Friday, July 18, 2008

What White People Read

So, remember the ridiculous blook from the blog Stuff White People Like, which Random House bought for something like $350K? According to Portfolio, it is doing well and has already sold 7,000 copies for a place on the New York Times best sellers list (#19), making it "a crossover hit" according to Galley Cat.  

That's funny because when my book sold 7,000 copies, I was told it was flop.  Hmmm?  (Just kidding...not even.)  


John said...

Well, OK, but bathroom-reading humor books have always been successful, and this one seems never to have had literary pretentions. I mean, for that matter, some guy with an MBA can make half a billion bucks a year with happy talk in front of a corporate board. Is this our problem? (Except, perhaps, as part of the emotional truth we try to get at.)

In the end, as a writer, you've got to focus on doing the work. I don't always see that here, which is a little disappointing.

Joey said...

Don't hate the playa; improve ya game!

It's a funny blog, and if the book is a good adaptation, it's good for a few laughs. I'd much rather see people spending money on funny books than on unfunny (but heavily marketed) movies.

Anonymous said...

It's not a blog about our work, work, John. For that you can go to any number of MFA-sponsored, writerly blogs. This is a blog about what happens after the work is done and we are trying to sell. Also: Apples and oranges re: books and movies. What's the matter with you guys? Books like these with advances for $350,000 are a shanda! (That's shame in yiddish.)

John said...

OK, but W,R here is bellyaching about some folks being lucky, or in a more lucrative line of work, or something. Not sure if I want to go to any blog that does that.

Rejections are part of the work. This is one thing I'm not sure that this blog has down.

Anonymous said...

Then perhaps you should go elsewhere, John. I have to say that I think the tone of this blog has taken a downward turn since you and a couple of other seemingly humor-challenged and comment-happy peeps started mouthing off.

To paraphrase his own comment, this fine blog is one thing I'm not sure that John has down.

Writer, Rejected said...

Not actually bellyaching about "folks being lucky," but about the fact that the publishing industry pays so much money for ridiculous fluff and then spends its precious time complaining in rejection notes to serious writers that literary fiction just doesn't sell and can't be bough, not even for a song. Probably because too many "risks" on white folks (and whatever all else nonsense) didn't pan out.

It used to be bathroom books were purchased for tiny advances, and maybe they made some money for the company, so that other more important works of literature could be published. It wasn't always all bottom-line.

Agents, too, used to have commercial authors, so that they could also support the work of writers whose work was important, but not profitable. Not anymore... You are either a block buster or you are not. There's no art in the business. No one knows what's important literature....I think because it's dead. That's what I'm bellyaching about.

As for rejections being part of the work...yes, sir. Thanks for the news flash. I am aware.

Anonymous said...

^LOL, W,R. Kick him out of here. He always misses the point, starts a lame argument that no one cares about, and insults people. He's scaring off your regular customers.

Boris Suhmore said...

I do think this blog sort of beats the same dead horse, over and over, though: A post about this or that "injustice" in the publishing world, followed by a few thoughtful comments, followed by an anti-MFA "it's all about connections" rant by anonymous, followed by some back and forth between anonymous berating people for what they read (or don't read), followed by indignant replies to anonymous and then anonymous cutting and pasting what's been said so that he/she (I'm guessing 'he') can tell him or her how he or she didn't read his comments closely enough, followed by 'writer, rejected' telling everyone to go easy on the insults, and then maybe a published writer gets insulted (maybe even by writer, rejected), and then the published writer (or an editor) shows up to say, 'Hey, sorry you guys hate me based on my photo, my advance, my MFA,' and then this gives anonymous an opportunity to puff up, etc., etc., etc. I realize that this is the focus of this blog, but, wow!, it's just so....predictable. Anonymous is the worst offender, of course, but the blog itself suffers the same problem. And God forbid if Writer, Rejected gets his/her novel published. Anonymous would be on his/her ass so fast for being a sell-out, for using his/her blog in some way (that he couldn't articulate) to land the deal, for being (let's face it) accepted rather than rejected. But then I start getting the feeling that rejection is a self-fulfilling prophecy around here. It's one's reason for being (at least on this blog), right? So have at it, folks. And feel free to flog me all you want: I won't be around to enjoy the party. (But, please, "Writer, Rejected": Please think about doing something that transcends the basic gist of this blog. My advice? Be radical and shut it down, putting the time you would normally spend on this blog into your novel -- or maybe a even new novel, putting the ten-year one aside for a bit? I'm dead serious. And, believe it or not, the advice is well-meaning.)

joey said...

^ Completely agree. I've found certain (many!) posts on this blog interesting, but I'm not so interested in having WR throw red meat at the commenters (look, an undeserved publication! doesn't that make you mad??? be angry! be angry!) over and over again. It looks like a good way to achieve a nice little echo chamber, but in the end, as anon noted, this just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe it's fun; I don't know. But I've never been fond of agitprop, and this site increasingly seems to run on a set formula of posts designed to goad commenters into responding angrily and resentfully over things they have little control over. Oh well. Good luck with it. I honestly have enjoyed reading many posts here, but...I've begun to feel I could drop by once a month and I'd see the same posts and arguments posted over and over again. WR posts a literature is dead or they don't deserve it post. Some agree. Some don't. Some flame. WR cheerfully asks for no flaming. Two days later, he posts another bit of flame-bait. Repeat ad infinitum. It's disappointing. There aren't that many blogs out there that focus on the litfic publishing world at a personal level. But I just can't jive with the gimmick of repeatedly reading things that are supposed to make me bitter, frustrated, or resentful toward other people. Oh well. Good luck, WR. I'm going to take some time off to do some writing and subbing instead of reading and whinging, and I hope, at some point, you try something more than the call-response thing here. Cheers, all.

Anonymous said...

I recognize myself as one of those being criticized, yet I still agree with the previous two comments. They're dead-on.
But other literary sites engage in blatant Toadyism. They wouldn't allow any complaints about the status quo. You'd get hit with the W or B bombs (Whiner and Bitter). You get hit with those bombs on LROD, if you point out problems of fairness.
I see that the guy on McCain's campaign staff who called people "whiners" had to resign. I can never get it: why, in the literary world, that word is automatically applied to people who have legitimate complaints.
But, yeah, you commenters above are right in saying that LROD is predictable and repetitious.
Maybe we should all just shut up. Maybe we're all tired of this. Change won't happen. This is an exercise in futility.
I'm the reader, and I should do that: read what pleases me.

John said...

Now, I'm new here, but one thing that interests me is how little actual literary fiction I see, notwithstanding the site concerns the rejection of same. W,R has won awards, but she won't post what she's written, as far as I can tell. I go to the blogs of those who identify themselves on the comments, and ditto.

I wonder how many rejections some of these folks actually get. (I got two this morning before I came here, by the way, and you can find links to my published stuff on my blog.)

Now, some folks may call this humor-challenged, but it reminds me of Bukowski's story about the workshop where everybody read their stuff and bs-ed about it, but nobody actually submitted.