As I took my morning walk on Saturday I was stunned to see a "For Sale" sign on one of my neighbor's homes. This is a beautiful property with a swimming pool, bikes in the driveway, a waterfall and a pergola covered with trumpet vines. A big, happy-looking family has lived there since it was erected 10 years ago and I was surprised to see it up for sale. As I looked at the sign, my gaze ventured up to the roof. There, perched on the perfect rooftop, was not one, but two TURKEY VULTURES! In all my years in this neighborhood, I've never seen these morbid (but necessary) birds anywhere but in the sky or chomping on something dead and stinky by the roadside or in a field. Why did they pick that particular day to roost on that newly listed house?
Talk about a bad omen! I hope these birds don't take up residence there. It would be very bad karma for the open house tour.
The vultures remind me of the publishing news I read last week. It seems that the bibliographic company Bowker, in a thinly-veiled effort to pump up their coffers, now offers authors the ability to submit their manuscripts to publishers through the new Bowker Manuscript Submissions feature. According to Bowker's August 11 press release:
"BowkerManuscriptSubmissions.com (BMS) is an Internet-based service that enables authors to be seen by publishers and ensures publishers don't miss the next bestseller. BMS brings authors, publishers and agents together in an efficient online system, where authors present their book proposal to the leading publishers in the industry from one central location and acquisition editors apply e-tools that allow them to sort through them and zero in on the ideas they find most interesting."
Hmmm. I kind of chuckled when I read this. The idea is that agents, after they are done wading through hundreds of queries and tons of partials and manuscripts, will log on to Bowker's website and start the process all over again? Wow! That sounds like a great idea! Not.
And, if I'm interpreting this correctly, editors from leading publishing houses will do the same thing! Why should editors depend on agents to sieve through the slush-pile when the editors now have the ability to do it themselves by logging onto Bowker's "proven model?" I'm sure they will be thrilled to spend their evenings searching for the "next bestseller" on Bowker's "simple, intuitive website." (Oh, I forgot to mention that authors pay $99 for the service.)
I apologize for my sarcasm, but this just seems like a bone-headed idea to me. Am I wrong? Is Bowker really providing an innovative service to frustrated authors, publishers and agents, or are they simply like the vultures on the rooftop, sensing the desperation among these groups and cashing in on this desperation while they can? What do you think? Will you post your work on Bowker's site?