Thursday, April 21, 2005

Authors Beg Oprah, "Take Me Back, PLEASE Take Me Back!" And, Hello Trackback!

First off~What the heck's Trackback? I was very confused about Trackback for a long time. I would click on Trackback links and go, HUH?? Well, I've finally figured it out thanks to this article. Read past my Oprah's Book Club post to find out more about Trackback.

And onto The American Goddess~Oprah Winfrey. Love her or hate her, you certainly know who she is. If you're an author you probably know, Oprah now only chooses DEAD authors for her Book Club. Becoming an Oprah pick has traditionally sped a novel up to the top of the bestseller lists. Oprah's choice probably had something to do with the Jonathan Franzen fracas. She maybe figured that living authors are loose cannons of sorts. (She'd be right.)

Author MJ Rose (a fellow Girlfriend on the Cyber Circuit) and many other authors have written a letter to Oprah, bemoaning the current state of American publishing and requesting that she return to focusing on authors who are alive and actually have careers and families and advances to earn out. Many well-known and prizewinning (as in Pulitzer! et cetera) authors signed it, including some of my faves... AM Homes, Oscar Hijuelos, Jennifer Egan... and more. It's kind of a sad letter. Writers are truly desperate, I think. No one reads anymore. I wish Oprah would choose living writers as well.

Here's some of the letter:

We'd like to thank you for welcoming readers into the world of the literary imagination. We'd like to thank you for being an advocate of Great Books such as East of Eden, Anna Karenina and One Hundred Years of Solitude. We'd like to thank you for bringing an array of contemporary writers -- first novelists and prizewinners, famous or little known -- face-to-face with their readers.

We'd also like to make a request: We'd like to ask that you consider focusing, once again, on contemporary writers in your Book Club.

The American literary landscape is in distress. Sales of contemporary fiction are still falling, and so are the numbers of people who are reading. Readers complain that, although daunting numbers of new books are published, too few of them are brought to the public's attention in a meaningful way. Readers have trouble finding contemporary books they'll like. They, the readers, need you. And we, the writers, need you. America needs a strong voice that addresses everyone who can read, a voice that will say, "Let's explore the books that are coming out today. Let's see what moves us, what delights us, what speaks to us in a way that only fiction does."

Oprah Winfrey, we wish you'd come back.

What the hell, I signed it. We'll see if it even registers on the Oprah Scale. One hopes they delivered it via helicopter, with loudspeakers and naked people and sirens and promotional pencils (unsharpened, of course) falling out of the sky. That's probably what it takes to get Oprah's attention!

So regarding Trackback. I'm onboard. Yeah yeah, I KNOW I've missed the boat. Better late than never! What the hell is it? If you aren't a blogger, then you don't really need to worry about it. But if you are... Trackback is a way that blogs talk to each other. If you have Trackback and someone at another blog posts about what you've written, you'll be able to see what they say. And supposedly it helps people find your blog more easily. That part I still didn't get, but I'm gonna give it a try and see what pans out. Again, click the link to the article above to find out more about it, if you're behind the times like me and didn't "get it" before.

Blogger doesn't allow Trackback. But I was able to install HaloScan as an add-on, which DOES provide Trackback ability. HOWEVUH, this means all your lovely comments of the past WILL NO LONGER SHOW UP on the blog. They will still exist, but no one will be able to read them. So it's not that I don't like you or that somebody said something mean.

Hey! I just had an idea actually. If you have Trackback on your own blog, PLEASE take a sec to help me test this. Track me back! Then I'll go and track you back! Howzat?