In support of his latest novel Rage is Back, Adam Mansbach — author of Shackling Water, Angry Black White Boy, The End of the Jews, NYT Bestseller Go the F**k to Sleep, et al — wrote a frank description of the state of the publishing industry today. In the Salon.com piece, he specifically goes in on how un-glamorous book touring can be on. Here’s an excerpt.
The publishing industry stopped having new ideas out of respect for the untimely death of Ernest Hemingway in 1961, and has been doing everything the same way ever since. Usually without adjusting for inflation. Thus, when a publishing house releases a book – a gala event that occurs only 3,567 times per house per day, straining the resources of each house’s four publicists (collectively comprising 6 percent of Sarah Lawrence College’s class of 2009) and two Commodore 64 computers – the strategy to propel that title to the top of the bestseller list is usually multi-pronged:
1) Send copies of the book to whatever newspapers still exist, along with a polite note asking them to start reviewing books again.
2) Encourage the author to capitalize on his social media network by hassling the shit out of nursery school friends of his parents on Facebook with constant, self-serving blather.
3) Express tremendous enthusiasm for new, innovative means of promotion – viral videos, mixtapes, wall murals, shaving the book title into the back fur of two dozen liquored-up Bonobo monkeys and releasing them at the American Library Association’s annual dinner – followed by tremendous disappointment that there isn’t money in the budget for any of them. Though, of course, nobody would object if the author wanted to pay for these things on his own. Given the generous mid-five-figure advance he and his family have been living on for three years now.
4) Send the author to bookstores in various cities, in the hopes that a local plutocrat might happen to wander by, glance through the plate glass window, notice that a person is standing inside reading aloud from a book, and be moved to come in and purchase 235 copies, thus amortizing the cost of the author’s flight and hotel.
Read his full assessment here.