life in publishing

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As I am most probably going to be unable to finish my planned art in time for Barricade Day, I hereby present A Hasty Barricade Tableau Constructed Entirely From What I Could Find On My Desk At Work (During Afternoon Tea-Break).

Enjolras is portrayed by Captain John Hart (on account of Sartorial Similarity); the captured & bound Javert by Darth Vader; and the National Guard by Various Members Of Chase’s Tin Soldiery.

:adjusts spectacles, intones pompously: The shiny golden rays on the left, of course, symbolise the sun (which will rise after the darkest night ends); the general frou-frou-ness of the book cover on the right hints at the bohemian atmosphere of the Café Musain; and we even have a (decidedly anachronistic) Eiffel Tower in there to emphasise that THIS IS MOST DEFINITELY OCCURRING IN FRANCE.

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Edited on March 7 to add: I clearly missed that specific things were said, and that is not okay. Authors–all authors–are very much human and deserving of our respect and kindness. My apologies.

But I very much believe in the spirit of my original post … we’re in this together. We’re all people, real people, and collaborators. No matter what side of the desk you sit on. 

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In publishing-universe news, yesterday the Life in Publishing tumblr was shut down permanently, and the account deleted.

This anonymous blog by a (presumably female) publishing insider typically featured cheeky observations about the publishing world (including, yes, author behavior). Based on content, I’d always assumed its mastermind worked in children’s/young adult publishing.

The end came when an author successfully identified the person behind the blog and emailed—to her work address—an angry J’Accuse-letter threatening to reveal her to the public and to her employers. Among the things the accuser found condemnable: jokes about summer Fridays and gentle ribbing about blog tours. You know, really terrible stuff that no one should ever be forced to endure in gif form.

I got to read Life in Publishing’s final post—including the author’s letter to her—in the brief time it was still live. One of the comments, including many from supportive authors said, “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

This makes me super annoyed, but mostly it makes me sad. Life in Publishing’s posts had become infrequent, but when the blog was really active it was FUNNY. And pretty insightful. And, truly, quite gentle. We all know what mean gossip looks like, and this was not it.

We all—editors, authors, agents, publicists, marketers, salespeople, designers, etc.—work really, really hard. We work in a business that runs on talent and passion and sometimes very intense emotion. If you can’t have a sense of humor about all of this, well, you’re in for a pretty miserable ride.

There is no us/them. The greatest successes I have experienced are forged through collaboration, imbued with understanding, and maintain A SENSE OF HUMOR.

I’ll miss you Life in Publishing – whoever you were.

We need to have a talk:

I don’t understand why there has to be so much difficulty and strife between authors and publishers/agents/editors.

We’re all in the same field.

We’re the roots, trunk and leaves of a tree in a forest that is starting to die.

I don’t understand why there has to be all of this pettiness. Sometimes, I see authors on here ranting and raving about agents and gatekeepers and rejections and they’re filled with so much vitriol and jadedness and it’s horrible.

There are so much more dire things going on with the future of the publishing industry and books and literacy in general to have time for having adult slap fights.

There is so much more at stake than ever before when it comes to performing all of the tasks one has to do to make a book successful. From marketing a finished product, to choosing which queries to respond to; everyone is trying to make enough money to live–while at the same time producing a product that actually cuts it in this ruthless intellectual economy. 

So, yes, fellow authors. Our dreams and joy and in some cases, life’s work, are attached to the idea of that happy “1980’s style” publishing journey where things were apple pie sweet. But we need to let that shit go. Our forest is dying around us, and people are stressed as fuck and freaking the hell out. 

In regards to the Life In Publishing fiasco: I would hardly consider someone venting the stress of working under such circumstances a personal attack. Especially when the OP has gone to such trouble to preserve anonymity. 

No one should be made to feel terrified about the security of their job and livelihood over something like that. Someone shouldn’t have the ability to pay their rent and afford food and to work somewhere they love snatched away from them just because you’re “annoyed” at them.

People are walking around acting like there is some sort of justifiable “war”  between authors and agents/publishers/editors and its the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen in a long damn time. I’m talking middle school long time ago, okay. 

So, can we just cut this shit out and work together and be more forgiving of each other? Buckle down and be nice to each other during this time of such difficulty?

We’re all here for the same reason:

Because we love books so fucking much and we care about the future of this industry.

Lets act like it. 

We can do better. 

Working at a political publication and having an in-depth lunch conversation about the democratization of television, fandoms, and imagined communities in the digital era when someone asks: “is there fan fiction for The West Wing?”

Me: I’m sure there probably is.

Colleague: hmm that is very interesting…

Me: …

Colleague: …

Me: …

Colleague: … and what was that website called again? Archive…?

Me: Archive of Our Own.

Coworker: Okay thank you.
To Those Making $70k Or More, What Do You Do For A Living? : personalfinance

There’s so many of you 20 year olds making this much or more. I had to work my ass off with 3 college degrees, just to make $46k. What did I do wron…

While reading this thread I had to keep repeating to myself “I really love books I really love books I really really really love boooooooooooks I REGRET NOTHING I NEED A DRINK”

Now if you’ll excuse me…

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When your boss gets profusely thanked in the acknowledgements for what YOU did, aka everything, and your name is nowhere to be found

Suggestions via my amazing friends (seriously, today sucked and I didn’t have time to check Twitter after asking opinions for what gif fit this Life in Publishing situation, so coming home to find these, each more appropriate than the last, helped make me feel less dark and twisty inside):

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And most appropriately:

I was a few weeks away from finishing my editorial internship at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt when I got an e-mail from one of the three amazing editors I’d been working with:

“Would you mind taking a look at this manuscript? I want to get another set of eyes on it.”

There was nothing unusual about the request — the bulk of my duties as an intern consisted of reading manuscripts and writing up reports, and seven months in, I was a pro. I printed off the first 50 pages and hunkered down. 

I had a feeling I would like it the moment I read the title: The Patron Saint of Ugly. In those 50 pages, I met Garnet, a sharp tongued heroine who was born with port wine birthmarks all over her body and who had gained a reputation for her miraculous healing of skin ailments that had attracted the notice of the Vatican, and Garnet’s old school Sicilian grandmother, Nonna Diamante. As I read more of Garnet’s life story, interspersed with hilarious interactions and interjections from Nonna, I fell in love. I finished my printed pages and immediately opened the Word doc of the manuscript to continue where I left off. I read all day, all the way to the end. It was a story of family, of adapting in a new country, and of magic. It was humorous and sad all at once. It was one of the best things I’d read in the time I’d been at HMH.

Rather than write up a report, I went to the editor’s office and started gushing about how much I’d loved the manuscript. She revealed that she’d read a previous draft and wanted to hear from someone who had never seen it. We talked about the story’s strengths and what needed tightening or further explanation, and about how easy it was to relate to Garnet and Nonna. The editor said she was going to speak about the book in the next editorial meeting and asked if I would put in my two cents. She also asked if I would type up my thoughts so she could share them with her colleagues. I did, gladly. A few days later, she told me she’d made an offer on the book, and shortly after that, the offer was accepted.

A year and a half later, I have the beautiful Advance Reader’s Copy of The Patron Saint of Ugly in my hands. I can’t wait to reacquaint myself with these characters and this fantastic story, and I can’t to see readers’ reactions to Garnet when they finally get to meet her this June.