Sunday, August 19, 2007

The joy of subsidy and other myths

You may have gathered that I do not approve of the subsidy of the arts from public funds. It's not a simple matter, but basically that's my view. Also, I am usually unimpressed by literary reputation.

It is always, I suppose, heartwarming to find people who agree with me; but it is also distressing, frankly (especially for a sensitive chap such as myself, who has led a very sheltered life), to discover the snarling, rabid hatred with which some people despise that which I merely (in my mild-mannered way) dislike.

These thoughts are prompted by a visit to The Lumber Room, where Elberry has posted a piece about literary fame. I particularly like the story about Yeats's response to being told, at four o'clock in the morning, that he'd won the Nobel prize: he opened one eye and said, 'How much?'

But what really catches the eye in The Lumber Room is the comment from one gravely disillusioned Canadian, which runs as follows:

Right on the mark. Living in Canada, where there has never been such an industry in the government support of “approved” fiction writers, I can assure you that the decision making process on all these awards is the same: it is an incestuous butt-fuck procedure.

The group that votes are always the same who have a personal stake in the determined “short list.” Either government supported “businesses” who do no real business, or a certain crew who give or are given government grants. It is all very disappointing.

I will give you an example of the government slash publishing industry in Canada. A few years ago, there was a large book selling chain, by the name of Sandpiper Books. Sandpiper was instrumental in the giving of numerous awards during the 1990s. Sandpiper also received most of its stock from two or three government sponsored publishing houses, one being Coach Hill Press, which continues to operate.

Sandpiper had a nice deal with Coach Hill. Coach Hill provided Sandpiper its stock absolutely free–accepting a cut of the sales, if a book actually sold. If a book did not, then it was returned to Coach Hill with no penalty. This remarkable financial situation was managed because Coach Hill Press received $10 million yearly from
the government to support “Canadian Literature.”

This was nice for selected, approved writers of the Canadian establishment. It appeared, for the general public, that their books were important, as they were on the shelves of dozens of stores across the country. The writers could then pat themselves on the back, gather for important readings and apply for their grants, all with the appearance of being part of the business community.

In 1999 the government pulled three quarters of Coach Hill’s funding. Coach Hill, in turn, could not provide the considerable number of books Sandpiper needed to fill their shelves. Sandpiper went out of business within a few months.

It’s all crap. Every bit of it.

*
Wanna make a bit of a splash? Get your name in the papers? Sell books? If so, make a provocative statement in a public place on a slow day for news, and the papers will love you for ever. Run with it for weeks, they will.

Example: Ian Rankin (creator of Inspector Rebus) did his best to generate copy with a statement made in an interview last year that women crime writers in general, and lesbians in particular, are more bloodthirsty than men.

'The people writing the most graphic novels today are women,' said Rankin. 'They are mostly lesbians as well, which I find interesting.'

No one, it seems, took a lot of notice at the time, but Val McDermid is no sort of fool. Come her appearance at the Edinburgh book festival, she trotted out the Rankin quote and beat him up for it. Result: lots of coverage.

I don't wish to be rude or sexist, but McDermid herself is a big, heavy, butch-looking lesbian, as well as a very successful crime writer. If you think that description is rude, all I can say is that (a) she's made no secret of being a lesbian, and (b) I saw her on telly the other night, and she is big, heavy and butch-looking. I sure as hell wouldn't want to annoy her in a dark alley. But she is dead right, of course, when she says that Rankin is talking 'arrant nonsense'.

Try the Guardian. And some comments on the Guardian blog. Link from booktrade.info.

*
June Austin is the author of Genesis of Man, a self-published non-fiction book mentioned here a while back, and she has been spending what seems like a huge amount of time and energy marketing her book. This is the only way, one gathers, to achieve significant sales, though unfortunately the expenditure of time and effort does not guarantee significant sales.

Anyway, June has been slogging away. Like any well organised author, she has her own web site, where you can learn more about her. She works through Authors On-line, which is a provider of services for self-publishers on a POD basis.

June's achievements will sound modest enough compared to those of any even halfway competent trade publisher, but will doubtless make a big difference to her sales. She has managed to persuade book distributors Gardners to handle her book on a sale or return basis, and she has had several reviews in magazines such as Nexus (circulation 100,000). The Self-Publishing Magazine has not only reviewed her, but asked her to write an article for them about how she operates.

How she operates, by the way, involves working her way through a list of Waterstone's and Borders shops, ringing them up, and asking them to stock her book. So far, 1 in 5 of the shops has agreed, and she has been asked to do signings and/or talks in two of them. She plans to start contacting universities shortly.

As I say, time and energy.

The book, by the way, is a sort of antidote to Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion.

*
The BBC reports that staff in an Australian bookshop failed to recognise Stephen King, and when he started to sign copies of his books thought that he was a vandal, defacing the stock.

Well, hey, that's understandable, isn't it? Could happen to anyone. King is only just about the world's biggest-selling author. (Link from Publishers Lunch.) You and I, if we'd seen him at it, we would probably have thought he was just another four-eyed git too.

*
CreateSpace.com, an arm of Amazon.com, has announced the launch of a new online Books on Demand service. The company is no longer charging setup fees for books, audio CDs and DVDs. As a result, 'Authors, filmmakers and musicians can now offer their works to millions of customers on Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com and via their own free customizable eStore without any inventory, setup fees or minimum orders.'

*
Publishers Lunch tells us that a publisher has discovered the wheel.

In a letter to agents and authors, Random House Audio Group publisher Madeline McIntosh has put forward the amazing idea that digital rights management systems are no help to anyone and won't work anyway.

Now where have I heard that before?

91 comments:

Bill Peschel said...

Rankin and McDermid have since made up, if they were even angry at each other. In fact, Ian danced at Val's wedding.

And having met Val at a Bouchercon, I would not only agree with your assessment, I gathered that she would too, light a cig, and say, "C'mon, let's grab a pint." She writes dam good books, too.

LizH said...

What has the way Val McDermid looks got to do with the way she writes? Why is it even something worth commenting on? I notice you don't comment on Rankin's looks...

MNW reject said...

lizh, I kind of agree with your point.

But in fairness to GOB, he's always bending over backwards to avoid offending the female sex, and always makes every effort to appear non-mysoginist, as his (full) comments here testify to.

In fact I sense that he's very sensitive to the issue and -- perhaps precisely becasue of this -- I wonder if he hasn't been on the wrong end of some abuse in his time as a writer, and been harrassed by some angered women readers, for the crime of being in possesion of a penis. I think he often walks on egg shells when he touches on these matters.

You know men and women, however much alike we may be, will always be eternally divided on account of our sex. A women friend of mine once chided me for sexist comments, which probably they were, but herself she was an unashamed Jane Austin fan.

Now is the opening line of Pride and Prejudice sexist? I dont think it is really, but I certainly don't find it flattering as a man.

At the end of the day it's always going to be hard to get through life without upsetting the feelings of the opposite sex.

Edmond Clay said...

Not wishing to appear too cynical, I have shed blood and tears in the great gender wars myself, but it seems a bit naive to suppose that VD was offended in any personal manner; that would be cliched in the new age ethics of self-celebration. Somewhere between Paris Hilton and Rosie O'Donnell is a lesson in marketing with outrage.

Andy O'Hara said...

His Grumpiness said it all: "Result: lots of coverage."

Anonymous said...

As a dear old soul brought up to be a doormat for the privilege of serving our husbands and sons, I find all this Battle of the Sexes somewhat amusing. After all, we have the upper hand — whip way the mat and ... Oh dear, bumps-a-daisy!
Of course, it is painful if women are 'put down' in certain areas, (I should know!) but with writing? Never! - unless as a publicity stunt or tongue in cheek. I should think it a compliment if someone even bothered to comment on my books OR my looks!
Come on folks, comment on my novels - I'll send you a free book. Comment on my wrinkly face - I'll send you a photo! Compare me with any male you like — I can take it!
Gladys Hobson (writing also as Angela Ashley and Richard L Gray)

Siobhan said...

Hi,
A friend recommended your blog and I'm so pleased because it's such an interesting read. I was particularily inspired by your entry about June Austen. I am about to self publish my fifth book - the previous four were published by Random House and Hodder but I'm so disillusioned with the state of publishing right now I've decided to 'go it alone.' It's very encouraging to read of the success Austen is having. I am currently blogging about my experiences, please feel free to pay me a visit...
Siobhan Curham

Anonymous said...

web tasarım
residence turkey istanbul ankara

Anonymous said...

lida

Anonymous said...

yosun kapsülü
su arıtma
turkey holiday
lida
kapı boy dedektörü bel boy turnike
güzel sözler
lida
lida
para sayma
para sayma
lida
çin
oto kiralama

Anonymous said...

yosun kapsülü
turkey holiday
lida
kapı boy dedektörü bel boy turnike
güzel sözler
lida
lida
para sayma
lida
çin
oto kiralama
sürücü kursu ehliyet
pdks
medyum
diş beyazlatma diş teli diş sağlığı

Anonymous said...

src belgesi

Anonymous said...

psikoteknik

Anonymous said...

temizlik firmaları

Anonymous said...

plastik kart
pvc kart
kimlik kartı
personel kartı
yaka kartı

Anonymous said...

plastik kart
pvc kart
kimlik kartı
personel kartı
yaka kartı

Anonymous said...

iplik

Anonymous said...

sandviç panel

Anonymous said...

cam filmi

Anonymous said...

halı yıkama

Anonymous said...

rent a car

Anonymous said...

rent a car
halı yıkama
lazer epilasyon
src belgesi
epilasyon
saç ekimi

Anonymous said...

gfi faxmaker
gfi mailsecurity

Anonymous said...

turkey holiday
epilasyon

Anonymous said...

turkey holiday
epilasyon

Anonymous said...

Temizlik Şirketi temizlik şirketi temizlik.

Anonymous said...

temizlik Şirketleri


temizlik Firması

Temizlik

Anonymous said...

temizlik
temizlik Şirketleri
temizlik Şirketi
temizlik Firmaları

Anonymous said...

Temizlik
temizlik Şirketleri
temizlik Firması

Anonymous said...

Temizlik
Temizlik Şirketleri
temizlik Firması

Anonymous said...

temizlik Şirketleri
temizlik Firması

Anonymous said...

turkey holiday
epilasyon

Anonymous said...

cleaning machines

Anonymous said...

hastane web tasarım cam filmi cam filmi halı yıkama

Anonymous said...

stil danışmanlığı

Anonymous said...

netaş
telesis
karel
netaş
telesis
halkla ilişkiler

marmara said...

jeneratör

Anonymous said...

meme estetiği residence

Anonymous said...

büyü
büyüler
cin
sihir

Anonymous said...

cement silo

Anonymous said...

perlite
residence

Anonymous said...

parmak izi

fatih said...

http://www.sistemhizmetleri.com/

nikah şekeri said...

nikah şekeri ve davetiye modelleri...

fatih said...

sağlıkrehberiniz

saglik said...

saglikrehberiniz

aöf said...

cam filmi
aöf
aof
açıköğretim
aöf kursu
aöf soruları
aöf dersleri

marmara said...

senao

marmara said...

education resources

marmara said...

free wallpaper

marmara said...

kalibrasyon

marmara said...

temizlik şirketleri

marmara said...

perde

marmara said...

bel ağrısı

marmara said...

ingilizce eğitim seti

marmara said...

ingilizce eğitim seti

marmara said...

piknik organizasyonu

Anonymous said...

özge özpirinçci

marmara said...

nikah şekeri
temizlik şirketleri
organizasyon firmaları
perde
senao

marmara said...

ingilizce

marmara said...

mantolama

Anonymous said...

Saç Ekimi

Thanks for services

Emereee said...

jeneratör

Thanks For Articles

Anonymous said...

güvenlik sistemleri


Thanks for content and articles

epilasyon said...



epilasyon



Thanks for articles

pimapen said...

pimapen

Thanks For articles and content

google ilk sayfa said...

Thanks for articles and content.

Güvenlik Sistemleri said...

Nakres Güvenlik Sistemleri, alarm, kamera ve dvr kayit cihazlari uygulamalari yapmaktadir

Güvenlik sistemleri, alarm sistemleri, dvr kayit cihazlari

evlilik sitesi said...

Evlilik hakkında bilgi veren site.Günümüzde sosyal yaşam diyince aklımıza gelen ilk faaliyetlerden biridir.

laptop batarya said...

Thanks for articles and content

Doğalgaz Tesisatı said...

Dene Isı Doğalgaz Hizmetlerinde size en iyi işçiliği, en uygun fiyatı ve ürünlerde sağlamlığı ön planda tutuyor.

notebook adaptörü said...

notebook adaptörü, notebook adaptörleri hakkında bilgiler veren site.

temizlik şirketi said...

temizlik şirketi

duvar kağıdı said...

Thanks for articles

Anonymous said...

Thankss for article and share..

iç mimarlık said...

Thank you... for share

Penis Büyütücü said...

a good article Thanks for sharing

orjin krem said...

<a href=" http://www.orjinkrem.net"rel="nofollow>orjin krem</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.supratall.tk"rel="nofollow>Supra tall</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.gainmax.tk"rel="nofollow>Gain Max</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.dermana.biz.tr"rel="nofollow>Dermana Krem</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.hcgdamlaturk.com"rel="nofollow>Hcg Damla</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.gastromidmideseti.com"rel="nofollow>Gastromid</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.hemorivabasurseti.com"rel="nofollow>Hemoriva</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.epilactivakrem.com"rel="nofollow>epilactiva</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.tutuneson.web.tr"rel="nofollow>Tutune son</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.hemorivabasurseti.com"rel="nofollow>Hemoriva</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.www.powerbalanceturk.com"rel="nofollow>power balance</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.biktimtoz.com"rel="nofollow>biktim tozu</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.ekoal.com"rel="nofollow>bitkisel urunler</a><br />
<a href=" http://www.man-xl.gen.tr"rel="nofollow>manxl</a><br />

orjin krem said...

Thankss for article and share..

kibarlı said...

Thanks For articles and content

video said...

video video video video video

Assan Panel said...

http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr

Anonymous said...

http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel Sandviç Panel
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr
http://www.assanpanel.com.tr

sandviç panel said...

assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel

sandviç panel said...

assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel assanpanel

Anonymous said...

Boşanma Avukatı Av Ozan Kayahan hukuki sorunların ortaya çıkmasının önlenmesi için avukatlık hizmeti vermektedir. Boşanma Avukatı Ozan Kayahan




Bosanma avukati

Spor Hukuku Avukatı said...

çok eski bu sayfalar ama repte fayda var :) http://wwww.baltaci.av.tr

kızılcahamam said...

Thanks for articles and content. kızılcahamam - ankara haber - ankara rent a car

paslanmaz said...

n fact I sense that he's very sensitive to the issue and -- perhaps precisely becasue of this -- I wonder if he hasn't been on the wrong end of some abuse in his time as a writer, and been harrassed by some angered women readers, for the crime of being in possesion of a penis. I think he often walks on egg shells when he touches on these matters.

çatı tamiri said...

Come on folks, comment on my novels - I'll send you a free book. Comment on my wrinkly face - I'll send you a photo! Compare me with any male you like — I can take it!

Sesli chat said...

otel ekipmanları