In the mid-80s, a cult grew around one of those gray-haired, sensibly shod British ladies who speak with a squeaky voice. Barbara Woodhouse was a dog trainer. She insisted in her books and television series that there were no bad dogs, only bad owners.

By the time I left publishing, in the mid-90s, I had decided there were no bad books, only bad authors.

That, of course, is not true. There are plenty of bad books. But after a dozen years in the industry, the whining and whingeing of authors had worn me down: The conspiracy theories about how a publisher set out to ruin an author’s career by not sending his 15-year-old book to a small regional conference; the notion that a publisher sullied an author’s reputation by giving her a red cover; the complaint that there were not enough ads promoting the book (there were never enough ads); the indignation that we didn’t get the author reviewed in The New York Times, or booked on Oprah.

In general I adored my authors. But there were those few whose behavior suggested to me that flipping burgers or mucking out stalls would have been an easier and more pleasurable career choice. When I was an editorial assistant I watched as one well-regarded author so managed to vex and trouble every single person at the press that by the time his book came out, no one would take his calls. Including his editor.

Read the entire article here at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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