Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Same as it ever was

I don't buy everything that Louise Tucker writes here, but it does conform to my own sense that publishing never really was the art-loving, profit-be-damned Shangri-la that some suggest. My belief – based on the skimpiest of research and reading, I'll admit – is that publishing houses that are and were "writer-friendly" are/were that way mostly because they can/could afford to be, there not being a whole lot of money at stake. That's not a criticism either way, simply an observation. Both ways – big and profit-driven, small and writer-friendly – have huge disadvantages as well as advantages for an author.

And even the notion of "writer-friendliness" is in dispute: just as there are plenty of writers who can relate getting the cold shoulder by a big press, there are many who recall their time with particular small presses with nothing less than a shudder. I've met a number of writers who published for years with small presses but who now publish with the bigs and who say, without reservation, that they get treated with infinite more respect by the bigs. Obviously, the amount of money their work brings into the company plays a part in the doling out of that respect, and fortunes change quickly, especially post-flop, but still.

This is all to make the very obvious point that it's not true to say that publishing is now all about money, whereas before it was all about art, man.

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