OK, here I go. I'm gonna do the one thing a writer is really really really not supposed to do on her blog: I'm gonna bitch about publishers for a second.
Let me be clear up front about what I'm not doing: I'm not whining about mistreatment. I've never submitted anything to a book publisher, nor do I even have any off-line friends who have had bad experiences with publishers, and I'm not here to bitch about editors' taste or how they wreck dreams or whatever.
My problem with publishers, based on information from agents' blogs, is this: they are so very precious that they can't be bothered to run their businesses like professionals. Ubiquitous errors on royalty statements, the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, inability and/or unwillingness to communicate any status to authors who have provided work at their request. These represent the kinds of basic organizational skills that companies of every size in every other industry have to keep current just to remain solvent. Why do we continue to excuse publishers for sloppiness we wouldn't tolerate in any other business partnership? They are like the Hollywood starlet who shows up five hours late for a photo shoot and then lets her dog pee on the $8000 designer gown, and everyone whose day she's ruined THANKS HER PROFUSELY FOR THE HONOR. Rather, they thank her people, because she can't be bothered to speak to anyone outside her circle.
OK, it's true that I'm bitching about something I've no firsthand knowledge of. But all these anecdotes I hear bug me because I care - I want this industry to survive. But just like a bunch of alcoholic starlets, this brave new world will eat them unless they get their shit together and take some responsibility for themselves.