Very Different Personages

The Man Behind the Curtain

From time to time I still run into aspiring authors who dream of signing a Big Book Deal™ with a New York publishing house. Similarly, there are still cockeyed optimists who are convinced that Hollywood poz factories will go back to making wholesome entertainment as soon as a particular trouble-making executive is removed.

The Anonymous conservative cites this confession by a German reporter about how and why the manufacturers of our culture are really chosen.
Think about everyone who bought the narrative. You want to be a reporter? Go to college and study journalism. Work hard and get good grades. Network and build relationships. Intern at a news organization at every opportunity and build those relationships. Find important stories and break them. Your purpose is to inform the public and be a critical part of our democracy. Anybody can work hard and attain the highest position. You can do it yourself, you just have to work hard.
Imagine the person who did all that, applied for that job, and saw it just given to this guy, for no discernible reason. Imagine the hundreds of other applicants who did that, and all had been led down a pathway that led to failure, because they believed what the system told them.
"Led down a pathway that led to failure, because they believed what the system told them" would serve as a tragically accurate epitaph for the Millennial generation.
Now look at Hollywood. You want to be an A-list actor? Go to Hollywood and work hard and perfect your craft, and you can be a star. Do you really think those plum positions, where you work six months, get paid $20 million dollars, and can express your political views to affect the public dialog are really given out randomly? How many have sacrificed their life as they chased that dream, never knowing it was all a scam?
How many have lost their lives to the scam?

The scams being run in journalism, publishing, Hollywood, etc. don't work in isolation, either. They're each part of a mutually reinforcing narrative. Think about how the lives and career paths of legacy pub authors are absurdly romanticized in movies. According to Hollywood, every pro author wears tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and flits around lavish book release parties hobnobbing with celebrities when they're not brooding in their Swedish Modern apartments in Manhattan waiting for a visit from the muse.
It is tough to say how much control is exerted over all of these areas, but more and more, it seems quite extensive. And if that is so, the greatest crime is the wasted potential of all the people who could have made everything of a higher quality, if only they understood that the system was always rigged, and doing what it told them was a waste of their time. There is no meritocracy at the top. They would have been better off focusing their efforts elsewhere, where their drive could have been more productive, and where their efforts would have tangibly improved society.
Attention, aspiring authors: Don't end up like the Confederacy of Dunces guy. There has never been a better time in history to be an author than right now. Skip the rejection carousel, stop querying parasitic agents, and go indie.

Readers, don't pay to be propagandized. Support the fun and honest work of independent creators who answer only to you.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


  1. Brian

    Alaa Confederacy of dances. A really funny book. I enjoyed it. The writer's suicide should serve as a reminder not to put trust in man. Especially in organized cultres (tm) better off to go through the traditional patronage route. More honest and the content is far superioright


    1. The man was completely destroyed with his obsession to be a "real writer" and playing TradPub's game that he completely lost himself.

      For a man inspired by Flannery 'O Connor, and discovered by Walker Percy, it is only a shame he didn't see the light before it was too late. His god was the wrong one.

    2. Let's not be too hard on him. Tradpub really was the only game in town back then.

      Toole's tragic story should serve as a reminder to all authors that a) We should fall to our knees and thank God for KDP and b) Anyone who tries to scare authors away from KDP because "muh Amazon monopoly"/"Bezos owns the WaPo!" is selling snake oil.

  2. I'm not entirely sure how one can look at what Hollywood has put out over the last decade and believe there's any such thing as a meritocracy there. Plummeting ticket sales, dying cable subscriptions, and the rise of independents, means everyone else has already figured it out. Even streaming services are not growing at the rate they should be.

    Heck, after learning what a sick place it is, could you imagine the type of parent that sends their child to work and live there?

    I don't expect any "revival" of Hollywood. They're too far down the rabbit hole, too self-obsessed, and too arrogant to reflect or create. The only thing left is for them to finally bottom out.

  3. I can understand the allure of traditional publishing, but it does seem kind of ridiculous in this day and age to be going through gatekeepers that have proven themselves to be insane to get published.

    1. "I can understand the allure of traditional publishing..."

      The converged media propaganda web has twined its evil threads around you, I see.

      I tried the tradpub route at first because I didn't know any better. Few of us did. Then I delved into the belly of the beast, left in disgust, and never looked back.

      The only reason anyone finds tradpub alluring at all is because of ridiculously romanticized depictions of tradpub authors in other media that bear no relation to real life, and the occasional fawning Oprah interview with high profile A listers like Rowling.

      Tradpub doesn't even have that kind of muscle anymore. They can't even get Hillary Clinton onto the A list. The best they've got these days are one-book wonders like Rothfuss, high midlist burnouts like Scalzi, and diversity hires like Jemisin.

      Richard Paolinelli and Yakov Merkin recently got into it on Twitter with Tor's latest Scalzi clone. He quipped that SP/RP authors are irrelevant. I posted side-by-side screenshots of his recently launched book getting murdered in the rankings by Galaxy's Edge: Legionnaire, which is now over a year old.

      Friends don't let friends go tradpub.

    2. Brian,

      That's the Gate chasers authour right? If it is yeah so chechbox writing gets you trad pub contract? No thanks I have too much good taste and a limited beer money budget to indulge the delusional.


    3. I said I understood the allure, not that I was personally tempted myself. I completely agree that the allure is based on myths about what it is like, myths perpetuated by the traditional publishers and their lying media friends. But if you don't accept that it is a myth, the allure is understandable.

    4. @Matthew. I see. Cheerfully withdrawn.

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