odds and odder ends, including scolding publishers and mean readers

One of the many Jennifers pointed me to this article on the ABC site about authors who write weblogs. Pros, cons, the usual — but the bit that really caught my attention was the publishers weighing in.

At Farrar, Straus & Giroux, where one prominent author, Shirley Hazzard, doesn’t even own an answering machine, president Jonathan Galassi says he doesn’t pay much attention to blogs.

“Maybe we’re behind the times,” says Galassi, who publishes such award-winning authors as Hazzard, Susan Sontag and Jonathan Franzen. “I just think there are too many words out there already. I hope our writers will be spending their time writing their books, not their blogs.”

This both makes me laugh and irritates me. What is the relationship between the publisher and the author, anyway? Teacher to student? Parent to child? Galassi shaking his finger at his authors (now Shirley, get back to writing stuff I can sell ) galls me.

The truth is, publishers won’t or can’t invest the money necessary to bring an author and his/her work to the public’s attention. Ask any published author (below the level of Stephen King) and you’ll hear about the trouble with marketing these days. So authors hire outside public relations people (which I haven’t done) or go to market-it-yourself seminars (which I haven’t done) or arrange their own book tours (ditto) or just sit by and wring their hands while a newly published book gets lost in the thousands of other books published every year. A weblog is one way to reach out to readers, and thus I write.

Other reading: by way of Old Hag I found author/columnist Amy Sohn’s website. Have a look at her angry letters section. Dogdamn, there are some mean people out there. I’m bookmarking it so that I can read it whenever I’m thinking of complaining about my reviews. (Which have been very good for the new novel, she added hastily).

The observant RobynBender sent me this link to Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, the writings of Brit Mil Millington about Margret, his significant other. Go over there if you need something funny to read. For example:

The TV Remote. It is only by epic self-discipline on both our parts that we don’t argue about the TV Remote to the exclusion of all else. It does the TV Remote a disservice to suggest that it is only the cause of four types of argument, but space, you will understand, is limited so I must concentrate on the main ones.

1) Ownership of the TV Remote: this is signified by its being on the arm of the chair/sofa closest to you – it is more important than life itself.

2) On those blood-freezing occasions when you look up from your seat to discover that the TV Remote is still lying on top of the TV, then one of you must retrieve it; who shall it be? And how will this affect (1)?

3) Disappearance of the TV Remote. Precisely who had it last will be hotly disputed, witnesses may be called. Things can turn very nasty indeed when the person who isn’t looking for it is revealed to be unknowingly sitting on it.

4) The TV Remote is a natural nomad and sometimes, may the Lord protect us, it goes missing for whole days. During these dark times, someone must actually, in an entirely literal sense, get up to change the channel; International Law decrees that this, “will not be the person who did it last” – but can this be ascertained? Without the police becoming involved?