During a moment's lull at the day job, I remembered thinking, "If I ran a publishing company like this one, it'd be truly author-friendly. They'd all tell me that couldn't be done, but I'd like for us to at least TRY."
And then I started thinking of other stuff...
If I ran a publishing company...I wouldn't start it until I could pay everyone fair advances against royalties. Yes, I know publishing companies are running away from that like an attack of paper wasps. Tough. It's the right thing to do. Publishers should do this. The advances don't have to be huge, but they ought to BE THERE.
If I ran a publishing company...I'd love agents, because I'd consider we were on the same side. Heck, in reality--we are. If my company doesn't make money, neither does the agent, and neither does the author. So I'd do my best to work with agents, rather than considering every single person wearing the "a" tag to be, by definition, an adversary.
If I ran a publishing company...EVERYBODY would be subjected to editing. I don't care if your last name is Roberts, King, or Rowling. You're still going to have an editor, and you're going to listen to what she says. For all the talking some of these people do about how "We're all just learning the craft, none of us is perfect, a good editor's worth her weight in gold, yatta, yatta, yatta..." we all KNOW differently, because we've seen it in their books. No, you don't get away with writing a good book every third one--unless you're willing to give the other two books away at half price, and proportionately smaller royalties. If you're not, you get edited, and you do not have the right to subtly threaten that editor "under the table" for daring to suggest changes to your deathless prose or throw hissy fits during the process. Be a professional, like you expect the rest of us to be.
If I ran a publishing company, there'd be no such thing as "superstar" authors who can't write a lick. If you get a ghostwriter, her name's on the cover "as told to," or "with," or you go somewhere else. If you can't write your way out of a paper bag, don't lie to your public and pretend you can. Chances are the thing that got you to celebrity status in the first place had a lot to do with pretending, smoke, mirrors, airbrushing, or a really good sound man. In the case of "your" book, that buck's gonna stop here. And yes, I'll lose some celebrity authors that way--maybe. Or maybe that'll just impress the socks off the ones who really matter, and they'll be glad to share the glory with someone who helps them look better.
Want more of these? I've probably got a million of 'em. But I'll bet YOU do, too. So...
Tell me. If you ran a publishing company, what would it be like?
Don't worry. The sky's the limit here. We're painting the picture we'd like to see, not what we think is possible. This is the publishing company of your dreams...so what does it look like?
Have at it, and bring your friends!