May 18th, 2007


One man's nightmare...

My Helpful Friend (MHF) sent me yet another publishing news item--that's the trick to blogging—have lots of HFs. This one was to a NY York Times article that I won't link to because it's a "NYT Select" piece which means you need a subscription to read it online. However, I will summarize. The story was called "An Author's Nightmare," and it detailed the problems former talk show host and now author Dick Cavett had in getting copies of his bestseller Cavett onto bookstore shelves. Apparently, it's not that unusual for the publisher (in this case Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) to goof when it comes to getting enough books out there to satisfy demand.

Poor Mr. Cavett went to a bookstore only to be told they didn't have his book. Customers were asking for it, but the store couldn’t get anymore copies delivered, even though they had ordered them. Cavett ended up calling HBJ and asking for the president of the company. When he wasn't available because he was at his club, Cavett called him there and had a club staffer get the HBJ prez out of the steam room. Cavett threatened to cancel his book tour unless HBJ sent more copies of Cavett to that bookstore via overnight delivery.

The threat worked and the books arrived the next day. It was a revelation to me to hear that a major publisher could have such logistical problems but at the same time, I had a great deal of difficulty dredging up much sympathy. It reminded me of an old TV commercial (I can't remember what it was for) where rich people complained about the cost of caviar and polo pony food. I should be so lucky as to have this problem. You want an author's nightmare? Try getting published for the first time when you are totally unknown (not a witty, urbane, and famous talk show host) and one of thousands of aspiring authors in a smallish (genre) market. Now that's a hellish nightmare!
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