Is “The Middle” Overrated In 2023?

The Gonzo Journals

March 6th, 2023

Yesterday, my wife discovered a very familiar package inhabiting our mailbox. A well-known film director from Amsterdam requested a copy of Starving Zoe ninety days ago and I sent it immediately. Three months later, it appeared back in my mailbox with no explanation.

I can expect the book came back into my possession because the “middle” management refused to sign for it. Yes, I wanted to make absolutely damn sure it arrived to this director all the way over in Amsterdam so I paid extra for a required signature upon delivery. If I recall correctly, this service was somewhere in the vicinity of fifty dollars which basically paid for a copy of Starving Zoe to take a worldwide vacation. She didn’t even bother to bring back weed!

I’ll keep the director nameless for now because I don’t want to spoil my relationship. His talent agency reached out to me via email and requested the book. There’s the problem in a nutshell. Talent management dropped the ball again, and now I have a copy of a book I can do absolutely nothing with. So, shipping, a signature, and the cost of the book altogether is a wasted sixty dollars. I tell you, living the dream is getting ridiculously expensive.

I had a talent agent from 2015 to 2019 and it was a wonderful experience. He managed to get some of my work before the eyes of both Stephen King and Jack Ketchum before his untimely passing. Our work was reviewed within the pages of the New York Times and Fangoria Magazine, but a troublemaker with another literary agency raised hell within the community causing both publications to abandon the project. All in all, it was worth it. The only reason I ceased dealing with the agency is because my agent became ill. The agency closed forever, and I was left stuck without representation. Oddly enough, my career climbed to higher heights after that. Was the agency even necessary?

Also, I’d say about half of the Splatterpunk Award nominees over the past few years have been self-published authors. Are traditional publishers and small press becoming unnecessary street humps on our way to success? Sure, traditional publishers will get you into places like Barnes & Noble and Books A Million, but does anyone even shop at those places anymore? When I enter a bookstore, it’s basically a bunch of “look at me” poons sitting at the coffee counter pecking away on laptops. It’s not about buying physical copies of the books; it’s about being seen in a location stereotypically associated with intelligence. Damn are they wrong!

Most people I know shop on Amazon for books and don’t even bother obtaining the physical copy anymore. As for me and mine, our bookshelves are overflowing. We decided to reserve physical copies of books for those which have been autographed and personalized. A Kindle is a beautiful piece of technology, after all, and the trees love you for it.

Tree stump, Rushock churchyard by Philip Halling is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

The bottom line of this whole discussion is that technology is at our fingertips to be successful. Anyone with an email address and a bit of savvy can pedal their wares just as well as any literary agent, and KDP and Ingram give authors way more options than your traditional small press. You’re basically giving them half your income for doing the exact same thing a five-year-old can do with a laptop and an internet connection. Rarely ever do most of them edit your work worth a shit or give it a snappy cover you’re satisfied with. Statistically, you have a horrible chance of getting involved with a vanity press who will ask you for more money once they’ve accepted your manuscript.

Modern day publishing is all a lie in my opinion. Sure, it provides a much-needed push by developing camaraderie among your peers, but these are all things you can do on dreadful social media for free. Formatting a book and using spell check a few times is not rocket science by any means. Develop a vocally obnoxious/depressed personality on Facebook and all the lonely readers will flock to your misfortune out of want for a stray wiener here and there. It’s disgusting, really. Dick pics and free books can take an author far, I’ve heard. Right into the DM’s of social media review culture. Don’t you want to watch some super scary soccer moms pretend to be a literary authority in a hastily made – more than likely edited on their lunch break as the assistant manager of Hot Topic in the humid confines of their ’92 Geo Metro filled to the windows with McDonalds trash and empty Monster cans – YouTube video? Yeah, me neither.

Wow. That was oddly specific!



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