Critical Linking: November 30, 2012

Someone went so far as to suggest putting a little bookstore in the library, though selling books in the same building where books were free struck me as a bad plan. Surely, I thought, someone would open a bookstore.

My secret was that I did not much miss those mall-size Gargantuas.

The other secret is to be a wildly talented and beloved author with another source of income.


Over and over in the past few years, I have watched a young writer come to Brooklyn and begin to climb the closest thing to a career ladder that exists in the literary world, first figuring out how to eke out a living in publishing or teaching, then testing the waters by publishing stories in local lit mags or reading at local reading series before breaking through with a first book.

All jokes aside about writers in Brooklyn, there is something to be said for living in a place where what you dream of doing is being done by other folks who don’t seem that much different than you.


In 2011, about 350,000 titles were published, according to Bowker. But as brick-and-mortar bookstores shut and sales drift toward the Web, authors and publishers alike are scrambling to figure out how to grab attention in cyberspace. “What might have worked 10 years ago, or even last year, may not work anymore,” Russell Perreault, director of publicity for Vintage and Anchor, said in an e-mail.

And you know what’s never worked? Spamming people with links to your book on Amazon. It’s damn hard out there for a writer (twas always thus, and always thus shall be), but be cool people. Be cool.


As part of the training for the program, participants were informed that if someone came to the meeting and reported an inability to meet a task from the previous week, he or she would be “frozen,” which means that no one could speak to that person for the duration of the meeting.

The funny thing is I guess they think this is punishment. Sounds pretty OK to me.

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