Saturday, January 01, 2005

4. Industry Folk: A New Year's Wish

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT: More of the patented Mad Max "Insider Scoop"--which, to be honest, tells us mostly nothin' about nothin', once you boil away all the bluster. But I refuse to be embarrassed by my own ignorance, or to be discouraged by the relative lack of response from those within the publishing industry--indeed, I'm truly grateful to those of you who HAVE responded, sometimes in considerable detail, to my entreaties; and (despite my jabs to the contrary) I recognize how overloaded we all are with the responsibilities of our jobs, and that to respond to my queries is to take on an extra night's work (at least).

I'm delighted & invigorated by the warm feedback I've received from so many writers. You need to remember, despite so much anecdotal evidence to the contrary, that for the most part the people working in book publishing do so for the right reasons, and with great hope that great things will happen on your behalf. When reality doesn't measure up (as, so often, it doesn't), they're very much more disappointed and demoralized than perhaps you realize. I'm not asking that you throw a pity party for editors & such, but that you keep your own hearts open to the possibility that they're nearly as deeply invested in the outcome as you are.

It's the disappointment we feel when things go wrong--or simply don't go right enough--that motivated me to start this blog in the first place; and why I think it's so important for others IN THE INDUSTRY to participate in the conversation, to use the cloak of anonymity to share a piece of what you know, in trade for someone else doing the same and, perhaps, giving you an idea about something you DON'T know, or haven't thought of.

I'm not blowing you writers off here, but I'm REALLY speaking now to my colleagues in the business, and not just editors either, but people involved in every phase of the publishing process, who care, deeply, about publishing good books well, and want, badly, for those books to succeed. It's a good thing if our authors know more about the process, have more realistic expectations, can be more active and productive partners and so forth--but, again, this isn't first & foremost for them.

It's for us: the many well-meaning dumbfcuks working in an industry that, on one hand, is based on things that we care about deeply--let's start with great writing--and, on the other, suffers often from certain aspects of institutional and practical entrenchment over which we (most of us) have very little individual influence. It's frustrating; our disappointments significantly outnumber our successes; yet I (for one) can't imagine working in a business that offers so many (potential) rewards, and, so, want (very much) for my frustration to be diminished. For more of my books (and their authors) to come to the attention of more readers. And I know you want the same thing.

Et cetera, dot dot dot...

Here's to 2005. Year of the book.


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A VOCATION OF UNHAPPINESS [Courtesy Georges Simenon (1903-1985)]

"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."