Thursday, July 23, 2009

Literary Suicide

Creative writers of all stripes had best wake up at the news that TV celebrity Lauren Conrad has the best-selling novel in America. This is the explicitly anti-writer trend conglomerate publishing is following. It's no accident that Lauren Conrad is published by HarperCollins, which is also the force behind HarperStudio, whose stated mission is to publish celebrities.

For American literature this is suicide. It's the publishing conglomerates admitting they can't create their own stars, so they're going to borrow some from other realms. It's as if Indy Car racing, in its attempt to regain its once-lofty status, stopped developing talent like Danica Patrick and instead put TV personalities into its cars. For any business, any sport, any art, it's to become a joke.

Development of writing talent is what HarperStudio specifically doesn't want-- which is why it's stopped paying advances to writers, instead offering them a share of "profits." (Accounting no doubt done Hollywood-style by HarperCollins itself.) There's no thought of taking a loss on a couple books while building a writer's brand-- unless perhaps said author is independently wealthy, or willing to starve. The bottom line is all. Developing a novelist or poet, building their name and their audience, isn't wanted. This is considered old-fashioned according to HarperStudio's "Publishing on the Edge." (The edge of a cliff?) Instead: "Bring on the TV stars!"

That PEN American center is complicit in this should cause every PEN member, and every writer everywhere, to vomit.

(Underground writers may occasionally dress up like clowns, but we're also dedicated writers. HarperStudio has bypassed the writing part and gone directly to Ringling Brothers.)
A Protest for Authentic Radicals Only

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