Saturday, April 09, 2005


This is a great time to be a writer... either fiction or non. There are more publishers than ever. There is more media access than ever. There are emerging nations of new readers looking for material. There are more places to market intellectual property. Indeed, there is more opportunity than ever before for a writer or an artist, musician.... even poets... if they know a little about lyrics.

Why do you think there are so many people wanting to write... or "trying" to write? My take is because they see an opportunity to "make it."

How else does an unknown woman writer, on welfare (the dole) in the UK end up with more money than the royal family?

Where do four guys from Liverpool end up changing an entire culture?

Where does the 'good stuff' that we have come from? More importantly, why is there so little 'good stuff."

What I have said for years and years and years is that a major problem we have in our society is that we don't have many GOOD writers or GOOD artists. You can debate the hell out of this, but bottom line so much of the stuff that we are presented with is plain old unadulterated crap.

Write something really good. I mean really, really, really good (a Death of A Salesman, a Caine Mutiny, a Lord of the Rings, a Kill a Mockingbird, a What Color is your Parachute, a Grapes of Wrath, a Zen and Motorcycle Maint., or any of your favorite books) and if you work hard at it and do all you can to get it noticed, you will have A GOOD CHANCE for a huge success. I truly believe that. Hey. It works for 'pulp.' So why won't it work for 'quality.' John Grishem sold books out of the trunk of his car. He WORKED FOR IT. Most of his stuff is 'pulp.' How many writers are willing to really WORK for it like John did?

I don't believe that our society does NOT recognize quality. It's that we see so little of it from our "creative" intellectuals. It's a hell of a lot easier to write "another" murder mystery than something that takes some real "creativity".... like what a Hemingway or a Wouk might produce.

These are great times to be a writer or an artist or a musician. And because of it, everyone and their dog thinks they can be one... and the majority of them are just plain terrible. Thus, we are deluged with crap.

I've heard it time and time again that there are no 'quality" creative people in this "era". I don't know. But I don't for a minute buy the argument that it is TOTALLY our 'society to blame.' We're all here and when quality is presented to us (The Beatles, Rowling, Woodward, Miller, Williams, Vorst, etc.) we buy it.

It has been said that to have great writers we need to have great readers. Who reads today? When? I know the answer. It's people over 40 when they are on a plane. And that's about it in any numbers.

So we have few readers who are reading crap produced by the major "New York" publishers. The whole system is broken. Why? Because so few people see reading as an enjoyable pastime... and those who DO read are urged to read crap. It's that mass media at work. The lowest common denominator.

The solution is easy. We not only have to "sell" people on reading (as opposed to TV, GameBoy, etc.) but we also NEED quality content... and if the content is out there, I sure as hell don't know where it is coming from. All I see is crap.

It's true. The bestseller lists are for the most part crap. The hype is crap. Most of the 'airplane' books are crap. What is promoted by the mass media is crap.

Why is this true? Simple. It's because those who publish quality works, don't work hard enough to get it into the mainstream. They just don't. The publishers who have good 'stuff' either don't know or don't care enough to build a readership.

Moan and groan all you want about how "good works" don't get sold. Then show me the "effort" made on the part of those creators to get them sold and I'll tell you again that the only place where success comes before work... is in the dictionary.

Why are the 'evil' big publishers able to sell so much crap to those left who still read? Because the small press... the purveyors of so many very good books, either don't know how to market them, or they don't want to work that hard. I don't know the answer but I do know that as an industry where small publishers make up at least 60% of the available content, that they can all do a better job in publishing better works and working harder to get them sold.

And the first thing they can do is to stop publishing crap. And the second thing they can do is to work like hell to get the mega-corp-owned media to take some notice. This is NOT easy. The communication conglomerates want to push their own crap. But they also need listeners and eyeballs. Your job is to get these guys to realize that your books and the publicity around those books can CREATE a BUZZ and bring the media what they want... ears and eyeballs.

This is not rocket science... but it takes a fair amount of awareness on the part of publishers that seems to be lost on most of them.

It all comes down to two simple principles. Don't buy crap. Don't publish crap.