Thursday, December 11, 2008
Why it's Good that Joe the Plumber and Gov. Palin Publish Books
So Joe the Plumber (Sen. McCain's ploy to win over the working man during the election) apparently has a book coming out. Gov. Palin too. There's a long history of "non writers" writing books, novels, memoirs, and books of poetry for big sums of cash (celebrities, sports heroes, etc). Or how about that 9-year-old boy who wrote a "funny" little book on dating for his male friends at school? Now his book is being optioned for a film by Fox. Does that sound crazy? It does, because it is.
To show how far behind I was at age 9: I neither wrote books nor paid attention to girls (or cared to lecture to my friends on how to act around them). When I was 9 I was too busy thinking about baseball (the St. Louis Cardinals in particular) to give a darn about girls. Besides, girls didn't like me much then. Probably still don't.
Anyway, I doubt for most writers it's the cash advances these celebrauthors receive that's so galling to them: it's the fact that people who've never had to struggle at improving their craft as a writer are getting published at all, who've never sent dozens of stories/poems off to journals only to receive a wave of rejections in response. It seems unfair.
It is unfair, of course. But.
This Timothy Egan article was forwarded to me by a friend the other day. Though I agree with everything he writes and feel the same frustration over this trend, I'd like to say for the record that I am HAPPY that these people are getting books published. (Okay, happy's not the right word. Let's just say that I've made peace with it.)
You see, I'm just impressed that these "authors" or their handlers or whoever put them up to writing a book (even if they're ghostwritten) thought that a BOOK was the right medium to send their messages through. That these people are writing books and expecting people to read them means that books still matter. As everyone knows, The Industry is facing some serious issues. So it's good that people believe in books--maybe it'll help turn around The Industry? Of course, it could also mean that The Industry will consolidate around BIG name celebrauthors and expect to turn huge sales with each book. This is possible. But as long as the publishers use these books as sales weapons for their special titles, as Egan notes, the titles by the little guys and gals, the yous and mes, then I can live with it. Remember this one fact: Most publishers (at least I hope this is still true) got into publishing because they loved good books.
Keep writing your books and make sure they're as good as they can be. Eventually, yes eventually, you'll get them noticed by the right person if you're serious enough (and able to revise and improvise). I don't look forward to the day that celebrauthors and their staff turn a blind eye to "the book" and find some other means of getting their stories out. IF these kinds of books stop getting published, well....