Who “deserves” a book deal?

I’ll shorten this up for you: no one. But going a bit deeper, Vox looks into the recent controversies surrounding publications (and cancelled publications) of various problematic figures. Anyone who thinks any of this has to do with “editorial” anymore are kidding themselves. Outside indy publishing, it’s all a corporate decision based on some unholy algorithm borrowed from the insurance industry. Risk vs reward. Books that are cancelled are almost always chopped because someone looked at the optics vs the potential sales and decided to play a long game betting against the works, and said works will almost always be picked up by someone else who wants to take the risk. It’s just business. I wish it wasn’t, but it is.

Book publishing is having an existential crisis. The industry is finding itself saddled with deals by polarizing political figures, and no idea how to handle them. Which, in turn, gives rise to some fundamental questions about the purpose of publishing.

Is the industry’s purpose to make the widest array of viewpoints available to the largest audience possible? Is it to curate only the most truthful, accurate, and high-quality books to the public? Or is it to sell as many books as possible, and to try to stay out of the spotlight while doing so? Should a publisher ever care about any part of an author’s life besides their ability to write a book?

These questions are becoming more and more urgent within the private realms of publishing, amid debates over which authors deserve the enormous platform and resources that publishers can offer — and when it’s acceptable for publishers to decide to take those resources away.

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