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deletedJan 22, 2023·edited Jan 22, 2023
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In the years before I actually met him in person I collected a mountain of different editions of Irvine's books, including publisher's advance reader copies. When he came to Portland I had friends carry this stack to his book signing while I hung back and watched his expression. Hilarious. He was so flummoxed about how this couple could have the Romanian, Russian, Czech versions, plus every hardcover and paperback. Then I stepped forward, and we've been friends since.

In 2012 when my car was crushed by the truck, Welsh was the first person to check in. Nice.

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‘Trainspotting’ was one of a number of books that got me back into literature big time when I was 15 or 16. I remember getting it and a copy of its sequel, ‘Porno’, from the store HMV. Binged through the two books, loved them, then went and read the rest of Welsh’s work.

It’s depressing but not surprising to see that Welsh thinks there’d be some issue with ‘Trainspotting’ getting published today. The self published book that later gets picked up by a publisher if it gets enough attention is an interesting topic. Do you think that’d be a something you’d be interesting in discussing at length in a future post, Chuck?

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I wonder how that works legally? You just remove the self published version? I know publishers dint want stories that have been posted online.

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Yeah. I assume it’s like what happened with ‘Greener Pastures’.

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I know other authors have published things online then took them down and sold books. Guess it depends on what the publisher thinks of the situation.

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The newer possibility is the route Bret Ellis mentioned in his recent interview. The big publishers are offering to publish books -- with no advance money paid up front. If they like the book, the house will edit it and produce it and use in-house resources to publicize it. The author and the house earn royalties upon actual sales.

That's more the system that comic books use. Some large percentage of books -- 90 percent? -- never make back their advance, so this lessens the publisher's risk. I see that as more likely than a self-published book being acquired by a house.

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Strange. This is a very big if, but I thought about this situation, and reckoned that if I were offered an advance, I would request that they spend that on marketing to give myself a better shot as a first timer.

Worst case scenario: If I self publish enough stories through Amazon and Substack, I can at least survive off of it. I would be incredibly happy if I could make 30-40k per year that way and do some copywriting and my other odd hustles to make ends meet.

None of this is relevant until I feel confident that I have something worth reading. Got the daily habit cemented, so right now its just about learning. The newest premise seems to resonate with people so I feel like Im doing something correctly. Plus copywriting has me used to writing for a few hours per day. Fingers crossed that those hours will be dedicated to fiction in the not terribly distant future.

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The old rule was that the bigger the advance, automatically the bigger the promo budget. The house really needs to support the projects where they've invested the most. But -- take it from me -- spending your advance money on bigger events and more events has always paid off. Those severed arms don't come cheap.

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Id bet a dollar that you spent it smarter and more effectively than they would have. Thought about that option as well. But the gesture of asking them to spend the advance on selling the thing would get me a better shot at another deal. Also score some business minded points with the publisher, but that may not be worth anything.

Not that I ever overthink anything.

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"Now, you basically write into marketing holes: you write thrillers, or crime, or romance, or science fiction. You shoot into these holes now. It’s very retail-driven. It’s very entertainment-led, rather than art-led."

Sad.

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In my very humble opinion I found that the movie hit harder than the book which is very rare. The movie also really hit on the similarities of punk and opiates and how they really have a way of going hand in hand.

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"It’s very entertainment-led, rather than art-led."

I think that's more about the monetisation though, isn't it? I've got the feeling there are less publishers willing to take risks, and they most often prefer to opt for a comfortable entertainment genre. Just because it might guarantee a certain base of readers and therefore sales. And these days, like you mentioned on "Consider This", the industry is not exactly booming.

If publishers don't take risks, neither do agents, so if you don't write one of those genre novels, then it's kind of tough to kick off with traditional publishing.

Last week I did this experiment. Read a Sunday Time Bestseller that sounded horrendous. Two pages in and I was yawning. Finished the book a threw against the wall. I hated it so much, but somehow that made me feel good about myself. My writing. If that kind of stuff gets published and goes on top of the charts, there's hope. I think.

I think I'm ranting a lot today. Indulgence.

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Jan 23, 2023·edited Jan 23, 2023Author

For some addictive reading look for the "Year in Fiction" usually printed in the front of "Best of Horror" or similar annual collections. It gives grim and happy numbers about who's meeting sales expectations and who isn't.

(warning, glam name dropping ahead) I once sat backstage with Trent Reznor, where he said his new album wasn't meeting sales projections, so he'd be contractually required to tour European music festivals all summer to make up the shortcomings. Stunned me, the nature of the business.

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Odly enough I've owned Trainspotting for about twenty five years and have never read it. I adore the movie but could never get past trying to read the dialect. But, I've since read the other books of the series. Dont ask me why. One of these days I'll get around to it.

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Hey Chuck, what are your thoughts on self-publishing? One perspective would discourage it because you don't have those gatekeepers telling you your book needs more work. What do you think?

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This is worth a long post, but let me get a beer and I'll tackle it...

Okay, back. For the upside, yeah, it would be great to control the art, and to manage the tour. In comics the creator has to arrange and pay for the tour, so I've built that skill. And over the decades I stay in touch with the top 60+ independent bookstores. Contacting them and putting together a schedule takes effort but it's doable.

Now the downside. Independent bookstores only sell about nine percent of books, but they are huge taste makers. They're the mavens who hand-sell books and can swing your book onto a bestsellers list. Book clubs -- Oprah, Reese -- are taking over that function, but book stores still steer a lot of public taste. To go to self publishing I risk (throw away) twenty-five years of working with people like Anderson's in Naperville, The Strand in NYC, and Booksmith in San Fran. We have history. And while publishing and agents as a whole might toss you aside like a used condom, there are individuals in both fields who've worked above and beyond to make a writer's career, and to move to self publishing would end those special, longtime friendships.

Also, the nightmare of taxes. Agents are adept at handling the myriad tax forms required by overseas publishers and co-agents. Unless these waivers are filed annually in each market, the writer is taxed by both the foreign government and his/her native government. That might seem like a small detail, but I'm glad to have someone else deal with it.

Above all, I'd miss the booksellers. As I mentioned in Consider This, they've been more than co-workers. The kind of all-out big events I've done have only been possible because people at Books & Books in Miami or Book Soup in LA have rented halls and shepherded dozens of crates of props for me.

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Jan 23, 2023Liked by Chuck Palahniuk

Hah! I think there might have been some mix-up. I know you have a ton of stake in the game already, so yeah, to push that aside for self-publishing, would be crazy. Keep doing you. My question was geared toward those who don't have any those connections. Someone who can't seem to be published by anyone.

Thanks for the response. I hope the beer hit the spot.

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I love "Skagboys" the prequel

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Tsk. "How have WRITER'S progressed?"

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Also, I tried to read Trainspotting, but I just can't do the stream-of-consciousness and phonetic-dialect style. I thought the little snippets of it made for a fantastic screenplay, though.

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I found 'Marabou Stork Nightmares' much easier going.

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I took a look at Porno when it debuted, and it didn't seem any more readable than Trainspotting, so I just crossed him off my list permanently. Is that a mistake?

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Check out 'Nightmares' and the stories in 'Acid House.' Those offer a lower threshold for getting into the plot.

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"Ecstasy" stories kind of whip you up in them. I think it's a novel (read it years ago when I was out of it), but it switches from character to character and reads like short stories until they connect.

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P.S. I also got to see the "Trainspotting" play a few years ago in NY; it is my favorite play ever... "Only Cunts Leave."

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read it back in 96 and it was a lot of fun.

not my fave of him though.

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Bit of trivia: You’re actually referenced in one of his books -- ‘The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs.’ Some of your books are on the main character’s bookshelf.

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Yikes. That's always... scary. I've turned up as a character in 'The Mission' by Jason Myers'

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Mission/Jason-Myers/9781416998679

As well as novels by China Mieville and Jess Walter. Spooky. It's one reason why I wrote 'Tell-All' -- plus my editor told me how publishers have stacks of typeset biographies on shelves, waiting for each particular public figure to die. The moment they die, the book is dumped into the market because the dead can't sue for liable. Their estate can, but it's much, much more difficult. Like a flock of vultures always circling.

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P.P.S. I listened to the audiobook a few years ago as well... Tam Dean Burn and Irvine Welsh narrated. I also just listened to Welsh's story "A Fault on the Line" which was so hysterical I almost missed my subway transfer and stop that morning

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In the email I received there’s a typo in the lead-in; you mistakenly spelled it “Tranispotting.” Different type of novel entirely:

“The following are a few quotes from Irvine Welsh. His landmark novel Tranispotting turns thirty years old, and he reflects on whether or not it could be launched these days.”

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Fixed it. Thank you. No offense intended.

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I’m sure no one was offended. Kinda tickled me. ✌️

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When I was in my twenties I had a pretty bad run of mental health problems and during that time I kept diaries. As soon as I settled back into life the diaries just stopped. I've never read them back, but occasionally I'll open the box where they're kept and wonder if there's a story in them.

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The secret truth: Every novel is a coded diary.

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God yes! Katy, your diaries are gold mines.

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The key word is "coded." The world must never know how crazy you actually are.

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Oh come on, Chuck. Coded?? That takes skill and subtly. Can't I just say "Here's all the reasons why I'm fucked up. I'm hard-headed, stubborn, stupid, you'll hate me but love me...The End."

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Also, have you been working on any Gloves Off? I'm sorry but I get all fidgety like a crack head when I haven't seen one in a while haha

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One soon. This week. Promise.

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There, I just posted one. Two more in the pipeline.

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I must admit I only saw the movie. I was 17. Fascinating Story. Drugs. Hello, I am an anaestetist - or a paramedic, who cares, let me be both of them. Just 10 days ago, my imaginary friend showed up with something - we are athletes you know, so I asked this friend and coach what today's workout will be - she said that we will try the Renton Challenge and that it should not be the last time - because the Renton Challenge is just awesome. What does this have to do with Trainspotting ? Guys, when my friend pulls up a thing like that, there's a fat myth in there. My friend is not a heroine like Tyler is not the hero but just more. We're not heroin junkies. We are endurance junkies. Thanks for this post Chuck. I think I needed this to break my current writer's block (6 weeks now).

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Six weeks! That's nothing.

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I promised, Tyler will be back. Not your Tyler. But Tyler. Because our whole story is about an imaginary friend, and Tyler is by far the best masculine version, so he just has to be part of our story. It's just a script: maybe it will be continued, maybe it will be revised, maybe it will be deleted. There is only one force. One light. So my own friend is your Tyler as well. No matter the gender. And sorry. It is a German version. Brocken ist deutsch.

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