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April 18, 2010


Great post, and enhanced by your unique voice and unique way of structuring your arguments. I could pick this out as a Colin Marshall piece of writing a mile away, and I love that.

Welcome to the future. And, as both a Creator and a Consumer, you're going to get whacked by this future twice as hard as a guy who is merely trying to choose between buying Maxim and any of its competitors once a month.

Your point about "profile" is well taken. I hope you don't mind if I apply it to ... you.

Bob Edwards (XM Radio, subscription model, "push" method of distributing content) interviewed Richard Nash last week. It was the first time I'd heard him, and I was blown away by the quality of his insight about what's happening right now in publishing. I set out to buy the interview, since apparently I can't hear it for free through Bob Edward's site. It looks like I'm going to pay $2.99 to own it through iTunes (internet, by the piece rather than by the pound, as it were, "pull" model of distributing content). But you mention here in your blog (internet, free, push/pull hybrid) that you interviewed Nash on your podcast (internet, free, push/pull). First I heard of it, even though I already subscribe to Marketplace of New Ideas.

Why hadn't I heard your interview with Richard Nash? Part of it is the profile problem. I subscribe to 20 podcasts -- a few too many to listen to, so I filter. The way I filter is by reading the little description in the listing for each episode of the show. The description for your interview with Richard Nash reads as follows: "Part three of our ongoing series of conversations about the future of books and reading, t" That's it. That's all you get.

By now, I can't remember how I found you -- whether iTunes recommended Marketplace, and I then searched further and found the blog, or whether a blog linked to your blog and I then found Marketplace. These days, I'm almost entirely focused on finding good, efficient filters, though, and anything you can do to raise your profile will help the both of us. You have a lot of content that I'm sure I would love but that is completely inaccessible to me, and I'm more persistent than the average person.

At various times you circle the issue of where you're going with your work, how you can support yourself doing it, and why so much of what you produce is met with silence. As such, you have a lot in common with the publishers at the AWWP book fair. But as somebody with cash-in-fist looking for content, you have a lot in common with ME. My interest in Richard Nash is such that, at this point, I'd probably be willing to pay to listen to your interview with him. Help me help you. What other content of yours might I be interested in?

If I was a writer who had been published by, say, Writer's Collective Two, and had read this post, I would have a number of reactions, chief among them FURY at my publisher. But you are light years ahead of these stylish, hip, super-smart and sexy young entrepreneurs, because you are dialed directly into my network of filters. My next content purchase (through Amazon: internet, by the piece not the pound, incredibly effective push/pull model) is going to be Greg Whyte's "Fatal Traps for Helicopter Pilots," content that, I assure you, is not and never will be available for free. But I should be paying YOU for your Richard Nash interview (too late: it just finished downloading).

Here's the thing to remember about MFA programs: At their core, they are nothing more than containers for 10,000 hours of practice. Laboring for so long without the benefit of "success" can be a soul-deadening experience. The MFA degree is a trail of incentive-izing breadcrumbs -- hopefully, but probably not, with a better outcome than Grimm's, but so what?

"It gets at the reason you won't find me in an MFA program, or indeed, in any other branch of academe: the academy talks to itself." But you are in the academe: you're taking a class in film-making. And the experience you're having there -- some people love your work, some people hate it, some people can't offer you anything beyond "I'm confused" -- is part of the value of these programs: you're learning stuff you might not otherwise -- certainly you're learning how problematic the idea of "audience" is to a creative person -- and you're getting to practice within a highly structured environment: assignment, execution, feedback, grade. That's not the only way to practice, but it's not the worst way. [Question to self: is writing long comments to blog posts a good or bad way to practice one's art?]

I hope you share more about your experiences at this conference.

Gents, I'm both gratified to be the topic of this, and also loving your dialogue. Lordie, this is the great challenge isn't it? I spent a chunk of time walking about AWP myself, and did manage to surface what I thought were interesting tables, but damn, I'm SO immersed in that world. There have to be better ways to create taxonomies in there...

Also, Colin, next time we're in the same room, grab me to say Hi! Dan, ditto you of course, it's just that I'm sad I didn't get to say hello to Colin at AWP!

I just read this entire post and all comments hoping to find an explanation for that skunk on the carpet.

Richard, tremendous work on the Bob Edwards show -- I was riveted, listening while driving (potentially dangerous, but very enjoyable nonetheless). However, I was horrified to hear you say that my favorite author, Jim Harrison, doesn't sell more than 20,000 copies a book. That's just hardback, yes? Another million in trade paperback?

Thanks, Dan! So I just checked chapter and verse on his sales and the answer is both better and worse than you fear. The hardcovers in fact do more like 30K-40K units. But the paperbacks don't do much better. In fact, about the same. Which leads me to believe that I'm really probably right about him—publisher needs to create super groovy limited editions, and be virtually giving away the digital. He should have more readers, and more money...

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