The inevitability of book deals

There are shortcomings to energetically following any industry. If you’re a sportswriter, you learn that heroes are actually fallible and sometimes frail human beings. If you are a tech blogger, you probably get sick of hearing new pitches about how this gadget is going to “make the world a better place.” If you constantly write about gin rummy players, then there are probably days when you hate those assholes. And so forth.

One of the challenges to paying such attention to the book world is that you can get jaded about news of publishing deals. You monitor the trades, keep your ear to the rumor stream, and constantly think about what editors are signing up. As a result, it’s easy to look at current events and make predictions.

The recent hurricanes? You bet your ass there are books coming out of those. Douglas Brinkley’s book about Hurricane Katrina is a must read, as are many other titles.

The Harvey Weinstein saga? Yep. Tons of books will be published about that. I’m surprised that some of the more outspoken players in the story haven’t already announced deals.

Whatever your politics, the situation between President Donald Trump, Gold Star spouse Myeshia Johnson, Representative Frederica Wilson, and others is just unfortunate. But a jaded publishing observer will say, “Who is going to sign up a book from the deceased soldier’s family? Who is going to sign the legislator to a deal?”

These comments aren’t necessarily criticisms of the editors who sign up such books. It’s rather about how my lens sometimes shifts, and everything can be filtered through the “how long till a book is announced?” lens. It’s an occupational hazard of sorts, but a good problem to have. There are far worse things in life than trying to predict the vagaries of the publishing business.

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