Over the past three years I have used every spare moment writing, editing and trying to publish FUTUREPROOF. But the problem I kept running into when I started shopping the manuscript around is that every agent or editor I contacted said that, while the book was well-written, there wasn’t a market for it. The incredible response I’ve gotten from readers over just the last month are a direct refutation of these agents’/editors’ assertions. People like you and I have been reading books outside the mainstream for decades. Writers like Henry Miller and pretty much any of the Beat writers prove the industry insiders wrong. The recent success of James Frey’s books (A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard) prove them wrong. So I came up with a plan.
I call it The Wu-Tang Plan because it was perfected by the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. Basically, RZA decided that he knew his shit was good, and he developed a marketing plan that would make him and his crew the #1 rap group in the world within 5 years. So he got them together, recorded a few tracks, and then pressed 500 copies, which they distributed on the streets to create a buzz–much like what I’m doing on the internet with FUTUREPROOF. After he started the buzz, he told all the record companies that were knocking on his door that he’d only sign a contract if they agreed to let all the members of the Clan have their own separate recording deals for solo projects, which could then be promoted side by side with the larger Wu-Tang projects, even though they would conceivably be on different record labels. This had never been done before in the history of the recording industry. So I got to thinking: Why hasn’t this been done in the realm of lit? True, most people aren’t the most voracious readers these days, but people DO tend to read in specific genres. I, too, tend to gravitate toward a certain kind of writing. I guess you could call it “Cult Fiction,” or more outside the mainstream, stories that are about people with ideas and thoughts on the world and human relations that are a lot like mine. And J.D. Salinger’s. And Henry Miller’s. And Chuck Palahniuk’s. And Colby Buzzell’s. And Hunter S. Thompson’s. You get the point. There’s a HUGE market for this kind of writing, and James Frey’s success with A Million Little Pieces (probably the most successful in the genre in years because of Oprah picking his book) just goes to show how successful books like this can be…..
so the point is…..What if writers of this kind of stuff–done well, of course–banded together in a sort of collective and toured their books together and supported and promoted each others’ books? That’s what I want to do. So that when you walk into Borders and Barnes & Noble you can see a rack with our books on it, so you don’t have to keep searching around for the stuff you want to read. This is my Wu-Tang Plan. We divide and conquer the whole fucking publishing industry by signing our own deals with whatever publishing houses we can get the best deal with, then band together for future books. This approach would essentially wipe out the competition we in the genre might feel pressured to endure, instead putting us on the same team.
But it won’t work if these other authors aren’t willing to do it, too. I’d already gotten James Frey to read my manuscript (I met him back in June at a pre-Oprah book signing), but ever since the Oprah thing hit three weeks ago I haven’t heard anything from him and now I’m sure he has to worry about people trying to take advantage of him and everything else that comes with that degree of success and exposure. Maybe eventually he’ll take me up on this, maybe not. But fuckin’ A, it’s worth a shot. My feeling is, with a writer like Colby Buzzell, who already has a book deal (My War) and a good amount of publicity (and very good timing too, since Anthony Swofford’s book JARHEAD is just about to be released in the theatre), the selling point has to be, “Look, with this idea, people that might not have heard about your book will know about it AUTOMATICALLY, just because of its association with Frank Daniels’ book or Henry Rollins’ or even bigger than that, James Frey’s.” This is a genuine goddam grassroots movement. All it takes is one author, one person with any kind of clout behind him to make this thing really take off. Then everything else will fall into place like dominos. The writers will have some degree of power and clout themselves. Then we could approach other well-respected but not necessarily well-know authors saying, you know, “[Insert author] is already signed on, join the movement!”
I gave a 2 page letter saying pretty much everything you’ve read here to Henry Rollins. He said he would read it. I’m still waiting to hear back from him, refusing to let anything stand in our way now. The proverbial ball is on the fucking roll. Let’s keep it moving.