Thursday, August 02, 2007

From Tom Piccirilli

Hey Ed: sending this on because I thought you might appreciate it. In trying to do some promotion for my latest novel, I've been running into wall after wall with local newspapers and booksellers. Talked to a "reporter/columnist" this morning and her dismissiveness set me off. Just fired off a letter to the editor, publisher, and several other columnists at the paper. I really hate myself when I get all enraged and anxiety-struck about something like this, but I hate myself even more if I do absolutely nothing about it.

Tom Piccirilli

Dear Sir:

After having published fifteen mass market paperback novels with major publishers (for the last five years, I've been with Bantam Books, and before that Berkley and Pocket Books), I've reached a career level that can only be called "modest," at best. I've been reviewed by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, and appeared on Channel 2 News in a report covering my work. I've received quotes from bestselling authors such as Dean Koontz, David Morrell, F. Paul Wilson, Ken Bruen, and others.

I make no claims to be an earth-shaker in any capacity, nor to have chins wagging in Barnes & Noble stores all across the land. Or in any. However my latest suspense novel THE MIDNIGHT ROAD is in its second printing after only a month on bookstore shelves. The novel has sold foreign rights to Germany and book club rights to the Mystery Guild, the Literary Guild, and the Doubleday Book Club.

So when I'm told by one of your columnists that she receives "four to five books a month from local authors, and I have no one to cover them," and I'm met with complete and overwhelming indifference while trying to promote my work, I admit my heart sinks a little.

Not merely because I'm ignored by a local paper that covers community events, people, and entertainment, but because it reaffirms my belief that books and professional fiction writers are becoming less and less important in today's culture. Even by the people who work in journalism and the news media, who know how difficult it is to face down the empty page every day.

In an age when print-on-demand capability and vanity presses make it as easy to "publish" a book as to print out a grocery list, the art of writing/publishing/reading seems to be suffering even more greatly now than ever before. Saying that one is a "novelist" is casting doubt and aspersion on oneself. In recent weeks as I've set out to do a bit of publicity, I've not only been met with apathy and resistance, but anxiety, dismay, and outright hostility as well. Because so many people in these very industries of news reportage, promotion, and bookselling fear they're being bamboozled by some kind of con artist when a "local author" appears.

Ms. ### might argue the point–though I doubt she will–that during our brief conversation this morning she was filled with ambivalence and misgiving. I was merely one of several local authors who month after month try to wind my way into the ###'s pages. I didn't stand out in her mind whatsoever from any other author. Not even the very nice lady who lives down the block from me, who has recently self-published her book on thimble collecting.

And though my work may not be of interest to many, I can assure you that it's certainly not snake oil.


Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of fifteen novels including THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. He's a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award and the World Fantasy Award.

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Anonymous said...

I sympathize with Tom P. and liken this to the time I asked a clerk in a bookstore chain if he'd like me to sign my book. He asked, "Why would I want you to write in the book?" He might as well have been working in Burger King, and I fear the same might be true now for the people working at newspapers across the country.


Anonymous said...

Tom Piccirilli is a gifted novelist I have admired from afar. He is up against the disintegration of our traditional literary world, and I hope he can somehow pull his literary career out of the ruins.

Richard Wheeler

Anonymous said...

Good for Tom. I'm glad he spoke up.

Cap'n Bob said...

He must live in Tacoma. I've gotten zilch from our local fishwrapper and independent bookstores. I need Don King to promote my book around here, apparently.