Advice for Aspiring and First-Time Authors (a.k.a. The Book Business)
I have not read Nathan Rabin’s new memoir The Big Rewind, but I did read and enjoy his recent A.V. Club blog post about his experience as a first-time author. It deals not with getting published or creating the book itself, but with the process of putting out his book. The article’s intended audience are those first-time or aspiring authors who might benefit from his experience, and it contains the kind of honest, real-world account of a working creative type I find inspiring.
I don’t publish books, but, as I hope you know, I do release music. Whatever the medium through which someone is disseminating ideas into the world (whether it be writing, music, dance etc…), things usually shared in common by their creators are the toil that’s put into the piece, the excitement that comes as the piece is nearing completion, the anticipation of sharing the work with the world, and the complex emotions one experiences as the work makes its hopefully long, unpredictable, and exciting journey through the world. Rabin’s post mostly touches on this last item.
Also, as I can rarely take anything in the media at face value, I’ll point out here that in addition to giving advice, two other motives seem to be behind the blog post. One is to promote the book to A.V. Club readers, obviously. The other, and I think this might be the main reason he wrote this piece, is to address what Rabin characterizes as a particularly nasty review made by a Washington Post reviewer. This redemption of credibility, honor, morale etc… enhances the article, I think, because it’s interesting to see a critic qua memoirist responding to an allegedly mean critic in a way that doesn’t come across as overly defensive or whiney (the usual rule of thumb is to ignore the writers of bad reviews, no matter how ignorant they seem to be of the facts), and it does serve as a lesson in general for aspiring creative types.
The overriding message: when you’re selling something that is important to you like a memoir, you are unavoidably engaging in cold, hard, bottom line-oriented business; the real reward is the interaction with people who appreciate what you are doing as a feeling, thinking, creative person, not as a business person. (However, I would add here the caveat that this sort of appreciation – or admiration - is generally directed towards the image and idea people have of the person who created the work as well as the work itself, not at the actual person; that’s what friends and family are for.)
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