Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Get 'em young

Before discussing the Village Voice piece of interest today, a few points from a Guardian article on Judith Regan. To quote:
To an unusual degree in publishing, which tends to be a rather anonymous trade, Regan has, throughout her career, attracted great media interest, much of it critical. That is perhaps because she is a woman in high places. As she once put it: "When you're a woman doing battle, somehow you're an aberration." Much of the publicity she has drawn has been of the "very successful but ..." variety. New York magazine said she was, hands-down, the most successful editor in the American book business, but added that she may also be "the most combative victim in history". In an acerbic profile, Vanity Fair magazine said there was no question that "she rules by intimidation".

I hate when crazies use feminism. It's so offensive to us real feminists, ain't it ladies? And yes, I'm a guy. Your point? Anyhow, when you're doing battle to publish OJ Simpson, you're an aberration - male, female, trans. And speaking of trans...
On the other hand, you might say that it is precisely her warrior instincts, coupled with her eye for what the mass public wants to read, that have made her such a successful publisher. She is fond of quoting General George Patton and once shouted at her employees, "I have the biggest cock in the building!"

Well that last one is well put, isn't it?

Anyhow, the Village Voice has an interesting article about getting published too young, which includes this disturbing truth:
Publishers, attracted to the prospect of finding the next fresh voice, seem to love the idea of young—sometimes very young—authors. Just this year, students from Barnard College, Brown University, and Harvard University have received book deals from both independent and major book publishers.

And to this, I say some publishers are idiots. And the other side is:
Readers seem simultaneously impressed and envious when young people achieve publication, which would explain the public fascination with another young author: Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan. Earlier this year, she received seemingly endless media attention first for landing a $500,000 book deal and later for plagiarizing passages of her novel.

It's all true, folks. I do have some pity on this 16 - 20 year olds who get caught up in publishing, almost by accident. The adults in the situation see dollar signs, and next thing you know, someone else is not just editing but rewriting their books, but they themselves are still the ones holding the proverbial bag. I don't feel too too bad for that Kaavya, but a little. I do however feel quite bad for Ned Vizzini, the main subject of the VV article who published two books by the time he was 23, and then had a nervous breakdown. I can appreciate why it would happen. I don't know that it really justifies his later addiction to the online fantasy game Magic the Gathering, but I can certainly see why it would be you slip down the crazy hill.

I'm straying a bit too far from my point in this blog, which was to write about this kind of new frontier of publishing online. But these are distractions. I will try to get on message again.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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