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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hired Gun and Publishing?

     In my not so glamorous life, I am an adjunct instructor at local comm colleges. I get paid for doing something I like to do, and something I think I'm pretty good at doing, so I can't won't complain too much. The students always seem to drive me nuts during the semester, but what job doesn't come with some kind of annoying people to work with?
     But recently I've been in the mad rush to sign statements regarding the terms of my teaching, and it got me thinking. I am an employee who can not be hired back at any time, with no reason given. More than that, there are 1,001 reason why my classes could be taken away from me (okay, so that's hyperbolic, but creative license and literary reference). Just today, my teaching schedule pretty much upended itself. Fortunately I ended up with just as many classes as I started with, but there was a time when it looked like I might only have one class to teach, which means almost no moolah for moi. Not a good place to be what with those things known as bills.
     Back to the philosophical part. I have found that the terms of employment are remarkably one sided, with very little leverage on my side of the equation, except one. I can go wherever I want. Since the colleges have no feelings of loyalty to me, I should have none for them. At any moment I could be left with no classes to teach from one particular school even if I gave them my undying oath of fealty, but they wouldn't hesitate to cut me loose. In the end it becomes something of a free for all with those offering the best deal for me getting my services, not unlike a hired gun.
     That's exactly what I feel like, too. These schools have the best deal for me, so I go to them with no promise or expectation of the future, and it begins again. I inherently feel wrong about the idea, as I think that loyalty should be rewarded. After seeing that it is not, though, that idea is out the window. It is what is, and as adjuncts are becoming more popular, I imagine it will continue to be this way. So I will be the hired gun.
     But it's also given me thoughts about the publishing industry, or, rather, questions. I don't know much about the whole biz as I've not been published, and there is always the matter of the people behind the curtain, but I have to wonder is the publishing industry like this. It is so cutthroat and business-oriented that writers are the hired guns of the publishing world? It seems like agents and publishers have quite a bit of loyalty (hence why they are so selective about representation and manuscripts) but that's me looking from the outside through smudge binoculars. Can any industry people shed some light on this? Is there loyalty in the publishing world? Or is it a free-for all hired gun scenario?
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