Recently I learned that a major publisher was severely limiting the amount each of their editors could spend taking agents to lunch. And then there was another major publisher who eliminated editor/agent lunches for a month at a time and cut all T & E expenses in a significant way. Finally, there are those publishers who have totally eliminated the editor/agent lunch.
I have to ask why, in a business that is really a “people” business they chose to do this? For decades the editor/agent, editor/author lunch was where real work got done. Ideas were exchanged and concepts were developed. Indeed, I know that many great books resulted from these relatively inexpensive forays.
At the same time as these lunches have been cut out (or cut way back), publishers still continue to:
- Send significant contingents to enormously expensive international book fairs, some traveling first class.
- Use town cars to travel to and from appointments.
- Insist upon delivering signature contracts in the mail or even by messenger rather than electronically.
- Send covers by hand rather than as jpegs.
- Fed-ex documents and books hundreds of times weekly (a publisher I spoke to recently told me this).
- Keep their lights on overnight.
- Use messenger services to return proposals and manuscripts which have originally been e-mailed to them.
- And, of course, cut very good personnel from their staffs.