About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Variety Pack

A few quick things...

The newspaper and book publishing industries have been eagerly salivating over the rumored Apple Tablet that gets unveiled tomorrow. I don't know what the Tablet will be like, but I'm loving what Doonesbury has to say on the subject!

Most articles on publishing or profiles of major authors drive me a little bit crazy. One common beat-head-against-wall for me is to have them written by authors who don't understand that a book with an unearned advance can still be profitable to the publisher. Or they're full of sycophancy, or etc. Sunday's NY Times Magazine had an usually good profile of James Patterson, which was written by an author who seems to actually know what he's talking about when he talks publishing, and which provides some unusually good insight into some of what makes a James Patterson into James Patterson. I'd highly recommend giving this a read.

There's another changing of the guard at Borders as CEO Ron Marshall is off to some other retailer. Is this good news? Well, I've been a big fan of Marshall's, so I'm not pleased. Three CEOs in three years, while the Riggios have run B&N since forever. The press release says that there will be great continuity of management as Marshall is going off and leaving the management team in place, but the new guy will almost certainly want to bring in his own team, and my experience is that the old guy will end up wanting to re-form his team. The one argument I can think of for not being too upset is that for all the good Marshall was doing in ways I noticed, he wasn't able to start regaining customers. And of course if he was hunting for another job it's clear his heart was no longer in the Borders challenge. But it's not good news.

Elizabeth Moon was kind enough to point me in the direction of a series of anti-literary agent screeds by Dean Wesley Smith. This links to one of them, and you can find links to the others there. Almost as "interesting" as the actual posts by Dean are the comments afterward. If you've ever watched one of those after-hours colloquys on C-Span where two or three senators or congressman enlighten the world, reading these exchanges between Dean Wesley Smith and Laura Resnick is like watching one of those in either the best or worst sense of it. I don't know if I should find the hours in the day to try and do some careful rebuttals or just let it all be. To me, the sad part of this is that there's a lot of good points Dean Wesley Smith does make which he then carries to vituperative extremes. One, as an example, is to remind that an author is ultimately the one in charge of his or her own career, and that the agent works for the author and not the other way around. But it's clear that he and Laura Resnick have both had experiences with the wrong agents or with bad agents to the extent they cannot comprehend that any author would actually stick with an agent for 20 years and feel they've gotten some good out of it.

No comments: