Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Nobody knows anything, really

It is nice to be reminded from time to time that much of publishing is a series of educated guesses based on what little information we have and our instincts about what readers might want. While reading Publishers Lunch, I encountered a reminder. I noticed the other day that another editor and I probably traded authors. I don't mean traded like baseball cards, more like ships passing in the night. Essentially, it looks like we both were looking at the same two projects and we both passed on one project and bid for another--just not the same one and not from the author we'd already worked with. There's no easy way to verify this (don't know the other editor), but I'm pretty sure it's true.

This is actually a more pleasant version of another Publishers-Lunch-based reminder, the one where a manuscript you hated and dismissed as unpublishable sells for a fabulous sum at auction. Those keep me up nights, too.

These stories are especially useful to have on hand when people outside of publishing ask "So, how much time do you spend focus-grouping those kids' books?" It's not quite as funny as the Stephen Cobert-esque "focus-group-in-your-gut" answer.

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