Gal Beckerman’s outstanding (and sobering) article in the current Columbia Journalism Review is a must-read for every writer publishing, or seeking to publish, in the States.
Beckerman chronicles the many obstacles faced by journalist and debut author Stacy Sullivan in publishing and promoting Be Not Afraid, for You Have Sons in America, her nonfiction book. Sullivan’s story is familiar to me, mirroring those I’ve heard even from seasoned and extremely well-regarded novelists. The upshot: unless your book is seen as bestseller material, you’re on your own.
Editors no longer edit. The art department doesn’t care whether the exploding grenades on the proposed cover undermine the themes of your book. And your publicist is not going to lift even a pinky to help you, especially not if he or she is also responsible for promoting books written by star authors like, say, David Sedaris (or even, as in Sullivan’s case, Newt Gingrich).
* Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bridge down the way that I need to go jump off of.