There’s a subject I’ve wanted to write about for months. Back in October, I was thinking about Anne Tyler and how she represents something to me.
I happen to think Anne Tyler is a great writer. I think most people would agree that Anne Tyler is a successful author who’s done well financially and excelled creatively. Being that reasonable minds can differ on such things, some people may disagree about the quality of her work. However, for my money, I think Anne Tyler’s books are well written and worthy of being read. Certainly, she qualifies as a household name. I also believe she deserves all the success that she’s enjoyed, including having various works adapted into movies for theatrical release and television. On the whole, I’m simply amazed by the woman, particularly in light of the fact that she’s done all this without apparently having lifted a finger marketing-wise.
Please note I said (I’ll repeat the sentence with emphasis on the key word): On the whole, I’m simply amazed by the woman, particularly in light of the fact that she’s done all this without apparently having lifted a finger marketing-wise.
It’s not just that Anne Tyler is a great writer. It’s that she seems to exist in a bubble of some sort. She doesn’t generally grant interviews. She doesn’t blog. She doesn’t have a Web site. She doesn’t tweet. She does have a Facebook page, but does she post to it? Anyhow, I wanted to write a post about it back in October and call it “Reaching for Anne Tyler,” but I never got around to it.
Because Anne Tyler is, to put it simply, what all writers would like to be — just writers. When you come down to it, I think deep in our hearts, this is the goal we all aspire to. It’s not that we don’t enjoy any of the marketing part, like signings or talking to readers — I know I do. And as for blogging … Hey, I’ve got five blogs. What do you think?
So in the post, I was going to draw an analogy between Anne Tyler and a level of excellence and success as a writer. A level of achievement at which one is doing more than simply making money, but creating a lasting and memorable body of work. Whether it be a franchise or particularly notable works of literature. Establishing a name for the ages even. And when I referred to “reaching for Anne Tyler,” I meant striving to achieve that level of greatness. The process all serious writers task themselves with of raising the bar on themselves each time they undertake the next writing project. With the goal of reaching the pinnacle of their abilities. The ultimate dream of all serious writers, to be sure. But like I said, I never did get around to it.
Okay, the reason I finally feel compelled to write this post now is that something has happened. Something major. Something everyone seems to be talking about. Do I dare say the words? Okay. Amanda Hocking. *ducks for cover* Is it safe to come out?
Everyone seems to be talking about Amanda Hocking’s decision to sign with a traditional publisher (or is it a legacy publisher? what the hell do I know? lol). They’re parsing this thing every which way from Sunday (whatever the hell that means ) and analyzing every financial and strategic angle of the thing until no one can see straight or think straight about it anymore. *deep breath* PLUS, now we’re all supposed to be taking sides in some kind of big stupid indie author versus traditionally (oops, legacy) published author war. Yeah, right … whatever.
Okay, first of all, read what Amanda had to say on the matter. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Period.
Second, here’s what I think. And it’s just my .02, of course. As Amanda herself has stated, this is about more than just money, it’s about becoming a name. Like any other writer, Amanda wants to write, not perform secondary tasks. She’s expressed her desire to continue blogging and doing things she wants to do otherwise. Nonetheless, this deal relieves her of significant pressure to handle marketing, as well as editing, cover art and various administrative chores. I suspect her blogging and other outreach to readers will likely continue as it always has, because it’s part of what she is. However, having been relieved of other distractions, she’ll be able to focus much more on what’s important: the writing.
And with the not inconsiderable promotional resources of St. Martin’s at her disposal, she has the chance to become a household name on par with … well, you know who. She’ll have the chance to achieve a greatness that transcends mere monetary value. This represents more than just a dollars and cents deal. It is, in fact, a once in a lifetime opportunity. A writer’s dream. You could even say it’s her chance at reaching for Anne Tyler.