"So, let's say that the publisher is the wholesaler who peddles the goods to the consumer, either directly or through a retailer. The author supplies the wholesaler."
She examined me with scorn. "That's a horrible way to look at it. What about art?"
What about art? I always ask fellow writers about their goals. Without exception, serious writers say: "To be read."
But when we start talking market, they become flustered and angry, feeling as though someone is trying to control their creativity. Yep, it's sad when the real world intrudes upon the fantasy, when we realize that writing is hard work and when we understand that compensation is often based on market forces such as supply and demand.
"I want to be read, but I don't want to compromise my integrity," she said.
"You find a need and you fill that need," I replied. "That's why you look at submission guidelines for publishers and why you examine what your audience wants. I can appreciate integrity, but how much integrity do you need to masturbate? Isn't that what a writer is doing when he or she writes for herself? The person who says 'I write what I want to write,' is a person whose gone blind and, or, has hair on his palms."
"You're crude," she said.
"I'm just expressing integrity."
"There has to be more than the market. I spent a good deal of money on a college degree. My MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) is worth more to me than an editor's red marks on my manuscript."
"That's the problem with going back to school, eventually you have to re-enter the real world and actually find application for what you've learned. You know, I once did a search for MFA and the job market. Pretty much the only real place for an MFA to use that degree is in education. Unfortunately, higher education is a hard nut to crack, especially since many schools are hiring less and less full time instructors and instead going with adjuncts who they can work harder and pay less..without benefits."
"You really are a cynical sonovabitch."
"I'm just channeling my inner Raymond Carver," I said. "Or one could find work somewhere in the shrinking publishing industry. Maybe work in helping edit a magazine. But then that takes us back to the marketplace, doesn't it?"
"I just want to write," she said.
"I want to be a movie star," I answered.