Sunday, August 09, 2009

Weird dream

Supposedly being pregnant give you weird, vivid dreams. Last night I had a rather hilarious one.

I used to work in publishing, and even though it's been a year and a half (that long?) since I quit, I still miss it sometimes. My job involved a little traveling and a lot of books, and even though I eventually became tired of books, I still kind of miss books. (This make no sense, I know. It's hard to explain.)

Anyway, my job was selling foreign rights to our books, and this sometimes included selling UK rights. This can be tricky, especially as the world economy becomes more and more borderless, because selling the rights to a UK publisher to publish our books means that somewhere in Asia both copies of the book will one day be on sale, and we will be in direct competition with our own book, if you see what I mean.

So, in my dream, I was back working in publishing. But the office was nothing like the corporate offices I knew; it was in an old building with lots of wood and a garret, like you see in movies about academics in New England, and somehow we were a scrappy little company instead of a giant conglomerate. We had a success, a book about John F Kennedy, to which I sold UK rights before we knew it would be such a big success. Since in my dream we were a scrappy company, this was our first big success, and it was really important that we not let anything kill it. Then--horrors!--the UK publisher informed us that they were planning to publish a cheap hardcover version for the international market. Visions of lost sales in Asia were causing a panic. A young man in a sweater vest and glasses (who was either the editor, the publisher, or the legal dept, or possibly all three, since we were a scrappy little company) and I were frantically figuring out what we could do about it, if there was any way we could stop them, when suddenly, it hit me. I didn't think I had sold them the right to publish in hardcover.

(I know this realization doesn't mean much to non-publishing types, but bear with me)

The young man began frantically looking for our contract with the UK house. It was not neatly in a file, it was in a scattering of papers on the floor. He was on his knees, rifling through the papers; the contract was not stapled, so he kept whipping out individual pages, none of which were the right one. The suspense was unbearable. Finally he pulls out a page, and I know the information we need is on the other side of the page. I yell, "Turn it over! Turn it over!"

He does, and lo and behold: the line for hardcover rights is crossed out.

Relief is instantaneous. We start dancing around our garret office, and I yell,

"In your face, Random House! In your face!"

OK, maybe you had to be there :-).


Squirrelette said...

HA! And was the evil international publisher's contact named Stella?

Nopinkertons said...

Nah, no contact: just faceless corporate evil.

Anonymous said...

Amazing!! Brings back so many memories. And it's wonderful you had a work-centered stress dream that actually ends WELL. That is a rare treat indeed. :) - Naz