Why In Fact Publishing Will Not Go Away Anytime Soon: A Deeply Slanted Play in Three Acts
ELTON P. STRAÜMANN, a modern-thinking man with exciting ideas
JOHN SCALZI, a humble writer
KRISTINE SCALZI, the wife of a humble writer
SCENE OPENS ON STRAÜMANN and SCALZI, standing.
STRAÜMANN: The publishing world is changing! In the future, authors will no longer need those fat cat middle men known as “publishers” to get in the way of their art! It will just be the author and his audience!
SCALZI: Won’t I need an editor? Or a copy editor? Or a cover artist? Or a book designer? Or a publicist? Or someone to print the book and get it into stores?
STRAÜMANN (waves hand, testily): Yes, yes. But all those things you can do yourself.
SCALZI: And I’m supposed to write the book, too?
STRAÜMANN (snorts): As if writing was hard. Now go! And write your novel!
SCALZI goes off to write his novel. STRAÜMANN stands, alone, on stage, for several months. Eventually SCALZI returns, with a book.
STRAÜMANN: You again! What took you so long?
SCALZI: Well, I had write the book. Then I had to edit it, copy edit it, do the cover, do the book design, have it printed, act as my own distributor and send out press releases. It cost me thousands of dollars out of my own pocket and the better part of a year. But look! Here’s the book!
STRAÜMANN (pulls out his electronic reader): I’m sorry, I only read on this.
SCALZI sighs, slinks off the stage.
STRAÜMANN (yelling after SCALZI): And where’s the sequel? Why aren’t you writing more?!?
It is A YEAR LATER. SCENE OPENS on STRAÜMANN and SCALZI, standing.
STRAÜMANN: I’m still waiting for that sequel, you know.
SCALZI: I spent all my money last year making that first book. And it didn’t sell very well.
STRAÜMANN (sneers): Well, what did you expect? The editing was sloppy, the copy editing was atrocious, the layout was amateurish and the cover art looked like it was Photoshopped by a dog. Who would want to buy that?
SCALZI (dejected): I know.
STRAÜMANN: Seriously, what were you thinking.
SCALZI: But that’s my point! I want to get professional editing and copy editing and book design and cover art, but I just can’t afford it.
STRAÜMANN (smiles): Scalzi, you naive fool. Don’t you realize that thanks to the current economy we live in, editors and copy editors and artists are desperately looking for work! Surely some of them will work for almost nothing! Scratch that — they’ll work for exactly nothing!
SCALZI: Is that ethical? To get work from people without paying them?
STRAÜMANN: Of course it is. They’ll profit from the exposure.
SCALZI: I don’t think a printer is going to want to be paid in exposure.
STRAÜMANN: Then release the book electronically to skip on all those printing costs!
SCALZI: Yes! And then sell it for a reasonable price!
STRAÜMANN (shrugs): Well, do what you want. I’ll be getting it off a torrent.
STRAÜMANN (brandishing his electronic reader): I paid $300 for this thing! Honestly, how much do you expect me to pay to fill it?
SCALZI: So, pay people nothing to help me create a book I make nothing on, for people who will refuse to pay for it.
STRAÜMANN: I wouldn’t put it that way. But yes.
STRAÜMANN and SCALZI stand for a moment, silent.
SCALZI: I’m trying to remember if you voted for Obama.
STRAÜMANN (snorts): As if I’d vote for a Communist.
SEVERAL MONTHS have passed. SCENE OPENS on STRAÜMANN and SCALZI, standing.
STRAÜMANN: Dude, where the fuck is that sequel? I’m dying over here.
SCALZI: Well, I was going to write it, but when I tried to find editors and artists to work on it for free, I kind of hit a road block. The ones who were good wouldn’t work for free, and the ones that were free weren’t good.
STRAÜMANN (rolls his eyes): Well, duh. I could have told you that.
STRAÜMANN: But that’s not important now. What’s important is that we get you writing again.
SCALZI: But I don’t have the money to make another book with professional help, and I don’t have the time to make another book on my own.
STRAÜMANN: As it happens, I have a solution for you. And look, here she is.
ENTER KRISTINE SCALZI from STAGE LEFT.
STRAÜMANN: Mrs. Scalzi, a word, please.
STRAÜMANN: As you may know, your husband is a writer. But he is finding it difficult to do writing recently because of issues of cost and time. I know that you are the organized, financially-minded person in your relationship, so allow me to suggest to you that you become his publisher. While he writes, you locate and pay for an editor, a copy editor, a cover artist, a book designer, a publicist, a printer and a distributor. This will leave him free to focus on his craft, and the sequel I so desire.
KRISTINE: I see. And you propose I fund these people how?
STRAÜMANN: Well, I’m sure I don’t know, Mrs. Scalzi, but I have faith in your ability to do so.
KRISTINE: So to recap, you want me to quit my full-time job and devote all my time to my husband’s career.
STRAÜMANN: Of course not! I never said for you to quit your job. You need the health insurance.
KRISTINE: Ah. Could you come over here for just a second?
STRAÜMANN (walks toward KRISTINE): Yes?
KRISTINE clocks STRAÜMANN in the head, stunning him, then rips off his testicles, stuffs them into his mouth and sets him on fire while he chokes on them. STRAÜMANN dies.
KRISTINE (to SCALZI): You. Find a fucking publisher.
SCALZI: Yes, dear.