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FEELING LITERARILY ISOLATED?

October 13, 2021

            I guess it had to dawn on me one day, if not finally sink in with something I already knew.

            What I write and read isn’t mainstream.

            Yeah, a big revelation.

            I “literally” read a book a week if not more. I’ve so far published four of the dozen novels I’ve written so far, not counting the others I’ve started, plus dozens more short stories. Out of all that, when I look at the publications I read either on line or in print, when it comes to representation in their book sections, mentioning anything close to what I read or write is extremely remote.

EXAMPLES

            To be specific, let’s talk two examples. Entertainment Magazine and the MSN.com web site. While other sources may have book sections, which I’ve checked out on occasion with the same result, these are the two I stick with for mainly other reasons. Okay, it’s a limited selection and in no way represents the big picture. There are other probably better publications to go to for books, but these two, at least as a sample, give a picture of what a lot of people look at when they sample what’s available in books. These are popular publications.

            Now, keep in mind that they’re not the only ones and I HAVE sampled others, but for various reasons, I have not taken a shine to them. Given genre, I could go for icky bug for instance and I’m sure there are plenty of horror publications on the magazine rack that have book sections if I want to be plastered with Stephen King and Stephen King and Stephen King. Of course, I’m being sarcastic, but there are other great icky bug authors I’m sure are represented.

            The same could be said for fantasy publications, or western or maybe even thrillers or romance.

            The thing is that they’re too specific and isolated.

            When it comes to mainstream and generic, something like Entertainment and MSN.com should cover all the bases but what they do cover is not even close.

            Okay, they cover Stephen King, which I don’t read, but even THEY never get to people like Dean Koontz, Preston & Child, Lee Child, David Baldacci, or hardly any other thriller writer except on very rare occasions. When they do, you’ll get a micro-sized blurb for some new book they have, or something controversial they said.

            In fact, to prove my point, the last time any of those writers ever got mentioned was when Lee Child said something controversial about something.

Even Stephen King doesn’t get much of a spread.

            It’s all literary stuff and new voices and causes and well, definitely great stuff if you’re into a certain type of cause-based literature. However, if you’re a genre writer who’s just some schmuck writing, as in the little guy or gal, an indie, self-published, with a small press, or a “ding ding” regular non-millenial thriller writer, someone without a cause, forget it.

            I’m not saying those of us off the beaten path are not all older, younger, millennials, gen Xers or whatever, we just don’t fit into the literary or cause categories these publications go for.

            I read MSN.com daily. I read Entertainment whenever they bother to mail me one, which is hardly worth the price considering the inconsistent delivery. The long story on that is that I somehow got a subscription to it years ago and many times, metaphorically, can read what I’m interested in by the time I walk in from the mailbox. That’s another story in itself. Somehow, I still end up getting it and browsing it just to check to see if there’s anything remotely interesting in it, which most of the time there’s not. Yet, I still keep getting it. Go figure. I always check the book section and am always disappointed.

ISOLATED?

            Do I feel isolated?

            Do I care?

            I suppose I could seek out other magazines or web sites that cater to my specific interests. Then I wouldn’t be going mainstream but would be in my bubble. Is that a good thing?

            Last, I want to say that I’m not complaining, just making a point to all of you who may feel the same way if you happen to think about what you’re doing and get stuck in a rut, or are looking in the wrong places.

            I’m not. I just happen to notice these things in publications I read for other reasons. I don’t take what they say seriously because I have as much interest in what they say about books as I do in watching tumbleweeds cross the road. Just something to avoid so they don’t get tangled up in the engine.

            I need my engine clear so it doesn’t overheat or bog down.

            Do I feel isolated from the mainstream?

            I never considered myself part of the mainstream to begin with. I cringe at the thought.

            You need to think about that when you read a mainstream publication. You need to think about that if you never see any book mentioned that you’re even remotely interested in. Does that mean you’re not writing the right thing?

            No.

            It means you’re not looking in the right publication.

            Seek them out unless you have no interest in those publications for other reasons.

            Maybe, just out of curiosity, check out one of those genre magazines and see what’s cooking in your field of interest. You might be surprised and find you’re not alone. Your favorite authors might have been there all along.

            Happy writing!

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