Squires C (2020) Sensing the Novel/Seeing the Book/Selling the Goods. In: Lazendorfer T & Norrick-Ruhl C (eds.) The Novel as Network: Forms, Ideas, Commodities. New Directions in Book History. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 251-270. https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030534080
This chapter examines the gatekeeping orientation, evaluative processes and decision-making role of the publisher’s commissioning editor through a conceptual framework of sensing the novel, seeing the book and selling the goods. This framework incorporates the affective, and often bodily processes, of reading novels (‘sensing’), alongside the matching of taste to communicative processes and an envisioning of the material book-as-product (‘seeing’), culminating in the commercial impetus of books-as-goods (‘selling’). Through semi-structured interviews, the chapter examines the sensory and passional ways in editors recount their experiences of commissioning as a lived, felt experience but also as a professional discourse and an economic practice. As such, the chapter argues that sensing-seeing-selling is a networked praxis in which aesthetic objects, individual professionalised readers, emotional labour, publishing processes, company formations, material embodiments and market environments come together.