The Problem with Publishing
The conversation at Wednesday night’s indie lit mag panel at Powerhouse Arena did not stray from its predictable territory: the challenges of getting funding, the ever-evolving landscape of digital publishing and self-satisfaction about being Brooklyn-based.
Though quieter than some nights at Powerhouse, the audience that turned up to hear the discussion between six editors (from Moonshot, A Public Space, SET, Slice, Tin House, and Electric Literature’s newly launched Recommended Reading) and moderator Jamie Schwartz, managing director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, was considerable.
Ms. Schwartz began the conversation by asking about money, a topic panelists returned to over the course of the night. “I think it’s a mystery to most people how the economics of literary publishing works,” she commented. “It’s really like an oxymoron.”
Anyone who hoped this mystery might be illuminated further was sorely disappointed.
the literary scene
Sheila Heti’s new novel, How Should a Person Be?, is dedicated to Margaux Williamson, a main character who is the best friend of the book’s protagonist—Sheila—and, not exactly by coincidence, is Ms. Heti’s best friend in real life as well. Last night, at a launch party for the book at powerhouse Arena, the real Ms. Heti spoke into a microphone as the real Ms. Williamson sat in the front row.
“When I showed Margaux the first draft of this book,” she said, “I thought she was going to say, like, ‘This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read.’”
How Should a Person Be has the subtitle “a novel from life,” and it consists, in part, of a compilation of fictionalized emails and interview transcripts. Ms. Heti recounted the experience of showing Ms. Williamson her manuscript in real life, a process that is also documented in the novel. “It’s interesting to have characters that tell you that you did the wrong thing,” Ms. Heti said.