Via the Fantastical Andrew Fox: a far-reaching essay on the current state of literature (I’d say “publishing” but it’s so much more than that), where it’s going, and what it means for us ink-stained wretches who slave over our keyboards. It’s a long read but well worth it.
A couple of quick excerpts:
For the overwhelming majority of midlist writers, those without a history of best-selling books and those without a pre-existing “platform” of fame and public recognition, traditional publication by a large publishing house will be (and, for the most part, already is) a fading dream, a “winning the lottery” type of event. Most of us are simply going to have to do a whole lot more of the business end of things ourselves, if we hope to attain any presence in the literary marketplace. By the business end, I mean publicity, reader outreach, editing, and book design.
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I think many writers enjoy helping other writers. I think this is so because writers were readers before they ever became writers, and thus learned to cherish other writers, and because writing is a solitary, lonely business and many writers hunger for a community of their fellow enthusiasts. I think as it becomes more and more crucial for us to assume greater responsibilities for the business side of our writing careers, it behooves the more successful among us to help our less fortunate, less resource-endowed fellow writers to pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps. Because we will benefit as readers and potentially as business people, and because creating community is a source of joy and fulfillment.
Yes. In a sense we’re all in competition with each other, but I don’t think most of us see it that way. Readers are always looking for good books, and they’re always looking for that one that hits the perfect notes – the one that makes the reader think “I must have this book”. Might be something of mine, then again it might not be. More power to ’em. Every single “name” writer I’ve been in contact with has been tremendously helpful, and I fully intend to follow in their footsteps. This is a tough business to break into, though it’s admittedly easier with e-publishing to a certain point…once your work’s out there, it’s all you, buddy. Be prepared to endure the slings and arrows, because we each stand or fall on our own talents.