Monday, November 26, 2007

Nobody's keeping you from being published

Spend fifteen minutes on any given day perusing literary or writers' blogs and you're sure to find someone yammering about commercial fiction being "safe" and literary fiction being exciting and edgy. In a powerful post over at Galleycat, Ron Hogan neatly sweeps up those tired assumptions and puts them out with the trash. He then offers this challenge to whiney writers who believe "literary" writers face dismal odds of getting published because books by hacks and sellouts who write what the masses are clamoring to read* are hogging all the shelf space:

...any number of independent presses abound, catering to all points on the aesthetic and ideological spectrum. And, frankly, the ease with which anybody can self-publish these days means that no author can use a lack of interest from publishers as an excuse any more. If getting your uncomfortable message out to the world and forcing it to think and react means that much to you, stop waiting for somebody else to do you a favor and publish the book yourself.

Is that a hard path? Yes. And the odds are good that you won't make a lot of money at it, especially if you're a quitter. So you have to ask yourself: Is your message so important that you'd be willing to give over a huge chunk of your life to getting it out? And if you can't say "yes," then why should you expect anybody else to care about your book either?

Go read the whole post. It's brief and very much to the point. Good stuff.

* The smart-alecky romance novelist in me insisted on italicizing those words


bubba35 said...

I saw this and just had to chuckle because so much about the written word is attitude.

Anonymous said...

Mainstream books = entertainment
Literary books = work

Most people want to be entertained, not think deeply about each and every page.

The same is true about films. The movies that tend to make the most money are popcorn fare...not those that deal with heavy subject matter.

There was a movie back in the 30s or early 40s about a newspaper man who wanted to write a story that mattered--Pulitzer Prize winning stuff. He went undercover as a hobo and ended up in a world of trouble. Eventually, he ended up in prison for one reason or another. There was a movie night at a nearby church, from what I remember. The movie was a fluff piece. A comedy. And the audience laughed. They forgot about their lot in life and laughed and enjoyed themselves. It was then that this newspaper man realized entertainment had far more value than the elite knew.

Most people want to escape from life through film and books. And it will always be this way. And those that entertain should be proud of themselves for giving people a way to escape from their real lives--even if only for an hour or two.

DebMc said...

I have to chuckle over these attitudes of popular fiction and true literary...ahem...genius.

Add a little time, say a century or two, to a work and it becames a heck of a lot more 'literary.' Shakespeare was more like the Stephen King or Stephen Spielberg of his day than SHAKESPEARE. Not only did he have to appeal to the royalty of his time, but to the unwashed masses.

Dickens was the equivilent of a soap writer, doling out his emotional stories in increments.

Romance and puopular fiction writers can 'preach' on a number of subjects in their work. Who's to say someone's life might by influence by what an author--even a romance author--wrote.

Keep writing. Have FUN!