Q&A-holes (Good writers behaving badly)

Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series, on Jennifer Byrne Presents: Bestsellers and Blockbusters, responding to a question about rivalry between authors of genre fiction and authors of literary fiction:
I think this is a serious point actually, that the rivalry does not come from us. Why would I care about Ian McEwan? The rivalry comes from them, and it is not necessarily about the sales, it’s about something else, it’s about this: that they know in their heart that we could write their books but they cannot write our books. That’s what it’s about...In the paper in Britain last week, I deliberately said — I was trying to start a fight about it — I said, “Oh, I could write a Martin Amis book. It would take me about three weeks, it would sell three thousand copies like he sells.” And that’s what it is. They know they can’t do what we do and they are jealous of that skill.
And then Joe Konrath, whose self-promotion skills are second only to his self-esteem, asks himself questions to answer on his decision to release his next book via AmazonEncore:
Q: Aren't you going to piss off traditional publishers?

A: Traditional publishers had a chance to buy Shaken last year. They passed on it. Their loss. Their big loss. Their big, huge, monumental, epic fail.
Tether these two inflated heads to a drill team from Schenectady, and they could be featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Let's use our inside voices, boys.


Wow, big inflated egos indeed. The irony is that in grad school, people say the first comment, but the other way around. They think it's so easy to write a genre novel that they could do that in three weeks. The thing is, it's hard to write a good novel in ANY genre, literary or otherwise. And yes, as Mark says, literary IS a genre. And just because something is literary doesn't make it deep. Sigh.

Oh, and my favorite comment about this from a professor: "What separates us from the bestsellers is that there must be a tension in our works between savoring and wanting to turn the page." To which I responded (internally) "then I must not be one of you, because I really want my readers to want to turn the page." Sure I'd like them to come back later and savor, but I want to keep them reading.


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