Janet Evanovich Is Hiring!

In a post on MediaBistro, it seems like Janet Evanovich--of course you know who she is--is pulling a James Patterson (and of course you know who he is). Linking to an interview, Evanovich talks about her co-author program:

"Several years ago I did some co-authored books with Charlotte Hughes; then Charlotte decided that she wanted to go off on her own and the program kind of died out. Then, last year we realized that we were missing the co-author program. We would like to have, maybe three or four co-authors that we're working with and bringing them out in hard cover. It's one of those situations that if you find the right person, everybody wins. There are tons of really good writers out there, but for one reason or another, they just have not had the support that allowed them to build audiences. So, for these writers out there, it gives them an opportunity to get a much larger market. If somebody's interested in being part of our co-author program, they should contact my son, Peter Evanovich or they can send me a letter. My post office box is on all my book covers."

Her address according to her website is:

Janet Evanovich
PO Box 2829
Naples, FL 34106

According to Spokeo, (where we learn she's Caucasian, a clerical/service worker, and has a swimming pool) her address is (they don't give a house number):

Janet Evanovich
Beacon Ln
Naples, Florida 34103

Please send a resume and a brief cover letter (do you expect Ms. Evanovich to read an entire two pages about your qualifications?), and a list of three professional references and one personal reference. If she likes you, you'll get an interview where she'll smile a lot, because after you leave she has stuff to say about you.

Of course, because real artists don't take money. Real artists struggle.

Roxane Gay at HTMLGiant talked about this a day or so ago, mentioning how some writers reacted to Amazon's sponsorship of the Kenyon Review's annual short story contest. As Gay writes:

"Somewhere along the way, I think those of us toiling in the non profit, indie publishing world decided that money is bad or that only some kinds of money are good money while other kinds of money are bad.  Profits from a book by Tyra Banks? Bad. Profits from a book by Alice Munro, also published by a Random House imprint? Good. Sometimes, I wonder if we’re more attached to our ethics and the idea of the right kind of money than achieving success."

Indeed the idea of the poor writer has always been an archetype in American literary culture. Two words: Raymond Carver (you do know who that is, right?). But then there are other writers as well (names that you don't know). The point has always been that writers write for the sake of art and "the cause", in comparison to others who work for money. This is the rift between "literary fiction" and commercial fiction: a disdain towards commericial fiction because they're making money, they can't possibly be artists. Janet Evanovich is not a writer, not an artist, she's a company. From the way she talks in the MediaBistro article, she might as well be a company. (But Evanovich makes a very strong point that I think rings true: "When I get up in the morning, I don't just sit down and say, "You know, they are paying me a lot of money. What the heck! I'm just going to knock out a hundred pages." I don't know of anybody writing a book, painting a picture, creating music who does that. We are all dying to do the very best that we can everyday.")

Yet within a capitalist framework, this is a conundrum: how can one "be" a writer? To be a writer, you have to be recognized as such, to be recognized as such, you need to be published someplace. The traditional way to get this is: write your stuff, then write query letters. After several query letters, you want to have a contact and get your work published. Said published work is exchanged for money as goods in perhaps a store. The consumer drives home in a Hummer and places your book on the bookshelf in their study. If you're a big name, the product will become a talking piece. "Oh, you read Rick Moody? I do say!" If you're not, the consumer will take off the dust jacket (if you're a lucky enough bastard to recieve a dust jacket) and will display the book with its engraved title and your last name the same way they display those Swedish books in Ikea. (It's America, do you really expect us to know any other language than American?)

Mainly, if the goal is to get published--to get read, to get known in some shape or form--the act of writing will always be connected to money, despite whatever ethics you may have. Of course now there's e-publishing and self-publishing, but to all the writers out there: is it your dream to have a hardcover published by HarperCollins (owned by Rupert Murdoch), or is it to be published on a blog magazine run by a friend of a friend? You're getting that MFA because you want that position at some university: you don't want to live in a box!

As Roxane Gay writes:

"In graduate school, most of us lived on $10-$13 K a year. Our voluntary poverty was so abject that it became almost sexual, how much we enjoyed discussing our brokeness, brokitude, and the creative ways we managed to make ends meet while doing things like not shopping at Walmart. We were (relatively) poor but principled....
Poverty is not awesome. I cannot say I am at all acquainted with poverty but I have certainly seen it (both relatively, in the US, and absolutely, abroad). Graduate school taught me that it’s a pain in the ass to live on an extremely tight budget. There was nothing cool or special about it."

According to rumors, Evanovich switched publishers for a $50 million contract. Don't you want some of that? Or are you okay eating ramen, regretting that book you purchased (the cover allured you!), and then there's $20 entry fee for that contest at ASF (this, even though you bad mouthed Wells Tower once, not that he noticed), and who the hell told you to go to college (it was a good idea at the time)?

Yet, the principle!

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