Saturday, August 4, 2007

Portland Show Update/Rock Lit

I’m afraid I have to start with a bit of bad news. Stephen Ashbrook has graciously asked to bow out of our Uhavegonaway to Oregonaway Show Saturday, September 1, Labor Day weekend, at the Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, Oregon from 6 to 8 PM. Stephen has a family outing he’s looking forward to, and he can't make it. So, no Stephen on 9/1. He will be missed.

In an effort to fill the void, Jim "Jimmi G" Gerke and I will be doing a short set together, which will include covers from some of our favorite bands, including a few that fit the theme of our show. You can count on songs by…Oh, you’ll just have to come and find out.

So, to update, Gerke plays first, Gerke and I hold down the middle, Art plays last.

You’re probably wondering how much this little shindig of ours is going to set you back. Surely, for a couple of hours of entertainment you’re prepared to dish out a few bucks. You’ve done it before, and this Uhavgonawhatever sounds right up your alley. Well, guess what?

It’s free.

That’s right. You will not pay a cover to come and hear Jim Gerke, and Art Edwards, and Jim Gerke with Art Edwards, and anyone else we can cajole into playing that night. You can save your cover for a drink, or for dinner, or for later in the evening when you go see a band. This one’s on us. Everyone have a good time.

Of course, if you must pay for something, copies of Stuck Outside of Phoenix will be on sale.

I promised some more publishing talk, so here it goes.

From my experience trying to get Ghost Notes published, I could draw some blanket conclusions. For example:

1) Ghost Notes is not good enough to get published.

2) Those in the publishing industry are blind to the potential of Ghost Notes.

3) People are not interested in reading rock novels.

Which do I believe?

None of the above.

I don’t believe number one because my novel is damn good, and you’ll just have to trust me on that until it comes out. I wouldn’t have wasted a year trying to get it published if it weren’t.

I don’t believe number two because people in the publishing industry are just like everyone else: they want to keep their day jobs. Representing and publishing rock literature is not a good habit to get into if you want to eat, pay the mortgage and advance your career. There are easier sales out there, and they have to take it where they can get it.

I don’t believe number three because most readers either have no idea there are such things as rock novels, or the rock novels they’ve read haven’t been very well-written. It’s a sad commentary on the genre that few seem to do it well, or if they do, they write only one such book before moving on to a more respected, or lucrative, genre.

But I don’t think this genre can be ignored by the publishing industry. Here’s why I think rock novels are so important.

If you follow publishing, you’re probably aware of the fairly recent NEA study "Reading At Risk" that found a sharp decline in young readership, and in particular young male readership, over the last ten years. Things were already pretty bad in this demographic, but to generalize the finding, people, in particular men, 18-34 years of age are less likely than ever to read anything for pleasure, much less fiction.

Why would that be? Why would people roughly my age and younger be turning away from the novel form, or from reading for pleasure in general?

Here’s why.

Most literary genres—erotica, Sci-fi, western, chick lit—play to our curiosities. If we read sci-fi, we're curious about outer space. If we read westerns, we're curious about being a cowboy. If we read erotica…you get the picture. These genres play to our curiosities and thereby capture our imaginations, making us devoted readers.

What are the curiosities of people, particularly men, in this under-represented demographic? (Okay, not that curiosity.) Well, I know what mine was. I wanted to know what it was like to be in a big rock band. I wanted to know what the gigs were like, the inter-band relationships. I wanted to know how it felt to "get signed," have a song on the radio, play big arenas, meet Gene Simmons.

I don’t think it’s a crazy leap to think that part of the demographic that is less likely to read for pleasure is also the demographic that grew up listening to rock radio, that bought CDs and guitars, that idolized Jimmy Page, David Lee Roth, Bono, and Kurt Cobain. They bought records and read the album sleeve while the record played. They went to concerts and rocked out and wondered what went on backstage and on the tour bus and back at the hotel. They would’ve done anything to shake the hand of their hero and say, “Your music changed my life.”

The industry--writers and publishers--has failed this demographic because they haven’t played to these people’s curiosities. They haven’t, on a very basic level, given them what they wanted. We've missed the boat.

So far.

Next week, learn how I plan to help this little cause along.


No comments: