Posts Tagged ‘critique’

An Open Challenge to JA Konrath

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

 

There’s no sense being coy about it; I think I can take him. 
For those who don’t know, Mr. J.A. Konrath is the author of thrillers such as Whiskey Sour, A Shot of Tequila, and his new release, Flee, which was co-written by the brilliant Ann Voss Peterson. 

He’s toured the nation, speaking at libraries and bookstores, conferences and conventions, and is one of the pioneers in electronic self-publishing, lending platform and legitimacy to the e-book revolution (even before it was cool). 

And this summer, if he accepts, I’m going to take him on.   

At the beginning of June, I challenge Mr. Konrath to make a post on his blog about our competition, and inform his readers that he and I are in a head to head sales duel.
Now, at first this may smell like a dirty ploy to increase sales, and it is. However, in a break from my traditionally rotten nature, I have something of an altruistic motive as well.  

Despite the scattered success stories of a few self-starters who hit the right chords at just the right times, we writers know that e-pubbing your manuscript without the explicit blessing of the Big Six irrelevants is likely a path to nowhere. Or rather, a path to single digit royalty statements and a muted, gray joy of knowing that six people read your book.

I’d like to show that’s not the case. I’d like to show that if you’re willing to put as much work into promotion as you did into writing, your horizons are vastly broader than the e-oblivion so many surrender themselves to out of a fear of hope.

Joe got where he is because he worked hard and had a good product to sell, not just because he was lucky. And because that work paid off, he’s now my target. I want to show that with a bit of help and a lot of work, even someone as “new” (to being published, anyway) and untested as me can compete with one of the greats, although perhaps for just a month.  

So, Joe, here are the particulars I suggest for the battle that I call “Beat Joe in June.” 

Time: June 1st, we both announce across the interweb (twitter, facebook, blog, etc.) that the duel is on. Whosoever gets the most sales for the month of June is declared the winner.

Weapon: 1 title of your choice. I’ve only got one at the moment, so I’ll obviously be going with that.

Stakes: (Apart from glory, of course) Should I win, you must write and eventually publish a short story called “Why Jonas is Great.” In the much more likely event of my downfall, I’ll write and publish a story called “The Day Chicago Joe Kicked My Ass.” 

Beneficiaries:(Apart from the competitors, the readers, and all self-pubbed or soon-to-be-so out there) Win or lose, I’d be willing to give 50% of my profits earned in June to Kickstarter programs and help keep the art cycle going.  You’ve already donated profits regularly to various causes; perhaps you’d be willing to match my 50% on the title you choose? 

And there it is, folks. Can a relative-unknown compete with a towering literary juggernaut? The challenge is made. Do you think he’ll show? Joe, if you’re out there, does this sound like something fun? You don’t strike me as the bashful type.After this, I fully intend to challenge Barry Eisler to a live Judo match at a writing conference. (Beware the  sankaku, my friend, even from a mere shodan)

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The Shoulders of Giants

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

 

As with any generation, we’re in a state of evolutionary flux, moreso with our art than perhaps anything else. It’s no coincidence that the greatest writers of all time have drawn inspiration from the titans that bounded around the mythical mountaintops before them. 

There’s a whisper of Robbins’s off-beat flamboyancy in Franzen , Vonnegut-esque hints of alien existentialism in Robbins, the hand of Joyce in Vonnegut’s work, and so on back into the cuneiform days.

In fiction, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that there are two primary categories: fluff and further.  Fluff has it’s place, much like taco-bell in the fast-food lineup. Every once in a blackout-drunk we’ll treat ourselves to the non-meat biohazard sour cream buffet.  After all, we’re not dying nearly quick enough, right?

There’s no judgment here; I wouldn’t wish a life devoid of cliché erotica and moody vampires on anyone.  My question is this- How healthy is it to fill our frontal lobes with filler for every meal?

Levity and dirty sex and dubious spy capers find their way into furthering our literary evolution sometimes, but I suppose I’m a damn snob.

More than any specific criteria, books that I read move me and change me most when I can hear their words echo down the long hallway of human passion.  This is the “further” category.

There’s something to the ghosts of lost writers being superimposed on the page that gives me a communion with not just the fellow (or madam) whose name graces the cover, but with the collective consciousness of the once-trail-blazers who’ve passed their energy entirely into the new breed of interior explorers.

Look at your to-read pile and ask yourself how many of the on-deck tomes stick their noses out another inch or two into the future, and maybe try to focus a bit more on those. It’s our job to climb and give a better view for the oncoming usurpers and arrogant upstarts that’ll rule our old stomping ground tomorrow.

Perhaps our progeny of readers and artists could be better served than looking down upon idiotic celebrity memoirs and hallucinatory conspiracy theories. Not an unreasonable position, I don’t think, but feel free to tell me otherwise.

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