Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Not an Asshole, Just a Bastard...


A situation has recently presented itself where a new author applied first to Smoke Alarm Media, and then to me personally, to sign them as an author. To cut to the punch line, I didn’t sign them. And this pissed them off, royally.

Understand, now that I find myself entering the dreaded midlife years, I am being treated as Old School, whatever the hell that means. Basically, I run a benevolent dictatorship here, and when some fucks up, I let them know, in no uncertain terms, and how to correct it.  Basically, it makes me a bastard, but not an asshole. And in that belief of valuable and immediate feedback, I do something that I wish others did for me; I tell them the truth. 

So this author appealed to me, stating credentials like a Master of Fine Arts, and awards for Bright New Wunderkind (I was a wunderkind, too, once), et al, etc.  These are also fine accomplishments, to be sure. Perhaps yawning did not help his impression of me (no nap that day, so I am excused). He asked me to read portions of his manuscript. I declined. Which made him even more irate, which seems to be a recurring theme these days.

In our world, we are in business to sell books. Nothing. Else. Matters. I asked him his plans for it. Not once in the series of conversations that I had with this gentleman, did he mention how he was going to market and sell his books. He didn’t have a compelling story; he had no identified markets; no plan to take it to the masses. He had a well-written story. That’s it.

I asked his permission to be frank. He gave it, and no doubt regretted it. I told him I didn’t give a damn how smart he was. I didn’t care how well written the book was. All I cared about was his ability to sell it.  I could see the obvious pain my words were causing. So I observed that if he could not handle 5 minutes of honesty, he did not have enough “hide” to be successful when the going got tough. And we did not need that liability in our company.  And in doing so, I saved him months of disappointments, and gave him a MBA for free, or at least an introductory course.

He called me an asshole. I smiled, and told him again, the truth…”Not an Asshole, just a Bastard.”


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