The Biz

publishing2Here are my rants on the publishing industry: essays on how there are too many writers and not enough readers, analysis of the strategic dangers arising from bookseller tactics, arguments against the absurd literary-genre divide.

A reader once asked why I spent so much time trying to fix the industry and so little time submitting fiction in order to get into it.  My snarky response was: “What’s the point of being sailor-of-the-week on a sinking ship?”  That reader replied with: “It’s a lot easier to stop a ship from sinking once you’re on board than to just stand on the dock and watch.”  I did not have a snarky response to that, but I still believe it’s important to stand up for what you believe will sustain something you think is valuable. I would rather publishing thrive without me than wither with me.


What books what readers really chosen as all-time best-sellers? – Typical analysis does not take time into account, and the truth might shock you![14 Jul 2010]

You might be surprised how much publishing is like dating – You should watch how an agent treats the rejected [04 Dec 2013]

What is a book? – A response to the anti-hip hipsters who claim to prefer “real” books [16 Nov 2011]

The Duality of Storytelling – Exploring the phenomenon of those twin films on the same subject that seem to come out every summer [07 Jul 2013]

Promotion advice you can do without, from the Ministry of Positivity [30 Aug 2011]

How to exploit faux-literary sentiment for profit – Deconstructing the transparent Microcosm ploy [27 Jan 2011]

What we can learn from literary one-hit wonders – How Paul Kiger’s list unravels the “regular channels” of book publication [10 Jul 2010]

My, how things have changed – What happens when you try to emulate one of those one-hit wonders? [14 Aug 2011]

Barnes & Noble and Borders and Bookopoly [05 Jan 2011]

Why I will not be boycotting Ender’s Game – Applied consistently, this sort of stunt politics would destroy art [19 Jul 2013]

Why Americans read so few translations [25 Jun 2010]


What a difference five percent could make – On a proposal to raise lit agent rates [23 Jun 2010]

Not that Amazon’s Goliath needs defending … but Hachette is not the David you’re looking for – Why the underdog is not always the lesser of two evils [09 Jul 2014]

My Two Cents on Author Self-Promotion [05 May 2011]

Self-publishing, self-promotion, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect [21 Jul 2010]

A case study in how the Dunning-Kruger Effect can undermine literature (and what we can do about it) [07 Sep 2011]

Thoughts on authorhood – Some self-promotion musings related to Harper Lee, J D Salinger, and China Miéville [06 May 2011]

The attrition of aspiring writers [09 Sep 2010]

PYRAMID DYNAMICS IN PUBLISHING (see also “Authorhood of All Readers” below)

Publishing is in danger of becoming a pyramid scheme [30 Jun 2010]

Luring kids into the unsustainable literary free-for-all [14 Dec 2010]

Chad Harbach’s piece describes the MFA side of the pyramid dynamic [30 Nov 2010]

How MFA programs can hurt literature – And how they can help [02 Sep 2010]

Ani Shivani fires a shot across the bow – More on problems with the MFA [09 Aug 2010]

THE AUTHORHOOD OF ALL READERS (See also “Pyramid Dynamics” above)

The Authorhood of All Readers – Genealogy of a mistake [12 Aug 2010]

Tin ears miss the message of Tin House [10 Jul 2010]

Too many writers, not enough readers – A follow-up to Melanie Benjamin’s Huff Post piece [08 Jul 2010]

NaNoWriMo is NaNoWrongMo – How the stuntfest hurts literature and publishing [30 Oct 2009]


The inhuman dogma of novelty – Art is not a jack-in-the-box [23 Jul 2013]

Another spin on the literary v. genre merry-go-round – Debunking Edward Docx [17 Dec 2010]

Suzannah Winsdsor Freeman on literary fiction [26 Nov 2010]

Why our discussion of literature is confused – The way we categorize fiction is utterly nonsensical [08 Sep 2010]

The unasked question in the Franzen-Picoult fracas – Do women writers care about male readers? [26 Aug 2010]

Justin Cronin tells it like it is [03 Aug 2010]

Another swipe at Lee Siegel (which reminds me of Tolkien’s comments on decadence) [28 Jun 2010]


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