Kassia Krozser is
baffled and amazed by authors who do not see marketing as part of their jobs. First off, is there really a job description for authors? If so, please forward to me as I have a few holes in my resume and I’m too lazy to do the work myself. Second, what planet are you living on? Very, very few authors have the luxury of not engaging in marketing. And even they have to do talk show appearances or “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”.
Why should this be baffling? If writers wanted to be marketers, presumably they would have become. . .marketers. Instead they chose to be writers, presuming that marketing was the job of publishers. Admittedly, publishers now do a terrible job, not just of marketing, but of judging talent, editing, and nourishing careers. Indeed, they're terrible at all the jobs writers once thought defined the very word, "publisher." That writers ceded editorial control to the publishers was the devil's bargain they had to strike with modern capitalism, something they had to exchange in order to get matters of business taken care of. I suppose that, in the wake of the violation of this deal on the part of publishers, writers who still want the benefits accompanying the bargain--placement in bookstores, reviews in important newspapers, etc.--might be forced to do both the writing and the selling, but I don't see why they should have known this would be part of their job, and I certainly don't know why they would continue to regard mainstream publishers as the arbiters of "success." If these publishers are not publishing their books with any care, if they're dropping them after the first book flops (due mostly to the publisher's own incompetence), and if they're going to force writers to do all the grunt work, anyway, what earthly reason do writers have to endure the situation and submit themselves to such humiliations?
Now, I know that Kassia has the best interests of writers in mind. And I also know that if the publishing of fiction were to move farther toward self-publishing as a viable mode, the need for writers to become marketers and promoters would no doubt become even more acute. But it's the publishers themselves who have brought things to this pass, and it won't do to let them off the hook by claiming they're "book-focused" rather than "author-focused" and noting they're "juggling hundreds, maybe thousands of authors." If they've let their business practices spiral out of control, whose fault is that, exactly? Should we really compound this failure by now chastising those writers who haven't yet gotten with the new program and become their own publicists? The "marketing" crisis is a failure of capitalism, yet another example of its increasingly crude, bottom-line mentality, with the marketing of books now being outsourced to the writers themselves. Should we cheerfully give in to this?
Kassia concludes by urging us to accept the new paradigm in which "the author as a business" holds equal place with "the writer as a creative being." Given we live in a culture that post-Reagan capitalism has transformed into one that is "all-business, all-the-time," acceding to the new paradigm might be inevitable, resisting it futile. Acquiescing to the notion that "Marketing might be a distraction for a writer, but. . .essential if you’re an author" may well be necessary to "succeed" in the brave new world avaricious publishers have created, but one might still hope that some people will choose to be writers nevertheless, and let the authors be damned.