Friday, July 01, 2011


From today's WSJ via Shelf Awareness, a daily booksellers' e-letter.

It's only natural for those locked out to despise the gatekeepers, but what about those of us in the reading public? Shouldn't we be grateful that it's someone else's job to weed out the inane, the insipid, the incompetent? Not that they always do such a great job of it, given some of the books that do get published by actual publishers. But at least they provide some buffer between us and the many aspiring authors who are like the wannabe pop stars in the opening weeks of each "American Idol" season: How many instant novelists are as deluded as the singers who make with the strangled-cat noises believing they have Arethaen pipes?

A friend, years ago, worked at a major New York publishing house tending the slush pile. It was her job to peruse the unsolicited manuscripts for anything that might be a hidden gem, and to send the dreaded form letters to the rest. She took no pleasure in sending rejections and was eager to find something, anything, worthy in the pile. She dreamed of discovering the great undiscovered talent—oh, what a story (and a career) it would make! Alas, in two years of sifting she found only one marginally plausible submission she could recommend to her bosses.

...No doubt there are geniuses languishing in obscurity. Who knows how many great books are just waiting to be discovered? But are we really more likely to find them once the publishing pros have been handed their hats and shown the door? I rather doubt it..

<idle musing>
Sounds like a rewarding job—NOT! We get some interesting ones here at Eisenbrauns, too...
</idle musing>


John Cook said...

Gee this brings back memories!

jps said...

Don't you miss looking at some of those great manuscript proposals :)