TODAY’S BREW: Double Chocolate Something Or Other Who Cares Just Bring Me More
Wednesday night, Kristen and I crashed the Mystery Writers of America meeting. Out of place doesn’t begin to describe us there, but we made friends fast and these folks have wine and chocolate. We successfully Twitter stalked one of our most favorite people there, literary agent Eric Ruben, Esq., a man who has more charisma packed into several high profile occupations and stair master mastery than you could probably pack into one of those things.
Eric was talking about the state of the publishing industry, and I was excited to hear what I knew would be a unique take on it. I was not disappointed. Eric always speaks of publishing as being part of the entertainment industry, which at first seems a little….wrong. You read for entertainment, I certainly write for entertainment, but don’t we do these things to escape the noise of television, loud, often bad, music, movie titles that explode when read out loud, and just people in general? True, but writers are just like any other celebrity that entertains us. We want a connection with them. We’ll read anything our favorite novelist writes, won’t we? Just like watching every crappy movie that your favorite actor puts out when they can afford to do so. It’s the reason we watched Angel after the last season of Buffy, and why Joss Whedon is a household name.
We want to spend time with these characters and the minds that created them.
Simon R. Green is my favorite author. I read everything he writes, even if a series isn’t particularly my favorite. I search for him on Twitter, facebook, want to see more from the man behind the world he created. No longer is an author someone who can hide behind being an introverted shut-in that occasionally graces a book signing or interview. Not when Stephenie Meyer is making cameos in Twilight movies. An author needs to have a public face, make connections, and make nice with the public.
Like all the other forms of show biz, publishing is the last domino to fall to technology. It isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving, like radio, TV, movies, music. A recording artist needs to have a song played something like 100,000 times on Spotify to make the same money as having it played once on the radio. You can DVR any TV show you like and watch it commercial free with the same technology that allows you to never have to go to the movies again and squeeze your ass into a rock hard chair for two hours. And publishing is the same. The ninety nine cent book is part of the package of self-publishing, and advances with traditional publishing are often non-existent with the promise of higher royalties on the flip side. These are stepping stones in a form of entertainment that has stifled itself with narrow views of the industry.
As disheartening as it is that book stores are disappearing by the hour, all while writers seem to be popping up out of the woodwork, literary agents are still offering representation and making deals with publishers. Eric Ruben, Esq. has other options, and yet still pursues this one avidly. These are the two overriding reasons I came away with:
“The current issues in publishing are not permanent. The thing that scares people is uncertainty.”
Nobody knows what’s happening next for publishing, including the Big Six. A writer writes not to be published, but because the need to write. As long as the writer still exists as an artist, there will be call for publishing. Art history changes every day, but art doesn’t ever go away. It changes, reflects the society that produced it. Publishing and writing will only become obsolete if they don’t do the same. Leading me to….
“No matter what the changes to publishing, the most important thing is to write a great book.”
Technology will change, but a great book won’t. Write great characters that readers want to spend time with, that can sustain a series. Identify your voice and make your work something that nobody else can write. Write the book that needs to be written by you.
You have Eric Ruben, Esquire’s take on things, with my frenzied runoff at the mouth now. After this, we went out for BBQ and beer.
Follow Eric Ruben, Esq. @RubenAgency on Twitter.