Authors Behaving Badly

April 2002
by Sharon Woodhouse

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We’re an eight-year-old press specializing in the Chicago area and its history. Up until this past year, our crew of “accessible authors” who are “committed to sharing their love and knowledge of Chicago” has been the bedrock of our mutual success. That’s our angle, our position, what our marketing materials proclaim.

Then there was a recent reckoning by our staff. We had to face the fact that, over the last 12 months, there were 12 author no-shows for events, two times when authors didn’t provide reporters from major papers with requested photos because they didn’t feel like dropping them off, umpteen times when we fielded calls from reporters and librarians because our authors never called them back, and a growing trend among some of our authors to turn down events because the pay’s not good enough (even when they’re allowed to sell books and keep a 40% commission).

In short, many of our authors seem to have become relentlessly unsatisfiable in the current economy. As their sales are drying up, so are they. They don’t have an ounce of energy to promote their books, but they have a ton of it for handing us “to do” lists and berating us with variations of “What have you done for me lately?” They seem to have forgotten that we’ve become known locally for our author promotion because, uh, we have had authors who willingly promoted their books!


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