Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rants I Shouldn't Go On

I read a lot of magazines. I have monthlies, but I also have three weeklies - Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and the New Yorker - to give me something new to read every Shabbos or just while I'm eating dinner on weekdays. And it makes me pretty damn angry to find that two of out of three of them have advertised or endorsed P.D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley. The New Yorker had a full-page back cover add (which probably cost at least $50,000, knowing what I know about magazines) and Entertainment Weekly included it in its weekly list of ten things I should care about, which is also advertising. Which is fucking insulting to me.

Let's not bother to discuss the merits of Death Comes to Pemberley because it doesn't really matter. Reviews have been bad-to-mixed, but it's certainly no The Education of Miss Mary Bennet so I have to give him points for just not being that, the worst of the worst when it comes to famous authors cashing in on the craze or just people doing bad writing. I haven't actually read DCTP because even if I had a free copy, I don't have time before India to do much of anything that doesn't involve the trip itself. The real point is, for this much promotion, I want DCTP to be a fucking classic. I want it to justify its existence and the amount of money Knopf has put into promoting it by being better than Pride and Prejudice.

I shouldn't be so down on James. After all, she's a cute little old lady who has worked hard all her life at writing and if she was ever going to make money from it, it definitely has to be now because she's going to keel over in a few years. It's not really that I hate her. It's that I want to be her. I don't want to tear a corrupt system down. I want in on it.

Let's face it: I'm no Shakespeare. I have a certain level of competency at what I do which is pretty established in this genre, and I have enough people liking me to justify its continued publication. But I wrote ten G-ddamn books in 5 years while also attending grad school, and have spent even longer promoting them, mostly by myself or with very little publisher money. I did all of the blogging and the social networking and got my Jane Austen creds by going to England and I still pay JASNA $30 every year or whatever it is for them to invite me to events that I can't attend because they're on Shabbos. I give away digital copies of the early drafts for free. I joined author social networks and I read all the Jane Austen blogs. The point is, I've paid my fucking dues, stretching my budget to spend my hours doing publicity until the next royalty check comes, and I'm going to continue to do all of this and I would appreciate I don't know, ANY of what she had handed on her to her on a silver platter. In fact, I think I would be happy with jut the platter.

Any other Austen author who says she doesn't feel this way is lying to you.


Anonymous said...

Good for you Marsha! Even some of he non-published Fanfic is better than books I've read. Your talent should be acknowledged. Why are you going to India?

Marsha Altman said...

I'm volunteering in the Tibetan refugee community. You can follow it on my other blog: