Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Little Guys Don't Count

by RW Morgan

One measure of a man is how he handles adversity. I was doing well enough—but today the scales tipped.

Woody shifted and winced. He didn’t yell. For some reason, he decided to talk to me. “How did you get into publishing?”

What a strange conversation. He obviously handled stress better than I did. I was sure my blood pressure was rising. My voice cracked. “I—I—took out two loans on my house and even borrowed from our retirement fund. That company is my life.

Amazingly, he kept talking. “Why are you so upset with me?”

Was he dense? “You wouldn’t review the book! We can’t get into the stores now. She’s the best author we ever published—we put everything we had into it. I know we’re a small company, but you could have at least looked at it. We’re ruined!”

“It’s not just me. All reviewers do the same thing. A book needs to fit our standards.”

“Standards? You mean guidelines derived through the success of writers such as Twain, Carroll, and Poe?”

“Oh, no. Classic Literature would never pass our current standards.” He had a wry smile.

Just to be sure, I checked the knots.

Woody ignored me. “We use a different yardstick now.”

“What do you measure?”

“We look at the size of the publisher, the amount of money spent on promotions, the number of booked interviews, the scope of the campaign. We try to weigh the potential impact on the media. It’s a calculated strategy.”

I pulled out my tape measure. I was ready.

Woody sounded concerned for the first time. I think he finally got it. “What are you measuring?”

“Your coffin.”

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