(7/29/01 10:43:37 pm)
| The Business of Fairy Tales|
Okay, here's a thread for discussion of on-going projects, books, articles, and publishers (both commericial and academic), since a number of us here work with fairy tale material as writers, editors,
scholars, and/or illustrators.
Moving Kate's last message over from the "Comics" thread:
The madness/limblessness book: YES, I am absolutely 'still' considering
submissions! I am really in the nascent stages of compiling a list of works for
inclusion, and drafting a brief introduction/proposal. Won't submit through my
agent until September at the earliest. I would love to include you in it so very
much. And will definitely look at Carolyn Dunn's deer woman tales for possible
inclusion as well, thank you for the suggestion. I can give you my home mailing
address somehow, if you want to send me something . . .
Again, it really does matter to me to have your admiration for the collection.
Not least because I've noticed in a few recently published books on fairy tales,
with rather thorough bibliographies, its omission. So any reminder that it has a
use is very welcome. (Hope that doesn't sound like sour grapes--but I do feel
that there were some missed opportunities on the publisher's part to get it
broader notice--because much of the work in it is truly original and useful! I
Kate: Alas, I don't have any fiction with a madness theme to send to you by Sept. I've recently had an idea for such a story based on Diamonds and Toads and set in 17th century Paris, but I won't be able to sit down and write it until the end of the year. But I think I'll go ahead and do so anyway, so thanks for setting off that train of thought!
As for Mirror, Mirror not being well publicized, particularly in fairy tale circles -- that's just shameful. Typical of the publishing industry, of course, but shameful nonetheless. I'm used to genre fairy tale books being soundly ignored in surveys and bibliographies, but a book that has the likes of Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, etc. etc., in it???? I really hope you are able to do an expanded edition at Doubleday at some point, and that it gets the attention it deserves. Was it advertised or reviewed in Marvels & Tales?
(7/30/01 5:29:55 am)
| Mirror Mirror|
Kate, I just wanted to echo Terri's comments about this book and to assure you that it has been quoted and referred to numerous times in our new volume (I just finished the galley proofs) so hopefully people who read our book will rush out to get yours as well. Gail
(7/30/01 10:56:58 am)
| Mirror, Mirror|
Gail and Terri, thanks for your support! Terri, keep in touch as you work on your new story. Nothing is closed at all. And the other 'theme' of the collection is limblessness . . . headlessness . . .
Gail, I feel idiotic but I don't know what your new volume is--do tell.
Please know, all, that I don't feel the book has been completely ignored, particularly on this board which matters a lot! And I still am so happy to have done it--enormously so--I feel many classrooms and readers have benefited from it. And, its contributors have been very, very generous to me and to the volume itself (including their work from it in Collected Essays by themselves, etc.) The essays continue to be re-anthologized, etc.
Yet--despite my awareness of the deep competition for review space, I was still disappointed that Mirror, Mirror received no notice in places like the NY Times or even Elle (it was reviewed in Marvels & Tales, though somehow I never got a copy of the review); the publicist changed midstream, and I know that can have an effect . . . and Doubleday simply wasn't that ambitious with it. They were generous with the advance, but never advertised it at all--though I tried to persuade them it could have broader appeal. They also passed on an audio companion to the book, which would have had the contributors reading the tales on which they had commented . . . (I know audio sales are tough), and also passed on an 'expanded volume' which would have included the tales themselves in an appendix. But my editor is VERY NICE and I do just think it reflects a basic lack of ambition around books that will earn less than millions. He's been open to the idea of another edition someday, if sales continue for this one . . .
So, I hope I didn't misrepresent myself completely--I feel that I have received lots of positive feedback on the book, which continues to sell well (well for an anthology). The one thing that truly bothers me is when I see bibliographies in books I admire hugely and it's not in there, such as in Tatar's Norton edition, which I've taught three semesters in a row. Makes me feel sad. That's the main thing I was griping about--but I oughtn't to complain. I am proud of the book and grateful for all the readers for it so far. Truly.
On the other hand, I also feel--again, thanks to this board--a renewed vigor for the project of supporting good work however I can, whenever I can, and to make it my responsibility to find it.
(7/30/01 11:12:28 am)
Not to be too neurotic, but again I want to reiterate that I don't mean to sound sour grapey about anything. It's impossible for every bibliography to include every relevant work . . . and when compiling the contributor list for Mirror, Mirror, I made my own errors of exclusion, which I apologized for long ago on this board and want to repeat here--really. But from time to time, I'm sure we all feel what I felt when I looked at these bibliographies . . . a sort of small stomach-sinking 'oh no! oh well.'
Off to the typewriter now for a few hours . . . (to that other 'business of fairy tales'--writing!)
(7/31/01 12:30:21 am)
| grapes sour and sweet|
Kate, don't worry, you don't sound sour-grapey. Lack of a coherent advertising and promotional plan affects just about all books these days if they aren't expected to be bestsellers. And not just in our field. My friend Alan Weisman spent several long, hard years writing a heart-wrenching book about his family (who fled Russia during the progroms), only to have it published with virtually no promotion, not even to obvious places like Jewish book fairs, because his publisher happened to have a publicity person on their staff who hadn't a clue about what the job entailed, as far as we could tell. This for a book they'd paid quite a substantial advance for, from a writer who's regularly published in the NY Times, LA Times, Harpers, and was not exactly hard to promote! 3 years of my friend's life, and lack of publicity has nearly killed the book. It's still out there (and I highly recommend it; it's called Echoes of the Blood), but is depending entirely on the slow process of word-of-mouth now.
Even if a publisher does actually spend substantial money on promotion, a bad publicist can still make that virtually useless by spending it in all the wrong places. I was on a Book Tour from Hell once where they mights as well have thrown their money down a dark hole, for all the good it did.
It does seem that Mirror, Mirror got *some* push from your publisher, which in this publishing climate is a blessing indeed. It just deserves a bit more, that's all! To get it into all the proper hands.... I'm voting for that expanded edition someday, or a sequel, with a bigger advertising budget!
And yes, I know what you mean about that sinking feeling. It was the same one I had when, after twenty years of working my ass off to edit, write and promote adult fairy tale fiction, I wasn't deemed worthy of an entry in the Jack Zipes "Fairy Tale Companion" No matter how many times you tell yourself that it's silly to care, it still made me a bit sad, I confess. I sometimes feel, which it comes to fairy tale studies, like the Invisible Woman. Now *that's* sour grapes. And the sweet grapes are that I get to do this work at all.
(7/31/01 12:35:04 am)
| title correction|
The correct, full title of the book mentioned above should of been An Echo in My Blood: The Search for a Family's Hidden Past, by Alan Weisman.
(7/31/01 12:41:53 am)
| oh dear!|
Oh dear, that should have been "have been" not "of been" -- along with plenty of other typos in the above 2 messages. My apologies. I'm more tired today than I thought....
Kate, if you're looking at "limbless" stories, try Midori's The Armless Maiden, in the volume I edited by that name. I can send you a copy if you haven't got it. The story is set in a fairy tale realm, and I don't know if that kind of "imaginary world" fiction is quite what you're going for in your collection. But it's worth taking a look at; it's a lovely story.
(7/31/01 9:48:46 am)
| You are not invisible!|
You are far from invisible. But I imagine I know exactly how you are feeling, and why. It is a strange sensation. At least you are in good company. Emily Dickinson didn't even get published in her lifetime, nor did Van Gogh sell a single painting, except that one to his brother! But again, I know exactly what you are feeling. Is there any way to use the Invisible Woman as a character? At least then you will have some power over the predicament . . .Also, everyone on this board--from what I gather, and myself included--seemed completely aghast that you were not included in the Zipes listings. I wonder if anyone has written to him to point out the error? Many ought to. I will.
About the Weisman--I just bought that book online--thanks for the tip on a good, potentially overlooked read. This is the kind of information that writers must share, as this happens all too often, and usually, I think, to the best titles. There are books no one has heard of, that were distributed to about ten stores, that I've managed to get ahold of and see as absolute, inarguable genius. (Also, that's my family history, so I know my parents will want to read it too.) How aggravating and painful, that publishing experience must have been for him and those who know him. You just see it coming sometimes. It can simply be a matter of bad luck (new inexperienced publicist, editorial shift, publisher acquired by new company . . .), which is bad enough, since it already is so random and uneven to begin with, getting published, promoted and embraced. (Which is not to say that many who receive great praise don't deserve it, but most who do deserve it do not receive it. I would venture to say.)
(By the way, when you say there should be, next time, a 'bigger' advertising budget for Mirror, Mirror, that wouldn't be so hard! Because there was NO advertising budget for Mirror, Mirror! I joke you not! There was a sweet kid-publicist sending out bound galleys, and that was it. When I hosted a night at the 92nd Street Y with three hardhitting contributors, I had to pay for my own airfare, and my parents, bless them, sprung for the hotel in New York! The 92nd St Y hosted a terrific Italian dinner at a nice restaurant--they were so nice. But, my editor bought me a sandwich when I gave him my novel manuscript the next day. I should say it was a really good sandwich, though, a really fancy one. I also paid for my own trip to San Francisco to do a reading with Linda Sexton there, which was attended by 75 people . . .) And again, I don't mean to sound sour grapey--the publishing experience has been overwhelmingly positive for me in so many ways, and I feel so lucky to have managed to get work out there. Really. More than I could have imagined possible years ago when I was about to give everything--and I do mean everything--up.
(7/31/01 11:19:53 am)
| Arrggghhh ...|
Dear Terri and Kate:
How enormously frustrating! You both number among my role models
(loved _Mirror, Mirror_, and have copies of - I can say this literally
now that I've gotten my hands onto _The Essential Bordertown _ -
everything that Terri's ever been involved in. I think. There might
be some obscure title out there that's eluded me ... but if so,
I've never heard of it). I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one
to harbor such sentiments, particularly not on *this* board. The
idea that people at your level are underappreciated is mind-boggeling
to me; you're the people who act as inspiration for peopel on MY
level. While there may not seem to be enough appreciation out there,
there's enough unspoken support amidst your readers to shore up
the foundations of, say, Ghormenghast (to cross from thread to thread).
I also thought that this might be worth mentioning ... several months
ago, when I attended that literary fairy tales conference at Princeton,
I took notes (it's a compulsion, I can't help it). I had intended
to post an exhaustive list of all of the things that were discussed
there; unfortunately, life caught up to me. When I noticed this
thread, something niggled at the back of my head, so, I went to
check my references (that is, my notes), and saw this; in his opening
statement, Professor Zipes mentioned your work, Terri. Here's what
it says in my notes - "Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling -
most important anthologists - mentioned _all_ the anthologies, including
_A Wolf at the Door." (Which made me happy, since I'd just
gotten an autographed copy). Afterwards, he shifted into a discussion
of the fin de siecle fairy tale revival; referred to _The Armless
Maiden_ and _Mirror, Mirror_ as well. I don't know if it makes any
sense to post this ... but I thought that you might like to know.
The _Fairy Tale Companion_ exclusion MUST have been an error, as
most of the people who made it into THAT didn't rate a reference
in the more selective speech, where it was possible to list only
the most recognizable, influential people involved in the modern
fairy tale scene. Not invisible in the slightest ... more like invincible.
P.S. - Several of the other speakers followed suit by referring to your works - survey says several dozen academics can't be wrong.
(8/1/01 11:00:35 am)
Harking back to the limblessness proposal, this message recently showed up on a Call for Papers mailing list:
Call for Papers: Dismemberment and the Discontinuous Body
NEMLA, April 12-13, 2002
This panel will explore the meanings and operations of cultural representations of corporeal dismemberment. Papers should address the visual or literary treatment of acts and/or the ramifications of amputation, maiming and self-mutilation. Treatments of both literature and film are welcome. Proposals addressing different historical periods and cultural traditions are also welcome. Possible topics for discussion include:
State power and the spectacle of bodily discipline
Disease, (dis)ability, medical intervention and mobility issues
Dismemberment and the grotesque body
Domestic violence and the dismembered body
Augmented bodies vs. fragmented bodies
The (de)aestheticization of bodily violence
Please send proposals (350 words) by September 15th to:
> Vanessa Warne
> Department of English
> University of Manitoba
> 625 Fletcher Argue Building
> Winnipeg, MB
> R3T 5V5
Email submissions are welcome. Please address submissions to email@example.com. Please include your proposal in the body of the message. Thank you.
Strangely timely, I thought. :-)
(8/1/01 11:07:46 pm)
Terri--last time I had lunch with Zipes he talked about your work and he is an admirer. So if you feel missed, dismissed, or dissed by him, it is all a misunderstanding.
On the subjecty ofsometimes without help of the publisher, books find their audience. Itb has become more and more incumbant upon the authors to do their own beating-the-bushes. Alas that it were not so.
I have even hired my own publicist. Does it help? Well, I get a lot of mentions now in magazines and newspapers and online stuff, a lot of interviews on pub lic radio etc. Does it sell any books? beats me. there is NO way to track that.
(8/1/01 11:12:00 pm)
Sorry--my computer hiccuped. I meant to say: On the subject of promotion,sometimes without help of the publisher, books find their audience.In fact almost always without help. With an ad budget of zero--or as near to that as possible--most of us get little but list ads (where we are mentioned in the list with other books that season) unless the book gets major stars in the industry journal reviews. It has become more and more incumbant upon authors to do their own beating-the-bushes. Alas that it were not so.
So the internet is becoming a good tool for reaching that audience.
(8/1/01 11:55:51 pm)
| invisibility |
Helen and Jane: Thank you both for your encouragement, and the assurance that my various fairy tale projects are getting some kind of notice. Sorry if I sounded whiney. We all have down days, and receiving the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales was one of mine. But I do appreciate the support I get from readers, and the folks on this board. And Jane, you've been personally and professionally supportive of me ever since I first showed up in New York still wet behind the ears, for which I have always felt especially blessed.
(8/2/01 12:39:09 am)
| Same subject|
And same apologies too--though I don't count my contribution anywhere near yours, Terri, and Jane, obviously, so obviously. I hope against hope I didn't sound whiney. I meant my lament as a sort of minor aside. And, at risk of sounding disingenuous, when it comes to Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (using its longer title to differentiate it from Mirror, Mirror, Jane's excellent anthology of, as we've said, coincidentally similar title--) I only lament its occasional absence from bibliographies because of the contributors' essays--not for myself. Not at all for myself. Seriously. Very much so, seriously, that.
About the possible import of self promotion (though that term sounds crass, I intend it not)--indeed. Indeed. Has come to my attention too of late, in terms of value. Very much so. Hard for those of us 'timid' ones, but confidence is important to learn.
Thanks everyone who has written to support Terri's work, because that is the whole point. Supporting good work.
Off to the coast to try to do some myself, this week. Back in a flash, of course.
(8/2/01 12:41:30 am)
Laura--didn't mean to ignore your dismemberment post--late night for me, much work. Sorry. Very interesting coincidence, and surely very useful. (Things seems to happen in waves, like this, don't you think?) So thanks for posting this, so very much. Very much.
(8/4/01 12:25:58 pm)
| not to worry!|
Not a bit, Kate. :-) Greater concerns were in the works, for all of us. When someone as known, respected, and beloved as Terri can show the rest of us her disappointments, we owe her a little reassurance in return. Thankfully, we can remember that the next time something similar happens to us -- everyone gets snubbed, you just have to dust yourself off and soldier on, etc.
(8/9/01 8:59:25 am)
| Re: not to worry!|
Laura: Thanks for your kind words.
Kate: Is your "madness" anthology just for women authors? Heinz Insu Fenkl, author of Memories of My Ghost Brother, is working on a piece about a young woman with an interesting madness theme. If that's of interest, contact me off-line and I'll put the two of you in touch.
(8/13/01 1:01:52 am)
| Re: not to worry!|
Kate: I was just at www.powells.com, looking for a used book in their Gender Studies section, and noticed that your Mirror, Mirror collection was listed as one of their 5 top books of the day.
Thought you'd want to know!
(8/13/01 6:53:47 am)
| Take heart|
Take heart. There are literally thousands of people that would have never heard of you or "Mirror, Mirror" but for this forum. I am not, nor do I have an interest in becoming, a PhD in anything remotely concerned with fairy tales. I do, however, have an unwavering interest in them. I regularly visit the forum, read the posts, and try to discern what is of interest to me. I also refer people to the forum whenever the topic of fairy tales comes up (which happens frequently since I have three smallish children). I first visited the forum looking for information on my favorite fairy tale "The White Cat." I have since visited Terri's website as well.
I now know that next time I wander to my local bookstore I will request that they order a copy of "Mirror, Mirror" for my edification (sorry, Kate, but reading it will have to wait until I have completed one of the 3 books I have already started).
Kate, you are quite correct in stating that there is a broader interest in your book. Nevertheless, you are still in a relatively small market. The best you can hope for is enough sales to keep your book on the shelf as a reference for those who are looking for information. Books such as yours grow reputations over a period of years, not weeks. You will undoubtedly receive royalties from it for years.
Keep those pens to the paper and your notes on the forum, ladies. We silent readers appreciate you.
(8/13/01 7:33:13 am)
| Another thought|
Another thought: the Wall Street Journal several years ago stated book publication statistics. Some staggering number - I believe almost 15,000 - books are published a year. For comparison sakes, they put the cummulative number of books published before 1920 (I think) and it was only about 4 times the current annual number. That is why your book probably has difficulty getting reviewed and why there is little or no advertising budget.
A suggestion - if you want to market to readers of certain women's magazines, why not propose that you write a salient article, which in essence is a abstract of your book, a teaser. I am not familiar with most of these magazines, but I read recently that one of the trashier of them was trying to go more upscale and had recently fired their editor. A little research and you would probably find out which one, make a few inquiries (perhaps your publisher would know), get yourself a free lance article published, educate a few women, and sell a few books. I know this is a busy time with the fall semester starting, but there is no time like the present.
(8/15/01 8:58:37 am)
Didn't mean to ignore your posts. Thanks for ordering Mirror, Mirror (if you have or do) and I hope it's of interest to you. I read the same Wall St. Journal article--enlightening to say the least. Around the same time there was a NY Times article about the habitual book-buying public, its withering numbers, from what I recall.
Doubleday has strong plans to keep Mirror, Mirror healthily backlisted for years to come, indeed. I do hope, as you suggest, it has a long life. As for royalties--!!!--it would take eons to earn back the advance and see any, believe me. But thanks for the confidence.
Right now, I simply don't have time to write tie-in articles for women's magazines with a tie-in article, though someday I might try it--I must spend all my time writing my new novel and working on other books of literary or academic interest. You're correct that it is a good venue for 'self promoting' from time to time, with the appropriate editor and the appropriate article (I try to keep my body of work very streamlined, myself). I certainly did consider it at one point with Mirror, Mirror but I lacked (and lack) the name recognition many of these magazines request, when it comes to author tie-in pieces (I know many people who edit at national pubs, and we talked). BUT, perhaps I will revisit the thought again when my schedule opens up (that should be by, say, 2003!). Of course, on invitation I would write for the right commercial venue at any time . . .
Thanks for the encouragement, and you are absolutely apt to mention that boards like this are a great place for us all to discover new work.