I dunno. This is an entertaining read, but it's sort of like attending the memorial service for a dead fashion-model girlfriend you stopped mourning years before, after which you went and happily married a normal woman. 99% of us fiction writers are resigned, at this point, to never getting to make a living off our work again, if we ever did before. The issue now is not the dying cries of the few who chose to remain on the Titanic, it's the beard-scratching all of us in the lifeboats have been doing. But New York is never going to run a piece on obscure publishers and their short-run literary releases.
I threw in the towel two years ago, when I started begging my then-agent to send my stuff to small publishers. It took a split with said agent to actually make this happen, and this time around I didn't even bother with the commercial houses. Why put oneself through the agony? I can't count the number of times an editor at some big house has reacted to my work with enthusiasm and optimism, only to be shot down by her betters. At those publishers, that's what it means to be an editor of literary fiction. From the New York piece:
Morale among many editorial staffers is dipping to all-time lows. Forget literary taste; everything is cost-benefit analysis. “What I’ve heard from editors is, ‘My judgment doesn’t count any longer,’ ” says Kent Carroll, who left his company, Carroll & Graf, after it was sold to a mini-conglomerate, and who now runs the boutique Europa Editions. “There used to be a reason to get into publishing,” says Carroll. “Whether they know it or not, they all want to be Maxwell Perkins. It’s a kind of secondary immortality. They didn’t flock to publishing because they want to publish Danielle Steel.”
My next novel will be published by a small, independent, non-New-York-based house next spring. And while they would like to generate bestsellers as much as the next guy, they have given me none of the withering pre-guilt I've gotten from almost every commercial house I've ever worked with. You novelists know what I'm talking about. The tone changes a few months before your book comes out--their confidence decays into hope, and then nervous ticcing, as they realize you're going to be another flop. In the weeks leading up to publication everybody seems to be on vacation, and a month afterward you can't even get the assistants on the phone.
It's hard to imagine that anything I will ever do in my life could support anyone's Manhattan apartment rent. Honestly, it was ridiculous to have ever thought this. But that was the roaring aughts for you. As for New York, can we please have a piece on happy, well-adjusted literary editors with reasonable expectations, and their plans for making a modest living doing what they love? Personally, I am tired of being asked to feel bad because Binky Urban is anxious.