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Interpretations invited for bizarre hypothetical scenario

Suppose you are the owner of a semi-popular Internet weblog. A time comes when your weblog is the focus of some attention, and a couple of days later you receive in your inbox an email from the head of a publishing house which, although it is new and small, has a fair bit of capital behind it and a proven track record. The publisher introduces himself, says he has been reading through your archives and that he is very impressed. Have you ever considered taking your writing a step further and writing a book, he asks? If so, he would be most interested in hearing from you.

So, let’s say you have thought about it, and not only that but you happen to have a couple of manuscripts in your possession that are about a third of the way finished. So maybe you write this publisher back and say blah manuscripts blah happy to meet with him blah discuss things blah. Almost instantaneously you get an email back, great! great! he’s kind of swamped with work at the moment, but he’ll call you in two days’ time.

On the third day, there’s an email from the publisher. He apologizes for not having contacted you the day before as promised [not that you were waiting or anything, you were busy with Other Things] but he definitely wants to meet up. Tomorrow. At a coffee shop somewhere, you pick. So you pick a coffee shop and arrange a time to meet and the next day you head down there and sure enough, there is your publisher sitting at a table.

Once again he tells you how much he’s enjoyed reading your stuff and asks whether you’d be interested in working with him and you tell him blah manuscripts blah and you discuss that a bit. He’s keen, very keen, and asks you to send the stuff immediately, he’ll read it quick as a flash and next week you can meet up again and finalize the details. You ask if there might be an advance involved so you can take the time to just write, and he says yes there might, particularly if you can show him something you’ve already got going – which of course you can. But he’s very sorry, he can’t stay long, he’s gotta dash, he had this appointment he’d forgotten about so, please, by all means, you stay on and finish your coffee but he’s gotta go. He’s looking forward to getting your pages. Soon. ASAP in fact.

So you sit there for few minutes kind of stunned by this tornado that’s hit you, then mosey on home, take a few pictures along the way to post on the semi-popular Internet weblog you have, and by the time you get back the publisher has already sent you an email apologizing for the way he dashed off earlier and telling you how positive he feels about your collaboration, he’s absolutely convinced you can do great things together, and he’s really looking forward to reading your stuff. You fire back a missive saying you’d like to look over your stuff one more time before you send it – no no, he replies, just send it as it is, he knows enough to differentiate between a draft and final copy, just.send.it. And so that evening you send him about 100 pages of one of your manuscripts.

He writes back immediately thanking you and telling you how he knows exactly how irritating it can be to wait while your work is being evaluated, so hear this: in three days’ time, early afternoon, he will have his feedback for you. Also, two others will be reading the manuscript, and I can be assured that they will treat it with the utmost care.

So the specified day arrives, and at precisely 12.50 pm an email arrives from the publisher. He’s sorry, something came up, illness in the family, he’ll have to wait until tomorrow to give you his final assessment. BUT he can tell you that his initial impression is very positive, your material appears extremely well written and enjoyable, and one of his two readers agreed. He’ll finish reading this evening, will be in touch tomorrow.

The next day, the publisher gets in touch once more, something came up at work, he’s swamped, will have to postpone for one more day.

The following day he sends another email, can you meet in two days’ time, early afternoon, he’s really impressed with your work and definitely wants to pursue your collaboration, adds two exclamation points.

Two days later he gets in touch and says that he’s sorry, again he will have to postpone your meeting. The following day things should be back on track. Can you meet him in the early afternoon?

By this time you’re starting to have … thoughts, so you send a gentle email back suggesting that perhaps it would be better if he just got in touch when everything at work had settled down, and then you could definitively arrange a time to meet, rather than having to possibly postpone one more time.

And then you never hear from him again.

A month passes. Nothing.

You send a quick email, saying you’d really appreciate some kind of response, his impression of your work, whether good or bad.


So. Supposing this scenario really happened, would you think this particular publisher was:

  1. Busy
  2. Seriously put off by your work
  3. Deranged
  4. Incompetent
  5. It doesn’t matter because you wouldn’t want to do business with him anyway?

Hypothetically, of course.

Started off all icky and stormy with wet snow that melted when it hit the ground. Settled down a bit in the afternoon, at least enough to facilitate a run along the seashore. And now this post has gone on and on so it’s time to wrap things up, temps right now 2°C [36F], sunrise at 8.16 am, sunset in a few minutes at 7.02 pm.



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