Saturday, August 18, 2007

Vox Day and Me (Part 8.1)

Papapete writes:
I find the contrasting images of Jim Baen fascinating. Several of his well-known authors praise him to the skies. You (and I suspect many others) have a very negative view of him. It certainly gives me food for thought.
In many ways, I still admire Baen. He was a very savvy businessman who knew exactly who his customers were and exactly what kinds of products they wanted to buy, and he had a very clear vision of just how to go about manufacturing and delivering those products. I also give him kudos for keeping many of the beloved old names in the field in print and earning money long after every other major publisher had given up on them. For example, because of my association with Amazing, I saw some of the rejection letters that went to Laumer in the mid 1980s, when he was still trying to shop around the last of the Retief stories. Believe me, they weren't pretty.

But in my case, in just about every way that mattered, Baen was the wrong publisher for me, and I was the wrong writer for him to try to recruit and enlist in his militia.

This is quite common in the business. You can get along spectacularly well with one editor and never once see eye to eye with another. Author/Agent relationships are especially are prone to this; the same agent can be a godsend for one writer and the kiss of death for another. In the final analysis, it's remarkable just how much of this business is built solely on gut feelings and interpersonal relationships — unless, of course, you're a Top 10 Bestselling author, in which case, yes, we can change the laws of physics for you. Exactly how soon and in what ways would you like them changed, Mr. King, sir?