Tuesday, March 08, 2005

MJ Rose is to publishing as oxygen is to . . .

"Who are these folks?" I have been asked three times already, in reference to my links. What do these people have in common?

They are people changing (or trying to change) the publishing culture. Anywhere from giving you background info into the industry and the hurdles they faced (face) in getting and staying published (Max Barry and Jennifer Weiner, for example.) Or folks who have challenged/revolutionized the industry (MJ Rose). Or folks who have just plain pissed off the industry (Gerard Jones, who single-handedly released the email addresses of all the agents and editors in North America.)

So what's the connection? One person wanted to know why I don't have all the POD publishers listed here instead.

I am not a great advocate of POD. It's overpriced, slow and has a scent just this side of Roquefort. If you ask your Barnes and Noble sales rep if they have Slap Happy, Arkansas, he'll look it up in the store database, then curl his lip and flare his nostrils as he grunts, "That's a POD title. We don't carry those."

Furthermore, I am not saying that all POD titles are as good as what HarperCollins releases; the vast majority of PODs should not see print. But there are titles that are worthy of note--and some are better than what HC releases. There are plenty of folks who wrote books--good books--who did not know how to get them to a traditional publisher. And then there are the folks who managed to find a respectable literary agent (one who might have been an editor herself at one time) but could not get an editor to acquire the thing. What about all of those books?

My opinion: If one or more industry professionals found your book an intriguing and delightful read but couldn't get it there themselves, then it should be in print. Because the editor your agent submitted to happened to have PMS or lost last weeks pay in a bout with March Madness is irrelevant. In a perfect world, serendipity would not play a role in publishing.

So, for you folks that have a gem on your hard drive, do what you have to do. You can certainly trash it. Or you can find some way to get into the hands of readers on your own.

As for the rest of you--for the love of God, please stop.

Stay tuned for more treasure.