Your Soul Versus What Sells

Publishing. Any aspiring writer’s end goal, and every aspiring writer’s worst enemy.

But, is it the publisher, or the audience?

Peter Selgin knows the difference. He doesn’t avoid the harsh reality that the audience dictates the industry.

“Alas, the general public still guzzles the literary equivalent of Budweiser and is pooping the party.”

-Peter Selgin, Writer’s Digest Q&A

But, have no fear: the microbreweries are here!

Selgin recognizes that smaller publications may not give a writer acclaim or a hefty paycheck, but that some of the best writing can be found tucked between ads for local grocery stores and the obituary.

By his own respects, he writes for large and small publications alike. He also edits for smaller publications, one of which is sponsored by one of two universities for which he works.

For those writers seeking a literary agent, he says that if you’re the lucky person who writes what sells you are in for a treat. Otherwise, he says, “hold your nose and go for it” if you really just want a literary agent.

Although there are some rare, idealistic agents that will “jump in front of the bus for the sake of their Art,” it is much more likely to find an agent that would simply enjoy food on the table.

But of the overall publishing climate, he says this:

Anyone who sets out to do anything well and with integrity is in for a struggle. Add a dose of originality—to do things as no one has done them before—and you increase the struggle by an order of magnitude.

– Peter Selgin, Writer’s Digest Q&A



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