Wednesday, December 20, 2006

POD Post. Skip if you're bored with the topic.

Since starting this blog, I've been insulted in many, many ways. I've been called incompetent, immoral, and lazy. I've been labeled as "too young" (because 25-year-olds halfway through their graduate degree in fiction are definitely too young to be reading whole pages of words), "untrained" (because there's a school for reading query letters), and a "virgin" (okay, that one's true). My spelling is bad (because there's no such thing as typos on the internet, especially during late-night posts). I've sold my soul to the publishing industry because I enjoy butter (actually, like any good Jewish girl, it's cream cheese with dairy and margarine with meat. Haha! I ruined your metaphor!).

I'm sure it's a coincidence that roughly 99.999981% of the people lodging these complaints admit to being writers with unsellable POD books. In the brief moments where clarity hits me, I try to stifle my laughter. Then I go back to quietly holding back the obvious comment here. As everyone knows, if you couldn't sell your coming-of-age yarn to any publishing house because all 100 of the agents you queried rejected you for some reason with a form letter, this is a sure sign of your unqualified genius. I also work at all 100 of these agencies thanks to my wayback machine, so clearly I'm entirely to blame. It was not 100 people independently making the decision that your work sucked, or was at the very least not marketable. And what do they know? All they do is analyze, edit, and sell novels for a living. That's not any kind of professional qualification! Fortunately you read this one article on this one place online about how the publishing industry is totally corrupt and the article validated all of your beliefs. You were not a fool for giving iUniverse $300 for like 25 copies of your novel. Someday, when all of the great houses of publishing are torn down by the independent thinks of the internet, your buddy list will replace the people on those committees and your Pulitzer will be in the mail. Thank you, interweb!

And now we come to the subject of Meika. I have to say, I've never met a guy like Meika. He's an old-fashioned good sport. He puts his work on my blog to be torn to shreds, and even after I make comments and then even a post where I outright insult him and tell him to stop writing, he emails me politely and praises my blog. Talk about rolling with the punches. Meika, you are a great guy. Your incomprehensible writing has been amusing to many of us, but when it comes right down to it, you're just a nice guy. Also, thanks for giving me permission to post the rant you sent to me and also posted on someone else's blog.

What's important with the new techonologies of the web, it's not that
filtering is not needed, for it's more needed than ever.

What is important is that the slushpile (the entire web?) is available to all who enquire. If large Publishing houses only recruit slush readers from certain universities then it is only they who benefit from the slushpile experience.

I don't know where this rumor got started that agencies and publishing houses go over to the IVY league schools and recruit people. Generally the entry-level people are a bunch of people with BAs in useless things like English or History (I was History) who spent a year slacking off before realizing they might need to do something with their lives or their parents would take away their PS2, so they went out and applied to stuff on Craigslist and got an unpaid internship somewhere. You know, like basically everyone else who graduates from college in almost any field that's not pre-med. Yes, there are internships for students, and for obvious reasons, these internships are handed out mainly to students who go to school in Manhattan, because, well, the office is in Manhattan. I know some Columbia interns, some NYU interns, someone from Hunter College. It's all location.

And then get snarky on the nitwits who end up heading for the slushpile, mostly because they have no experience there.

See, if you try and connect this sentence with the previous ones that he wrote, it implies that the nitwits who read the slushpile are making fun of the nitwits who are reading the slush pile, both of whom are by association the same person, then we all are just insulting ourselves and we all don't have experience doing the thing we're doing, even though we're doing it and getting experience.

This may or may not result in guild like
restrictions on entry into the trade. Not having been there I do not

Actually, if you join the AAR, you get a discount at the merchant's guild, the mercenary guild, and 20% off potions at the Mage's guild, and man are those potions expensive. Can a sister get a life potion here? Now? My elf friend is dying!

Now, the slushpile contains mistakes, its the process of rejecting
these that leads to the production of better work. In fact it is the
rejection more than selection that creates all our cultural
artifacts. (My very special philosophy is the life work of Mary
Douglas, so its not my personal one, mmmkay)

??? No, seriously, that's my whole response.

With the web its 'availability' of the slushpile, the juvenilia
(cough cough) and the cranks which changes the whole show. Not the
crap itself. This availability will directly affect the means of
production, which in publishing is actually publicity and control of
the author's name (brand).

I've made several reads through this and what I think he's trying to say is that if everyone just publishes everything all the time using the internet, we will realize that a lot of people are crappy writers and make decisions for ourselves. That or we will all become communists. Either one.

Now that more people can pick and choose and critique from the slush
there can be more approaches, more editing, and more conversations,
like this one. This conversation on this blog is part of the evidence
in support of my very special thesis. That is what other have said
about Web 2, I am merely applying it in the area of books and
writing, which appear to have the most hidebound voices in the arts.
(I'll return to that in response to self promotion).

Yes, there is something "very special" about your thesis.

I am not saying that therefore everyone should do this, nor am I
saying that this magically makes everyone good, nor even interesting,
but things have changed. The publishing houses have lost control of the slushpile.

I know! It just grew and grew and now it's actually gained self-awareness and lobbied for its own desk and zip code. As soon as it reaches the side of the room with the computer, we're all doomed. John Connor, save us!

And books like my "Doric Column" of old juvenilia will pop up before the
solution of an arch is arrived at. My book is not the solution, its
part of the conversation that will find solutions.

??? Not the grandstanding; the part about the arch. Does it have something to do with columns? Is this an architectural argument?

Indeed I have used this little gem of insight into the new domain to
structure my SF book .before Country. It takes place on a world
called Country built out of a slushpile of manuscripts, mostly pre-
Raphaelite, and earnest Hippies' blogs wishing to go back to nature.
I used to think of it as a library but the slushpile metaphor works a
lot better. Why use this? Perhaps because real life is more like a slushpile than
great literature.

Yes, that is true. Real life is actually quite boring and poorly-planned, without proper climaxes and conclusions to storylines. You're better off with the great literature.

But they are also near the publishers because audiences don't want to be the filters. True, Yes, yea verily.

Meika, I love you. That said, you are an insane person.

This is indeed true, and will continue to be true even as it changes (as been described above). I am not saying everyone will like it, and the process itself actually relies on what people 'do not like', so it obviously is going to take a while. Many do not like change.

Many people also don't like reading bad fiction. I think this is where my job comes in, to actually keep people from having to do that. Or am I just arguing semantics?

Also, after my recent experience on the interslush I may discover I am a better editor (or something) than a writer with a photoshop filter dodge-burning German sentence structure into my bipolar-narcissitic poetic style. (Say, that means I am likely just a second rate Nietzsche).

I think you would do well in an MFA program. By the way, that was an insult. On you or MFA programs? You decide.

The web is a mass of opportunities, simply restating past processes and past succesful models (and I do not disagree with their success, nor do I think they are evil or something) in the face of the change does not mean that change will not occur (or be evil or something). Self-Promotion Publishers promote. They generate publicity. They make things public. This completes the writing circle and completes the craft. (That slushpile is the key there).

Can you draw out this circle? Or make a flowcart or something? Because I'm a little confused here.

Self-publishers must also promote, thus as they are promoting themselves. They will be guilty of self-promotion. Case closed.

I hated that anime. You saw one episode, you saw them all. It was so formulaic. And how was Conan always just finding bodies everywhere? Tokyo must have an insanely high murder rate. Plus there was that creepy episode where the dentist drugged the kid so that she could commit a murder while she was asleep and have a perfect alibi...

[more cut for time and my sanity]

Now, even if I am crap, and no doubt about it, consensus here is near universal (never a good sign if your part of the herd by the way) if any part of my self-promotion helps create that culture for writers, then I have done a good thing. And that is why I posted at the rejector, not becuase I thought my crank writing are/were good, but because the new processes are going to slowly dissolve the publishing houses current methods.

"Send editors nothing, I say, and agents less."

"Something something something ... poor, huddled masses, yearing to breathe free ... something something ... et tu, Brute?" I'm not good at rote memorization. I'm glad I don't live in Qing Dynasty China.

Reclaim the slush!

You know what? You can have it.

Otherwise you'll just drown in your own shit and you'll never get better unless someone picks you out of it. Its a predicament and self-promotion is an act of agency rather than, yet again, choosing to be a victim. Get used to it.

Dude, she was not a victim. She totally led that rejection pile on, what with her clothing and her hair and those high heels and the I-don't-know-what's...

Kids these days! Honestly!

The ReganBooks Fallout

Unless you lived in a hole last month, you're aware that OJ Simpson wrote a book about "how he would have killed his wife." There might have been a little moral ambiguity there, considering his wife is dead and he most likely killed her. Still, it would have sold really well.

The thing that made this media story even more complex was that it actually began with Judith Regan, the head of the ReganBooks imprint at Harpercollins, being interviewed and saying that she "considered it his confession." Or at least, that's how I first heard about this nonesense, because I don't have television and get my news online.

By the end of it, Judith was fired, allegedly for "anti-Semitic remarks." Now it's somewhat known in the industry that she has a bit of a mouth on her, which is a much lesser charge than being an anti-Semite. The general consensus among ... my boss ... is that she probably would have kept her job if she kept her mouth shut and let it blow over, but she didn't, and so she's gone.

... Which is a problem. Reganbooks isn't just Judith Regan - a lot of people work there and a lot of authors have contracts with it, not all of them ex-athletes who did drugs and/or killed their wives. My boss currently has a second book option about to expire with ReganBooks, which published the author's previous book last year and it was a moderate success and has gone into translation markets. She was literally a day or so away from the author when Miss Regan was fired. My boss then had to worry that everyone else in the imprint would be fired, which eventually it was determined that they weren't and that it would continue to exist. However, there is such a shake-up over there that they're not making offers at the moment, and meanwhile the second-book clause in the contract expires December 28th. So it's a bad situation all around.

Anyway, just a little insider story for you all.