I started this post as another press release in the same style and tone as the ones announcing when Exciting Press has signed authors, but I realized as I wrote it that it required a different approach. I need to tell a story, here, because while “self-publishing success stories” have become a common enough meme in publishing, I see fewer and fewer people pause to consider what success means, and I think I need to.
As part of this celebration, Pitt created a website celebrating the breadth and diversity of its history, from its founding in 1787–the same year as the US Constitution–through to the present. Pitt’s history is fascinating. I’d tell you more about it, but that’s why the site’s there. For people to learn about Pitt, and discover its rich history.
Plus, I helped write the stories there. So I could tell you about it, or I could just point you to the stories I already helped write, and, really, the latter is far more interesting.
Contributing to the project has been a terrific experience, and I’m really proud to have been a part of it. I’m also thrilled to be able to talk a little more about it, now that it’s announced and launched and live.
What’s also been cool about this project, personally, is that I just moved to Pittsburgh. Well. By “just,” I now mean a year ago this month. And it was a new city in a decent-sized string of new cities, and yet another in a long series of moves, but it’s the move that finally found me settling in to a place that feels like home. It’s exactly the sort of burgh I’d always hoped I might find, and doing the research for it has helped me learn it in the best way possible. What’s interesting is that I didn’t learn my new home by eating out and exploring–though those were part of the process–but rather mostly by gaining a bigger picture view of the university and the city in the context of history and the world.
So it’s been fascinating. On myriad levels. Hope you enjoy the stories if you check them out. Please do.
During one of the classes when I mentioned Eddie Izzard, one of my students mentioned a documentary called Heckler. I went to look it up, because I love when comedians pwn hecklers.
Here’s Jamie Kennedy (who, coincidentally, produced the documentary):
Jimmy Carr does it extraordinarily well. Here’s one:
And here’s another:
But it’s not just comedians. Here’s Kevin Smith:
And even Bill Clinton pwning some idiot “9/11 truth conspiracy theorist”:
I mean, seriously. Some people are just douchebags.
Thing is, Heckler turns out to only ostensibly be about heckling; over the course of interviewing Jamie Kennedy, Carrot Top, and Bill Maher (among many others), it slowly became a rumination about criticism. In doing so, it raised some terrific points about critics and their relation to, for lack of a better word, “art,” and especially about the way the Internet has changed things. It featured appearances by writers from CHUD.com and Giant magazine and questioned the idea of random dudes commenting about cinema. Kathy Griffin made an analogy between Internet commenters and hecklers, which I thought was apt, except for one crucial difference:
At a comedy show, the comedian gets to be face to face, even if across a room, with the person.
On the other hand, the Internet allows a degree of cowardice when someone like Shecky Gangrene or, as is most often the case, Anonymous wants to crap on somebody. I swear, I’d often heard quotes attributed to Anonymous before, but the Internet exponentially increased Anonymous’ body of work, which is mostly restricted to little more than saliva-spattered vitriol. I’ve rarely seen Anonymous actually be supportive; usually Anonymous uses the old “I’m sorry, but I’ve just got to be honest with you” to make personal attacks and mostly horrifying comments they’d never make in real life to someone’s face.
And while I’ve never gotten altogether much attention from Anonymous because I’m just a mostly unknown writer still making his way in his work, any attention from Anonymous can feel like too much. Most of the negativity I’ve encountered has come from Anonymous (who most often really, really doesn’t like me). Anonymous most often believes that the ends justify whatever means it is necessary to use, and frequently makes the case that anyone who has earned any degree of spotlight whatsoever must grin and bear it because it comes with the territory and one must develop thick skin.
To which I say: bullshit.
Bill Maher and Dr. Drew (ftw) address it best in the documentary by making two points: first, honesty does not excuse douchebaggery (that’s Dr. Drew), and second, as Maher notes, entertainers can’t develop thick skin. We need some degree of sensitivity because that’s our role in the culture we need to be part of.
Which I think is an awesome point.
The documentary is well worth checking out. Here’s the trailer:
I think my favorite part was the segment dedicated to director Uwe Boll, who challenged his critics to boxing matches and summarily beat the shit out of them. It’s absolutely hysterical to watch as the movie switches back and forth from idiot bloggers making asinine comments like “No, I’ve never watched one of his movies, but I’ve heard their awful” to selfsame bloggers falling to the canvas, culminating in a shot of a twenty-ish blogger lying on the curb, post-fight, wearing a tank top with Sharpie-written “Hi, Mom!” on its back while puking into the gutter.
From it, Mediabistro’s Galley Cat pulls that only 2% of bloggers cite blogging and their blogs as their primary source of income.
Which sounds about right.
Mainly because: isn’t that about the same as the number of writers who make their living at writing?
I’m not. Once upon a time, I hoped to be, but then again in recent years I’ve realized that I don’t think writing is all I’d want to do. I love to write, but when it starts to become all I do, I think I feel like there’s imbalance in my life. The whole “all work and no play” thing, to some extent. I mean, I go back and forth on it, because I think that writing is playing, to some extent, but I guess what it comes down to is that writing is a largely solitary activity, and I can’t very well be in the world if I’m being all solitary and such.
Which is not unusual; I’ve heard very little criticism concerning the Kindle. People may not rave over it like they raved about the iPod when it first came out, but the Kindle seems, for many intents and purposes, rad. Awesome. Exciting.
Which makes one wonder: if it’s so awesome and exciting, shouldn’t Entrekin be available for it?
Why yes, yes it should be:
Ain’t it purdy? You can click that link to find its shiny new Amazon page.
The timing couldn’t be better, nor, I think, any less coincidental. I’ve been working on the Kindle version since back in August. Not that it took that long, but I mentioned I was going to be changing things up toward the end of October.
I still go back and forth on Lulu. The reason I put Entrekin on the Kindle was that the digital downloads have been so extraordinarily successful, with more than a thousand across the various stories. I like that Lulu allows me to offer the DRM-free .pdfs, not to mention that it also allows for the tangible book for anyone who wants a souvenir. I had a bad experience in Lulu’s community, but then again I’ve realized that if I simply decide to use Lulu solely as the printing press I’d always meant it to be, it does still serve my purposes pretty well, its forums, policies, and customer service notwithstanding (more on those three later, and elsewhere).
So no, I’m not done yet. I’m still curious about a lot of aspects of publishing and the ways it’s changing, so it looks like Entrekin will still be around for a bit. As always, you can get it here.
Thanks to everyone who’s made it such a success so far, and remember to keep telling your friends about it.
Especially if, you know, your friends own Kindles.
(because, really, here, so far, I’m at a loss; where and how does one market to Kindle owners?)