Tuesday, July 24, 2007

alright everyone, pencils down

Andrew Franklin on why publishers miss good books. It's a combination of a mountain of manuscripts and the need to keep the lights on,
"because for every title that we sign up, we turn down 20 to 30 others. The ratio is worse still for new fiction. So the maths is simple. If an editor commissions 20 titles a year, which is probably about average, they are being asked to consider around 500 manuscripts a year. That is an awful lot of words. No one can be surprised to learn that not every manuscript gets the careful attention it deserves. It should not come as a shock that many manuscripts are returned unread to the sender. We need to clear our desks in order to look after the authors whom we do sign up, and the unsolicited manuscripts are often a chore to be dealt with at the end of the day by an overworked intern."

Hard to argue with that, but then publishers who do look after their authors seem to have made their peace with discounting the big books by 45-60 per cent. I mention that only because the authors that do get past the guards are often offered a contract similar to working the fryer at a fast food joint.

From today's Globe and Mail:
"Wal-Mart Canada, for instance, has set its official national price at $27.98, a 38-per-cent discount, but in Toronto and environs, some of its stores Saturday were selling it for as little as $17.89, a 60-per-cent discount.
"Whatever the product, our commitment is to sell for less," a Wal-Mart spokesman said."

Yep, if it's a book that caps a once in a lifetime publishing event; or a freighter of tube socks direct from China, we really don't care.

Posted by Dave

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