Book publishing was never a heaven

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Book publishing was never a heaven “run by editors”, and it is by no means today a hell “run by accountants.” If our “sole interest” was “instant profit,” not only would we never do any number of the things we actually do every day, we probably wouldn’t be in book publishing at all.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

10 thoughts on “Book publishing was never a heaven”

  1. I’m less worried by the accountants than by the marketing dorks. Admittedly, some of my kneejerk response to marketing BS comes from my first profession, in which every single “marketing effort” was overtly dishonest and disserved the mission and personnel charged with it.

    Remember, too, that any long-term successful marketing job (for which the marketing dorks will, in the end, claim the credit; and, conversely, deny any responsibility for the opposite) depends upon product quality and fitness for purpose.

    • To which tbe “marketing dorks” reply: “Details, details. The right campaign will let you charge $29 for a cleaning rag.”

      It comes with a user manual, too.
      (Mind you, you *can* find it discounted here and there to $19. And it is just as good as the Amazon house brand cloths that sell for $12… for 24.)

      “Blessed be, St Steven of Jobs, for writing THE BOOK OF OVERCHARGING.”

      (AKA, Don’t underestimate the gullibility of the faithful.)

      • Which leads to three obvious questions:

        (1) What effect does this have on repeat customers, for either comparable or noncomparable products?

        (2) What does such a campaign say about both the ego of the seller and the seller’s contempt for its customer base (with the obvious follow-on of “ya think that might affect later sales to the same customers, and same-product sales to prospective customers, in the arts?”)?

        (3) Does anything related to widgets apply to the arts? If there’s any disjuncture at all, please explain how widget-based MBA and accounting degrees relate to publishing or anything else in entertainment… with particular attention to the failures of “scientific formalism” in the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

        • 1- Apple is on the verge of hitting $3T in valuation. Interpret at will.

          2- “We’re smart, they’re not!”
          As for follow up sales, they’ve been sneering at the market, and getting away with it, since 1984. As in, the original Macintosh cost $300 to build, listed for $2500 but Apple “graciously” discounted it to $1000 for college students. By contrast, The Commodore Amiga and ATARI ST used the exact same CPU and significantly outperformed the Mac and allowed large color screens and listed for $500. Which brand survived?

          3- Contempt for the customers is not specific to any business or class of business. In fact, contempt for “lesser” folks isn’t limited to any business, country, or system. The idea travels faster than Wally West. MBA degrees are just a certification of completion of training to properly monetize (for yourself) such contempt. Not different to election to public office or leadership any large association drawing money from more than two people.

          The unifying factor is money. If money is at stake contempt follows.

        • please explain how widget-based MBA and accounting degrees relate to publishing or anything else in entertainment

          Same way law degrees do.

    • Nobody who’s really good (or even sorta good) at marketing works for a publisher.

      The market for good marketing skills is much, much more remunerative than anything a publisher is willing to pay.

  2. Nonsense. I have seen lots of movies where the author engages in witty repartee with her agent, and ignores the harried editor going on about a deadline.

    I suspect many authors feeding the slush pile have seen the same movies.

    • Ah, so you’re a fan of HALLMARK Fantasies! 😉
      Endlessly amusing how they recycle the same formula over and over, even the same script, laughing all the way to the bank. It says a lot that there is endless demand for that narrative.

      • You can find the same story going all the way back to movies from the 1930s. My rigorous scientific analysis concludes these movies and TV shows are responsible for 93% of all submissions to traditional publishing.

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