George Clooney, I’m told, uses his star power for good. That is, he makes a blockbuster—say, Ocean’s Thirteen—to keep his box-office mojo shiny, then spends that star capital on getting Burn After Reading made. Or The Perfect Storm so O Brother, Where Art Thou? can exist. The Coens, it would seem, owe megamovies a great debt.
Of course, step one in being George Clooney is to be a beloved star of the silver screen, admired by men and women alike, with excellent bone structure and the slickest voice since Cary Grant. That’s harder to pull off as an author. People don’t spend their entire time reading Byuck simultaneously admiring my cheekbones.
Let’s move sideways a moment and consider the elitism in the surprisingly good New York Times article (too many books sold aint good lit!) and the reverse elitism of (not enough books sold is pointless lit!)—or Scott Hales’s look at the brouhaha for that matter—and keep all those in mind while we skip over to 2002.
I only remember a couple things from EnderCon. The first is Michael R. Collings’s excellent exegesis of the Ender books as epic. The second is bits of Scott Card’s speech, most specifically that he wasn’t going to be finishing the Women of Genesis or Alvin Maker series any time soon because they didn’t sell well and he had to write bestsellers every single time or next time bookstores won’t bother to carry the next Ender sequel since they only look back as far as the last book published. It’s bad business to write what you want when you want. It’s good business to milk the Ender cow till it dries up and the wind blows the dust from its bones. (My metaphor, not his.)
Stay with me. We’re skipping back to Larry now. Who says that if you’re not writing to sell as many books as possible every damn time (Larry’s word, not mine), you’re wasting your time.
I called that attitude reverse elitism before and now I’ll be more specific as to why I feel that way.
Essentially, elitism is saying my audience is more valuable than your audience, right? We’re most aware of elitism when it excludes the largest number of people. So college professors are generally considered more elitist than Larry because apparently people who love complicated weapons blowing stuff up buy more books than people who love sad Sally having an epiphany. But that doesn’t mean sadsacks don’t deserve their own literature.
Small audiences deserve good stuff to read just as much big audiences.
Which is why being George Clooney is a great career choice.
Step one: Become George Clooney
Step two: Alternate between massively popular genre bestsellers and the weird Mormon crap I’m fond of.
This seems pretty bulletproof as I think publishing’s changed enough since EnderCon that it might be doable.
I’m just stuck on step one. . . .