Bewildering Stories

We Are In Control

by Jerry Wright

The publishing industry is strange, and bound by constraints (mostly self inflicted) one would never know about. As I mentioned in my book review, I met Mike Moscoe at Radcon4, where he was touting his "Kris Longknife" book. I bought the last one, and asked him why it was by Mike Shepherd instead of Mike Moscoe. And he told me it was because of the ordering computers at Borders. "Huh?" Yep. We know this Moscoe guy. It doesn't matter if this is a breakout book. It's by Moscoe, so make sure that you don't order very many. Oh. Mike Shepherd? The computers aren't familiar with him. The publishers are going crazy with this book. They say it's as good as that David Weber guy, and those 'Vorkosigan' books. Let's order a bunch. These won't stay on the shelf!

Ah, the joys of self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, here you thought that it was the Publishers; the Tor's, the Ace's, the Ballentine's, the Avon's, the DAW's, etc. that were deciding who shall live, and who shall die. Of course, in some ways, we know that's foolishment, because who distributes the most popular books today? Scholastic! Yes, Scholastic, because they were willing to take a chance on "Harry Potter", and because J.K Rowling was an unknown, so there was no way for the "evil computers" of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and to pigeon-hole her.

Nope, it is now the big bookstores who decide. Well, all I can say is "Hurrah for the small press!" and "Hurrah for web-publishing!" because were it not for these, a lot of good writing (and, of course, a lot of bumph) would never see the light of day.

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Copyright © 2004 by Bewildering Stories

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