Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Better Product II

The new product has to better. Better than anything we’ve yet done or conceived. This is in order to compete on two fronts.

1.) To compete within the already saturated literary/publishing scene.

2.) To compete within the hypercompetitive, extremely noisy general culture.

The new product will need to look and sound radically different, Xtremely different, from all else considered remotely literary. If it doesn’t give upon first encounter the Shock of the New, then it’s not exciting enough. We need to reach high in order to achieve high. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Developing Stars

MY ORIGINAL CONCEPTION of the Underground Literary Alliance had four legs.

1.) Activism/Noisemaking.

2.) Gathering in One City.

3.) Lit Stars i.e., the “Zeen Elvis.”

4.) Zeen Shops.

#1 was all we carried out. We never developed a single young star—yet this is a necessity if every part of the campaign is to work together. For instance, in the zeen store, I’d need to sell posters of said star or stars, which will in turn hype the zeens/books. The person will have to be striking enough for this to work. I also couldn’t fully access my promotional abilities without a good focus. The main candidate bailed extremely early. It’s amazing we got as much attention as we did, given the fact we had no one except supporting characters to promote. We could’ve easily doubled the noise.

Where are the ambitious young writers?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Underground Problems

In conception, the Underground Literary Alliance was a great thing. The idea, in part, was to create a big tent which all undergrounders could use for their own benefit. It was a plan toward necessary cooperation.

Right now there’s enough talent out there for underground writers and artists to compete with the established literary world. What’s lacking is direction and cohesion. We’re a collection of random molecules bouncing aimlessly. We need to get moving in one direction.

What’s lacking is a structure or format so that what benefits one benefits all. There needs to be a synergy, so that underground projects benefit other underground projects, and are benefitted in turn.


1.) First, the underground needs to present itself as a single movement.

2.) It needs a critical journal which explains that movement.

3.) It needs avenues of publicity for the movement, across the spectrum. Its own websites, radio programs, publications, stores—each of which will be tied together in some way, either through presenting or advocating a particular aesthetic, or, as the ULA attempted, through uniting around a particular name.

There have to be individuals willing to take one part of that need. No one person, or small group of persons, can do it all, yet the ULA tried to do it all. No one person can write, and promote, and distro, and sell. If we all “just write,” there leaves time and effort for nothing else.

Yet if we don’t work together we’re nowhere.

What’s the solution?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ballyhoo Works!

We saw that with the Jets/Patriots football game, where all the trash talking by the Jets created enormous interest in the game. When the ULA was going gangbusters we did our share of trash talking. Given the opportunity, we would've mopped the floor with the established literary pretty boys in the same way the Jets ultimately did when the game was finally played.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Could the ULA Be Resurrected?

For this to happen it would have to be remade. It would have to once again embody the new-- not the familiar, and the ULA after six-plus years had become familiar. The key to the ULA's attention was being as unfamilar and unpredictable as possible.
I have a plan to create a selling machine. I know how to sell. Whether I could somehow incorporate the ULA into that projected machine would require thought and study.

I don't know if the ULA could be the centerpiece. Not as it stands now, anyway. The ULA was never expected to be fronted by old guys, who were/are better fit for supporting roles. There's a difference between paying homage to a movement's roots-- and putting those roots at the front. B.B. King wasn't playing to sold-out stadiums in the Sixties. The Beatles were. The question is whether you want to be perceived as new and exciting. I didn't create this youth-centered society. I'm trying to live in it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Money on the Table

I SOMETIMES THINK that underground writers are the stupidest people on the planet. There’s a hundred million dollars on a table waiting to be picked up, and no one will go near it. It’s possible for a lit movement to be bigger than McSweeney’s. Bigger than the Beats.

Of course, to do that, writers would need to moderate their solipsism and their egos. They’d have to realize that simply writing what’s in fact therapy ruminations or diary entries isn’t good enough. The missing person in the equation is the reader.

They’d also have to be willing to let Promotion drive the bus. As soon as the ULA kicked Promotion out of the driver’s seat, the ULA bus stopped moving. Anyplace.

The minute we start competing, which means behaving as if we had a team in the National Football League (the literary buy-in for lit is way cheaper), things will get exciting.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It’s All Hype


When I was running the ULA, I tried to get the members to understand the notion that p.r. wasn’t 10% of the campaign, or 50%, or 90%. It was all of it. Every other aspect, from books to shows to personalities, should’ve conformed to the publicity. Or, the hype wasn’t there to serve the product. The product could only exist to serve the hype. Otherwise it was a waste of time. This is a completely counterintuitive, radical idea.

In the ideal campaign, which I’ve sketched out in greater detail, the product itself will be hype. Yea, even the writing.