Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dollars, Dreams and Delusions

Somebody recently said to me that the publishing industry is driven by ego. Ego? Yeah, it certainly drives one thing in publishing...writers. We authors are arrogant enough to believe others will actually want to read our "inspired" words. Let’s call a spade, a spade. That's pure ego. Self-publishing through vanity presses and overpriced books from POD publishers provide ample evidence of the desperate egotism of writers. The rest of the industry, however, is not driven by ego. Rather, profits move the industry.

Literary agents, those gargoyles who restrict the entrances to the big publishing houses, they follow the money. They set high literary standards and reject all submissions that fail to meet strict expectations. Why so tough? Capitalism. It's all about the buck. Authors face brutal competition imposed by literary agents, but are these demands fair? In truth, it's no different than college. Not all students earn top grades. Some even flunk out. This process of meeting high standards assures quality in the final product, regardless if that is a great book or an advanced degree in physics. The same theme applies to big publishing houses. They select and promote books solely based on potential for economic gain. Ego drives writers and money drives the industry.

What is my motivation? Okay, I admit being attracted to the ego side of writing. I want everyone to love my stories, and someday, I crave for my book to make the New York Times bestseller list. Then again, I’m an old guy. I’ve been around the block, and I’ve learned that ego can be pretty well satisfied with material things like, say a new guitar, or, better yet, a new bass boat. Heck, my ego would be delighted with a mansion, or private jet, or a villa in...sorry...starting to slip from dream into delusion. The most important lesson for aspiring authors is that the magic happens when the successful release of a book meets both needs, ego and profit. Now, where did I put those real estate ads for Homes of the Rich and Famous?

1 comment:

  1. Ego and profit.

    I agree. A writer has to believe he is good enough to overcome all of the hurdles.

    And, if publishers doesn't make money (there are costs to running a business), they won't be publishing books for very long.

    Good reminders for writers.


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