By Jack Engelhard
The trick is to get yourself a good publicist, a publicist, as I was once told, who would kill for you. Well, that’s going too far, don’t you think? I haven’t had a publicist since that one time back then. After that it’s been me and you and where are you? I must learn the art of persuasion, public relations, backslapping. I should go to the right parties. I should do lunch at Elaine’s. I should get out more. Must get on TV. Better yet, get my own show.
My guess is that I’ll become rich and famous after I die. That’s how it usually happens. Success (for artists) usually happens after it too late.
I have no idea why I’m complaining. Most people have it worse. My gripe, I guess, is why we need all that marketing and the trickery that goes with it and why it is that TV personalities have all the apparatus and all the luck – when real writers are stuck at our computers without a paddle.
That was today when that host on TV begged his guest to read his book – which, incidentally, is already number one. Still not enough – aye? There’s this other TV guy who always ends his show by pimping his book. Shouldn’t there be a law against this? Isn’t that advertising? You and me, we’d have to pay for such a plug.
Is it really a book anyway when it’s written by committee? Don’t tell me those celebs are actually sweating away at the typewriter. My guess is that they “approve” what’s handed to them by the team of writers who’ve been bought and paid for. Maybe you know those personalities, the ones I’m talking about, but I won’t mention them for fear of being blacklisted.
No, please don’t make me name names. They’ll never invite me. I’ll never get on. I must behave so that the NY Times will notice me as it notices Dave Eggers and the rest of that crowd that they love so much whether they write well or not – all of them geniuses of the month. So I must learn to behave or learn to sell, sell myself, sell my books, do Oprah.
I’ll get on it right after this nap.
I suggest that the finest writing – even great writing – is untapped, unpublicized, unread, even unpublished.
King Solomon said that “there is no end to the publishing of too many books” – and that was 3,000 years ago, before Gutenberg and before they all got on TV.
I do notice that books that become bestsellers are generally non-fiction – about golf or losing weight, mostly all about success and improving yourself and the world, millions of such books are being bought and sold though strangely as of yet I have seen no improvement in behavior as to individuals or the world.
Real literature is not about the world but it is about a corner of the world. That’s the most a writer can do is write about his corner and believe it, often enough that corner, small as it is, speaks for the universe. Each person is a universe and so is each book. When writer and reader meet at the same corner, that’s the magic of literature.
If you’re reading this you’re not watching TV, some TV host or TV guest pushing his books. Well, that’s a start.
Novelist Jack Engelhard wrote the international best-seller “Indecent Proposal” that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His latest novels are “The Bathsheba Deadline” and “The Girls of Cincinnati.” He can be reached at www.jackengelhard.com