Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Art is Dead, Long Live Art.

Imagine with me a future where painters can only buy two colours, actors spend their whole working lives playing the same part, dancers only "street dance" and musicians only play songs written for them and do not compose. Sounds horrendous, no? Yet this is exactly what seems to be happening in fiction publishing.

 Large scale publishing is killing literature. I get that it needs to be profitable , but at what cost?  If you write you will one day look into publishing your work. What you get from publishers , online writer's resources and agents is a long list of what they do not want. Publishers do not want , wizards, vampires, rhymes, short romantic heroes,  too long, too short, too many or too few chapters. They want a cover letter, biography and synopsis, correct spelling, punctuation and grammar and they want to be grabbed from the first sentence. No pressure then. If you choose to write for children the list of do's and don't's is even longer. Publishers expect you to research your audience, to craft your writing to fit in to a particular genre, age group and educational stage and to still be original ,entertaining and most importantly sale-able.  

If you have written a bestseller however, all of that goes out the window. They will publish any old dross you pump out. They will send you on book tours, into schools and expect to find yourself on the sofa with Ruth and Eamon; not to mention fighting off all of those Hollywood film offers. Publishers are not interested in good books, they are interested on marketable writers and best selling books.

The music industry  is going the same way. You only have to think of the previous winners of shows like the X-Factor to see the industry is eating itself. It is so busy giving us what it thinks we want that it is dying on it's feet. The moguls cry no one is buying music anymore, but why is that? Could it be because when a record company gets hold of a young artist they push them to produce, to tour to appear at the opening of all the envelopes. They tell them what to perform , what to wear, who to be. Is it any wonder they burn out, drop out and lose their muse? Creativity is an organic thing , it needs to be fed and nurtured. The best way to kill creativity in my humble opinion is to try to make it into a formula.

I used to think self -publishing through companies like Blurb and Createspace from Amazon was just a vanity project for those who refuse to believe their work isn't good enough to be published, but I have changed my mind. I think it's the future. If you have any talent and you put the work in sooner or later people will take notice. Why whore yourself out to publishers and agents who's primary interest is frankly, their own advancement and profit?