Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Secrets of Book Publishing...or lack thereof.

This post by first time author Mark Hurst about the truths behind the book publishing industry (as he experienced it) has been sitting with me for a week or so now. Initially I thought that I would respond point by point to his laundry list of carping but, frankly, I don't have the inclination or the time. There are a few things that strike me as strange about his points that I must mention here, however.

First it seems like he knew nothing of the publishing process before he decided to try and get his book published and, judging by his responses to a publisher who linked to him in the comments section, still doesn't. He writes with such authority that you would think that he has been in the game for decades but alas, no, he is just now putting out his first book...but not with a publisher. He is self-publishing. I am not willing to get into a discussion about self-publishing but I will say that if his attitude during the submission process was even remotely like his voice on his post, well, I would've rejected his book simply because he would've been impossible to work with.

Quickly, he feels cheated that the publisher is making money on his work. This being a capitalist nation, I am wondering why that is a shock? Also, he thinks that the people involved in publishing don't do it for the love of books. This issue is so laughable that it must be meant as comedy. The people in the book business are just about the only people left in our culture who actually care about books. Just because they want a product--that's right, kids, a PRODUCT--that sells doesn't make them vulgarians...just capitalists.

There are so many more issues that essentially boil down to "I am being wronged by the mean publishing companies" that I would use up all my future words dealing with them here. Mr. Hurst knows nothing about the industry from the inside. What he thinks he knows is almost all completely ass-backwards. So, instead of getting into a fisticuffs word brawl with Mr. Hurst (though I suspect he would only end up punching himself in the head), I suggest to my esteemed editor of S.o.t.B., Brian, that we hold our first online symposium about the publishing process. We will give authors, aspiring authors, and the merely curious a full accounting of the economics, personalities, and realities of publishing as we have lived them. Brian and I were both editors. I am now an agent. With our expertise and the expertise of other professionals we will illuminate the darkness. Or as Golem put it: "follow us through the secret paths in the mist."

I will get this together and y'all can look for the first post about the submission process and what publishers and editors are looking for (in general) early next week.


PublishingMojo said...

“If your book will sell, it doesn't matter what you're writing about.”
Why doesn’t Mark Hurst flip that argument around? If what you’re writing about matters, it will sell, whether it’s a book or not.
Why doesn’t this acclaimed Web innovator counsel aspiring authors to say, "Here are my ideas. What channel(s) will they sell best in? Traditional book, e-book, web site, TV show, movie, etc.?"
Don’t blame the book publisher for putting you through the old-school publishing wringer. That’s what book publishers do. But they’re not the only game in town anymore.

Anonymous said...

i'm eagerly awaiting your
symposium, most especially
its "full accounting of
the economics", since
that would be very unusual.

usually the content cartel
hides its accounting under
barrels of bullshit, since
that's the very best way to
cheat the unsophisticated...