Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Westlake, and the risks of being (or working with) an author

I hope you enjoyed the long wander through Daniel Deronda that saw me through the process of packing and moving house for the first time in fourteen years. Many thanks to Maggie Bandur for joining me, and to the folks who left comments--Mark Marowitz's defense of Grandcourt, in particular, is worth your time if you've not seen it.

Now that the move is complete (more or less--the tiny bit of construction we're having done reminds me that construction, like certain novels, is never exactly done), I'm planning to dive back into more reliable blogging. And I can't help but begin with a bit of horn-tooting: the collection of Donald Westlake's nonfiction that I edited, The Getaway Car, just received its first official notice, a starred advance review from Publishers Weekly. And, oh, it's a good one: when you get your copy of the book in September, you'll see this on the back cover:
A must-have for all Westlake fans.
{I should also point out that this week's issue of Publishers Weekly marks another step in my and Ed Park's secret plan to take over the book world: one of the other nonfiction reviews is of a book of essays from the Believer that he coedited, Read Harder. When you stop at your local bookstore in September to get the Westlake, you can also grab Ed's! Book world domination awaits!}

And now, having played author for a bit, I feel obligated to turn the microphone over to James Laughlin, founding publisher of New Directions, and a letter that he wrote to William Saroyan of October 11, 1937 that's included in his sort-of memoir, The Way It Wasn't:
I'm sorry but I can't let you have proofs on the stories. By sad experience I have had to make that the rule. If I let every contributor have proofs it would cost me $150 in corrections. You don't know what authors are like because you are one. First, authors don't know that corrections cost $3.50 an hour, secondly they don't realize that when they change one word in linotype it knocks out a whole page of slugs and that costs two or three hours' time to fix.

Thirdly, authors just have to take one look at a page of proofs to go entirely crazy and decide they are Jesus instead of Napoleon and rewrite the damn thing.

I'm sorry, I just can't afford it. You authors will have to realize that we small publishers can print you but can't humor you . . .

College keeps me working like a shithouse eel. No time for letters.
And that's all that need be said on that front, no? I'll try to keep it in mind as I'm endlessly badgering the colleague who is stuck being my publicist . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment