With this last post before the holidays, I'd like to wish you all the happiest and healthiest and merriest. I'd also like to thank you for reading, for contributing, for speaking out, for keeping your sense of humor, for being outraged, for trying to look for solutions, for linking to this blog, for being such great writers and readers and editors and agents and publishers and readers. (I know, I already said readers but we can never thank people enough for being readers.)
Dear (Author, Bookseller, Agent, Publisher, Editor, Publicist, or other Book Industry Personnel):
Thank you for sending your list to Book Biz Santa. As you are no doubt aware, Book Biz Santa receives millions of Christmas proposals each year and wishes that he could answer each one personally. Be assured, however, that your letter was read carefully here and that this response reflects the opinion not only of Book Biz Santa, but all of us at the North Pole (midtown).
First, we want you to know how much we enjoyed reading your list. Several of us have read it, and we loved the basic concept, some of your opinions, and your writing style. It was carefully crafted, devoid of typos, and printed on a sturdy, 24-pound white paper with a bright gloss. We were also impressed by your letterhead. When you have a moment, could you let us know what that marvelously exotic font is called and where we might acquire it?
Unfortunately, we did not find the overall quality of your submission to be up to the standards that we have established in order pass your list along to Book Biz Santa’s main office. Our readers noticed several problems that prevented us from committing to your list this year in the way we felt we must to fully support your efforts.
For example, we don't think the first person narration really works, and the list in general seems too fantastic ("Publishing industry personnel at every level, from authors to agents to publishers to booksellers, should meet at regular intervals in targeted focus groups and break down some of the unnecessary barriers to communication in the industry.") and too otherworldly ("New York could remain the center of the publishing universe while still acknowledging that there is the possibility of some primitive form of life on other planets, like Denver or Phoenix or Atlanta.").
Perhaps the most significant drawback to your list in our eyes was the fact that you so blithely ignored our submission requirements, which are readily available to one and all at our web site, www.bookbizsanta.org .
Because your list was so clearly the result of hard work and sincerity, we would like to take the time to point out some specific areas where you fell short of our expectations as stated in our submission requirements:
Book Biz Santa Letter Submission Requirement (BBSLSSR) #1: a) You better watch out, b) You better not cry, c) better not pout, d) I'm telling you why: Book Biz Santa Claus is coming to town.
Clearly you violated all of the initial requirements, as just a quick perusal of your list will show:
"I’d like to know precisely what idiotic thought processes exist that can condone the manufacture (write and/or publish are not the words) of so many fast books (paper bricks having the appearance of books, but fulfilling none of the established nutritional requirements)." Violation: sections a and b.
"I feel like nobody understands how much I do for the book biz. They don’t appreciate how hard it is to be in my shoes. Maybe I should just quit. Nobody would miss me." Violation: Sections b and c.
Now, consider BBSLSSR #2: a) He's making a list, and checking it twice, b) Gonna find out who's naughty and nice. Book Biz Santa Claus is coming to town.
This is one of our least violated clauses (excuse the pun), but you managed to flout this one, too, when you wrote: "I don’t even believe there’s a Book Biz Santa out there, which is why so many people are self-publishing these days. Send me a sign that you exist, Book Biz Santa. Just one lousy sign!"
As you are no doubt aware, that was naughty, not nice.
Finally, I would point to BBSLSSR #3: a) He sees you when you're sleeping, b) He knows when you're awake, c) He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! Book Biz Santa Claus is coming to town.
To suggest that this simple requirement had something to do with Homeland Security and the Patriot Act is simply naïve. To suggest, as you do, that "Book Biz Santa hides away at the North Pole (midtown) and doesn’t even know that there’s a great big old world of writers, agents, and even publishers beyond the Arctic Circle" is, quite frankly, to accept a stereotype that does not exist. Book Biz Santa is everywhere, if you believe.
Don’t be a Book Biz Scrooge BC (Before Conversion). To quote one of Book Biz Santa’s favorite authors, "‘A merry Christmas, Bob!'" said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I'll raise your salary, publish your book, advertise it everywhere, send you quarterly royalty statements -- no, monthly, no, weekly, no, real time -- and endeavor to assist your struggling career, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit."
To be succinct, we simply don’t believe your list this year measures up to the standards that might allow it a place on our holiday schedule. In fact, it is our considered opinion that you don’t believe in Christmas or Book Biz Santa. So we are returning the manuscript to you, but we assure you that Book Biz Santa wishes you every success in placing your list elsewhere. You might consider Theater Biz Santa or even Screenplay Biz Santa.
Book Biz Santa
About the author: Robert Gray is a bookseller at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont who was forced -- against his will and despite the fact that he doesn't even believe in such things -- to channel Book Biz Santa (one tough dude) for this letter. He's also a writer, and can often be found hanging out on a virtual streetcorner at Publishers Marketplace, where he whines and cajoles at his Fresh Eyes: A Bookseller's Journal blog . According to Mr. Gray, Book Biz Santa would like emphasize one last time that, "You better watch out."