12 December 2013

The Remains

Rebecca Mead and George Prochnik’s essay “Book-Club Guide to a Remaindered Book” has got to be the least-sympathetic-to-authors article on publishing that I’ve read for a long time. Even if it’s mercilessly accurate:

1. When the author’s agent initially asked the author who he thought the readers of his proposed book would be and he defensively replied, “Everyone,” do you think the author should have immediately realized that there is a thin line between everyone and no one?

2. Did the agent’s pitch that the proposed book “brilliantly bridges genres” give the author license that caused him to, in the later words of his agent, “miss the boat” completely, by failing to inhabit any genre whatsoever?

3. Did the negligible advance justify the author’s contention that he could “write what I liked,” without regard to the book’s marketability, plausibility, or legibility?

4. Why do you think the agent stopped returning the author’s phone calls?
I mean damn.

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