Sunday, September 05, 2010

A marker of how things have changed in publishing

One of the veterans of publishing, Larry Ashmead, has died. His obituary in the New York Times notes without comment that:


Early in his career, Mr. Ashmead ran ads in a local newspapers announcing that he was coming to town to hear book ideas. That openness to ideas extended to junior employees at Harper who thought they had written masterpieces — a type of writer not exactly popular with editors.

But he finally read Kate Morgenroth’s psychological thriller about a mass murder in a retirement home, partly because she had baked brownies for the office. The novel, “Kill Me First,” was published in 1999, received good reviews and was followed by more books.



Can you imagine an editor running ads in a local paper to hear book ideas now? The very thought sends me (and most likely them) under the desk quivering and sobbing.

7 comments:

Sarah W said...

I supposed specifying in the ad that brownies--or cupcakes---should accompany all pitches would trigger the reading fee alarm over at Writers Beware . . .

Too bad---I make killer creme de menthe brownies. . .

Piedmont Writer said...

Somebody had to be a maverick. There's always one.

Shakespeare said...

I suppose there is a THICK line between openness and the consequent inundation of materials.

I find that in teaching, as well. I willingly read a rough draft of a student's essay (and encourage their turning one in) yet find I always have a few students who try turning in a "rough" draft five times...

Maureen Mullis said...

Too bad no one does that anymore, and sad that the thought frightens. Who knows what great stories are left behind?

Janet Reid said...

Maureen you haven't seen my incoming queries or you wouldn't say that. You wouldn't even think it.

Trust me on that.

Margaret Yang said...

I'm so glad that brownies aren't a job requirement. I'd rather learn to write a good query than learn to bake.

Steve Stubbs said...

I read somewhere that the late Alfred Knopf used to invite would-be authors to dinner. He only published authors he regarded as upper class. If he did not like the way they handled themselves at table they did not get published.

Today they only invite authors to dinner if the book bombs and the author is on the menu.

Yogi Berra was right. The future ain't what it used to be,