If you're an editor, an online marketer, a literary agent, a publicist, chances are that you've recently received an e-mail (maybe several) from an odd but vaguely familiar address--mine. So you open up it up, and start to read:
“You can trust Max!”
– L.A., Marketing Manager for a major New York publisher
"Hi, I'm Mad Max Perkins [NOT my real name], and I'd like you to share with me the hard-won secrets of your professional experience. You don't know me, but I'm a stand-up guy, completely trustworthy--I just can't tell you who I am. Anyway, as I was saying, I have some questions..."...at which point you say, "Wha--? Who the faaa--?" And then you hit the delete button.
It's weird, isn't it? to get these occasional emails from a complete stranger, someone claiming to have certain stellar credentials--a calling card, presumably, to reassure you that it's worthwhile to spend time (time you don't have) talking about the book trade--except he won't actually show you those credentials?
“We can't remember a blog becoming indispensible as quickly as Mad Max Perkins' BOOKANGST 101 has.” –Mark Sarvas, The Elegant variation: A Literary Weblog
Seems...fishy. For all you know, he (I) could be your boss (the one who's always had it out for you anyway), trying to ensnare you into divulging something that could be purposefully represented as a "fireable offense"; or a former assistant exacting revenge for some long-ago humiliation by attaching a nude picture of Karl Rove to your reply, then forwarding it to 400,000 of her (my) closest friends...
Who's to say I've not concocted some sort of viral voodoo designed to insert the "f-word" into every document you produce? that I won't sell your email address to one of those sites that send, on average, 75 pieces of spam a day promising the horniest housewives and/or the best prices for Prozac? Let's face it, there're a lot of scamsters out there. I mean, who can you really trust anymore anyway?
OK, I'm starting to understand why so few of you--publishing insiders, I mean--have been inclined to respond, or have responded so warily, to my e-entreaties. (And--please!--don't give me that "too busy" excuse. This is New York, folks: if you're not too busy, you're obviously not working hard enough...)
"Having worked both in bookselling and in publishing, I can wholeheartedly state that Mad Max Perkins is the real deal: a publishing executive with the heart of a gentle reader and the best advocate for books. Trust him, I do!" -T.A., Marketing Manager
“Max recently offered to paint the front door of a bestselling literary novelist in exchange for an advance reading of my not-yet-published first novel. (Don't ask.) He works the brutal, bloody hours of all editors; that he takes time out of his already pressed schedule to maintain this blog for the benefit of us is a testimony to his passion for the continued vitality of the publishing industry.”--P.K, Novelist
Writers and bloggers have, for the most part, been quick to overcome these "trust" issues. I know what you're thinking-- "Well, sure, what the heck else do they have to do w/ their time?" Besides, maybe they see this as a Publisher's Sweepstakes of sorts, a Literary Lotto designed to give the Industry some front-page coverage in the New York Post:
Writers and bloggers will tell you anything you want to know (and then some)--they can't help it, it's their nature... But YOU, you're an Insider, you know better than to talk to strangers. Some might say you've lived in New Yawk too long, become cynical, jaded (Godless and/or queer, that goes without saying)--but, let's face it, they're mostly Red-Staters anyway, we don't much care what they say. So let's bottom-line it: if you're gonna talk turkey about The Biz, you want to see those credentials, have some material reassurance that I really am the "SENIOR EXECUTIVE WITH A MAJOR NEW YORK PUBLISHER" that I claim to be--is that it?
E-XCITED WRITER WINS $1 MILLION CONTRACT SIMPLY BY REPLYING TO E-MAIL SURVEY!
Well, sorry: no can do. I need this fat paycheck; I can't afford my Jag & my Hummer AND keep my kids enrolled in Trinity if I get the ax. Besides, it's more fun wondering who I am than actually knowing--believe me! (Here's a hint as to why: the only person who ever called me "Sonny" was Gramps--and Gramps, he dead...)
“Mad Max Perkins is willing to ask the tough questions and try to get a dialog going to see if there is any way to solve them. Any one who thinks like that is someone who I trust. Yeah, even though I don't know his real name.” --M.J. Rose - Author of The Halo Effect and the blog: Buzz, Balls & Hype
But what I've done instead is, I've solicited some comments from people who've actually had occasion to deal w/ me and, in so doing, have found me to be--well, honorable, or at least not a back-stabber. (That's what they think!) Yeah, they're mostly anonymous, and, yeah, I could have written them myself (BOY! You really have lived in New York too long)--but I didn't.
"Mad Max Perkins is a terrific and utterly trustworthy editor and human being. (He's my boss, what else am I going to say? But still, it's true.) The purpose of his blog is to advance good writing, good will, and better sales for the kinds of authors and books that he truly cares about. Feel confident in sharing your experiences and stories with him -- they will be used only for good, and your identity and identifying details will never be revealed."--S.J., Associate Editor
There you have it, from a really trustworthy source: "YOUR EXPERPIENCES AND STORIES...WILL BE USED ONLY FOR GOOD." (Couldn't have said it better myself!) So be brave, Publishing Insider...And the next time you get an email from me asking you a question or two, and promising to protect your anonymity, don't be afraid! I'm one of you and--to quote Elvis Costello--my aim is true.
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
- ► 2005 (75)
- Happy Holidays & All That Crap
- Letters of Protest
- PART II: An Editorial Response
- Part I: An Entrepreneurial Proposal
- 'Here I Come, To Save the Day!' or; Dispelling th...
- A Love Letter to Booksellers
- In Defense of the Blockbuster--A Topic for Booksel...
- Inside & Out: An Editor's View
- You Can Trust the Man Behind the Max
- ▼ December (9)