RARA-AVIS: My Unfair Lady

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 17 May 2007

Several of the responses to my post about the perceived "unfairness" of publishers-- including the private messages full of the usual insults and typical hyper-ventilated posturing -- were exactly as I predicted.

But they don't negate a single thing I said.

  I NEVER said publishers were infallible.

YES, they make mistakes.

YES, they pass up on gems and publish duds. That's not news. Or anything new. I covered all that in my original post.

But the question I was responding to was: "Is it fair?"

And the answer is still "YES."

It's THEIR money. Publishers should be allowed to publish the books and stories THEY think they can sell, whether they're some massive unfeeling super conglomerate based in New York or some hole-in-the- wall indy joint in Squibbley-on-the-Thames or Thickneck, Nebraska (or even some dinky little cyber fart like THRILLING DETECTIVE floating out there in the ether).

Any half-way decent publisher that isn't an outright vanity press or pay-to-play entity rejects far more than they publish. And most of what they reject suffers from far more than a simple lack of commercial viability.

Anyone who thinks differently is fooling themselves. Or trying to make themselves feel better.

It's not that I'm unsympathetic. I've received my own share of rejections over the years, and I know several writers who deserve better than they've been getting from the publishing industry. Some of them are even on this list.

But that doesn't mean the industry is necessarily unfair -- just that it's a hard, tough racket. You need talent and perseverance and Lady Luck smiling at you 24/7 to make it.

But the more talent and perseverance you have, the less you have to rely on -- or resort to blaming -- that bitch.

Or those oh-so-unfair publishers.


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