To follow on about my post yesterday about books as startups, we could similarly take Steve Blank’s recent post titled VC’s Are Not Your Friends and do a similar word swap with exchanging “venture capitalists” with the word “publishers.”
The process of a book being published is such an emotional one for a first or even second time author. Editors heap complements alongside steak frites in the effort to allure you to their publishing house. This is often the first validation that authors receive for their idea and the attention is intoxicating.
After the contract is signing, the relationship seems to change. The author has been given their marching orders and not really expected to be heard from until some time the next year when the manuscript is complete. What about the new blossoming friendship? What about those New York lunches?
The truth is that the editor has ten more books to sign and as much as they may like you as a person, they are responsible for a profit and loss statement. Ideas need to go in and successful books need to come out.
It was a business relationship all along.
P.S. If you think I am being too harsh on editors, ask one. Ask them what their responsibilities are. Ask them how much time they have to dedicate to each book. Business book editors are some of the most fascinating people I know. I love them. This system they live in constraints what they can do. When you start the process of selling a book, you need to make sure you see and respect the system.
P.P.S. Read Part Two of Publisher Are Not Your Friends.