes, Paul, celebrity sells, say the bean counters!

Susan C Shea said...

Robin, I sort of roped them in to the 'nourish' wish, but you're right that if publishers had more faith in editors, and editors were given more leeway, some of the unpolished but talented would shine brighter - and possibly sell enough books to fend off being dropped so quickly.

Susan C Shea said...

RM, my wish for 2018 is that you're right!