The Questionless Books Interview: Publicist and Internet Personality Julie Wilson
Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, The Questionless Books Interview gets a host of lit-types (authors, editors, publishers, publicists, designers, booksellers, readers, bloggers, journalists, etc.) to finish a bunch of statements about the state of literature and the "future of books".
Julie Wilson is a writer and professional fan. She's the curator of the online literary voyeurism project Seen Reading, founder of Book Madam & Associates, and host of The Book Madam Book Club, a monthly live chat featuring a book and its author.
Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion (under the pen name Becca Wilcott)
I am... the beginning... the end. The one who is many. I am the Borg. Fine. I'm Julie Wilson aka @BookMadam.
I am known to... borg...blog and write about books, authors and publishing; offer a platform to emerging and established authors who want to utilize new and fun media; insert myself into the conversation because I'm 40, dammit, I have opinions too.
I do this in... lieu of working full-time for someone else, which, I have to say, is a lie. When you freelance, you work more for everyone else. That said, I've been incredibly fortunate in my partnerships.
I do this because... I love stories and want to help people find and ultimately share their own, in the voice that suits them best. And because I like to be challenged to work outside my comfort zone, which is quite shy. "Awww..." But, no, really. I talk a lot, but it's not in my nature to throw myself in the path of an oncoming dialogue.
I do this when I... feel like it. Sometimes when I don't. So far, though? Double thumbs up!
The way I do this is... not utterly unique, but something only I can do, if only because I'm stubborn and only like to do things my way. Luckily, it's also fun for others and I've developed some tone of voice that convinces others we're on the right path.
At its core, a Writer is... someone who receives indicators from the world that must be spat out in new form else the writer be doomed to exist in a reactive state for the rest of their living days.
As opposed to an Author, who is... someone who, through some additional effort of his or her own — be it instantaneous or labour-intensive — makes a conscious choice to pursue channels through which to reach a larger and largely unknown audience. Failing that, an author is someone who resents this description. (See above reference to avoiding head-on conversation.)
A Writer is responsible for... finding every possible way to remain mentally stable, healthy and productive in society.
As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... all of the above plus the added task of saving the publishing industry with the book they have yet to write, let alone think about.
At its core, Publishing is... a long way from what it may have wanted to be. It feels a bit like the indie movie star who was discovered tending bar. "I didn't even want to be an actor," he says, accepting the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his harrowing turn as some character written by a struggling I've-always-wanted-to-be-a-screenwriter who doesn't even get nominated. James Franco. *golf claps* Fantastic. Frankly, I liked you better when you tipped a hat to Carl Wilson on the red carpet. That said, I can't help but believe in the romance of storytelling and the absolute cojones we display, especially in Toronto, every time we launch a new season of catalogue copy. So maybe Franco's book is good. But it's no slush pile. Honestly, I don't even know what a story is anymore. An impulse to write something down. But if it ain't applicable across the globe? Really? Bye bye, story? That's how it feels. Every day, bye bye story. Or to paraphrase Mitsou, Bye bye, mon histoire. Which is sadder still.
As opposed to Editing, which is... Oh, more questions. OK. Um...editing is...gaaaawd. Editing is a partnership? Should be a partnership? Here. Publishing is curtains up. Editing is the wardrobe fitting before the dress rehearsal.
A Publisher should always... extend the life of a story when the opportunity arises. On this day, that means prepping files so that consumers can purchase the story across as many formats as humanly possible. On this day, publishers need to show up for the career of the author who, maybe 10-20 year in, has been dreaming of this day when they can be more active in selling their books.
As opposed to an Editor, who should always... show up for the story, even before the author telling it.
A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... undistinguishable to me from the one that isn't. Plenty of bad books out there. Plenty more pretty close to great. I'll never know how much more perfect any story could have become.
As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is... in stock.
A Manuscript should always... have the author's name on every page.
As opposed to a Book, which should always... have the author's name on every page.
At its core, Bookselling is... matching the best book to the best reader in the hope that they'll trust you again when it comes time to make another selection.
As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... appealing to a fear that if you don't read — sorry, purchase — this book (within a very small window of time) you will have somehow missed out on the most rarest of opportunities to share in this conversation with millions of your closest friends. (I should note that I plan to excel at this one day. I'm not opposed.)
The smallest unit of narrative is... Don Draper's "What?"
To be a Book a thing must be... sharable. Forwardable. Passonable. Pay-forwardable. A conversation so large that it cannot be repeated, that the reader cannot bear to repeat it. Here, take it, you must read this for yourself.
The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... that we're holding back great stories that will never exist in a future in which humans are probably not even designed to survive in exchange for paying salaries.
The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... that there will come a day when work flow is so efficient that we won't need to get paid to publish stories, because we'll be doing just fine working the job that only takes a few hours a week to cover our overhead. Advertising will cease to exist. Tags will rule. Pigs will fly. And readers will instinctively know where to find you the moment you hit 'Send,' be ye magazine, newspaper, publisher or self-pubbed author.
In the future we will all... acknowledge that it's already here.
At his/her core, a Reader is... the luckiest lonely person in the world.