Incognito Press

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Archive for the ‘bullshit’ Category

Revealing Racism

Posted by E on August 23, 2012

I hesitated to write this post, because I am too astounded and angry to consider giving this shitty Revealing Eden book any more publicity than it’s already had, so instead I will post a couple of self-explanatory YouTube reviews.


The only thing I’ll say on the matter is this: the insane media hype has already given this Turner Diaries-esque book way too much publicity. The fact that Weird Tales> was planning to feature it centrally in its next issue, before they were forced to backtrack by the angry backlash, should be enough warning to all other writers to boycott and stay the hell away from ever submitting any material to Weird Tales and any other rags that hope for controversy to boost sales/traffic.

Once again, I’m reminded by the rejection letters I received from Random House and Douglas & McIntyre for Race Traitor, who stated that racism and white supremacy had basically become obsolete.
When you see shit like this book hit it big, you gotta wonder – Have they, really?

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Posted in activism, books, bullshit, media, meme, news, publishing, racism, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

The freedom to dream, the courage to belong

Posted by E on July 13, 2011

 

I guess you can chalk me up as an aspiring, unpublished hack. You know, like 99% of artists out there reading this post 😉 A hack who’s part of this ever-changing world we live in, and who knows more than my fair share about the business. So having said all that, you know what kills me? I’ve accepted that I’m never going to be the next hot new bestselling writer out there. That I’m not going to make much more than minimal wage, and that’s taking into account the artist bursaries I may occasionally win. But the thing that kills me, more than the non-existent fame and fortune all of us writers secretly hope to stumble into, more than anything, is the knowledge that I will never be able to walk into a bookstore and see my book on a shelf.

This image has haunted me since I was a little girl. It has propelled and encouraged me to take my dreams of writing stories and make them unfold from hunches, intermittent thoughts, stray words, into something that takes a life of its own. It’s this dream, this vision of my books on a shelf or on a store display under the Staff Picks section, that hurts the most to let go. To know that everything I have done in my life, all the hard work I’ve put into creating these manuscripts, means nothing at all.

Yes, bad writers self-publish all the time. Breathtakingly mediocre manuscripts get uploaded onto Kindle at every hour of every day. That was my assumption when I first encountered the notion of self-publishing, when I secretly dismissed self-published authors as untalented hacks who couldn’t earn their stripes in the real literary world.

Yes, I was a snob. WAS. But that was before I started downloading self-pubbed books on my Kindle, and realized just how many amazing, incredibly-talented people have been forced by this screwed-up industry to take this route.

There is no karmic justice in this industry. Truth of the matter is this:
1) Bad writers DO get book deals. I’ve met a few in my day, people who either never wrote more than a chapter of a book and still managed to make it onto bestseller lists. Terrible writers also manage – through nepotism, inside connections and affiliations with college writing programs – to land publishing deals for their inferior magnus opuses. I’ve seen it happen. Half of them are out teaching creative writing programs. I can’t name names, but trust me. It happens more often than you think.

2) Good writers DO fall through the cracks. On the brink of extinction, the established literary industry operate like a flock of piranhas – editors concern themselves more with keeping their jobs and minimizing the risk it takes to take on unknown writers. Often they will adopt an unspoken policy of not showing interest in something unless other editors show interest. Simply put = nobody wants to take risks anymore. And nobody wants to edit.

3) Gone are the days when a diamond in the rough could be scooped from the slush pile and whittled into brilliance. Editors, for the most part, are lazy. There – I’ve said it. Not all, because I’d hate to generalize, but a HUGE majority of large publishing house acquiring editors prefer to do just that – acquire. Not edit. Not even bother trying, actually. If the manuscript in their inbox is not pitch-perfect in terms of what they’re looking for, they’d rather reject than invite a revision.

4) Publishing houses are going extinct because of bad financial practices. Case in point:
a. At the last Book Expo America, Random House rented an ENORMOUS booth to show off how much money they had. They spared no expense in putting off the image that they are doing peachy

b. Publishers will spend a million dollars for an advance to buy on a single manuscript (again, see the bidding war piranha frenzy I mentioned earlier), and add another 500K in marketing costs to justify their gamble on one person, while the money could be spent on acquiring ten talented writers (at $100K advance each). You don’t have to have a degree in investing to see how screwed up this is.

c. A reluctance to adapt to new publishing models, save for continuous attempts to unashamedly and brutally screw over inexperienced, first-time authors over their already-meagre royalties. Example: You sell your soul if you spend a year or more on a book only to find out that you’ll make fifty cents per every ebook. But if they didn’t do that, how could they afford the huge salaries of top executives, those travel expenses to international fairs, those roomy booths at Book Expo America?

So by now you’re either cheering me on, or you’ve already written me off as a bitter industry loser. As in, I didn’t win the lottery jackpot and got a book deal yet – because this is what this really is about – LUCK. Not talent so much as sheer, unadulterated luck: the RIGHT editor, the RIGHT submission, at the RIGHT time.
FACT: the vast majority of published authors out there only received one offer. That’s right: ONE offer. There was no bidding war. No hundred grand advance. Just ONE editor who had an empty slot in next fall’s line-up. THAT alone is what separates the unwashed masses like me from the “respectable” folks in the Chapters-Indigos and Barnes & Nobles of the world.

But if it was up to the industry, that’s not where I’m headed, or where most of us younger writers trying to put our work out there are headed. By misfortune of being born in this generation, at the cusp of the extinction of the bricks-and-mortal bookstores (may be another 10-20 years, but they’re going), we are being shut out of that dream we’ve all harboured: the vision of walking into over to that store display and seeing your baby in print, ready to captivate the world.

It doesn’t mean we can’t make a name for ourselves, or serious money. People have been so successful through Kindle, it would be insane not to consider it. But what I’m taking about is your work being out on the bookshelves of a hundred stores, reaching a mainstream audience that is kept away from you by virtue of the gate-keepers.

I’ve done everything right. I’ve played by the rules. I’ve gained a few prizes here and there, won substantial artist grants, gotten my name out there. I was even accepted by the most prestigious MFA program in Canada this spring, but because I have no money whatsoever, I’ve had to defer my spot.

I’ve had not one, but two literary agents. The first was more lazy than money-hungry and spent his entire day on Twitter playing the role of big agent man but not making any sales. At all. So I fired him and started fresh. The second agent seemed more promising. I listened to him, for a while, when he told me to add more violence, more of a 24 (the TV show) plotline and more “dirty lesbo sex” to my novel so it would sell – and I did all this out of fear that he would not submit my book to publishers. Until I couldn’t take it anymore and told him I was finished. With the power struggle, and with the proposed changes. Really finished.

For the last two years I’ve allowed myself be bullied by this industry – by agents, by writer forums where self-aggrandizing, arrogant assholes who published mid-list books pull rank on new writers, by editorial rumours of what sells, by everything. And at the end of the day, what did I get?

A manuscript that has been so twisted it seems foreign to me, but meets the vision of what the industry seems to want. And sure enough, it has received several generous editorial compliments over the past month, yet it keeps getting rejected. The rejections, of course, are all over the map – editor X will praise this and complain about that, and not a day later, editor Z will complain about this, and praise that which someone else had taken issues with. But nobody wants to take a chance on me.
Nobody.

The truth is, the literary world these days is a shitty, soul-wrenching crapshoot in which only the lucky and the well-connected will find a spot to land in. And if you are like me, if the only thing you ever had to cling to in your life was writing, you’ll keep on struggling, crying, and creating.

You belong. Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

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Posted in agent, art, artist, belonging, books, bullshit, commentary, freedom, life, literature, manuscript, news, perseverence, poetry, press, publishing, rejection, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

How to lose your faith in the publishing industry in a minute and a half…or less

Posted by E on May 29, 2011

It was about eight years or so, give or take a couple of months, when my partner invited me to a friend of hers’ cottage party. I’d been to plenty of those with my old varsity fencing team (where coaches and athletes got drunk and made out), so I didn’t think anything of it. Later that night I would feel ridiculously underdressed, having just realized that the so-called “cottage party” was really an assembly of über-wealthy people gathering in the most-done up fancy cottage I’d ever seen. A rustic mansion, if you will.

So, as I typically tend to do at the few cocktail parties I’ve ever attended, I stood in the corner pulling down on my short skirt and trying not to look too awkward as I sipped on my absurdly-expensive glass of Merlot – which probably cost less than my entire get-up. Alas, you get the point.

Then the hostess of this lavish banquet – which was spread out over a twenty-seat table setting, if you can imagine – came over, put her arm around my shoulders, and asked, “So I hear you’re a writer?”
I nodded, which prompted her to break into a smile as she said, “Well, then, I have to introduce you to one of my dear friends. His book is coming out imminently.”

Fast-forward a half hour later. I was sitting in the “Lodge” part of the mansion, a glorious spectacle of exposed brick and a rustic fireplace that went up twenty feet, across from a bespectacled middle-aged man smiling benevolently at me as he knocked back his Merlot faster than you could say “publishing deal.”
This was it, the eager young writer in me thought. My chance to glean a few words of wisdom from this self-professed self-help guru. I leaned forward, my eyes glowing with adoration, and asked him with bated breath what all of us unpublished writers really want to know, “How did you do it? How did you break out?”
My new friend leaned back in his overstuffed chaise, looked left and right conspiratorially, then met my eyes again.
“Well, first of all,” he started to say, pacing his words out evenly, slowly, no doubt enjoying the act of stretching out the anticipation of a seemingly-vapid twenty-something, “you’ve gotta do your homework. You’ve gotta get yourself an agent. Not just any agent, but a Jew agent. I did my homework and made a list of a couple dozen Jew agents in New York, and I targeted them specifically. Those New York Jews, they’re connected to everybody, they know everybody. So I persisted until I got the best agent, and like I said, I made sure she was a Jew agent, a real shark. That’s the most important part.”
He took another sip while I tried to digest the information. Then he dropped another bombshell.
“She told me all you need is a good title and a gimmick. You don’t even have to write the book.”
I nearly dropped my glass. “W-what? I thought you had to finish a manuscript….”
My friend shook his head vehemently. “No, no, that’s just for amateurs. No, in this business, all you need in a catchy title that can be spun off into a dozen books. She got on the phone with her editor contacts and already got me multiple book deals. Get this, I hadn’t even written more than the first couple of chapters.”
“B-but… how can they do that?”
He chuckled, delighting in my shock. “They’ve got their own writers, my dear. Their own in-house writers. They don’t need you to write the book. All you need is a platform and a gimmicky title – and of course, a Jew agent – and you’re set.”

This was the night I “woke up” when it came to the publishing industry, the moment of personal nadir when I lost my childish naiveté about how things really work. Before that, I thought that in order to get published, all you had to do was write a brilliant book. And then I came face-to-face with someone who was to hit stardom within a few months, and who had done little, if nothing, for it. Not just that, but whose attitude about Jews made me uncomfortable.

I knew then that there are other factors at work in an author’s success, and that luck, rather than simply talent, plays a huge part in it. In the last eight years, I’ve shared this story with a lot of close friends and aspiring writers who believe in “the system.” Not that I don’t, of course. But there’s something flawed, I think, in a process that allows someone to skyrocket to best-selling stardom and have “his” book(s) translated into 30 languages when they’ve done not a hell of a lot, other than come up with, yes, a catchy title. Of course, this man enjoys his success, and how can I blame him? But personally, I think I would have a slight twinge of guilt, a modicum of personal discomfort, in representing a franchise that I didn’t even write or create.
But to each his own, I guess.

Posted in agent, art, artist, books, bullshit, publishing, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Character Assassination or just…Assasination?

Posted by E on June 10, 2010

I’m sitting here watching Amanda Knox’s parents on Oprah, trying their best to clear their (convicted murderer, pictured on the left in the photo above) daughter’s reputation, and the thoughts that are rapidly crossing through my mind are:

1. What kind of strings did they pull to get Oprah to endorse this charade?
2. Yet another unbalanced tripe that passes as journalism – with no side given to Meredith Kercher’s family, and 100% attention to the Knox side. But of course, Italian authorities were guilty of “trial by media”, botched up the investigation, the jury hated the blond&blue-eyed innocent young girl, the list goes on.
3. If the freaking drug-dealer’s DNA is inside that poor raped and murdered British girl, then how did the drug-dealer get in the house, past all the other roommates and boyfriends there? Wouldn’t a more plausible explanation be, they invited the druggie in to buy some of his stuff, the party got out of hand, and they collectively murdered Meredith in a drug-infused stupor?
4. DEJA VU!! This is so, SO reminiscent of the Schapelle Corby case, where an equally blue-eyed, innocent Westerner female just happened to be caught by Indonesian authorities with a boogie-board stuffed with hashish. Read my blog entry on Schapelle here.
5. A motive doesn’t have to be necessary in an accidental death…esp one that involves drug and alcohol-fueled parties
6. Oh, the irony! All these accusations of “trial by media” having impacted Knox’s trial, when in fact the ABC co-anchor and other personalities invited on the Oprah show are also members of said-media…but I suppose their point of view is to be weighed more than that of those oh-so-biased European media outlets??
7. And lastly, never underestimate the tear-jerker effect of broken-hearted parents who triumph their convicted murderer daughter’s innocence on Oprah.
Where, oh where is the humanity? Those horrible judges, those lying lawyers, that hating jury who would convict Little Miss Amanda?…. Don’t they know anything? That a pretty, blond co-ed raised by a nice American family just does not DO this sort of thing??

So let’s all discard our IQ to the wayside and pitch in to her college fund (since she’s enrolled in university long-distance studies, like a good girl should be) and jump on the Let’s-Free-Amanda bandwagon! If I send in a dollar to the Defence Fund, do I get a ribbon, a button pin or an elastic wristband?…

.

Posted in amanda knox, bullshit, italy, media, meredith kercher, murder, news, oprah, press, violence, wtf | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »