Duncan Morrell thinks writers in the U.S. should stop jockeying to be published by the “big five publishers (Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Time Warner, HarperCollins)” and lower their expectations:
This is not the American way, and it would be a more awkward proposal if not for the fact that I’ve been close to too many writers undone by the gulf between what they expected would happen once they finally were published, and what did happen. I’m not talking about the little disappointments: The book tour wasn’t extensive enough, they didn’t push hard enough to get it on Terry Gross’s show, they didn’t buy full-page ads in the New Yorker, the L.A. Times reviewer could not possibly have read the book, no one nominated the book for the National Book Award, and so on. I’m talking about the big, soul-shattering disappointment that comes from expecting that being published will change life radically. I’m talking about the hopes for a free life, for a life that will be remembered even after death; about pouring into the leaky vessel of a publishing contract dreams of transcendence and happiness. Those are the dreams that are dashed with alarming regularity. One of the horrors of being a book editor is witnessing this, and having to become inured to it in order to do the job properly. Publishing your book will not change your life, and it’s not a good idea to hand over so much of yourself to a publishing house, each and every one of which is a menagerie of the insecure, the grandiose, the brilliant, and the dull.