The venerable work of this one guy

Seriously, this guy is pretty much a chump. I have to give it to the pub houses on this one, folks, despite my normally egalitarian attitude toward submitting/publishing. I would have liked to have seen him try this little prank with independent presses. Yes, it highlights a definite problem: if one submits a ms, it should at least be skimmed, if not read, but given the sheer volume of submissions, the staff required to give every ms its due would likely cancel much of the monetary benefits of publishing those few, marketable gems. Note I say "much," not "all" - I don't think Penguin would be hurting if it employed a few more readers (maybe a few more writers would find gainful employment by that route). But this is beside the point. If the big pub houses were really smart, they would simply affiliate themselves to universities with MFA programs, from whence they can easily pluck astute, eager readers for mss, and pay them nothing but the promise of the prestige that comes from being ______'s living garbage disposal. Problem solved!

Another conundrum: why Jane Austen? I mean, if I were a publisher, I don't think I would publish Jane Austen today, I would publish her 200 years ago. I would have liked to have seen this guy submit something by Coetzee. Although, if it's not going to be read anyway, there's no point in being culturally relevant. Not to mention this guy wanted the Yahoo! story, not to make any genuine change in publishing. It's an industry standard, and the guys were pretty unabashed in their declaration that these responses were standard forms and the ms would not have been read. Period. While it might make average Joe wonder how he's to get in on the ground floor with Hanging Sheetrock for Dummies, those accustomed to the submission process know that it's a combination of tenacity, volume, and, plainly, knowing folks, that gets one's words into print. While I think it shouldn't be standard practice to chuck out mss without giving them a glance (it's stupid, really), I think it's a deal stupider to puff out one's chest, spam submit the works of Jane Austen (under a pretty stupid title, to boot) as an "experiment," knowing full well what the outcome will be.


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