Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I Didn't Do It

Somebody asked me if I wrote this post on Gawker. The answer is no (after all, I am technically a frat boy of the editor variety) . I've had enough Gawker "love" for several years. And I'd like to refrain from commenting other than saying I love my job, honestly, and love everything that has to do with books. I can't imagine working in another industry, and with any luck I won't have to.

I will comment, though, on the poster. If you don't like editing, if you hate the pay, hate the authors, and hate the industry, quit. Trust me, the industry will survive, and I don't think HR will lack for resumes on filling your seat.

I'm all for trying to throw back the curtain that hides much of the ins and outs of the publishing industry. I don't see why authors shouldn't be as enlightened as possible when trying to shepherd their book into the world. And I certainly know I've written some angry and bitter things, though I'd like to blame them on bad moods or lack of caffeine.

Anyways, a few random thoughts on some publishign brouhaha (not necessarily new, but I'm still catching up).

--Lot of people criticizing publishers for paying too much for blogs based on books. I actually agree with our friend Tucker Max in that when publishing a book based on a blog, it has to be in the vein of what made the author popular in the first place. Which is why the vast majority of blog-to-books have been nonfiction, save a few (i.e. ANONYMOUS LAWYER and Dana Vachon's upcoming tome).

--I don't think publishing bloggers is a bad thing. I've done it myself. But I think that 99% it's important to publish the author rather than the blog. Blogs are a way to discover voices more than anything, and while places like Gawker emphasize the "rate of failure," I guarantee it's no greater than most other genres.

--Authors being "stupid" by taking large advances. First off, you'd have to be stupid to prefer a miniscule advance to a larger one. True with a larger advance there are greater expectations and the higher the potential fall, but anyone with a brain would prefer a strong first printing and a good promotion budget to a low four figure first printing and a review in your high school newsletter. Many great careers have begun with small advances, just like many careers have "flamed out" after failing to meet large expectations. But since none of us can see the future and nothing is ever certain, 99 times out of 100 I'd advise the author to take the money and hope for the best. Sometimes authors do, in fact, take smaller offers from houses their feel would publish their work better, and bless their hearts for it. But not everyone has that luxury.

3 Comments:

Blogger Allison Brennan said...

Okay, I read all those posts and I don't get them. I mean, I do in the big scheme of things--but I don't make those "sins" and I'm sure most authors don't, either. It's the one or two "bad" ones who are giving all of us a bum rap. Other than #10, because I do call occasionally.

Regarding advances . . . hmmmm, there are reasons to take a little less from one house because of the big picture, but most of the time more is better. But what is a big advance, anyway? It means different things to different people in different genres. And "six figures" is a really broad category. Are we talking $100,000 for three books or $500,000 for two books or maybe $900,000 for one book? Seriously, it depends on so many different things that no one should be making blanket statements like this.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Generally when an author takes less money for a more supportive publisher, the advance is high enough so that the author isn't sacrificing THAT much.

Best "six figure" story I've ever heard:

An agent sold a first novel for low five figures. The contract was back-ended with a multitude of performance bonuses (including film options and other pot sweeteners), adding up to far more than the modest advance. And of course it was referred to on Publishers Lunch as a "Six Figure" deal.

Go figure.

Agents and editors both tend to fudge the figures when reporting. Agents because they want the perception that the sell books for lots of money (which in turn draws better clients and more notice from editors). Editors because they want agents to know they spend lots of money which in turn brings in better submissions.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Allison Brennan said...

You lost your black background again. :)

3:09 AM  

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