BySunil K Poolani
A disconcerting although dominant lobby is functioning overtime in the (figuratively speaking) surreptitious and serpentine corridors of publishing in
There is hardly anything erroneous when these two streams of creativity (ahem) getting together to enrich each other’s causes, but that is not the case, if some recent incidents or trends are anything to go by.
In the last few years, publishing has grown magnanimously, and there was, and is, a crying need to find good people to run the show. Journalists, disgruntled or not by seeing the apathetic profession they are in, filled that need, to some extent. And this ilk now dictates what should get published and what should not; akin to choosing your favourite columnists or contributors for newspapers.
That is still understandable. What becomes an eyesore is that these writers, who do moonlight for newspapers as reviewers or consultant editors, dictate which book should be promoted and which authors should get interviewed. It’s a clique, nebulous at that. They, today, make or unmake new authors; they decide, whatever the quality of the book in question may be, whether to denigrate or promote it. And their brethren in other publications too follow suit, lest they will fall off the radars.
To quote one, there is this one group in Mumbai (like in
What happens when one ‘reneges’? Oh, hell, you would be branded a misfit, untouchable… and this ilk will ensure your book and the ones published by the authors friendly to you get denounced or, worse, ignored.
This, if you are a writer. Well, if one is a publisher, who is an ex-journalist, writer of sorts and a reviewer of books, then you had it. Ask me. Some time back I reviewed a book of a journalist-writer’s novel. I did a judicious job, but the writer was quite upset that I did not praise him to the skies, so he shot off letters to the editors in the paper, shouting, I should be, from then on, debarred from writing for the paper in question. The novel sank without a trace, but the simmering feeling, inside the ambitious novelist, still exists.
Now, this would seem to be a complete debacle of the cultural zeitgeist. Since I had a journalist background every friend of mine in that profession has, I have just realised, a book in her or him. So, can I ever say no to them when they suggest that I should read their magnum opus and publish it? No. But what if the work is bad and it will burn my pocket deficiently? (Of course, they will never part-compensate if the book would bomb.)
Then you go on and say no. Then you had it. The coterie will ensure that there wouldn’t be any interviews with the authors of the books that you would eventually publish and they will, in their wisest capacity, try to stop any reviews of the probable books of others.
Now I know what an incestuous world means and journalism is literature in hurry.
A friend of mine in publishing told me this story. His company has been publishing an astrologer’s book for something like twenty years. A new editor took charge and she wanted to scrap the soothsayer’s books everlastingly as his popularity was on the decline. So she shot off a letter to the astrologer: “Dear Sir, as you would have, of course, anticipated, hereafter we would not require any new books from you. Have a nice day!”-- Asian Age / Deccan Chronicle