With apologies to the late James W. Best for appropriating his image (from his 1935 Forest Life in India)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Rights and Wrongs

Someone who shall remain nameless once emailed me with a ‘great idea’ for a book and listed the proposed contents. Unable to tell whether it was supposed to be fiction or non-fiction – no, really – I asked them. ‘I don’t know,’ they replied. ‘What’s the difference?’

A friend of a successful writer friend once badgered her to read the manuscript of their ‘first novel’. Foolishly she agreed. It was irretrievably bad, but of course she couldn’t say that, so she tactfully suggested 'a few changes'. When it was duly rejected by all and sundry, the author blamed my friend for her 'editorial interference’.

Someone else once sent me the manuscript of a non-fiction title together with proposed illustrations, many of which they had simply found online. When I told them it would be essential for them, as the author, to secure the image rights, they poured scorn on my advice and totally ignored it. (I was right.)

The reason why so many people outside publishing think they know more about the industry than those inside it is simple. They look at how little those inside the industry are paid, and rightly conclude that they are idiots.