Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Daily Dose of Depression -- The Literary Market Place


Here’s what it’s come to in the literary/quasi-literary world of writers and book publishing:
The problem is this: except for the most ego-driven or ego-protected among us, it's an unnatural position for most writers. We like working in pajamas. We like watching sentences unfold as ideas unfurl. We don't like shaking our booties.

But to sell, we must.

This is the uncomfortable truth. If you want to follow your fantasy of writing and publishing, then you gotta shake that booty. You must learn how to sell without appearing crazed -- because nobody likes the snake oil man. You must swallow your pride and put it out there--Look, I wrote a book! Want to buy it? -- without coming across as greedy, crazed, or so entranced by yourself that people back away in horror. . . .

Randy Susan Meyers – From Writing Quietly to Screaming "Buy Me!" -- Promoting a Book

GO HERE for full article.
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Yes, Econ 101 does establish that selling and buying happen in a kind of market.  And  as we have learned from the Bush Depression, the accepted  practices of this market come with heavy, heavy costs. There's no free "magic" in the market. I happen to hate seeing our literary culture purveying and investing in derivatives and sub prime loans.

Here’s my modestly-snobbish, modestly-arrogant, position on author/artists serving as their own sales agents.  I think it hurts their art.  Conglomerate publishers/toady editors/dollar signs-for-eyes agents are constantly drumming out the advice: “You must write for the market.”  That’s inspiring, isn’t it?  And now these same bottom-line guys/gals insist that author/artists also become drummers!   Doesn’t this all go to core questions of what literature, the true ‘product” (ugh!) of  creative work,  is all about?

I’m trying not to be hard on those writers who feel they have a book in them, be it a formulaic harlequin or a formulaic memoir.  Run it through the word processor, send it up the flagpole, twitter it around the blogosphere.  If you win the lottery, good for you.  But if the literary culture in this country is going to turn out MFA’s in creative writing like hot cross buns, I would hope they have more integrity than the MBA’s which dumped our economy into the sewers of the Magic Market.  Selling has its price.  There’s even a popular phrase for it: “selling out.”

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