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Everything wrong with publishing: Mark Warren of Random House

Thursday 4/13/23

Yesterday I was talking to someone about the "story" feature of social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. What you sometimes end up seeing via people who don't know what they're allowing you to see, sometimes just because they're out of touch with these things.


Many years ago--around ten now--I had posted something on Facebook about publishing. It was a truth. This journal has documented, calmly, factually, truthfully, inarguably, what the publishing industry really consists of. It's all laid out. The examples of corruption and discrimination abound. They're presented thoroughly, in great detail. They cannot even so much as be challenged because everything is true. That's one reason why no one takes any of it on out in the open. It's impossible to do so and not look like a fool at best, and as corrupt as one can be, at worst. It's a form of self-outing. So what these people do is hope for the best, that nothing will happen, things will blow over, and they'll "escape," whatever that means to them, and carry on in their corruption. But that's not what is going to happen ultimately.


Mark Warren is now an editor at Random House. He's done very little in his life. He has no displayed ability, no discernible skills. He makes no viable contributions to the world of letters or the world at large. He was previously an editor at Esquire, where many sorts of this kind of person/editor have long gathered.


Every few years, Mark Warren would lie to me. He's say that he'd get back to me shortly, but wouldn't do so. I'd have to keep trying, following up, creating something new. In effect, I was enabling this man to treat me poorly, which is what this man wanted. He's that kind of man in my view. He's also a total fraud.


What I do in this journal--actually, all of the things I do in this journal--is not what anyone else does. You can't take what would be potshots at an industry, or what would be seen as potshots, because of the infrequency of the valid criticisms you were leveling. People would accuse you of negativity, no matter how correct you were. They might not outwardly accuse you, but to themselves--to protect themselves, their sense of self, if they were the kind of person guilty of the kind of behavior you were describing--they would accuse you.


The truth about publishing is that until this changes--and I am going to change it--you have no chance to get anywhere if you are not one of these people. By which I mean, a bad person, a member of their sinecures, and someone with no ability. You need to check those boxes, and it is best if you check other boxes, too. That you come from money. That you have a certain gender, a certain skin color. There's a range, but there are things that those things can't be. If you have talent, you will terrify these people. You will be what they regard as a threat to their lives and their weak and falsified sense of self. If they could end your life by pushing a button, they'd be jamming at that button until their thumb blistered. That's what you're dealing with. That kind of person.


Again, the usual disclaimer applies: If this is not you, and you are that rare exception, relax. And maybe try doing something about the problem that you also know is the reality, and working towards a solution.


The way it work with the isolated statement--no matter how true it is--is that people are going to try and to warp the narrative to suggest that you acted in anger, you ranted--a word that no one uses correctly--or couldn't control yourself and went off in a staccato burst. The way to combat anyone ever suggesting anything like this is with thoroughness, consistency, and definitive exactness.


That's this journal. No one can level a valid criticism of what it says about publishing. No one in publishing can outwardly refute the truths and facts it presents. No one tries. No one is going to. Not with their name on it, out in the open. Were they to do so, they would know that they'd be going right up here, and they'd be revealed, for all to see, as what they were. They'd be seen as the would-be defender of very evil things, which would portray them as rather evil themselves. Further, there would be facts and backstory about how they'd gotten what they'd gotten, and, if relevant, examples of the kind of work they produce, and also why they put out what they put out, and all would see--in a factual presentation of evidence--that none of it had anything to do with the quality of the work.


So in talking about the story component of social media yesterday--you know, the story thing at the top of your profile that lasts for twenty-four hours--I gave the example of Mark Warren to someone. This journal came into existence in June 2018. It's about two-and-a-half million words long now. Kind of a lot. No one dares say anything true about publishing. As a result, it is the most corrupt, exclusionary, anti-merit system in our world now. As an additional result, no one can write well--or very few people--and there is precious little that is worth reading because of how and what it adds to lives. I think these are pretty big things.


There are people who know the truth behind every word of this journal, who wouldn't wish to be seen supporting what it says--not now; they will later--because they enable the system without intending to. That person at that journal that you think matters isn't going to put you in their journal anyway, unless you're one of them. Or they have to. Your work isn't going to compel them to do that unless, again, they have to. Because you have the leverage, or they fear being exposed and having their career impacted or ended. And chances are, that journal doesn't mean anything anyway. How many readers would you even reach? Who has even heard of it? How much would you be compensated? What food would that put on your table? How does that help with the downpayment on the house? Is there anyone outside of this incestuous community who will see your words in that outlet? What happens if you have something that can amaze millions and change the world? What would be the point of having it in that place then?


If writing is going to mean anything again, and people are going to read, and read better, think better, live more fully, then the truth has to come out. None of those things are going to happen or have any chance of happening without the truth coming out. The best writer there has ever been is the lone person currently brave enough to say those truths and share what is happening and how it works. He also knows more, having done more, and with virtually everyone, at every level over the years. Say a name to me, and I know exactly what they're about. I could write a voluminous Wikipedia entry on them, and it could be all about their corruption. Things that they want no one to know. But things that are also, and always, undeniably true.


So Mark Warren would string me along. As everyone who reads these pages knows, or anyone who knows me knows, I don't do anything out of emotion at this juncture. There is much forethought behind everything. Maybe thousands of hours of forethought. Hundreds. Nothing is done lightly. Nothing is done out of emotion. Years would go by without him responding to an email.


Ten years ago, I didn't say anything much about publishing. I took the abuse. It was like I allowed myself to be raped. Repeatedly. With no fear of pushback for the rapists. As I said, I didn't have this journal in all of its thoroughness. I posted something about publishing at the time on Facebook. I said a truth. It wasn't vulgar. It wasn't "mean." It was an honest truth. For once, I said what was happening.


Then along comes Mark Warren, to comment, in front of everyone. This man who blew me off. And it wasn't because of my work and its quality. This fraud. He tried to white knight, but for himself. He wrote that the reason I might encounter difficulty was because of anger and negativity. And he just wanted to see me succeed. And writing in email that we should work together. As I said, a fraud. There was nothing angry about what I wrote, any more than this entry in this journal has an angry tone. It's not angry. This is simply a statement, in controlled prose, and an even tone, of what is and has been.


Yesterday, to the person I was talking to, I compared Mark Warren to a man who, having gone out at night, and with no one around, would drop a door on an old woman if there was no one to see him. But if it were daylight, and people were about, he'd lay down his jacket so she could make it across a puddle, hold that door, bow, and then turn and seek applause from any onlookers. That's Mark Warren. He tried to shame me and pump himself up. Do you think this is a good and honorable person? Do they sound like someone good at their job to you? And anyone knows as well as I do, that if someone was actually concerned--or if I'd actually even done anything wrong, or expressed something that didn't need saying--what they'd do is take you aside for a word, which on social media takes the form of the private message.


I was in a bad spot and vulnerable at the time. I had gone through a singular divorce and was reeling. I didn't have support and I didn't understand a number of things to the degree and extent that I understand them now. And certain things seemed to be what they were, but I still didn't have the same understanding that would come with more time, more proof, more examples; more repetitions, to put it in scientific terms, of various experiments. Now, I know why every thing happens. Every last thing. It's never supposition, and it's rarely even deduction; it's more like there's a history of repeatable science.


At the time, in this place I was at, I actually thanked Mark Warren. I went back to him at Esquire, and what do you think happened? He behaved as he always had. Because these people always take care of each other, no matter how little they do or how unqualified they are, he got that job at Random House. Now, if I took Cheer Pack, the book with the stories from the VQR, Harper's, Glimmer Train, and sent it to Mark Warren at Random House, what do you think would happen? How about a Beatles book by our best Beatles writer? Do you have any doubt? And I did. And other books. But that was more about adding to the body of evidence. He never replied. I don't need to tell you that.


I'll put up a story on Facebook. Why do you think I do that? There's probably a reason, right? More than just "here's a cool image."


And you know who would always--and I've only been doing this recently--be the first to look at what I had posted? Every time. Without fail. What does that tell you? Because he knew what I was, and had to know what this unique artist, writer, thinker, person, was up to. That's right, Mark Warren. But to actually do his job or act like a professional with someone who is clearly doing things, all the time, that no one else is doing, and has things unlike that which anyone else has? Nope. Wasn't going to happen.


You have to say the truth. You have to put it out there. Or otherwise, this just keeps going and going.


By the way: he's vice president and executive editor of Random House. Someone like this.



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