Following Part I
Person #1: You know what drives me crazy? I just can’t believe how many insanely wonderful books are out there. I don’t even know what publishers are thinking publishing all those insanely wonderful books.
Person #2: I know! I walk into a bookstore and I can’t even find a book to read because there are so many insanely wonderful books to choose from.
Person #1: You know I read an entire book the other day and I found ZERO TYPOS?
Person #2: Ugh. How anything gets published with zero typos I’ll never know. Do you know how easy they are to miss?
Person #1: Zero typos! I swear! I was so impressed I threw it across the room.
Person #2: You know what I’ve heard? There aren’t any editors who don’t edit anymore.
Person #1: No!!!
Person #2: Yes!! It’s true.
Person #1: Well, you know what publishers really care about… publishing good books.
Person #2: It’s a scandal.
Person #1: An outrage.
Person #2: There are just too many great writers out there to choose from. That’s why publishing isn’t going down in flames.
Neurotic Workaholic says
It would definitely be nice if people were talking about stuff like that at parties. Unfortunately, the last party I went to they were discussing Rock of Love. That's one reason I don't go to parties very often.
And then, hopefully, they'll move on to discussing how wonderful it is that we have so many hard-working and dedicated journalists in the news media, and how much they respect the work that they do. And then I wake up.
I had an English teacher tell me in high school that I needed to go to prom, because it's the only thing ever discussed at cocktail parties.
I'm still hoping she lied, and I'll discover other bibliophiles there. … My prom experience wasn't exhilarating.
All Adither says
I have to admit that I use my prom as a cautionary tale sometimes.
Ishta Mercurio says
Amber, your English teacher told you to go to prom so that you could discuss it later at cocktail parties? Your high school experience must have been… Unusual.
Kat Sheridan says
God heavens, one should never attempt to post before coffee. Sigh.
There are no cocktail parties in my present neighborhood (unless one counts that lovely apres-dinner Manhatten I had last night on the lanai).
Parties in this neighborhood tend to consist of beer, discussions of "real housewives" of some sort (I've honestly never met a real houswife like the ones they discuss), and an eventual trip to the garage for the gents of the group to view someone's new arc welder.
Sigh. Note to self. Find more interesting neighbors. Or drink more bourbon. Or live a lovely virtual life online with like-minded, literary folks.
Joseph L. Selby says
Ah ha ha ha, that would be awesome!
I think proofreading is the first corner cut to save time. I've lost track of the meetings I've sat in where the editor said "this author always turns in a tight manuscript. We can skip editing this one." Saves time and saves money. Who cares if there's a period in the middle of a word on page 126?
Wouldn't that be a dream.
Bryan Russell (Ink) says
Cynicism is so much easier. A good appetizer might put me in the right mood, though. I'm down with shrimp, or those wonderful bacon-wrapped water chestnuts…
The Rejectionist says
God bless interns.
What's at the bar? Lithium carbonate and Gabapentin mixers for stablilizing bipolar manic-depressive mood swings? Add in a euphoriant like oxycodone and barrels of trouble-free cash raining from foolproof investments and the mood would just about be like that.
Ha ha ha! I love it!
Person #3: Don't you just love that new book smell? How do they do that?
Josin L. McQuein says
Person 1: And OMG, you know that one writer, the one whose books have sold like a bajillion copies in 2 hours?
Person 2: I heard her books have made kids like reading again so they're reading other authors' books, too.
Person 1: I know, isn't it great. Kids are discovering that books can be fun and not all like the stuff they're forced to read in school.
Person 2: It's wonderful I heard there were actually teenagers in the library yesterday getting on a list to read Really Big Sellers' book. And since it wasn't there, they decided to check out similar authors!
Ted Fox says
"Person #1: You know what drives me crazy? I just can't believe how many insanely wonderful books are out there. I don't even know what publishers are thinking publishing all those insanely wonderful books."
These were my thoughts exactly when I stumbled across "Here's the Situation" by–you guessed it–The Situation.
Jayme Stryker says
@ Joseph L. Selby who said "I've lost track of the meetings I've sat in where the editor said "this author always turns in a tight manuscript. We can skip editing this one."
That makes my skin crawl, but I totally believe it. The other day I read a book in which the main character did not realize that he had said something "allowed". I shuddered and edited the mistake myself. At least my copy is correct! 😛
Robena Grant says
There were books discussed at the New Year's Eve party I attended. But that could be because 50% of the attendees belong to the same book club.
Steve, I love the new book smell comment. ; )
Taryn Tyler says
If only if only
I like this. I think you should host a party for us (your blog followers). We can act out this very scenario. It would be rather large party, wouldn't it?
"Zero typos! I swear! I was so impressed I threw it across the room."
The natural reaction for everyone.
Elaine AM Smith says
Person #2: Ugh. How anything gets published with zero typos I'll never know. Do you know how easy they are to miss?
I'd love to know why typos are so easy to spot when they are not your own work.
I work as a proofreader so I hope people at cocktail parties are talking about all those wonderful books without typos (ha ha). Actually yesterday I found a typo in a bestseller that's probably been reprinted a zillion times–hmmm, might bring that up at next party…
D.G. Hudson says
Sounds like a dream party with dream-type people. In reality, everyone would be pushing their own book or their own platform. AKA Schmoozing.
A supportive writing community is something most of us seek. Sometimes it's a group and other times it's a few people. My critique partner lives on the opposite coast but we work very well together.
Do you go to many cocktail parties, Nathan? (or was that in your past life as an agent?)
I must go to the wrong parties. 🙁
I've never been to a cocktail party. I hate shrimp.
The true tragedy here is that, even with publishing in whatever state it's currently in, I won't live long enough to read all the books I want to read… even if I skip parties. My to-be-read stack is getting bigger because good stuff just keeps turning up, being recommended, or catching my eye faster than I can read.
If you talk to me at cocktail parties I'll just be saying vulgar things about Anderson Cooper or you'll be telling me all your woes (this always happens to me).
But anyway, I know that I get frustrated with all the great books out there that I have to choose from and don't have time to read.
Universal New Year's Resolution: Let's all complain less.
Jen Albin says
Perhaps we should start a secret conspiracy to always say the shocking positive thing at cocktail parties and other events. What will people do when idle gossip is confronted with optimistic appreciation? It almost makes me want to hit a cocktail party.
Ben Campbell says
Zero typos? Insanely wonderful books? Publishing is not going down in flames, but, Nathan, check out this:
Douglas Sovern of SF is starting something new on twitter.
Pen and Ink says
Or your could start with "I read this amazing picture book from a first time author today. It start out with.."
Now go to Pen and Ink and pick any one of the ten first lines from first time picture books https://thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com
This time I included in the post links to older first line posts. I got the idea from you when I read your post on good blog comments
Then please leave us a comment
We’ll return the favor
Laura Campbell says
Positive thinking is the key to keeping me motivated. Write it down and make it happen.
T. Anne says
My husbands side of the family will on occasion discuss books. (Not sure what that says about my side). Usually the topics revolve around nonfiction political books. I always feel people out when I'm getting to know them in respect to books in an effort to see if they are readers. I love to have a good book discussion, but I guess you already know that. 😉
this is exactly why we love nathan bransford so much.
this post is nothing but goodness.
Samantha G says
For a second I was trying to figure out what the good thing about the coonversation was. Then I realised they were saying amazingly good things and I had to work out how they should be bad. It was very confusing and that is why I'm glad I've never attended one of these shindigs. It's like a good book- you sit and try to work out what's wrong with it instead of what's right; at least I do.
Chuck H. says
I've never been to a cocktail party and that's quite an achievement for someone my age. However, I suspect these folks were consuming cocktails laced with LSD or some other less than legal ingredient. Maybe I should add "attend cocktail party" to my bucket list.
Hmmmmmm … So is this a cocktail party in which people are so drunk they've lost touch with reality?
At that same party, a person might say something like, "Have you noticed how cable news is only interested in reporting facts, and how cable news never discusses partisan politics?" and the person with whom they're speaking might say, "Oh my goodness, yes! I credit cable news with uniting people within the United States! And what about the publishing industry? You can tell that making money isn't their primary goal. Have you read Snooki's new book? Even if it didn't make money, the values that book brings to the world are so very important to share."
I think it's important in any intelligent discussion to address problems within an industry – not to just put on rose-colored glasses and ignore the problems. Of course, the salesmen in MAD MEN had the type of cocktail parties you describe … but they were also OK with advertising cigarettes as "toasted" to try to convince people to ignore emerging health-risk data about cigarettes.
The publishing industry is much more about making lots of money for top executives than about publishing only the best possible books, even though they publish lots of amazing books and have lots of amazing people working for them. Is it really necessary to completely ignore problems all the time? For example, computers and e-reading devices are amazing, but it seems very selfish for us to ignore the fact that children in Third World countries are exposed to huge amounts of toxic materials from e-waste dumped into their communities by richer countries: Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground. It's uncomfortable to talk about the negative side of things, but to insist on only talking and hearing about the positive side of things is, in my mind, to advocate for being incredibly shallow and selfish, two of the worst traits for writers.
The thing is that if you're hearing negative things about the publishing industry enough to become exasperated and write this satirical post (very funny, by the way), it indicates that there is a problem in the publishing industry. Someone in the industry needs to do a situational analysis to figure out what the root cause of the problem is so that it can be fixed. Or hire an engineer who knows how to do one. 🙂
Ha! Next thing you'll be saying the glass is half full when everyone knows it's not only half empty but about to be knocked over so it spills all over your shoes!
Cute, pointed and upbeat. Can't go wrong with that. Cool post, Nathan. 🙂
Sheila Cull says
Hey Nathan. Regarding Civil War books, have you heard of/about the newly uncovered (about 11 years), Chicago Camp Douglas for Confederate prisoners?
"To Die in Chicago," by George Levy, Pelican, is the first, only public acknowledgment of the North's horrid Camp Douglas, 1862-65. Now people are saying it's the Andersonville of the North.
Due to Levy's discipline, years of research in the national archives and curiosity from a comment made from his university professor, and that university is across from the site of Camp Douglas, he carved us another (and shameful for Chicago) slice of history.
Levy is a special friend and yes, I'm fortunate. A couple of days ago I began a mag query regarding rich and living history of The Congress Plaza Hotel at 520 S Michigan, originally the Auditorium Hotel Annex (one of only two properties left standing and made for the the world fair in 1893). AND, Levy is providing me with what feels like scholarly insider information on the relevancy of the Auditorium Hotel Annex – considered, "a major symbol of post war betrayal," and I'm learning about race relations because of post war, both sides, dinners at the hotel, that's still a hotel.
You can tell, this stuff excites me to no end.
p.s. this july the chicago historical society will host a media involved Camp Douglas groundbreaking ceremony, to give Levy's work recognition. there was one other feature piece done by the History channel, but that's it.
it blows my mind though that one person did this huge discovery. perhaps if they happen to be an exceptional person, one is all it takes.
Nathan Bransford says
Just seems sometimes that some people like complaining about books nearly as much as they like reading them.
Nathan @12:44 PM,
I'm the Anon who posted just a short while ago, although I don't actually see my comment here. I'm guessing you're replying to Diana and me. I understand where you're coming from. People who ONLY complain are missing the other side of the publishing industry: all the wonderful books and all the wonderful people who work in publishing. At the same time, I think it's extremely important not to ignore the many serious problems within the industry.
Nathan Bransford says
Sorry anon, your comment got held up in Blogger's (not very reliable) spam filter. Published now.
Matthew Rush says
Huzzah and hear, hear, good sir.
I get more excited about publishing every day.
Sheila Cull says
sorry for perhaps sharing too much information but, it is all your fault Nathan – you had to bring up a list of Civil War books yesterday, and I thought the untold history, even in outstanding Civil War books, makes the discovery, cool. let's see, that's been on my mind now for almost 24 hours.
a million thank you's for your time.
Nathan, Yes, I agree that some people like to whine. It doesn't matter how great something is, they'll find something to complain about.
As a reader and someone who loves to buy books, I have been increasingly frustrated over the past five years trying to find books that I want to read. Even my favorite authors are letting me down. My most recent disappointment is Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet series. It's not holding my interest.
Eh, maybe I'm just getting crabby and persnickety in my old age. 😉
I don't think people at the parties I go to have ever even picked up a book unless it was an instruction manual for setting up their XBox. This does not bode well for my future, methinks. Anyway, just wanted to mention that I saw you listed in the Writer's Yearbook 2011 under "Everything Agents" and it made me smile.
Love this post + all comments.
Elephanta has excellent idea: this would be an elegant cocktail party with stimulating conversation.
And I SO appreciate the comment from Jen Albin:
what will happen when idle gossip is confronted with optimistic appreciation??
That's a seriously FANTASTIC IDEA. It's a big problem in our society today, I think, the preoccupation with Gossip and Celebrities and Bad News and Complaining — bad attitudes of various groups (politicians; businesspeople; etc.) feed off of each other and the attitudes / behaviors escalate. (I believe "reality" TV plays a role, too, highlighting poor examples…)
Carson lee says
(I didn't mean to be "Anonymous"…it was me)
Brown Eyed says
Super optimistic. And indeed, the real way cocktails should go.
Thanks for that lovely message, Nathan.
Nathan, I don't know if you still watch The Bachelor, but a blogger (Reality Steve) does hilarious recaps of the show.
He's got spoilers up for the entire season too, just click on the Brad season spoilers on the header. Very funny. It's the only reason I watch.
Joe G says
Are you referencing Oklahoma, you sly dog?