In April 2018, the secretary of the editorial office suddenly left, and the editor-in-chief asked me to work part-time for a while. The first day I took over the secretary’s job, he threw me a manuscript, saying that he had already completed the “three proofs” and was waiting for the commissioning order to be sent down to the printer. “You just took over, just take a look at it, after reading is your workload.
How can you get a bonus for nothing? I smiled bitterly and looked at the manuscript, and found that more than 300,000 words, not thick, but the title is very “high” – “The International Environment and China’s Policy”. -A Study of the International Environment and China’s Policies”. Then I looked at the content, and although I didn’t read it carefully, I always felt something was wrong, and flipped back to the introduction to find that the book was actually written by a group of high school students whose school was very famous in the local area – X University High School.
I came to be interested, and hurried to find the selection list to see what the book is about – it turns out that a dozen sophomore students of this high school each write an essay on the current socio-political environment and other topics, and then published in a collection. Each article is only 10,000 to 20,000 words, that is, the length of a journal paper, but also divided into two editions of Chinese and English, more interesting is that the lead endorsement is actually a business president and a university professor.
I asked the editor-in-chief what happened, he said: “It’s not independent admissions. “
At that time, many famous universities have independent admissions quota, which “published articles” or The “scientific and creative inventions” is an important criterion, so many parents will “help The first thing you need to do is to get your child’s head in the game.
I am a little worried: “to publish a book for high school students, we are still the first time, the leadership of the society agreed ah? “
“This is the leadership of the community to introduce. “
The editor-in-chief said that a company’s Liu found one of our society leaders, said he wanted to give his own children to publish an article in the journal, the society leaders referred this Liu to him. The editor-in-chief has a wide range of contacts, sending top journals may not be able to do, but contact a common journal or no problem, the two sides quickly negotiated the terms. But I don’t know if it was that Liu who let his mouth slip, or if his child bragged about it at school, other parents soon found Liu, hoping he could help introduce them, as in the case of the law.
It is not easy to “send out journals”, but these parents have some background and cannot refuse. Perhaps if it were someone else, it would be a headache, but the editor-in-chief is different, he found a “business opportunity” instead. He discussed with Mr. Liu for half a day, and finally said: “So, I’ll put your articles together in a book. “
In journals, you have to wait in line and look at the editor’s face, but publishing a book is different, the number of words is entirely up to you, as long as the funding is in place, everything is negotiable. And as a long-established publisher, we have a big reputation, so we don’t lose face when we talk about it. The parents were very moved and willing to join together to pay a grant for the book.
In order to avoid trouble, the editor-in-chief said to Liu: “We can only ‘public to public’, a book can only correspond to a contract, not with each We can’t sign an agreement with every parent. I suggest using your company as an endorsement to sign a contract with us. “
At first, Liu did not agree, the editor-in-chief then advised: “Think about it, with your company guarantee, these parents will owe you a favor, who knows when you can help in the future? And do so, you are even ‘planner’, the book will hang your name, the opening is the foreword you wrote, your children’s articles we will certainly deal with, in addition to also be considered to your company advertising it. “
Just like that, Liu was moved, the two sides happily signed a contract, as for how much each parent contributed, that is their own business.
Understanding what happened, I marveled at the great energy of these parents in order to get their children to read good big tuition, and feel some funny. With a mixed feeling, I began to read the articles written by these high school students. The directions covered a wide range of topics: transportation, education, politics, foreign languages, and so on.
In general, the articles are moderately well written, with no highlights and no sense of rawness, but there is a sense of deliberate restraint in the style of writing, with several places that could have been developed specifically, but instead end abruptly, seemingly not smoothly. However, some of the academic expressions in the article are very precise, and some professional English words have to be searched repeatedly to find out what they mean.
I asked the editor-in-chief, “Is this really written by a high school student? “
The editor-in-chief laughed and said, “You can look at the instructor of each article. “
I flipped through a few articles and found that the “author” of several articles was the same as the I quickly realized that the “author” of several articles had the same surname as the “instructor” and quickly reacted – these I quickly realized – these “instructors” should be parents.
I went to the small library to turn out the previous sample drafts, and I found a clue on it. In the first draft, the name of the mentor was followed by a line of job descriptions: for the one on transportation, the mentor was a railroad engineer; for the one on education, the mentor was a teacher; for the one on foreign languages, it was a university professor of English – in order to increase visibility and credibility, the editor-in-chief also brought in a university professor to write the foreword, who, of course, also mentored his own children. The editor-in-chief was afraid that this would be too explicit.
I think the editor-in-chief was afraid that this would be too blatant and be discovered, so he removed the profile of the mentor in the second draft. I thought it was superfluous: “This ghostwriting is so obvious that even a student from a major high school like X University High School couldn’t write such an article. “
The editor-in-chief corrected me: “This is already good, the first draft, the writing is really too professional, it does not look like a secondary school student wrote, I let them change several times to become the current look. But you can’t say it’s the parents writing for you, they have the conditions, the parents guidance is good. “
I am puzzled, do not understand why the editor-in-chief to take this job, although he has published a lot of “bad books”, but still have the basic bottom line, such as only to those with academic status It’s not that he hasn’t refused requests from leaders. Now he is publishing books for a bunch of high school students, which is not like his style.
The editor-in-chief just made a calculation with me: “We charge 60,000, the process design is only the most common, so the cost only accounts for 1/3. You think about it, your own child’s book, as parents do not want to show off, must buy a few more books? So, the second printing of each parent to buy another 50 books is not a problem, so a total of 1,000 books will be guaranteed. “
The editor-in-chief made the calculation very clear, but I think this is not as simple as he said, but I can not ask more.
According to the rules, the “three proofs” manuscript is completed to the author to read it again. I asked the editor-in-chief if I wanted to send it to the dozen people, but he said no. He pulled me into a group of parents and told me to send the electronic version directly to them so that they could each claim it.
The manuscript was sent in the morning, and soon the bottom of the page was full of praise, saying things like “the editor has worked hard”. I also said a few polite words, thinking that the work was over, but I didn’t expect that the storm was just beginning.
In the evening, a parent in the group asked, “What is the basis for the ranking of your articles? “
This stumped me. In all the books I’ve done in my career, I hadn’t encountered such a question. I hurriedly went through the manuscript and found that there was really no obvious sorting logic for topics, word count or phonics or anything like that.
Then other parents started asking questions, “How exactly is the sorting done? I didn’t understand what the point of their questioning was, and it wasn’t until one parent questioned why their child’s article was at the bottom of the list that I figured out their true intentions.
I hurriedly contacted the editor-in-chief, but the editor-in-chief’s phone number could not be reached, the group @ me more and more people, I can only use “beauty editor according to the layout optimization, subject matter content comprehensive sort …… I can only use such words as “beauty editor according to the typography optimization, the content of the topic comprehensive sort ” to perfume back and forth.
Parents are definitely not satisfied. Soon, the group began to get out of control, some parents disregarded the sentiment to say: “so-and-so article is not as well written as my child, why rank in front of my child? “
The smell of gunpowder is getting thicker and thicker, and the focus of the argument in the parents’ group is no longer the issue of article ranking, but has turned into mutual accusations. This is beyond my ability to handle, the lead Liu rushed out to round up, said the publisher so engaged in their own reasoning, “the book can come out on the line, do not delay the progress of the book for trivial matters “.
At this point, someone will point the finger directly at Liu, said he planned the book for personal gain: “Because your own children are ranked in the book’s first, the book’s opening words are also written by you, such a great bargain of course do not want to change. “
The group chattered incessantly, I hurried to set the group message to do not disturb, but still can not stop the phone vibration. Eventually, the editor-in-chief spoke up in the group, saying that the sorting of books we publishers have their own criteria, he will give everyone an answer tomorrow, the group finally quieted down.
The next day at work, I was pulled into the editor-in-chief’s office.
The editor-in-chief has heavy dark circles under his eyes, constantly pressing his temples, probably insomnia last night. He said there was really no standard ordering, “in addition to Liu is the planner, put his children in the first article, the rest are randomly arranged”.
I was ruthless, said: “Then the attitude is tough, say we have a set of standards, according to the contract, we have the final decision. “
“These parents are some background, can not be offended, so we must solve this. “
I talked about a few parents in the group seems to be very dissatisfied with Liu, the editor-in-chief looked at me and said that at the time of discussing the funding fee, he opened a total price of 60,000, as for how to pay, let the parents themselves to coordinate, “at that time is also a pot of trouble “.
One party, represented by Liu, wanted to share equally, so that it was the easiest; the other party thought that the money should be counted by the number of words in the page, after all, some people have more words and some have fewer words. They tossed and turned for a long time, and finally the editor-in-chief stepped in and said that if they didn’t sign the contract to publish the book would be delayed, they chose to share equally under the coordination of Liu.
I calculated that the equal share of each parent is only a few thousand dollars, even the average family can afford to pay, not to mention that these parents are “non-wealthy”. The editor-in-chief scratched his head and said it was not a matter of money: “As long as there are many people, it is difficult to do anything, it is a tug of war. These people have a good level of knowledge, considered highly knowledgeable, cultural people, right? There is a good saying, ‘culture is pretentious ah’. “
This morning, I worked with the editor-in-chief for half a day and did not figure out how to reply. I had no choice but to say again what I had said before. After the parents argued for half a day, the editor-in-chief finally couldn’t stand it and asked, “Are you all unhappy with the ranking? “
Except for Liu and a few parents who were silent, most of them expressed their dissatisfaction. The editor-in-chief could only say: “Then let’s re-engage, what do you think should be ranked? “
Some parents said, ranked by the length of the title; some said, ranked by the strokes of Chinese characters; some said, ranked by the initials pinyin, and even more, proposed to use the “Chinese Tu method (“Chinese Library Classification”) ” classification – of course, no matter which way is used, it is to make their own children’s articles ranked in the front.
The group is in complete chaos, no matter whose opinion is adopted, there are always opposing voices out, the editor-in-chief head, simply said to me: “We do not care, they discuss themselves to go, we hang out a few days to say. “
So we both set the group messages to “do not disturb”, no longer reply to messages.
The editor-in-chief told me that the book should have been released a long time ago, but it was delayed by several parents’ temper tantrums. “I guess the parents usually have some conflicts in the school, dragged until now to blow up. “
I am a little angry, complained: “These parents are also the size of the status of people, but actually for an article ranking to earn such. “
The editor-in-chief said that the group was originally hard to put together, most parents are watching other children’s articles, afraid that their own children lag behind, only reluctantly joined. He sighed: “These parents are for independent admissions, the goal is also those few schools, so each other is invisible competitors. To us, it’s not a simple ranking, it’s a fight for breath. “Once the box is open, you can’t stop, the editor-in-chief said, once a person becomes a parent, most of the energy is put on the child there, and even many people are living for the child,” Don’t see some people flaunting their power outside, but facing the child is really no temper at all.”
I still don’t quite understand: “What do they figure? Already to the child left a strong family background, not as comfortable as a good university, why so tired? “
The more successful people are, the more importance they attach to their children’s education, which is not only a matter of face, but also a matter of whether the glory of the family can continue. Most of these parents are the beneficiaries of the college entrance examination, through education to achieve the class cross, but the foundation is not stable, the children are not well raised, at any time will fall back to the original class. I have seen too many big people who are miserable in their later years because their children are not capable. So ah, they want their children to run farther, even if they turn back, they can also exceed the original starting line. “
Within three days, the parents seemed to be tired, the group gradually no movement.
A week later, the editor-in-chief asked in the group whether the results, no one replied to him. After half an hour, the editor-in-chief said: “Time is very tight, and further delay will delay the progress of publication, and then do not delay the children’s application to college. “
At this point, a parent surnamed Chen answered: “I suggest, just according to the delivery time of the manuscript in order. “
We received all the manuscripts by email this time, and the time was very clear. The Chen parents asked everyone to post their own sending time, and the delivery time was under their control, so they could not blame others for being last.
I thought everyone would still object, but I didn’t expect Liu to first express his approval and send a big compliment. Then, other parents echoed the idea, and soon the whole group approved the approach.
I was interested in this Chen parent and looked through the chat logs, and found that he seldom spoke and took a stand, and all he said were polite words. The editor-in-chief later told me that the Chen parents are just a small civil servant, not much real power, but his wife is the head of the secondary school, “the county official is not as good as the current management, then the big man, in front of the child’s teacher is not still three points lower The first thing you need to do is to get a good idea of what you’re doing.
Soon, the parents posted their own email time, the editor-in-chief let me make a table, every update, to the group posted once, the ranking gradually clear.
In doing so, Liu was the happiest, because he was the first one to find us to post, and no one was as early as he was. Chen’s parents ranked third, one place up from the original ranking. I suddenly wondered, how did Chen’s parents come up with this method? There was no way he could have mastered the timing of the emails – unless the editor-in-chief had a hand in it.
Later, I learned that this Chen parent was not introduced by Liu, but was pulled into the project by the editor-in-chief, and I vaguely felt there was something fishy about it.
But in any case, we finally finalized the new article order and hurriedly contacted the typesetting company to reformat the edition. Three days later, I sent the new version to the group, and everyone reacted coldly, just saying yes, and the previous politeness ceased to exist.
After half a month of work, the manuscript was finally set, and the next step was to fill out the commission print order. I asked the editor-in-chief if he was still working with the old printer, but the editor-in-chief gave me a new business license for a printer I didn’t know.
According to the rules of the company, each editorial office is free to choose a printer, as long as the qualifications meet, just report it. In order to avoid trouble and save money, we usually maintain long-term cooperation with several printers in the vicinity, the farthest one is only half a day’s journey away, even if there is a problem, you can immediately adjust.
But the new printer recommended by the editor-in-chief is far away in Guangdong, a hundred thousand miles from us, even if it is cheap, the shipping costs are not low, and may even exceed the cost line. If you just want to avoid people’s eyes and ears, you do not have to choose a manufacturer so far away, which will draw attention to the contrary.
I asked a few more questions, and the editor-in-chief did not hide it from me: “This printer is a parent recommended to us, the price gives us a great discount, many fees are given free. And ah, now the printer is too able to delay, this guarantee within a month to print out. “
The editor-in-chief urged me to hurry up and get the commission printing list done, I had to do as I was told. The next step was on schedule, and soon it was time to deliver the book.
But there was another twist in the delivery method.
One Thursday night, the printer had the book packed up, and a few parents had decided to have a book workshop at school to talk about the purpose and ideas for the book in order to make it look less watered down. In order to increase the “authority”, they also found a few professors and experts to write reviews, so that the independent admissions to write the recommendation is also a little basis. The editor-in-chief is responsible for negotiating the meeting time with the parents, and it was difficult to coordinate a seminar on Sunday, the time could not be changed, so the book was required to be delivered on time.
In the past, the books were sent by the printer’s car, but for these few hundred books, it was not practical for the printer to drive from Guangzhou. But with ordinary logistics and too slow, the possibility of damage to the goods, the editor-in-chief means to take the air logistics, but the printer is unwilling to, they have been printed without a lot of money, the cost of air transport is too high, they have to pay back. The editor-in-chief and the printer grinded half a day, the printer still refused to give in.
Later, a parent stepped in and contacted the railroad freight to get the book on the train in time. After arriving at the station, another parent found a small truck to pull the books to our publishing house. When the large cargo was unloaded, the parents then drove their private cars to pull the books for the conference to the venue.
We were all exhausted from all the trouble.
Sunday’s book seminar ended successfully, and the group of parents wanted to buy dinner after the meeting, so I felt awkward and excused myself. The editor-in-chief went and was said to be carried home.
It took until Tuesday for the editor-in-chief to come to work, and the first thing he said when he saw me was, “Hey, I saved us another delivery fee. “
Generally speaking, the author’s own books are sent by the editorial office, the editor-in-chief wanted to save the courier fee, and that day, while drunk, parents agreed to pick up, or scheduled for Sunday. I was looking forward to meeting the parents, and I came to the office early Sunday morning to get the books organized.
The editor-in-chief’s attitude was unusual, he didn’t stand at the door and greet them, but just sat and exchanged pleasantries. When the conversation was almost over, he pointed to me, meaning that I should carry the books out. At first, I helped to carry twice, then the editor-in-chief stopped me and said, “You do not have to do it, let them do it themselves. “
I gradually saw the end, the people who came either too young, or temperament does not look like a person of status at all. I expressed doubts, the editor-in-chief brushed the jitterbug, without looking up, said: “This kind of trivial matter is not their turn to take action, to come either subordinates or relatives, the rest of the book you directly throw the communication room, let them come to collect themselves, we withdraw. “
I left the publishing house less than an hour, I received a phone call from the editor-in-chief, he asked me urgently where the spare key: “Oh, X Bureau (one of the parents) personally came to pick up the book, I locked the prepared souvenirs in the office, you hurry to contact me logistics to open the door. “
I want to laugh but can not laugh, you know, “X Bureau” is one of the most important parents of the editor-in-chief, often hear the editor-in-chief to report to him the progress of the book, the second article in the book The second article in the book is the X Bureau children’s, and is the only one that has not moved the ranking position.
After the end of the self-enrollment, I asked the editor-in-chief how the children had done on the exam.
The editor-in-chief admonished me: “Others do not say, we do not ask, public and private to separate, do not ask nothing, ask the guarantee to accident. “
“Parents are not quite like to show off, how the test must be told in the group. “
In the past, the parents group will occasionally send some of their own children’s trends, to participate in what activities, what awards, and so on, a small award can not be sent in the group three times. At first, the other parents would like them and say a few polite words, but gradually, the likes disappeared. Since the book was published, the group has been completely quiet.
The editor-in-chief said: “You don’t understand this, it’s okay if you get in, but what if someone doesn’t get in? In the group blindly bragging, cause jealousy what to do? You also know that these parents can fight over even trivial matters, in front of important matters, it is better to keep a low profile. “
I felt a little twisted in my heart, feeling that this book is not only “fake”, but also undermine the fairness of competition.
One lunch, I talked to colleagues about this matter, an old editor suddenly lost his temper, he denounced the current culture is not correct, the education to make a mess, messed up the order of the examination, but also sarcastic me and the editor-in-chief “to help the enemy The main editor, who had not finished his meal, left in a huff with his dinner plate.
I am a little confused, colleagues Lao Li said slowly: “You do not mind, he is not angry with you, he is also for the sake of their own children. His child also participated in the independent single enrollment, you help the book, those middle school students are likely to be his child’s competitors. “
So I said I understand, after all, righteousness, I hurriedly change the subject: “Your child is also going to take the college entrance examination? Why are you not anxious. “
Old Li said: “They and we are not a track at all. Like a golf tournament, one is a long-distance running, no impact on ordinary families. They engage in these things, to put it bluntly, is their internal competition. “
Old Li slowly sipped soup: “People, ah, to have self-awareness. I am an ordinary school worker, unlike those whose parents are rich or rich, they can not do, and will not deliberately ask their own children. My child as long as you can get into a book on the line, better than me is enough, the rest I do not think much. “
After saying that, old Li asked me: “You know why your editor-in-chief is so concerned about it? “
“In order to sell more books, earn grants. “
“You still don’t understand, pity the heart of the parents ah! “Old Li said, in two years the editor-in-chief of the family’s children will be junior high school, the editor-in-chief wants to send the children to the X University High School,” by then, who knows who to ask? Now to build a good network of contacts, better than then to catch blind. “
Now, I finally understand why the editor-in-chief wants to pull the Chen parents “into the fold”.
Later, the editor-in-chief heard about our lunchtime chat and tried to find a remedy for himself: “In fact, everyone says how helpful parents are, but they don’t see that those kids are very good themselves, and this article is just icing on the cake, and I guess it’s not always useful. Their group, ah, the goal is foreign universities or independent admissions, can take the college entrance examination is estimated that not many. Even if they really participate in the college entrance examination, their performance on a 985 problem is not big. “
Six months later, the book “A Study of the International Environment and Chinese Policy” was ready for additional printing, and when I went to the editor-in-chief with the approval form to sign, the editor-in-chief left the approval form and said he would put it there first. In the middle, I pressed several times, the editor-in-chief said to wait, and then there was no movement.
Perhaps it is true, as my colleague said, that this book is probably nothing to those excellent middle school students.
After the 2019 college entrance examination, I curiously asked the editor-in-chief about the situation of those students who published the book, it is said that a few of them passed the independent entrance examination or studied abroad, the rest of them still took the college entrance examination. Of course, the end is not bad, to go to all the famous schools.
I do not understand, they are so good, how to finally participate in the college entrance examination? The editor-in-chief was not surprised: “A mountain is higher than a mountain. These students’ families are only middle class, and there are more privileged ones above, those families don’t need to put together articles at all, their children can go directly to prestigious schools. “
“Then we ended up doing a lonely? “
“Can not say so, they are all a thought: ‘If I do not engage, other parents will engage, I will not be a loss?’ In the end, everyone engaged, but instead the advantage is gone again, and have to think of new ways. Previously put so much effort, can not be because of a book, a few thousand dollars, and lost all the work. “
After that, the editor-in-chief played an analogy: we are like a race to grab a run, we want to move the starting line forward some, but we all moved, the starting line and consistent, so keep moving forward and level. Doing so, the cost is obvious, that is, the race lost the original order and rules, so that competition becomes increasingly difficult.
With the blessing of their parents, these children have a stable qualification for school, but they have to rack their brains to get into the best schools; some have achieved “tutorial freedom”, but they have to work hard to get into the best Some children have the conditions to study their own interests, but their parents are trying to make their children fully developed ……
A colleague said: “This is not the training of children, it is simply parents tossing themselves. The fight is not the child, but the power of parents, financial power! “
After I left the publishing house, I heard some news one after another, the editor-in-chief’s children did not enter the X University High School as they had hoped, and went to a slightly lesser school co-sponsored by the High School, I do not know whether the editor-in-chief’s hard-working contacts have played a role.
More interestingly, the book “A Study of the International Environment and Our Policies” was actually reprinted, but at another publisher. As with other books, it has been of maximum value and a multi-win situation.
(All characters in the text are pseudonyms)