Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jenny Crusie Tears Miss Snark A New One

Anne Stuart recently expressed some vague disatisfaction with her current and past publishers. I would never have read this, but for Miss Snark latching onto it and making Stuart her daily nitwit.

Jenny Crusie has now unloaded both barrels at Miss Snark. Her concluding thoughts:

Anonymous blogs that make incorrect statements about the industry without insight or illumination, fueled by ego and tainted by unprofessionalism, ridiculing writers to silence them by threatening them with the end of their careers. Oh, please.

I've never spent any time playing the "Is Miss Snark an agent or just a poseur?" game, since I find such speculation a waste of time. Miss Snark purports to be an agent and dispenses her expert opinions about agenting, publishing, and writing accordingly. Very well, then. Miss Snark's opinions should be judged in that context.

On balance, I agree with Jenny Crusie. I'm not fond of anonymity. I don't like it when writers and commentators use it. I'm suspicious of "unnamed sources" when used by journalists. If you're not willing to sign your statements, they lose credibility. Other than to create a sense of mystery, as Joe Klein did with his novel Primary Colors, writers use anonymity as a shield against retaliation for unpopular opinions. It's not a courageous stance and it doesn't inspire confidence in the integrity of your writing.

It is the position of Miss Snark and others that writers should never criticize an agent or editor in a public forum and perhaps not even in private, lest you be blacklisted.

Crusie, again:

Miss Snark is forgetting the major tenet upon which all publishing rests: If the book makes money, the publisher will go the extra mile, the extra kilometer, the extra continent for it even if the author is the offspring of Godzilla and The Thing. And if the book doesn’t sell, the author can be Susie Nice Girl and the publisher will dump her in a ditch and spread somebody else’s remaindered copies over her body.

In any relationship where there is an imbalance of power, whether it is employer-employee or publisher-writer, there is a strong tendency on the part of the worker to accept the decisions and tolerate the behavior of their employer no matter how wrong you feel they are because you need the job. I think that everyone must be judicious and aware of the particular situation they are in, but I don't believe writers should never reply to any agent or editor or criticize them in public for fear of being ostracized.

O. J. Deal Cancelled But Judith Regan Remains

News Corp cancelled the O. J. Simpson interview and book. Good.

Judith Regan's status is unaffected. Bad.

I's like to think that this decision demonstrates a remaining shred or two of integrity on the part of Murdoch and News Corp execs, but I'm too realistic.

They made a fast cost-benefit analysis. Whatever amount of money this may have earned them (speculative) is outweighed by the damage (also speculative) the Simpson book-interview would do to the various News Corp properties.

Judith Regan concocted this fiasco, yet she is not held accountable for its failure. That's emblematic of the dysfunction of our corporate and governing elites.

Annie Leibovitz = Owen Wilson In Drag

Book Publishing Demystified

Author J. Neil Schulman taught an online class, "Book Publishing in the 21st Century," for The New School in New York, from April to June, 1991.

Schulman has made his entire course available for download, or you can read it online. The portion of the course that I consider essential reading for every writer is linked above and starts under the heading "I. Book Publishing Today." It is the most cogent and insightful analysis of how publishing really works that I've ever read. Here is how Schulman begins his essay:

What drives the process of publishing books today is not what readers wish to read or what authors wish to write, or even what editors wish to buy for publication.
Schulman proceeds to explain exactly how and why certain types of books are published and why others aren't as well as how books are marketed. This is a master course in publishing in a nutshell.

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