What is the opposite?

5 years ago

Yesterday day my daughter reminded me of the "Doing the opposite philosophy." My favorite horse trainer, Pat Parelli, says the same. “Watch what others are doing, and do the opposite.”

Okay, what is the opposite?

Here is what prompted this question. I have been getting material from literary agents on how one must have a platform, give speeches, you know, all that.  I have written ad nauseam about this subject, but give me one more chance. Here is an article from FAST COMPANY that pushed me over the edge. I don’t disagree with the writer, he knows his business. I just don’t want to play the game.

Why Books Are The Ultimate New Business Card

By Ryan Holiday

|September 18, 2012

Books are no longer simply books, they are branding devices and credibility signals--not to mention the reason their authors command large speaking or consulting fees.

“You don’t understand,” the three-time, big-six published author told me. “Books aren’t designed for you, the customer. Today, non-fiction books are business cards--for speaking, consulting, and deals.”

I am assuming Holiday is speaking of non-fiction books rather than novels, for if we must BRAND all writers, meaning they must have a presence before publication, where will the next To kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee) come from? Where would Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein fit in, or Richard Back’s Illusions? What about Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, or his Fahrenheit 451? You know about Fahrenheit 451? It’s a prophetic tale of the abolition of books, and the people who, to preserve them, each memorized one entire book.

Are we thwarting the publication of books destined to become classics? What about books such as Cervantes’s Don Quixote, or Homer’s Iliad or Virgil’s Aeneid. And The Bible? The Bible doesn’t have a by-line, and it is considered non-fiction. It is, however, by viture of its longevity, a BRAND. Everybody knows its name.

I’m not saying I have written the next great American Novel, and given all the marks on my pages by an editor, not a very good non-fiction book either, but I can still object to the publishing attitude. They can call an author a brand, a device, a credibility signal, a business card, a resume, a billboard, whatever they choose, but what about content?

Holiday asks a question: “Is the term ‘best-selling author’ worth anything anymore?”


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