The Loud Minority

Ninety•five percent of the writers in the land packed in their tools, finally. There were reasons for this perfect storm: first, not many were getting published. And for the ones lucky enough to see their work in print, most of their books were remaindered or recycled, and royalties had dried up. Their publishers were busy over the “loud minority” and did not have the marketing attention for these many “also•rans”. So, when one writer finally quit, the rest folded in droves. Within a short time•span, they had stopped writing and vanished without a trace.
And who were these chosen ones called the “loud minority”? They were those targeted for longevity, the stars of today who would become the cash cows of tomorrow. Writers who had more than the one•hit, even if their sequels resembled the many subsequent squeezings at the olive press; the ones whose books were held up for every literary prize until, between them, they had scooped all the honours reserved for literature in the land and beyond. Nothing improper here: just strategic marketing that dictated picking winners and promoting them well.
But when the also•ran’s died out, fear gripped the hearts of the loud minority. How could they write the future stuff all by themselves? Wouldn’t their weakening efforts become noticeable? Whose heads would they be elevated above in order to win these high literary awards? Book sellers panicked – their store sizes would diminish in size and prestige – after all, who would visit a store with only five titles? Distributors moaned – lucrative fees for transporting unsold books back to publishers would peter out, halving their revenue streams.
Sensing opportunity, one small band of also•ran’s went underground and issued a statement on the Internet that they would write secretly, but for future generations only, and would remain unpublished until they died. Rumours began to abound (also on the Internet, where else!) that what was been written by these dissident writers was magnificent stuff – after all, hasn’t dissidence being an enduring topic of literature? Snippets of “Underground” writing started to leak out, only to be lapped up by every literary journal in the land, fighting among themselves for scarce content, trying hard from folding like deck chairs on a beach under storm warning. Auctions paid top dollar for leaked “authentic” Underground material. A whole new industry of fake Underground literature boomed in the Third World. The old order had been overturned.
Then one mainstream publisher caved. “I will publish only from the Underground,” he declared. The Underground relented, conditionally. The publisher’s first series of five books sold out in minutes. His next series followed a week later and was pre•sold before it even hit the presses. The desperate industry and its readership lurched from its prize•obsessed five•percent adoration to grabbing at anything tossed through the indifferent grate of this mysterious Underground. Soon, a new loud minority ruled, although some astute readers observed no change in the quality of these writers’ work from their previous incarnation. They wisely withheld comment.
Moral of this fictitious story here, dear writers – be rare, be hard to get, differentiate and build mystique, be bold, create “story” around you – and the world will come beating to your door. We are such incurable gullible nosey parkers, aren’t we?

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