The Holy Grail of publication


By Alicia Anstead | Published: February 28, 2013


Alicia_AnsteadEver since writers have produced manuscripts, they have searched for the Holy Grail of publication. While the process has rarely been easy and almost never comes with certainty, it also has never been quite so wily.

Nor quite so exciting.

This issue of The Writer looks at the process of writing from many angles: novels, poetry, plays, websites, biography, even tax forms. My favorite? Dana Gioia and Richard Blanco reveal their processes as poets – our tip of the hat to April as National Poetry Month and to our belief that poetry will always have a viable place in our cultural conversation.

We also take a close look at authors who are borrowing techniques from the entertainment world to launch books through cross-pollinating with music, events and affinity groups. And that’s not the only place writers are getting theatrical. Filmmaker Oren Jacoby became captivated by the idea of adapting Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man for the stage. His insights about switching genres – from film to
live performance – tell a story about the importance of adaptability.

Adapt, engage, stretch, be authentic. Or as T.S. Eliot put it: “HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME.” To do the work of a 21st-century writer, that is.

It’s a message that came through loud and clear during the 35 panels with thousands of experts at the Digital Book World Conference + Expo in January in New York City. “The author who walks in with media skills is treated differently,” said Jennifer Weltz, vice president of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. “It’s constantly a changing landscape for everybody, and authors are in the center.”

Weltz was speaking on a panel about publishers who are empowering authors to take a more active role in the overall culture of publication and of the digital industry supporting those efforts. In the end, the goal is to see the book as part of a final package that includes the book, the author, social media, additional content and – here are those key words again – authenticity and audience engagement. Tell your story across all media to as many communities as possible. And hurry up, please.

At The Writer, our role is similar: We think deeply about ways for writers to adapt, engage, stretch, be authentic. And we don’t think April is the cruelest month. We wish you poetry. And publication.