Thursday, December 16, 2004

PART II: An Editorial Response

RECAP: I received a posting recently from a businessman/unpublished writer whose remarks left me divided: one portion made good sense to me, while another set off alarm bells in my head. So I decided the best chance I’d have of dealing with them both in a semi-cogent way was to split the conversation into two halves.

The first half of that conversation ran Tuesday, Dec. 14 ("Part I: An Entrepreneurial Proposal"), and generated some heated response from other writers. Some agreed with the Entrepreneur about the value, potentially, of investing extra $$$ (or €€€, as the case may be) in the marketing of one’s own book; others were appalled that anyone w/in publishing (namely, me) might advise such a course of action (one contributor felt doing so blurred “the distinction between Vantage and Vintage”); while still others took issue with the Entrepreneur’s definition of “investment” (or “risk”), which seemed to exclude the vast array of costs associated with becoming a writer—not just material costs (“four toner drums a year…two-four computer keyboards a year” etc) but also opportunity costs, the money one might have earned via a steady paying gig—all of which are sunk by the time the writer finally boxes up her manuscript, mails it off to a literary agent, and is at least potentially in a position to recoup some actual income from her labors.

Now, about those alarm bells…

PART II: An Editorial Response

Let's start with another excerpt from the same anonymous posting. [To read The Entrepreneur’s original post in its entirety, click on the following link and then scroll down to the comment that begins, "The biggest downer about this blog, to me, isn't the anonymity. It's the debate over anonymity. So let's get back to some of that famous dialog."]
“I'm an unpublished writer and a business man. I've written my first manuscript and for the last year I've been researching the publishing industry, preparing my business plan, marketing plan, etc. My hope is to switch careers one day… I truly view my career change as a business decision and, to that end, I want to invest in my future. I hope to find an agent and a publisher that will understand my desire to invest my own capital, money out of my own pocket that is budgeted to marketing & promotion activities. My goal is to remove some of the financial risk from the publisher and create awareness for my name and my book. Rather than make any money from an advance, I plan to invest all of the advance plus $10k of my own money.

Dear Entrepreneur:

As you know, I found compelling the parallels you drew between a writer’s investing in his own marketing and a student taking out loans to get a college education, or an entrepreneur investing capital in a new business venture. Simultaneously, however, there was something about your comments that gave me pause. You talked at great length about your research and your careful preparation for aspects relating to the marketing of your book. What was missing was any discussion whatsoever about the work itself. The book, I mean; the writing

—and so we enter now into a discussion of what perhaps makes books different from other products, publishing different from other industries. Because despite my admiration for your views on self-promotion, an alarm goes off for me the instant I hear someone purporting to be a writer who gives the phrase “business plan” top billing over the book itself.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is experience: the dumpster outside my window is filled with some of the shittiest writing of all time; and while not every item in that dumpster came with a business plan, virtually every proposal/sample/manuscript I’ve ever read that was accompanied by a business plan wound up there. In the dumpster, I mean.

OK: first let me apologize for the cheap shot. I haven’t read your manuscript, and have no basis whatsoever for judging whether or not you’ve got a writer’s chops, a writer’s heart, a writer’s stamina. [Writing is a goddamn hard job! Why anyone would consciously choose to become a writer is beyond me…] But part of the reason I structured this two-part reply as I have—“Part I: An Entrepreneurial Proposal” and “Part II: An Editorial Response”—is to convey (among other things) an aspect of how an editor thinks, what an editor does (and doesn’t) respond to, the extent to which editors, sometimes, aren’t squarely “rational” in their decision-making process. After all, the only cliché (‘and the reason they’re clichés is that they’re true,’ right?) about editors more popular than “editors don’t edit anymore” is that “editors know jack-shit about business.”

Now before we make too much of the split between the creative impulse and the professional impulse, it’s worth remembering that two of the great poets of the 20th century—William Carlos Williams (physician) and Wallace Stevens (insurance)—were also accomplished in other arenas. The two universes you inhabit—the professional and the writerly—aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive; nor is it impossible for one to be equally adept at a spread-sheet and a word-processor.

But I caution you against believing you’ve got all the angles covered, because what you can’t count on—the constant variable in this confounded equation—is the peculiarities of taste and passion. Publishing is itself a profoundly contradictory industry. On one hand it increasingly demands a higher and higher rate of return, thus suggesting that it has become (as many have insisted it is already) something like an efficient engine of commerce. On the other hand, the products it produces are to a significant degree selected not according to objective studies of “market potentiality” but according to something infinitely more subjective: individual taste.

Regardless of what the industry’s critics contend, very few acquisitions decisions of books not wholly driven by publicity (e.g. celebrity bios) or certain niches (e.g. business books, cookbooks, self-help…) are determined by some mean-spirited marketing-department council. It’s true, of course, that editors sometimes fail to get sufficient in-house “support” for books they might have liked to acquire; in my experience, however, such books (one respondent called them "unwanted-by-the-marketing-department books”) are, in fact, books that the editor himself was either insufficiently passionate about, or for which the editor failed, finally, to demonstrate—above all, to himself—that he had a vision for how to publish it effectively.

[The “marketing department” excuse, by the way—I’ve used it too—is a conveniently amorphous non-entity that one uses in rejection letters because, well, one sometimes gets tired of saying the simple truth: it’s quite good, I liked it quite a lot, there’s no reason someone shouldn’t publish it, but it’s not going to be me because, in the end, I just didn’t feel strongly enough.]

Does this mean that editors always get to buy what their personal tastes/instincts dictate? No. Does this preclude the possibility that editors have a built-in marketing “radar” that, whether they’re conscious of it or not, immunizes them from “falling in love” with material they don’t believe they can sell? Absolutely not. (Contrary to prevailing wisdom, editors by and large have excellent marketing instincts.) So is there such a thing as an editor making a truly “marketing-free” judgment of a manuscript’s qualities? Probably not.

Nonetheless, I repeat: in the vast majority of cases, editors buy books principally because, to some degree or other, they fall in love with them. With something about them. Which is why [and now, at long last, I circle back to our Entrepreneur, whose fist is no doubt poised in much-longed-for retribution for my aforementioned cheap shot] the business-plan approach never—rarely—wins the day. I say this despite the fact that this very forum (if you’ll forgive my pretentious synonym for “blog”) was launched in the first place because of my own desire to figure out how the hell to market my own books more effectively. So the business plan model should appeal to me; a strong sense that the author knows his market should enhance a book’s appeal. And it does—

—but first I’ve got to fall in love. And I’m an editor—so I don’t fall in love with business plans. I fall in love with words, with strings of words that make elegant sentences and create vivid (beautiful, terrifying, crisp, tender, unforgettable) images in my mind, with sentences linked together in such a way as to tell me a story I can’t stop reading. Marketing moxie is added value; an author with an innate (or learned) sense of how to reach more readers is always a good thing; and I spend a fair portion of my professional life trying to school my authors in these instincts, if they don’t have them already.

But these things are not—for me, not ever—the first thing. The first thing, above all other things, is the writing itself. And that’s one variable that cannot be accounted for in a business plan.

So write the very best book you can. Leave the business plan in the drawer.


Anonymous said...

At last we turn our attention from wagging on about the tail, to our loving and loyal companion himself. As Max aptly points out, what indeed distinguishes between our best friend and… well, a dog? It’s a mystical, magical, inexplicable thing boys and girls. And I would venture it has nothing to do with a diamond studded collar.

There is nothing wrong, to be sure, in wanting to find a good home, in as many hands as possible, for the little darling that has stolen all those hours away from your family, your personal time, your reading time. But if you find, in writing your career-change vehicle, you were consciously blocking out scenes instead of subconsciously folding in themes, perhaps you should have been writing a screenplay (where you might then join the ranks of every man, and their dog, in Hollywood and NY).

If I had gone into writing as a career change, I wouldn’t have an argument for anyone who might suggest I hadn’t learned anything in my MBA. I might just as well have put all those long lonely hours into a home course in taxidermy; unless, that is, I am prepared to do the writerly work of bringing an inanimate thing to life on the page.

Attend a writing conference and you will be stunned at the numbers of writers who, while they may have “sold” their work, are not making anything like a living wage at writing.

Certainly writing is a job, and best viewed as one if you are going to find the discipline to sit in your solitary office day after day. If commuting in your slippers is the appeal, why not try consulting. Say… maybe you could write business plans for budding authors? That writing is a solitary business more suited to the socially inept or the mad than the pathologically outgoing (moi) is a reality, and a tough lesson for most who might fancy they have a book in them.

We’ve all seen the hype hype hyped books that fell flat on their faces. And the little treasures nobody ever could have predicted would be sent back, again and again, for their umpteenth reprint. Does the publishing world need James Pattersons? Well, they need the rattle in the register, to be sure. If only to allow them the latitude to take chances, risks, with untried authors whose material is less down-market, less mass-appeal; not so conspicuously commercial. In the same way as TV needs the Osbornes as well as the Sopranos, I suppose.

Yes, you can be a great champion of your own career, a shameless self-promoter (ahem). Can you be both that and a writer? I have had the great good fortune of a mentoring relationship with one of my genre’s most exalted writers. A man of considerable talent; first and foremost a storyteller. And in each of our exchanges of ideas and encouragement, there was some reference to *loving the work*. And you would only have to read his to know that he does. First comes the story, the craft, the telling… then the selling.

Anonymous said...

Walking down a rainy Seattle street to the PLA conference, wearing a costume that included a big hat, a long skirt and high top shoes, I wondered about my decision to actively market my books. When I felt my tights begin a downward slide, and squinted to make out the convention center blocks away, and my writing partner, similarly garbed only taller, said there are no convenience stores or gas stations around here, I decided that making a spectacle of myself among librarians, book sellers, agents and other writers was one thing --doing it on a public street was something else again. To prevent the inevitable I learned a new skill--waddling with my knees pressed together. You can't just step out of your tights if you are wearing hightop shoes. I managed to duckwalk the distance, eliminate the problem in a ladies room and go on to sign books and talk up the fascinating history of women in the old west. From that conference came a long mailing list of librarians interested in learning about our new books and getting more information about books already in print. My publisher has that list too, because two women in big hats attracted attention to their books at a conference for librarians. We know that, beyond the intitial press release, not much will be done by the publicity department with that list -- so we do it ourselves.
Yes, we invest our own money and time in the effort: we love our subject matter, we love telling the stories on paper and in person, and we love getting a royalty check that almost covers our costs. Some day we expect to earn more than we have so far with the first four books-- that's one of our goals -- the main thing, however, is telling the stories. But what's the point of that if only a handful of people ever read them? Writers need to do marketing -- but their biz plan should include only the things that they get a charge out of doing, because its the excitement and enthusiasm that sells the product. The passion needed to research/write/sell a book to a publisher is the thing to tap when editors and writers discuss marketing. Caution: not all editors are equally excited by that discussion. Our editor(s)have encouraged us, but we get tight smiles and grudging cooperation from others...which is why we do it ourselves.

Kevin Wignall said...

All true. I go back to my guerilla warfare analogy. The best military mind is no use at all if the cause isn't worth fighting for. The cause always has to come first.

Anonymous said...

I almost created a blogger account to post as myself, then I was reminded of the fact that authors themselves need to be cautious when they start discussing what's right and wrong with the industry for fear of retaliation.

Sort of like Hollywood. Mel Gibson notwithstanding, most conservatives in Hollywood are silent because they fear being blacklisted.

So I'm posting anonymously. I have a fabulous agent who has always cautioned me to be careful in discussions with people because things can be taken out of context. And in my former profession, before devoting myself full-time to writing, I learned that not everyone has your best interests at heart.

This is the crux of the problem as I see it. I'm a newbie, and in that role still learning and a novice when it comes to the publishing arena. I have books coming out in a year and I have great support from my editor and agent, but sometimes I worry that if I speak up with ideas or suggestions for how to market my books or me they'll look at me and think, "Hmmm, this is a new writer trying to tell us what to do and we've been launching careers for decades?"

That's one reason I love this forum. Maybe the powers-that-be will read ideas and come up with some of their own. Maybe some of the editors will think to ask their authors their opinion. I have some ideas for my own books and I'll end up biting the bullet and running them through my agent because if I don't, I know I'll regret it, especially if my books tank.

I don't necessarily think that there's an adversarial relationship between authors and editors, though I have heard of them from other authors. I have a good, developing relationship with my editor, but it's NEW and therefore we're both feeling our way around, trying to figure out how each of us work without stepping on toes. If that makes any sense.

I'm willing to put in TIME to promote my books, but I'll have very little money to do so. Even with a decent advance, I still have a family to support.

I've done the basics -- I have a website (which I paid for myself before I even got my advance) and am collecting email addresses. I have personal stationary to write thank you notes, congratulations, etc. I'm trying to build a presence in the writing community, as well as reaching out to readers -- which, BTW, is very hard when your book is not out yet. I am a member of writing organizations and try to keep involved. I subscribe to industry publications and keep on top of the business end as best I can.

If my agent suggests I hire a publicity person, I'll consider it--but it does come down to cost-benefit. Like Mad Max said in one of his posts, everything can go right pre-pub -- the editor loves the book, marketing loves the book, beautiful cover, great reviews -- and flop.

I'm willing to take risk, but not to the extent where I would risk being able to feed my kids and pay my mortgage.

Mad Max, what's YOUR opinion about how much an author -- particularly a new author -- should do to promote their book? Can giving time (which has a cost) be as effective as spending money on whatever new marketing scheme someone comes up with? And shouldn't an author wait until they know exactly what their publisher is going to do, and find the best way to compliment it?

And what do you think we can do -- authors AND editors AND agents -- to bridge the gap between us? I trust my agent explicitly with my career goals, and I trust my editor explicitly with my book (my revision letter was fantastic), and I trust me to meet deadlines. But I feel there's this gap -- maybe because everyone is so busy that there doesn't seem any downtime to talk.

Does that even make sense?

For what it's worth, I write commercial fiction -- I know there are different problems for those who write literary fiction that I might not necessarily have. But at the same time, I feel I have more pressure because if a literary book sells 5K copies it's a "hit", and I'd be dumped so fast I'd be lucky if my emails didn't start bouncing to my editor.

Kevin Wignall said...

In response to the previous poster, firstly, good luck. Secondly, I remember a survey of airline pilots which asked them what was the most terrifying noise during a flight - their answer was "silence". So it is pre-publication for your first book. If things fall silent, get on to your agent/editor and start asking them how things are going. If you simply wait to see what the publisher is doing (as I did with my first book in the UK) it will be too late to do anything by the time you find out the book is in trouble.

Anonymous said...

As an unpublished novelist, I've followed this discussion with great interest. It seems like a writer has to take control of his or her own destiny and participate in the marketing process. At least you can say to yourself that you did everything you could to advance your writing career, whatever the outcome.

I would never call myself a marketing guru, but I've worked in marketing for parts of my career, and I think these points are salient:

1. The writing has to come first.

2. The effort has to be sincere, or people will perceive its falseness.

3. It has to be coordinated with the publisher's marketing efforts, however meager.

4. The effort has to be strategic and not tatical. And it's not always about money. Several writers criticized the concept, saying that they couldn't afford advertising or hiring a publicist. It's really not about that, although it could be. It's about figuring out who you are and then determining the best way to present yourself to the public. Writing thank you notes or participating in online forums are marketing strategies, and they don't cost a lot to do.

5. The goal has to be realistic, in terms what you want to accomplish, but also knowing that you could fail at it. My goal better be different than someone who's an established midlist writer or is one of the names atop the NYT list. We might think we know what the public will want, but we really don't. Failure is always a possibility, despite everyone's best efforts.

A book isn't a tube of toothpaste, but I think that's why we're in this business (or in my case, want to be). I'm sure the thrill is like nothing else, when everyone's hunches pay off, and despite the difficulties in getting a book to fruition, you have something that you're proud of and that people buy in significant numbers.

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this discussion.

Anonymous said...

This probably belongs in part one, but my advise to your businessman would be to hire a pr firm to supplement the house's publicity efforts - or offer to cover the cost of buying lists for your publicist.

Ads follow publicity - if you get a national hit and start selling books, your publisher will probably pony up the cash for and ad. But if you buy an ad in a vacuum you will be disappointed.

As for websites, don’t spend anything building them - spend money driving traffic to them.

And write a good book. Blah Blah Blah.

Ami said...


As a writer, I can't let thoughts of marketing plans cloud the process. The minute I even think about 'writing to the market', it all turns to crap.

That's not to say I won't do my darnest to connect with readers when my novel is launched. (face to face, on the web, my picture on the jacket flap, etc.) I believe in my art but I also believe (and hope) that my words will create an ongoing dialogue with others (my agent, my editor, and then, most importantly - anyone who picks up my book.)

Whether writers like it or not, there's a choice to be made - to write to the market or to the muse. I covered this topic on my blog a few months ago and I'll leave you with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that I included in that post.

“Don't worry about getting into the profession- Write anyway, to make your soul grow. That's what the practice of any art is. It isn't to make a living, it's to make your soul grow.
"Don't trim your sails to every wind. Just go ahead and write and see what happens. Don't look at the market. Don't look at the bestseller lists to see what's selling. You have to write what you write or get out of the business."

For the full post see:

Anonymous said...

To Kevin -- great advice. I'll keep it in mind as my pub date (still more than a year off) gets closer. I can be pushy when I want to be.

Someone blogged that whatever the author does needs to compliment the publisher, and this sounds like great advice.

Another person blogged about promoting yourself. Isn't it difficult (unless you're writing non-fiction as an expert or are a celebrity writer or already branded as a NYTBS) to promote YOU as an author? Isn't is all about the book?

Anonymous said...

Hello. Mr. Entrepreneur here. I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur, as I’ve never owned a business. I think of myself as a businessman. Beyond that, I’ll leave the details alone. But I’ll use Mr. Entrepreneur to identify myself on this blog.

I knew I’d rattle cages with my comments. What I didn’t expect was the quick attention to issues of craft. I probably should have said in my original post something like, “It goes without saying that the story comes first and foremost.” But that isn’t true. It DOESN’T go without saying. I hear you loud and clear, and I agree. I won’t try to convince you that my story is good, any more than I’ll try to convince an agent it would make a great movie. It’s pointless to try. But I do hear you, I really do.

I liked MJ’s comments and would like to add to them.

M.J. said:

“…one of the biggest issues about all this is that the person who can write is not necessarily the person who can promote or think like a marketer.”

And the converse is true, as many have drilled into me. Both are necessary parts of the publishing business. Authors can choose to stay out of the business side of it, concentrating on the creative aspects, and that’s fine. I originally wrote my comments because I enjoy the business aspects too…and I have extra money to piss away. :)

“Is this good? Is this really what we want? I don't mind running the class but I am scared by some of its implications.”

Not sure that it’s good OR bad. It’s another choice that authors have to increase their odds of getting published. But there are other implications too…

The publishing industry goes in cycles just as everything else in the world. In recent times we’ve seen a shift: fewer publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts, agents play a greater roll, and more is asked of authors (on both sides of the business/creative equation). Is this a good thing?

I think it is a good thing. Right now publishing is not a growth industry. In general, people would prefer television, a movie, or a video game to a good book. I personally believe that will change during the next decade or so, and the cycle will shift to books again. Our current “tight ship” forces writers to improve their craft. It also forces them to do a better job reaching their readers. That’s good, though painful.

I personally believe it is incumbent upon all of us (writers, agents, editors, publishers, distributors, booksellers, etc.) to reach out to readers. I read a blog recently (was it yours, MJ?) where someone talked about how great books are, but most people haven’t been properly introduced. It’s our job to reach out…TOGETHER. So when I see in-fighting it really disturbs me. I deliberately stirred the pot with my original post to create awareness and get people thinking about some issues. I had no desire to create enemies. I apologize to those that were especially rankled by my words. We need to come together. We need to focus on our common love of books. Only then will we reach and develop readers.

“That's the crisis. The best writers are not necessarily the best promoters.”

Yes. And we need to either find a way to help those authors, teach them how to promote their own books as MJ does, or find an alternative. We can debate it all we wish, but times are changing. Publishers have to concentrate more on the bottom line, cutting costs and maximizing their profit margin, and we need to find alternative that give each book its proper attention.

I'd like to see the formation of a writer’s foundation, to train and support debut authors (the business side, not craft...there are already many writing workshops available). I see it working this way: after a writer receives a contract with a legitimate publisher (to be defined later), accepted applicants receive training and resources (process undefined). Grants could be awarded for promotion efforts. Heck, I can see a multitude of areas where we could help fledgling writers (like me). I’m sure we already do this in a variety of ways, but without the concentrated effort…without the BACKING of everyone in the business. We need to pull together.

If I can establish credibility in this industry (yet to be seen…I hear ya), I’ll gladly approach the publishing houses, established authors, and booksellers to help fund such a foundation. A tough sell? Maybe. But I believe we all have a common ground: we love books. I think King, Grisham, Koontz, Roberts, et al could be convinced. It’s worth a shot anyway. Ditto for the publishing houses and other players.

I also see a great benefit to having a super-duper “Read More” campaign. I see plenty of smaller campaigns, typically run by non-profit literacy groups. They have the right idea, and I’d like to see a bigger umph! I’ll be happy when we see attention paid to books like we see for a movie release. Books deserve that attention. But it won’t happen until we reach the readers. I’m talking about those readers that don’t read – never had to and never wanted to. They’re missing out, but if they could only see…

So this is my soapbox story for today. Comments?

Anonymous said...

Thank you MJ Rose for your very thoughtful post. I think we desperately need a discussion about the questions you raise, especially the last one: "What are we doing to our authors when we make them into salesmen too?"

We also need to discuss what kind of books we will have if the only authors publishers want are those who are good at promotion. This is already true in non-fiction, where the question of an author's sales "platform" is usually as important as his or her subject matter. Do we want the same kind of criteria used in fiction? It's one thing to reject the old world image of the writer as cloistered artiste; it's quite another to decide that writing doesn't require some distance from the marketplace. What if the book is critical of buying and selling and corporate values? What if the writer rejects the vision of himself as an extension of the publisher, with the only goal to sell as many books as possible?

Of course authors want to find readers, but it is very short-sighted to assume that promotion is the only or even the best way to find an audience. Improving as writers might be a better way, but that assumes the publisher will give an author time to grow his or her readership. This is something worth fighting for, as authors and readers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Max:

I have only discovered your website, and I find it smart, honest and a brisk treat.

I note today that you say: "...editors buy books principally because, to some degree or other, they fall in love with them..."

As well as national arts editor for Canada's largest chain of papers, I'm also a well-produced screenwriter with credits in film, TV, animation and radio. I've kept my foot in both journalism and creative writing, and I consider this the best of both worlds. One info-rich environment feeds and inspires the other.

What people forget is story, story and story nowadays. You can't fall in love with a marketing plan. You can only fall in love with the people on the
page/stage/screen and how well their hearts beat, how hot their blood flows and how they overcome the extraordinary shit of living.

I lose my mind when I hear folks think that marketing can sell anything to anyone. If you've got no story -- you've got nothing to market. Punto.

Anyways, I'm now writing a couple of novels and I hope to make editors fall in love with them. If I do, then I'll worry about the hawking of the goods.

Warmest regards,


Arts, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Canadian News Desk, CanWest News Service

Karen Junker said...

Good point, Mr. Entrepreneur...

We actually did what you suggest. Writer's Weekend is not only a writing conference, but we're also a community of writers, editors, agents and other industry professionals who believe in sharing what we know to help each other. We value self-promotion. Nearly one third of our alumni have been published or contracted in book-length fiction within a few months of our events. We have large publishers as well as small and e-book publishers among our credits.

and Anonymous - yes, there is a lot you can do to promote your book before it's released. One of the Writer's Weekend writers started telling people about her book long before it was finished. She sold it a couple of months after our conference. She has a web site, does speaking engagements at writing conferences, she chats in online writer and reader groups. She met fantasy author Jacqueline Carey while she was here and Jacqueline blurbed her book - this is not at all a bad thing.

And whoever it was who said booksignings and other appearances don't sell books - that may be so, but I think it depends on what you're trying to accomplish. In the case of one fantasy Young Adult author for whom we did publicity there was a new surge of interest in her work. Her appearances brought out fans in the hundreds and thousands. Would she have sold those few thousand books that month without that tour? We can never know. But I'll never forget the look on the faces of those adoring young fans as they lined up with boxes full of books to be signed by their favorite author.

For myself, I don't even write under my own name. Also, I write material that has an appeal mostly to a niche market, so my book is out at Triskelion Publishing, an e-book publisher. My editor called me a week after my book was released to say I'd better start writing more of those stories, they're selling much faster than they expected. She was confused, because I hadn't even been on Triskelion's website promoting my book. What I did was target my readers and let them know about the book in a way that caused some 'buzz', as MJ Rose might say.

People who promote themselves sell more books than people who do not, it's that simple. If you're pre-published, you can still do a lot to get the notice of those people who are going to fall in love with your book. One of them might even be an acquiring editor.

Karen Junker, Director

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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."