When I was a little girl reading movie magazines about beautiful people, I read about some who flew their lunch from Paris to Hollywood or even, gulp, flew to have lunch in Paris. Us mere mortals would plan months in advance, belaboring every detail, knowing it would be years before we could think of embarking on another trip.
How glamorous to hop over and hop right back.
Last weekend I got to be one of the beautiful hoppers. DD had two auditions in New York City, and the two of us hopped across the continent, stayed at a nice midtown hotel, walked about town a bit after her auditions, and hopped right back. Such zip-zapping may be part of any business person’s life these days, but it was never part of mine.
Passing some of the addresses I know so well from queries and submissions, I saw glorious marble-hall buildings, dapper doormen, and gold-embossed publishing houses names. I was happy that these well-known publishers got to inhabit palace-like quarters. Good for them.
Or is it? It occurred to me that the same houses have cut staff, closed their doors to unagented submissions, and have taken fewer risks when choosing new titles for their lists. They seem to take the bottom line seriously. But having their headquarters right in the middle of the most expensive real estate on the planet, were they cutting the right corners?
I’m not a publisher. But I did once work at a high-end business, where the right address mattered greatly. However, publishing houses are wholesalers, not retailers. Does a Fifth Avenue address really make for a better business?
I’m only asking questions, not giving answers. I wish someone who really knows would chime in. I wish ‘The Big Six’ would not layoff editors and first-readers, so they could keep their door open, if only a crack, to the unknown writers offering something different. I wonder if saving on rent wouldn’t make business sense.
Back to reality, I’m folding laundry again, and dreaming up my next story. Once typed-up, it may make its way in a white envelope across the country and into the middle of a fine pile in one of these Upper East Side Avenues. There it will sit a while, marveling at the beauty of the plush carpeting, before being turned around in my SASE, or being shredded.
At least our stories get to glimpse the glitz and glamour. I’m still thinking about how much of this is real, and of what value. In some ways I’m as baffled as I was when I read the movie magazines all these years ago.