Writers Tricks of the Trade VOLUME 8, ISSUE 4 - Page 38

houses; authors take editors with them when they switch publishers; a small company with a “Game of Thrones”- level franchise is somehow in constant danger of bankruptcy; and members of the editorial staff spew impossible commands like “We’re on tight launch for the fall … so I will need marketing and cover artwork by the end of this week.” Have these people met a manag- ing editor? They’d be lucky to walk away with some of their fingers.” N OËL C OWARD AND J ULIE H AYDON IN “T HE S COUNDREL .”C REDIT P ARAMOUNT D O THEY COME CLOSE TO REALISM ? Scoundrel” is a rare bird. The closest approximation of it I’ve seen is “Wolf” (1994), a campy film in which an editor, played by Jack Nicholson, and a market- ing director, played by James Spader, turn into werewolves as Michelle Pfeiffer looks on, blondly. “Wolf” does wonders with the publishing world before it starts howling at the moon. W RONG I MPRESSION Unfortunately, so many newbies see these movies and head into writing their book starry-eyed. It will be a best-seller at the top of the New York Times best seller list, people will line up to book them for a signing and advance and royalty checks will be six figures. Then the alarm clock rings and they wake up. Being an author, editor or publisher takes lots of work and faith. Big successes are still possible, but you have to learn your craft and work at it. Publishers don’t offer many of the perks they used to, but even back in the day most movies did not get it right. Few movies really succeed as both realism and entertainment. One is “The Scoundrel,” starring Noël Coward as a pretentious publisher. It’s filled with jabs like “I refuse to make money im- proving people’s morals, it’s a vulgar way to swindle the public,” and “This anteroom is fairly quivering with out- raged geniuses.” But it was released in 1935. And while plenty of movies and shows since have done well by the actual writing life (“The Ghost Writer,” “Won- der Boys,” “Bored to Death”), “The W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE P AGE 33 W INTER 2019