Monday, June 6, 2016

John D MacDonald on the current state of publishing

I've been flipping through an advanced copy of The Red Hot Typewriter: The Life and Times of John D MacDonald (reprint coming in August from Stark House). I found two quotes that struck me as being just as applicable today as they were then. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here's John D MacDonald in a 1980 interview:

"There are many published novels which probably would have been more successful as short stories, or if they had been kept to 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, although the novelette or novella is not really marketable in this era."
And here he is in 1950

"Today, as a writer, I am a small businessman in a highly competitive field, fabricating a product for sale in a buyers' market, and required to establish my own merchandising and marketing procedures."


Fred Zackel said...

He was a wise man and a fine writer. And he mentored many young writers. "Write million words, and if they don't sell, write another million." Cause of death? The operating room.

Dale T. Phillips said...

John D. was the master. Though I read many other writers in the mystery genre, Travis McGee made me love the genre, and I continue to pay homage. His insights into human nature were profound, and his detailing of the destruction of Florida by rapacious developers and predators was prescient.
And he's the poster boy for working at your craft.