Friday, April 5, 2013
The Art Of Book Discoverability
Imagine being surrounded by more than a billion dollars worth of art and wondering where the other art works are. That’s how I felt on a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art.
I came upon the floor that had a Freida, pair of Van Goghs, and the 120 million-dollar Scream. Although I admired these modern-day classics, I started to question how and why the gatekeepers of culture determine what should rest on its coveted walls. The decisions of a handful of curators influence what we perceive great art to be and limit whatever we can derive from looking at art.
If art inspires, teaches, or opens our imagination up, it only does so based on what we are exposed to.
I’ve always thought that artwork should go unframed, for art is free-flowing and never-ending. To put a frame on it contains and caps its oxygen. Likewise, the museum, though a showcase of art, also acts like a frame, artificially capping one’s exposure to the world of art.
Of course we want to see what has become culturally significant art, but we also need to see a wide variety and diversity of art in form, style, period and geography. We need a rotation of art that explores life from a vantage point few would otherwise get to see.
I wonder if the same holds true with books. Do our best-sellers lists act like a museum, dictating to a large degree the reading choices of millions of people? Most books don’t see the light of day beyond a few thousand copies sold but the best-seller lists often project a claim of authority, thus further influencing the reading and writing habits of others.
Though, in theory, books are seemingly available everywhere online and in bookstores, their discoverability is limited by advertising budgets, book reviewer space, and other gatekeepers plus the mere fact that a flood of new books comes to market each day and no one person or authority is in a position to keep up.
Maybe we need a new model for showcasing books – or at least additional venues to keep people aware of the books out there. If it were up to the art museum, we’d only know about Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and Grisham and not the countless other writers who practice the art of writing and creating a vision for a different, if not better, world.
Interview With Novelist Larissa Reinhart
1. What type of books do you write? I write fiction. Currently I am writing the Cherry Tucker Mysteries, a humorous, Southern mystery series for Henery Press. I am contracted through four books now, which takes me into 2014, plus a novella for a mystery anthology. Besides mysteries, I also write romance and Young Adult paranormal.
2. What is your newest book about? STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW, the second in the Cherry Tucker Mystery series, releases May 21. Cherry Tucker is a portrait artist trying to make a living in her small, Southern hometown. What Cherry lacks in height, she makes up for in sassiness and creativity. She also has a penchant for justice that runs toward vigilantism. But not quite.
Here's the blurb: Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.
3. What inspired you to write it? I have always read mysteries, so I have an inclination toward that kind of plot structure. I love bigger than life characters from the wrong side of the tracks, particularly feisty women. Cherry spoke to me while I was living in Japan, as an imaginary means of revisiting Georgia (where I've lived most of my adult life). The story from the first in the series, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, actually came to me at my father's funeral. What if a portrait artist was asked to do a coffin portrait of a murdered man and accidentally became involved in his investigation?
4. What is the writing process like for you? I'm mostly a pantser, but I start a story with a "what if" and knowing my characters fairly well. For the mysteries, I know the crime and criminal and have developed that cast of characters as well. Then I create scenes in which the characters can react. Kind of a puppet master type of writer, I suppose.
5. What did you do before you became an author? I was a high school history teacher, but have had numerous odd jobs over the years. My husband and I also have lived overseas in Japan three times over the last twenty years, where I taught English. I'm also a mother.
6. How does it feel to be a published author? Incredible! A dream come true! Also harrowing. I have not been this insecure since I was fifteen. But mostly incredible!
7. Any advice for struggling writers? Everyone says read a lot and write a lot, but it's true. I would like to add, the days I have the hardest time settling in to write (I'm not a good settler) are when I don't keep my butt in the chair. My word count improves after pushing myself to get words down. I'm like a pen who needs to scribble before the ink starts to flow. If you're like me, you've got to make yourself scribble. Scribble, scribble, scribble. Then, after your brain gives out, go read a book.
For more information, please consult: STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW, A Cherry Tucker Mystery #2 (Henery Press, May 21, 2013), larissareinhart.com and
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013