J BUSH

Why The Publishing Industry Can Suck My Dick

I decided a year ago that I no longer want to publish books through the traditional publishing industry — even though that was my singular dream since I was nine years old.

The publishing industry is dead. Between ebooks overtaking print sales and chain stores dictating what gets published, the business is finished. It’s inefficient, outdated, bloated, corrupt, and it has willfully buried its head in the sand all these years, to the devastation of writers’ careers and literature.

It deserves to die. The publishing industry is racist, sexist, and it heavily favors white male authors over others, especially in literary fiction, which produces the next generation of American literature. If women and non-whites can’t get published and can’t get reviewed and can’t get on prize lists, we will not be able to contribute. For that reason alone it deserves to die.

Meanwhile, the rise of internet technology has brought authors closer to our audiences and given us the chance to give ourselves careers. No longer can an elite group of racist, sexist anachronisms shut the door to the rest of us. Any of us can make literature. The gatekeepers that kept so many of us out are failing because prejudice always fails — how can a business that limits the chances of large groups of people possibly succeed? Greatness always surges through.

I’ve been working on a new novel project that I’m very excited about and that will involve interaction and participation with readers. I’m not ready to publicize the project yet. However, Seth Godin’s announcement that he’s leaving traditional publishing behind is huge, and since I’ve already decided to do the same I decided I should say so. With a huge bestselling author like Godin going, the world will follow. I have no sympathy for big publishing. They had their chance, and thousands of young novelists like me had their careers thwarted or redirected because of their incompetence. I am very happy to have the T.V. and screenwriting career I have today, which I wouldn’t have had were it not for the inadequacy of the publishing industry. But now the way I feel about it is — they don’t fucking get to publish my novels. I will publish them myself. Because I’m better at marketing myself than they are. I’d rather sell ebooks than print — because that’s what I would rather buy.

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I just spent an hour searching the internet for statistics about the racism and sexism in the publishing industry. Couldn’t find any — I know I’ve read some before, so if anyone can send some, please do. However, anyone working in this business knows about it already. Here are a few pieces I did come across:

Literature Gender Gap. Majority of readers are women but 30% or less of books published by literary houses are by women: http://su.pr/2Ag3sO

Some male critics review male writers by a 3:1 ratio. http://www.bookslut.com/blog/archives/2011_02.php#017213

http://www.slate.com/id/2265910/pagenum/all/#p2

http://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2010/08/all-the-sad-young-literary-women/61821/

http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-jodi-picoult-accuses-book-reviews-of-favoring-white-male-literary-darli/

http://amyking.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/why-weren%E2%80%99t-any-women-invited-to-publishers-weekly%E2%80%99s-weenie-roast/

http://www.complete-review.com/quarterly/vol3/issue4/sexist.htm

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And these statistics excerpted from an article by T. K. Kenyon (see link below): Percentage of book reviews for male authors vs. female authors for 2006 in major review publications: 56%:44% Percentage of book reviews for male authors vs. female authors for Jan-June 2007 in major review publications: 63%:37% Percentage of book reviews for male authors vs. female authors for at the New York Times Review of Books (very influential): 72%:28% Ratio of male book reviewers to female reviewers at the New York Times Review of Books: 2:1 Percentage of articles written by men to those written by women in the five “thought leader” magazines: 3:1 Percentage of male book buyers to female: 45%:55% Women constitute only 17 percent of opinion writers at The New York Times, 10 percent at The Washington Post, 28 percent at U.S. News & World Report, 23 percent at Newsweek and 13 percent at Time. Overall, only 24 percent of nationally syndicated columnists are women. From: http://www.bloggernews.net/112350

Ship It

Great news Internet –

I just finished the best job I’ve ever had, which means I’ll have plenty of time to blog and Tweet and get sucked down rabbit holes and stare at my own navel and you’ll be the happy beneficiary of all that.

One thing I’ve decided to do is blog more often — take more of a shoot from the hip approach, which is something I’ve already moved toward in my professional writing. And it’s working out for me.

Part of why I wasn’t blogging that often was the same reason I used to get stuck in the trap of doing multiple drafts, seeking notes — I’m a careful writer. I believe every word counts and should count for more than one thing at a time. I believe there should be a story being told beneath the surface of the story being told.  So my blog posts were carefully worked, considered, deliberate. I spent time on them because they were meaningful to me, important.

Fuck that.

As I’ve learned in my professional writing, time and care and deliberation don’t fortify your meaning. They threaten to overload it, make it ponderous. I’m trusting now that what’s on the tip of my tongue is safe and okay to share with everyone. I don’t have to think too hard about it. Because if it’s fresh and raw and true, it’s worth sharing.

So I’m going to start firing shit off more. It’ll still be important to me, just faster.

The following I copied from a series of direct messages I sent to a Twitter friend today. I think he’s very talented, and I was trying to encourage him. I think many of you regular readers are very talented, and I want to encourage you.   Here it is:

One thing I’ve learned after doing this a while is the key to all this is trying and failing, and doing that a bunch, and not spending too long on any one thing. Work fast, have an idea, put it out, “ship it” as Seth Godin says, get it out in the world, because it’s the getting seen by someone that will get you the job/contract/work, not the laboring over it, perfecting of it. I wasted years thinking that my talent as a writer would get me work. Now I know that talent and hard work is very little of it. It’s about getting access — which is not about who you know necessarily, but about how quickly you can have an idea and get it out in the world so hirers can see it and say — “you.”

It’s really that simple. Have an idea. Get it down in some form. Publish it, produce it, send it out. Get it out in the world. Fucking fast. Then do it again. That’s all you have to do to be successful as a storyteller, gain experience and get heard.

I love you all very much. I want to see you succeed.

x Julie

 

 

 

 

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