Saturday, September 20, 2014

Business of Literature

Publishing has no particular ability to discern what is good or not, what is successful or not. This is true not just at the level of predicting commercial success, but also at predicting critical success. I already discussed great writers who almost vanished, books that slipped through the corporate-publisher cracks, and then between the indie cracks. If one could predict a Pulitzer Prize winner, why did Bellevue Literary Press end up with Paul Harding’s Tinkers, or Soft Skull end up with Lydia Millet’s Love in Infant Monkeys, which was a finalist that year too? If great editors could predict National Book Award winners, why did McPherson & Co. publish Lords of Misrule, or if editors could predict PEN Award winners, why did Red Lemonade publish Vanessa Veselka’s Zazen?

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