Imbecile Writers Really Do Exist

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Whenever I read certain how-to articles, I always think that the idiots described are fictitious. For example, when I read an article on interviewing for a job like this one, I wonder, “does anyone really need to be told to remove their nosering and not refer to the interviewer as a dude?” I always assume that these morons are just fictional devices to prove the writer’s point. Unfortunately, if you ask any recruiter for a big company, she’ll tell you that people really do these things.

Likewise, when I read how-to books on publishing, I’m always amazed as the insinuation that there are people who behave like spoiled idiots when dealing with a publisher. But, situations like this one, remind me that these creatures do in fact exist.

A confidential source in the editorial department of a literary publishing company forwarded me an email from one of their authors. For the record, let me say that this is not some celebrity book project, not Bill Clinton or Jack Welch riding herd over copy-editors and ghostwriters, cracking the whip while they get the details right and the star can just occasionally focus on the big picture. This isn’t Stephen King or John Grisham, an immensely successful and prolific author who might want to be cut some slack. No, this email is from a nonfiction writer who sold less than 4,000 copies of his last book. Small-time writer, small publishing firm, major attitude and ego problem.

The writer’s email expresses his frustration with the way his editors have reviewed his books in the past. He takes pains to point out that with some previous projects “I’ve been driven crazy by certain aspects of the reviewing process, notably reviewer comments on spelling, grammar,” he writes. He laments that “I really don’t have time for that sort of thing at the moment” and that he hopes someone will look over the editor’s comments and ensure that what he sees are the “cleaned” comments. This way, he explains, he only has to see the “important stuff.” In an effort to try and maintain some anonymity for my source, I’m stripping out a lot of other amazing comments.

Unbelievable. I’d hate for this mega-seller of less than 4,000 books be bothered with tiresome details such as spelling and grammar. So let that be a lesson to all of you out there… be professional, be polite, and be realistic as to your standing in the literary world.

But, in all honesty, the cynic and bitter little man inside of me does want to point out that for all this guy’s nonsense, he does, unfortunately, have a book deal…

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