Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oddest Industry Ever

This week I wound up thinking a lot about why I do what I do from the point of view that we are defined by what we do to earn money -- the "why bother" factor crops up again and again when I do that. Fred Wah asked me about this in an interview this week, both with regard to writing and publishing, and I found myself staring off into space unable to formulate an answer despite knowing that I hold a pure and deep belief that what I write and what I publish IS important. People who live their lives doing "normal jobs" (I don't know why I call them by this name since my life feels pretty normal most of the time, but I suppose it serves a purpose here to label them as such) constantly use the term "courageous" when they find out the details of what I do as a writer and a publisher. I have met other people in the publishing industry (usually people who have made savvy choices and work for large corporate publishers) who tell me they are so glad that publishers like BookThug exist because the companies they work for would love to publish the kind of work we publish but when such projects cross an editor's desk they are ultimately rejected by the firm's finance department. And the miniature "business guy" inside me thinks: that's pretty smart, I should get a finance department. But I'd have to pay said department more than my yearly budget to publish 15-20 books of literature to turn the things I want to publish away. And after they tell me how courageous I am these people don't buy any of the books I publish anyway, so I guess I'm stuck in the cottage industry the mass media as defined for me. So yay!

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