Friday, February 6, 2009

Are We Supporting Ourselves?

Lately I've been feeling guilty about my book buying habits. Here I am, a struggling novelist hoping that readers would give me a chance and buy my book (when the time comes). But, do I do that myself?

What are the last books I've purchased full price for?

Let me think.


And, when I do buy books, as I'm planning to do today, which ones am I choosing between? Currently, I'm trying to decide between buying Pulitzer Prize Winning The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Janet Fitch's Paint It Black, and a book from Stephanie Meyer's series Twilight. I realized that I don't even really notice most novels unless they've already gotten a ton of critical and popular acclaim. So, how do these new books build readership? How do they get the attention they want and often deserve? To break out, assuming a writer didn't start with a million dollar advance and publisher co-op deals, debut novels somehow need to be stumbled upon by anxious readers, and not only that, but these readers have to open the books, read them, and actually consider giving them a chance.

As a writer, I am completely intimidated by the blockbuster publishing models that seem to be gaining popularity. This system works because book buyers choose books based on advertising and word-of-mouth. And, to try and play by these rules, I find myself planning ways to get blurbs, personal recommendations to agents, and developing the ever important hook and platform for my book. Basically, I am doing everything I can to make my book a blockbuster, knowing full well that it is impossible for every decent book out there to be THE ONE.

If any system other than the blockbuster model is to work, readers have to explore unheard-of books and give new writers a chance. I'm guilty of not doing this, myself, and I doubt I'm alone.

So, I have made a deal with myself to buy a new full-priced book at least every month. And, something I've already started doing is that I'm putting more effort into recommending books I think my friends will like and giving books as gifts. I'm set on exploring new books, books I've never heard of, with the idea that I might be able to change publishing trends. And, what I suspect will happen, is that I will find many, many books that will astound me, even though no one else has told be how good they are.

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