A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Skinny on Big Fat Corporate Publishers

So, I keep getting letters from folks who want the dirt on publishers. “When you gonna dish on them bastards?” is the distinct message I get, ever so subtly. Something about a dog biting the hand that feeds it that just turns people on, and I am all for that. Here goes…

You want to know about publishers? Most of them suck. There are some who still try to get actual readable books out there while making a buck, but the majority cares about money, and only money. Unfortunately, they publish shit based on name recognition and trends, and just about everything else successful is a happy accident.

Do you know what my job is? Navigating around the dipshits who run publishing houses. Sometimes the editors are in on it with me and sometimes they aren’t. I know what publishers want to sell, and I represent talented individuals who know how to disguise quality in bullshit. It is an art, I tell you, and we are good at it. We slip in good books under the guise of grade-A prime horseshit, and the publishing house doesn’t know any different because:

1. Readers are getting a great read, so they buy the book.
2. Dumbfucks who buy the book for some lameass reason like the pretty cover art (yes, sometimes marketing departments are right) still get to live under the illusion that they got themselves a good book, even though they wouldn’t know a good book from a bad book unless it was stamped on the cover.

See how this shit works? My job went from peddling good books that could turn a dime to trafficking black market literature masked as commercial glop.

Now ask yourself, are you that talented that you can create something for everyone—greedy publishers, gullible consumers, avid readers, AND your artistic muse? Well then, I would love to see your shit. The thing about wannabes is they tend to not want anything except adoration for their work, and I gotta have someone who can work it, baby, work it. Churning out what you think is the next bestseller isn’t good enough these days; it has to be packaged just right. It has to have the boob job, tummy-tuck, and face-lift, whether it needs it or not. Publishers don’t look at the final result of the surgery, they just need to see the scars to know that your work endured it. Yep, it looks commercial, smells commercial, and tastes commercial, it must be commercial, even if it does have words over 5 letters in it.

And that, minus several other expletives, is what I think of publishers.


  • At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Even though I would rather think of publishers as altruistic literary enthusiasts desparate for the next great novel, with my book being that novel, I know that isn't the case.

    At least it's nice to see a straightforward take on it instead of the bullshit I get when I go to writers' conferences.


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