Spare a thought for authors with bad timing

As an editor of a quarterly magazine, where most articles are commissioned months in advance, articles on current events make me nervous. What happens if the basic facts behind an article change before it goes to print?

The editors at Melbourne University Press must have thought that they were safe in commissioning Patrick Weller’s Kevin Rudd: The Making of a Prime Minister, due out in August.

But now at best they need a new closing chapter, and a move in the bookshops from ‘current affairs’ to ‘history’.

20 Responses to “Spare a thought for authors with bad timing

  • 1
    Legal Eagle
    June 25th, 2010 08:50

    OH DEAR.

  • 2
    Sinclair Davidson
    June 25th, 2010 09:10

    Thats not too bad – I prefer to read biographies of politicians after they leave office.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    June 25th, 2010 09:48

    On the other hand, Allen & Unwin’s commission of Christine Wallace to write a Gillard biography is looking better than it did at the start of the week.

    Sinc – True, a more definitive book can be written at the end of a term.

  • 4
    Andrew Elder
    June 25th, 2010 11:49

    If Rudd stays in Parliament, and possibly even in Cabinet, the book should stay in Current Affairs. If Labor’s caucus can be said to be skittish and lacking in loyalty and a sense of perspective, can the same not be said of publishers?

  • 5
    Jeremy
    June 25th, 2010 14:13

    I was wondering where the Rudd biographies/biographers were. Any ‘full and frank’ account of his rise would have to deal with his time in the Queensland public service, his dealings with other people, etc., which would have been interesting for a sitting prime minister to deal with.

    In any case the stories which are now emerging, and which I suspect will continue to emerge, will be much juicier.

  • 6
    Peter Patton
    June 25th, 2010 15:03

    Presumably The Monthly will fold, now that it is no longer court historian and its Just Say No to Neoliberalism prince has been guillotined in a neoliberal palace coup! 😉

  • 7
    John Heard
    June 25th, 2010 18:00

    “What happens if the basic facts behind an article change before it goes to print?”

    Worse is when the facts change as, or just after, the article goes to print. “News…has a…kind of mystery”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tv3hrZmcEk

    – JH

  • 8
    Andrew Norton
    June 25th, 2010 18:06

    There were a couple of Rudd quickie biographies in 2007 – one by Nicholas Stuart which I read, and another by Robert Macklin which I did not, having already acquired more knowledge on the subject than I wanted.

  • 9
    Andrew Norton
    June 25th, 2010 18:07

    John – Indeed. I just received the latest IPA Review, and the opening line of my article cites Kevin Rudd.

  • 10
    Tom N.
    June 25th, 2010 18:19

    “Spare a thought for authors with bad timing”

    Yes, a bit like those economists mid-way through books on the wonders of free markets and the great moderation etc when the GFC struck. Oh wait, I’ve just been over to Cattallaxy, and it doesn’t seem to have stopped Sinclair and co…

  • 11
    Jeremy
    June 25th, 2010 18:37

    Yes, I can imagine that one would have been enough.

    You should have saved yourself for the autobiography which is no doubt on the way :-0

  • 12
    Chris Berg
    June 26th, 2010 09:35

    andrew, i’m just glad we put an obscure eastern european on the cover and not the elected leader of the country!

  • 13
    Sinclair Davidson
    June 26th, 2010 11:04

    TomN – if we’re going to commiserate with authors who have poor timing give a thought for John Quiggin. His Zombie Economics book is coming out later in the year just when the costs of government failure are becoming more and more apparent.

  • 14
    JC
    June 26th, 2010 22:02

    Yes, a bit like those economists mid-way through books on the wonders of free markets and the great moderation etc when the GFC struck. Oh wait, I’ve just been over to Cattallaxy, and it doesn’t seem to have stopped Sinclair and co…

    TomN thinks that if only all worked for government bureaus like he does recessions will all go away, kids would be singing in the street and our rivers flowing with chocolate.

    Hang on that was tried and failed.

  • 15
    Andrew Norton
    June 27th, 2010 08:38

    Chris – A good piece on Zizek. The Labor Party is lucky it can get rid of its mistakes more quickly than the intellectual world.

  • 16
    Son of the Ratpack
    June 28th, 2010 12:08

    I know someone who was putting the finishing touches on a PhD thesis on the future of eastern European communism, and then the Berlin Wall came down.

  • 17
    Tom N.
    June 29th, 2010 00:19

    I agree that there are flaws in Quiggin’s Zombie thesis, Sinclair, but it not that the neoliberal free market ideas he criticises aren’t silly; its that no one who matters holds them. That includes Cattalaxy.

  • 18
    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop
    June 29th, 2010 07:51

    Sinkers is showing off his lack of knowledge of what happens in Europe.

    Those countries that chose the ‘sinkers ‘way like Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania sunk like a stone. all have worse deficits and debt levels than before they introduced their austerity packages.

    The Washington consensus ONLY works when interest rates can be cut significantly and the exchange is either devalued significantly or there is a large depreciation.
    This of course assumes a healthy World economy.
    this is why Sinkers and the other crackpots at Catallaxy are always scraping egg of their faces .

  • 19
    Sinclair Davidson
    June 29th, 2010 09:09

    TomN – the appropriate answer to your silliness is ‘whatever’.

  • 20
    Mitch
    July 7th, 2010 01:46

    “As an editor of a quarterly magazine, where most articles are commissioned months in advance, articles on current events make me nervous. What happens if the basic facts behind an article change before it goes to print?”
    I think because of this if Policy was a little more regular you’d have a lot more subscribers. You’ve made a point before about the CIS’s strength in dealing with issues at their highpoints in terms of media spotlight. And of course, with Policy issues lacking the ‘current events’ component I may as well wait for them to be fully available as back issues online.