Our Evening, In Which We Attempt To Explain Publishing To Someone Unacquainted With The Industry

Setting: KENKA, a restaurant. Pitchers of beer are eight dollars. The menu advises patrons they will be removed from the premises for fornicating or vomiting in the bathrooms. REJECTIONIST is seated with AN OLD FRIEND, whom she has not seen for quite some time.

Scene One: A pitcher of beer is served. Pleasantries are exchanged. The conversation turns to more serious matters.

FRIEND: So, what have you been up to?

REJECTIONIST: Well, I quit my job, and I've been working on this book, and the idea is I will sell the book and not have to get a new job. Ha ha ha.

FRIEND: Is that funny?


FRIEND: Oh. How does that work? Selling the book? How does publishing work?

LADY AT NEIGHBORING TABLE: and so then this DOG is like about to TAKE A SHIT on this like THOUSAND DOLLAR MACHINE

REJECTIONIST: First you write the book, or if it's nonfiction you write a proposal and then part of the book, and then you have to get an agent.

FRIEND: That's a publisher?

LADY AT NEIGHBORING TABLE: and I mean like OBVIOUSLY if I had a DOG it would like be BETTER TRAINED I mean this DOG was like lifting its LEG to SHIT on this HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR MACHINE and so I had to STOP the dog and she was like WHY are you YELLING at my DOG and I was like

REJECTIONIST: No, that's the editor. The agent is the person who sells your book to the publisher, ideally. In a perfect world, your book would sell, but it's sort of like winning the lottery, because the whole world is writing a book, and then lots of people get agents, but the industry is like this giant sinking ship, and everyone is running around on the deck in sort of an agitated way, but then they give a lot of money to, like, a really random deckhand, or something, who is maybe on a reality show, but then the deckhand's book doesn't make any money, and everyone freaks out some more, and people write a lot of blog posts about it.

FRIEND: That sounds very... stressful. So to get an agent, you just call people up on the phone, and tell them about your book?




Scene Two: A second pitcher of beer is served. REJECTIONIST's glasses are slightly askew.

REJECTIONIST: [A long monologue on why American Subversive is the stupidest book ever]

FRIEND: That sounds pretty stupid. What about that Freedom book?

REJECTIONIST: [A long monologue on why Freedom is the stupidest book ever]

LADY AT NEIGHBORING TABLE: and you know she only GOT that job because she is FUCKING that guy WILLIAM and WHO in their RIGHT MIND would do THAT

FRIEND: I guess I won't read that one either. What's the deal with vampires?

REJECTIONIST: There was this book Twilight that a lot of people bought, so vampires are popular now, but my book isn't about vampires or anything.

FRIEND: Oh, Twilight, yeah, my girlfriend read that. She said it was terrible.

LADY AT NEIGHBORING TABLE: what do you MEAN I have had a lot to DRINK are you trying to TELL me something you should just TELL me what thing you are SAYING

REJECTIONIST: There is a part where the vampire does a Caesarean with its teeth, though.



FRIEND: Are you... is that...

REJECTIONIST: I don't know, I didn't actually read that far. I think it has something to do with religion.

FRIEND: But really vampires are a crappy monster, aren't they?

REJECTIONIST: I think there are all sorts of interesting things, you know, about sex, and fear of women's sexuality, and if you look at the biting as a kind of penetration and this way of talking about terror of the unknown, which is obviously women [REJECTIONIST becomes more agitated, upsets pitcher of beer] and it's just this very old story, and if you look at Dracula, right, the vampire is very sexual but he's also quite repulsive, there's none of this sparkly nonsense, which is just an absolute evisceration of all this primal stuff, and what's the point of a vampire story if there are no drawbacks to being a vampire, you're just rich and good-looking and all-powerful, I mean that's basically, like, a stockbroker--

FRIEND: I just think a vampire is sort of crappy. Like, for a monster.

REJECTIONIST: Oh. Well, Twilight made a lot of money.

FRIEND: Maybe you could do that. But without a crappy monster.



REJECTIONIST: I guess that's what I'm trying for? Lots of money, no crappy monsters. You could do worse.


[A WAITRESS brings the check.]