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Paul Maurice Martin

The recent move of Jeff Bezos to force small publishers to use Amazon's POD press, BookSurge, accompanied by a PR campaign that’s clearly disingenuous to anyone familiar with their company, would not appear to fall in the category of a will to meaning. See, for example, Victoria Strauss's recent blog posts at http://accrispin.blogspot.com/ - she's a HarperCollins author, but she’s at least as well known for her interest in author's rights.

PMA and the Author's Guild have both released statements against Amazon’s action. For me, and no doubt many others, long story short is that it's no longer clear my book can see the light of day. As it was, we were breaking even; we just can't afford to take a loss on every book sold. We're still scrambling to try to figure out a way forward, along with no doubt hundreds of thousands of others who are affected by this effective monopoly by Amazon on the whole printing/production/publishing process as far as small press goes.

No one imagines there's anything to be done. This isn't exactly an era of government oversight of big business.

In recent decades, we first moved to a situation where trade publishers would no longer consider submissions, at least for nonfiction, unless the author had a marketing platform – no matter how excellent the writing or how well qualified the writer. The fixation on increasing profit margins allowed for no more taking chances, ever, on a new author simply because of the quality of the work. As LMP states: "If you are submitting a nonfiction book proposal without a marketing platform, you are wasting your time."

Now we appear to be moving into a situation where even the remote chance of success represented by publishing a book oneself or via a small press is being removed.

Personally, it took 25 years to complete Original Faith under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I kept at it because it truly felt like a calling. It looks, however, like I may need to start reaching for the real depths – fathoming how to celebrate the meaningfulness of meaninglessness! I’ve clearly written a good book – excellent endorsements, despite my lack of renown – but the point of writing is, finally, communication.

I fully agree with your suggestion that we need, desperately I would add (consider global warming and the growing world-wide rich/poor gap), enlightened leadership in major corporations. Over the last 30 years, through campaign financing and concerted lobbying efforts, leaders in big business have truly become the leaders of America whose interests our government officials now represent.

Alex Pattakos, Ph.D.

Hi Paul,
As with all authors (ideally, at least), the "point of writing" has MEANING even if their works do not receive the "market distribution" and exposure that they would like. I commend you for completing Original Faith and hope that you still feel like it was "meaningful" to you (even if it is no longer a "calling" for you). Ask yourself: would you rather NOT have written it?! Don't give YOUR power away to others by externalizing the true value and deeper meaning of YOUR creative expression and by "pointing fingers." If only one person, i.e., YOU, read your book, it still has MEANING--for it is an expression of YOU!

Paul Maurice Martin

Alex, I whole-heartedly half agree!

That is, yes, I've thought about this, and you're certainly right: I wouldn't have done anything different. The intrinsic meaningfulness of writing creatively is undeniable.

At the same time, I think anyone who has seriously committed him or herself to writing and brings it to successful completion intends to communicate. The act of writing has social/external as well as internal references – a purpose as well as an inherent satisfaction.

Of course, there remain at least a couple of perfectly legitimate ways to obtain the requisite marketing platform: a position in higher education or journalism. Unfortunately for the purpose-aspect of my own writing, the intervention of serious illness made it impossible to go on for my doctorate and a professorship, which would have been the most likely avenue for me.

I do appreciate your reply; there’s no doubt about the reality of inherent meaning.

- Paul

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