Here’s a concern.
The “editor mystique”–whatever you want to call that attitude of aloofness among publishing pros that proves one’s savvy and sophistication–that is diametrically opposed to the spiritually humble attitude we want in our books. And to a certain extent, this split attitude must be accepted to progress in the business of CBA.
And while I’m fine playing the game that I "get it," because really, I think I do, I’m not fine with the implication that I am anything special, "set apart," or less dirty and worthless than anyone on the other side of my desk.
A book I read recently (A Table In the Mist, Jeffrey J. Meyers) says, “When the true faith is robustly biblical, it will also honestly narrate and confront the intractable evil and misery of this life….There is no sugarcoating the bitter social, political, and economic troubles of the world that Jesus enter[ed].”
It strikes me that anyone who assumes "honestly confronting the intractable evil of life" doesn’t apply in Christian publishing is out to a 3-martini lunch. I used to think this way. Up until very recently, I was still shocked that the “world” of Christian publishing wasn’t a nicer place, that I had to hand people their hearts in a bag every once in a while and pretend it didn’t matter to me. But even here, in the pristine and hallowed halls of CBA publishing, you can either join the bandwagon and start living your best life now, or you can resist the uncomfortable truth and pay the consequences in professional decorum.
The situation inside the Christian bubble is just as bad as the one outside it.
But should we expect it to be any different? This year I’m embarking on a new stage, embracing my calling and accepting some big changes. And that means facing some uncomfortable truths that publishing professionals would be well-advised to overlook. But rejecting the truth about the situation in CBA is no longer an option. I don’t expect it to be any different here, but I can’t deny what makes so many bad books bestsellers. This year, I’ve got to either leave Christian publishing or find a new way to oppose its inherently evil parts. Which puts me at great risk. But I can no longer deny that it has to be done. Not only do God’s rules oppose the rules of acquisitions ("be aggressive," "don’t associate with the lowly," "give the audience what it wants," etc. etc. ad nauseum), a reputation is made on how we respond to opportunities to take advantage of authors, agents, and competitors in the business. Why should this be so? Because it’s a business. And as you know, “That’s just the way it is.” Kill or be killed.
I’m hoping for a future in CBA as a Christian editor. But I don’t know if that’s possible.
If our gifts are for the common good and not for our personal gain or to make us look important, or for our own gain, or to make us feel more important, then fulfilling our purpose will only come when we use our gifts according to the greater plan.
So my concern comes where the professional and the spiritual intersect. I usually don’t have a problem laughing off some of the more blatant abuses in this business. Blatant evil is pretty funny. It’s the subtle stuff, this weird blindness that permeates the industry, that throws me. Popular opinion in CBA equates popularity and success with worth and interest. No different than anywhere else. And yet, ironically, we congratulate ourselves for publishing books that create an ever wider chasm between Christians and the world. We appropriate everything and make it “Christian,” rewarding each others’ subversion of the truly important issues. Meanwhile, I will be punished professionally for "wasting" my valuable time on all you lowly, unknown idealists with great hearts and a love for God because you’re not marketable, don’t have platforms, and probably don’t have gleaming white teeth for your interview with The Oprah.
There’s a very real moral impasse inherent in this business, and I don’t know how much longer we can deny it.
I’ve resisted looking at it, as I assume all editors must to some extent, telling myself it’s better not to think about it, focus on the good, think of what you’re allowed to do because of your position, blah blah blah. I’ve even told myself it’s only temporary, that I’m headed for writing my own books, and then things will change, by crackey.
And of course, they won’t. Unless I do.
So there it is. I’m at this place. I have to decide where I want to be. And how will I respond when I get there? It’s a year of crossroads, and will I continue "faking it to make it," or will I express the truer reality and let the chips fall? At any rate, I don’t fear replacement, derision, loss of reputation, or what should seem almost certain–the loss of all the effort I’ve put into surviving in CBA. That’s just window-dressing, if I’m thinking clearly.
I think the choice now is whether I want to do more than survive.