I wrote a blog post a few months ago that talked about how publishing needed to develop a kinder and gentler side in dealing with those who are part of this glamour industry. The rough-and-tumble of the business aside, it has always struck me that the publishing industry seems to lean politically to the left which would seem to make it a more tolerant industry for all ideas. It got me thinking that maybe this level of tolerance is not all that prevalent throughout the industry.
Now there were witch-hunts in Salem in 1692, there was the “Red Scare” in the 1920s, and then of course there was probably the most famous blacklisting event in the 1950s during the McCarthy era. These all seem to be fundamentally conservative movements persecuting those on the left. Now it may not even be correct to think about interrelationships of blacklisting in terms of right and left. The pattern may be more basic than ideological differences. It may stem from those who have large executive inter-company networking systems passing the word about individuals they find offensive.
I remember back in my first few jobs, there were a few times when words were passed that certain actions would be deemed “non-palatable” by the industry overall and you could find yourself waiting a long time for a new opportunity if you happened to end up unemployed. Any type of legal action spoken of towards a corporate structure was one of those acts that would get you “Banished to Bogey-land.” Now I’m not one who really believes that there is any centralized structure in keeping various individuals from gainful employment but there are times when I think these issues should be discussed.
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As an industry, publishing right now is going through an incredible revolution that is leaving some of the executive-types in a position of powerlessness based on the technological advances we are seeing. Sometimes decisions are made without the input of those at the very top due to the nature and the quickness of the revolution. Those who do not understand what is happening or are not taking the time to find out what is happening in the field, are those that fear for their livelihoods. Anyone who has knowledge that they do not possess becomes a threat and a competitor. Dealing with fear in its basic primitive form is an interrelationship that is terrifying to those who don’t possess the needed knowledge. When people feel that they are threatened, a survival instinct kicks in and puts them on the offensive to seek out and destroy those who would hamper their career upward mobility.
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Everything I have written up to this point is a hypothetical situation. I don’t know of any people who are threatened by technology. I don’t know of anybody being blacklisted on a centralized list. I do know of executives who have made phone calls to vendors when employees have left and gone for other employment situations (poaching was the terminology that was brought up for making these inappropriate phone calls). With this in mind I do not feel it would it would be a great stretch for someone to make phone calls and pass the word about various other employees to keep them at bay. Also we are dealing with personalities and if a vindictive personality gets into a position of knowledge and power I have no doubt that they would use this position to hurt another’s career.
Every industry has its share of people who are unsavory and do not follow the rules. The basic ethical tenets escape them and they work in a system of “make up the rules as you go along.” The problem with this strategy is that once you start making up the rules everyone sees that you’re making up the rules as you go. There are many great people working in this industry as well. They are the mentors, the drivers, the Sage reference receptacles of this great industry.
As I said, I have no knowledge that anything is going on. I’m not saying that any unsavory actions are going on. I just think that this is something that needs to be discussed because I have heard this mentioned from time to time during the course of my career.
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The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing: History, Industry Perspective (Print and E-book) and “How To” Publish Your E-book for Amazon Kindle
Does the publishing industry blacklist people? I can’t answer that question. Maybe you have some input on this to share? People are people in publishing as elsewhere. The only way to beat any kind of listing is to be the best you can be. I have some ideas that certain people don’t appreciate or like others within the industry, but that doesn’t mean there is an industry-wide push to exile anyone to Elba.