Though from afar it’s easy to imagine the publishing business as either a collection of jaded gatekeepers who enjoy affirming their superiority by rejecting your work, or as a bunch of crass entertainment execs chasing the next megahit, I’ve been disappointed to find that it’s actually neither. Everyone who I’ve encountered in the book biz — from editorial to sales — seems disarmingly genuine about their love of books, and their jobs are pretty much like everyone else’s in the world, which is to say torn between reconciling their passion with the realities of the market. Every book they publish, especially if it’s by a first-time writer, is a risk to them and their reputation, and it’s one they take because they personally responded to the book. This was a revelation to me, the fact that the grand faceless facade of New York publishing turned out to be a collection of surprisingly normal people, all of whom were looking to fall in love with a manuscript.
–and other insights from Ted Thompson.