Writers, agents, publishers and booksellers all agree that the business of selling books has become heartbreakingly hard. So what can we do? I'm a senior publishing executive, and I'd like to hear your thoughts. Bitch & moan as necessary--I'm very much in the mood for that myself these days--but ultimately I'm hoping we can take for granted that the books we write, agent, publish, and sell actually matter to us, and that the people involved in every phase of the process care, deeply, about those books succeeding. (Obviously "success" in this regard is a relative thing, measured according to a sliding scale; but that's a topic for another post.)
My hope is that this will provide a constructive forum for venting, yes--for extending, perhaps, what constitutes the publishing "community"--but also for throwing out ideas that might prove useful to someone else, to discuss what's working & what's not... Above all, for both neophyte and grizzled pro to share their insights, frustrations and predictions, and maybe, along the way, be reminded of why we didn't all become accountants in the first place.
Mad Max Perkins
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
- ► 2005 (75)
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