What John Grisham Forgot?

Last December, driving home from a day-job photo sale, I tuned my XM radio to the Book Channel to hear a panel interview with authors David Baldacci, John Grisham, and Jodi Picoult. The objective of the organizers of the program was to increase public awareness of Mark Twain and the Mark Twain Museum, or, as we say in the south, they were “Rasin’ money.”

The show was memorable. All three of the authors are knowledgeable fans of Mark Twain. I learned a lot, and as you can imagine, I was entertained. I wouldn’t expect any less from three of the bestselling authors in the world.

Toward the end of the program, the interviewer threw the writers a slow, hanging, curve ball, when she asked a question they weren’t expecting. “What do you think of the new wave of indie writers that are flooding the world with books?”

I don’t know what Baldacci or Picoult think about indie writers because they never had a chance to respond. With the question still hanging in the air, John Grisham moved to a level of intensity that hadn’t been present in more than an hour of conversation.
In addition to writing bestsellers and coaching little league, Grisham is a Sunday school teacher at the First Baptist Church of Oxford Mississippi. He wouldn’t have been more passionate with his response if the moderator had asked, “How do you feel about Satan taking your wife and kids out for an ice cream soda?”

My paraphrase of his response is – He thinks indie writers and their books is the worse scourge to ever sweep the planet, and they will probably destroy the book business.

I’ve thought about that show often since I heard it five months ago. What Grisham said concerned me, but not because I’m an indie writer. There was more to my reaction than personal affront, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally, last Wednesday night, once again driving home from a day-job sale in Scottsville, Kentucky (see my post Flashbacks for Writers), I got it.

The thing that concerned me about John Grisham’s remarks wasn’t what he said but what he has forgotten. All writers, and I mean ALL WRITERS, are indie writers. No one was born at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. We all write, and we all market our writing. John Grisham is no exception.

Grisham worked hard to find a publisher for his first book, and many think his best novel, A Time To Kill. As a matter of record, he was rejected by 28 publishers before Wynwood Press, an unknown in the book business, agreed to give it a modest 5,000 copy printing. Grisham, by his own admission, bought most of those and peddled them out of the trunk of his car. If that isn’t the work of indie writers, I don’t know what it is.

The only difference between Stephen Woodfin, a lawyer and writer of legal thrillers, and John Grisham, is that Stephen is marketing his own books, and John has signed up with a big league agent and publisher who sell his. Stephen Woodfin and John Grisham are both indie writers. That is what Grisham has forgotten.
I’m a writer—an indie writer – just like John Grisham and Stephen Woodfin. Who knows? Given the opportunity, I might sign a contract with a big time agent or publisher, maybe not. But until one is offered, I’ll keep selling my books out of the trunk of my car, and on the web, and Facebook, and twitter, and everywhere else I can find someone to buy one. And though I’m not a religious person, I’ll always pray that I don’t forget that I’m an indie writer, and I always will be.
Since you probably won’t have a chance to buy a book out of the trunk of my car, you can see all of them on Amazon.com—just click here—Bert Carson Author’s Page

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7 Responses to What John Grisham Forgot?

  1. Javier
    Twitter:
    says:

    Mr. Carson, you’ve made me feel incredibly proud to be an Indie author, and I will never purchase a Grisham mystery for as long as I live. I wll take your words to heart and always remember my roots as an Indie author.

    By the way, Fourth and Forever is a beautiful story, you have an amazing voice.

    thank you

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Javier,
      Thanks for the comment my friend.
      Your latest post on your blog Letters to my Daughters, is a winner.
      I’m glad you found me.
      Yours to count on,
      Bert

  2. Excellent post! I was shocked to hear he was so emotional about the question, but you are right — he is just a writer like the rest of us.
    Tsk, tsk… John Grisham!

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Cynthia,
      Thanks for the comment.
      I just visited your web site – I love it all and these lines really got me –
      “I believe in love.
      I believe in magic.
      And I believe in Kindred spirits.”
      So do I.
      Yours to count on,
      Bert

  3. Caron Rider
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wow, I’m kinda glad I’ve never bought a John Grisham novel now. You know authors should band together, not try to knock each other down. When that one reader gets through with one novel, he’s going to want another novel. And it just may be your novel I’m recommending!

  4. John Grisham may simply be uneducated in the way the social internet works.

    What he is complaining about is the giant wave of trashy, try-hard, cloned genre fiction on the Kindle. He probably thinks that good books will disappear underneath all this garbage. But he’s forgotten that cream rises to the top, and this is espcially true of the internet’s social web:

    He may not understand that the social web ‘votes’ and self-selects, and trash goes nowhere in the end. This is exactly what happened with his own books.

    The cream always rises to the top, no matter the volume of curds and whey.
    Jonathan Gunson recently posted…JonathanGunson: Dr. Seuss: Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.My Profile

  5. Pingback: Why I Buy Books - Bert Blogging | Bert Blogging

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