Books? Why would Anyone Want to Sell Them?

December 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Steve in The Writing Life

Books? Why would Anyone Want to Sell Them?

Had a reading group dinner last night. This was new to me and I hauled along my mystery to talk about, plus another by another author. This led to a short discussion with a retired academic about changes in the publishing industry. In the course of that he sneered at “popularly-written” books and informed me that stilted, formal writing with lengthy expository pages was the standard in professional writing. (By “professional,” he meant other professions, not the MB1Cover192x300profession of writing.)

“How many copies of those books do they sell?” I asked.

He looked at me as if I had farted in church. “Well, if all you care about is the money, … ” he started to say.

“Yeah,” I said. “All I care about is the money.”

This is an old dichotomy in the publishing world. There’s nothing wrong, in my mind, with publishing a 100-page screed on The Tonsil Appendages of Costa Rican Tree Frogs and that publication may help you secure tenure at some university. But don’t sneer at people like me who have written millions of published words on all manner of subjects, both nonfiction and fiction.

Check out Mangrove Bayou
for a disgusting example of popular writing. 



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