I'm always pretty amused when a TV show or movie I'm watching attempts to tackle book publishing. Because there is one thing I can almost always guarantee: they will get it wrong. Like, way wrong. From Gossip Girl to Limitless to One Tree Hill, the inaccurate portrayals of the book industry have many different faces and forms. But today I've decided to remember some of my favorite, most-laughable publishing tropes featured on screen.
1. Books Are Published Over Night
I noticed this one most recently on Gossip Girl when Dan, one of the main characters, ended up with a book deal. The means by which he got that deal were one thing - totally unrealistic is an understatement - but even more ridiculous was the timing. The book was published just two or three months later. In reality, books usually take closer to a year or even two to publish after being sold.
2. Your Editor will Do ANYTHING to Get A Book Out of You . . . Even Move Into Your House
I remember this one from One Tree Hill a few years ago. Desperate to get Lucas's book out of him - I guess he was late on deadline? - his editor moved from New York to Tree Hill to . . . I don't even know. Harass it out of him? She even moved into his house! Well, I mean, by that point they were dating, but still. Who knew being an editor required stalking skills?
3. Delivering the Massive Stack of Papers
I've seen this one in too many movies to name. That obligatory scene where a writer walks into his or her publisher's office and drops a massive stack of papers on the desk, signifying that the book is complete. It's a great image, I suppose. But in reality, we live in a digital age. Most of the time manuscripts are sent back and forth via email. And even in the cases like copyedits or first pass proofs where they can be done on paper, it's not a common thing for the writer to just show up and hand deliver it. Heck, I live in NYC and I still mail things in!
4. Agent? What Agent?
While there are definitely authors out there without agents, I'd say most of those published by the Big 6 have one. And yet, I'm always shocked and kind of excited to see a character with an agent in film. More often than not, the fictional author sells the book right to the publisher. In One Tree Hill an editor called Lucas to let him know she was buying his book (before she moved into his house) and no agent was mentioned. In Gossip Girl, Dan's frenemy, Vanessa, just showed up at Simon and Schuster with the book and was handed a couple of big checks, no questions asked about her anonymous author or why she had no agenting credentials. Now, GG did make up for this later by giving Dan an actual agent . . . though she wasn't a very good one by true industry standards. But still! The fact that he had one at all is kind of a big deal, because in the TV and movie version of publishing, they are a rare, rare breed.
I love movies and television, but wow, they really don't get publishing right. Sometimes it's frustrating and maddening ("Oh my God, number 7 on the NYT Bestseller is not TOO LOW!!! That is awesome! What the hell, Gossip Girl?" Yes, I screamed this once) but most of the time, it's just kind of funny.
So what are some of your favorites movies and TV shows that feature the publishing industry? And what are your favorite inaccurate bits? Do they make you cringe or chuckle? I want to hear what you think!