Are Publishers “Off Limits”?

I can be a pretty tough critic. I know this about myself, and anyone who has read my reviews is likely to know it too. I make no apology. When we live in an era that sees each new batch of college freshman arrive to their composition courses without the ability to construct a complete sentence, I say: the time for high standards is now. I say, if you can’t do it well, keep trying. But don’t get all fired up because someone called you on it. And just to be clear: I hold myself to these same high standards as well. Doesn’t mean I don’t fail. I fail all the time. I fail most of the time. And when I fail in print? Someone will tell me about it. Probably also in print. That’s the way the game’s played, folks. But a friend recently questioned my decision to essentially slam a small press publisher for doing what I think is a bad job on the copyediting of a book I recently reviewed. And that conversation has me wondering, are publishers “off limits?”

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Some Thoughts on Small Press Publications

Apparently there was a purse, an open water bottle, and a freshly-line-edited manuscript over at Doubleday. This is what happens when the three meet.

I have to say, I’m impressed with the dedication of those folks who apparently spread the entire manuscript out, page by page, to dry in their offices a few days ago. I’m impressed and heartened. It’s nice to know that big house publishers take such care of the work that writers send them (the purse & water bottle mishap aside). And little moments like this remind me of the care I’ve witnessed first-hand in working for several journals and magazines – those with very little resources and certainly offices not large enough to spread out an entire manuscript. Continue reading