How Can a Post Like This Even Be Written?

No offense to y’all, but how can it possibly be that Old Norse scholars are sitting around wondering how publishers can sell their books?  This is quite possibly the most mind-boggling thing I’ve ever read in this history of reading about publishing.

Old Norse scholars and publishers, here is my advice for you, free of charge.  Get your heads out of your asses about your audience and, even if you feel like folks who worship the gods of the people you study are stupid or ridiculous or spent too much time playing D&D or being in prison or smoking pot or all three as youngsters, suck it up and MARKET YOUR DAMN BOOKS TO THEM.

The number of books on anything having to do with Old Norse I would expect to be able to sell to scholars and academic libraries?  Um.  500.  Maybe.  Possibly 750 if you can guilt your non-English reading colleagues into buying them out of fondness to you.

Here’s my question for you, then, Old Norse scholars and publishers.  Do you think Hilda Davidson’s books have only sold 500 copies?  No, and why not?

Because folks who describe their belief system as “the religion with homework” will buy scholarly books about their gods and ancestors if they know abou those books. And they know about her books and buy them.  Every book about Old Norse and Old Icelandic literature I have on my shelves I learned about from Asatru and other heathen sources.  Do not discount or disregard that market.  It’s just so stupid it makes my brain hurt to write this post.

Sell to the amateur enthusiasts who are interested in your subject.

Do that and your discipline will thrive.

Are you going to sell 5,000 copies or 25,000 copies?  No.

But you know what the difference between a project with a potential for 350 sales and a project with 1,000 unit sales?  A project with a contract, on a list with a future in a field with some excitement surrounding it.

Edited to Add: I was all snarky in this post, but it’s stuck with me.  I’ve been thinking about this all night, because it does boggle my mind that people who have information that people want feel so unsure about whether they can find an audience for that information.  I mean, how many universities are developing courses on neo-pagan religions?  You know what lecture I want to go to?  The one where the professor of neo-pagan religions brings in the Old Norse scholar and the Old Norse scholar says “Here’s what the popular conception of these gods is.  Here’s what we really know.”

I am at that class.  I am liveblogging that class.  I am crowding the dude afterwards like a lunatic.

My point?  Maybe viewing yourself along the model of “Language and LIterture” as if you fall in with the Spanish and Russian and English departments does make you seem like Old English, but for an even smaller audience.  But what if you are a vital part of someone’s MDiv or their Anthropology degree?

Then not only do you save yourselves, you’re the model for how less popular language programs save themselves.

Yeah, Him and a Thousand Other People

Listen, Conservatives, Sarah Palin’s emails were hacked by a… how best to describe them?… loose affiliation of millionaires, billionaires, and babies who make up a semi-organized group called “anonymous.”  If Mike Kernell’s son was one of the people who hacked Palin’s email, he was only one of a large, large group.

There’s a good article over at Slate explaining it.  Here’s the important part–about why it’s so stupid to use Yahoo (or similar programs) if you are a well-known person and you don’t want others looking at your email.

Alaska’s private e-mail system probably does not include a “Did you forget your password?” function. Yahoo, of course, does—and that function presents a key method of entry for hackers. The forgotten-password system is all the more vulnerable for addresses belonging to public figures like Palin. When you forget your e-mail address, Yahoo asks you a “challenge question” to verify your identity before giving you your password; because we know a great deal about Palin (her kids’ names, her husband’s favorite sport, her date of birth), the challenge question might not have been much of a challenge for the hacker. Indeed, that was the case in the other celebrity e-mail theft of recent memory: Paris Hilton’s cell phone was hacked because the thief knew that her pet Chihuahua was named Tinkerbell.

Is it more of a scandal that a politician would be stupid enough to use Yahoo thinking it was secure or that another politician’s kid might have been involved in showing that it isn’t?  And what if it turns out that Kernell’s kid was the one who reset the password in order to save Palin further embarrassment?  Will that be a “bombshell” or not?

Swinging Between Terror and Euphoria

I have not yet picked out a secret back way to my house from work.  The straight up back way is to just get on DB Todd and drive north until I hit the house, but it’s just a hair too long to really be a back way.  It’s like the back way of last resort.

No, a back way needs to keep you moving and out of a lot of traffic, so that even if it takes longer than the interstate, you feel the satisfaction of forward motion.  I’ve tried going down Charlotte and hitting Briley and swinging up.  And I’ve tried going down Charlotte, hitting 55th, going to Centennial, taking Centennial to Briley and up.  And last night I ended up going up the street that Swett’s is on (did we decide that was 38th?), cutting over on Albion, hooking around the underside of TSU, and over to Centennial and up Briley.

It’s necessary, I’ve decided, for my back way home to contain that stretch of Centennial.  For one, it reminds me of a real city, when I drive along that, with old stuff still in use and places you want to stop, but are afraid you’d be sucked into 1948 if you did.  Then, you get to drive by the Pilot with the really cheap gas and you get to see the old prison.

It’s my new favorite street in Nashville.  Not that I for sure had an old favorite street, but Centennial reminds me that Nashville is a working city and not just tourist destinations and suburbs.  So, I am left with figuring out those three pieces in a route–must contain my work, Centennial Boulevard, and my home.

Driving back from my house to this place, the thing that struck me most last night was just how fucking dark it is out there on Briley.  Someone who works for TDOT, explain to me why we can’t have reflective paint on our roads.  Is it a matter of there not being enough tax money?  Is there a shortage on reflective paint?  Are y’all hoping I will freak out and have to turn my brights on on a 4 lane highway like an idiot so that you can laugh at me?  What?  What?!

I cannot wait to get into the new house.  I can’t wait to sit on my porch or in my living room.  I can’t wait to cut my lawn or plant my plants.  One of the things I’m jealous about Mack about is how, when he’s thinking on something, he grabs a cigarette, opens his back door, and looks out over his yard towards the horses.

I don’t know what he’s thinking.  Possibly he’s thinking “I don’t even like smoking, but it buys me three minutes’ distraction from this woman.”  But in my head, I imagine he’s just taking stock of the beautiful view and imagining what the land might bring him in the coming months.

I’m so envious of that–the look he gets on his face when he’s just looking out his back door.

And I cannot wait to sit on my porch, looking out over my front yard, mulling over what I want to do where and when with it.  I wonder if I’ll be able to see a lot of stars from where we are.  It sure seems very, very dark out there, but I keep forgetting to look up and see if there are stars.

I’m worried about how this is all going to happen in ten days, terrified actually.  But the Butcher says he’s got moving day under control–friends to help and all.  So, I’ve got to trust but verify that.  It’s hard, really, for me anyway, to not just rip this from his control and ask all my friends for help and just roll on over him.

I keep reminding myself that he’s not an idiot and he deserves my respect.  I know that, of course, but I can’t let my stress keep me from treaing him with respect.  Just now he called to say he was going to track down the fridge, which I had forgotten about, so see?

It’s going to be fine.  Even if I have to call ever singing one of you and ask you to come over with two empty boxes and a willingness to just pack them.  See, and that wouldn’t be too much to ask, right?  That’s going to be my back way out of this month.  If I can’t do this, I will ask for help.

Even though I’m no good at asking for help.

Okay, I feel much better.  Woo hoo.  Whew.

“Pitch” Perfect

So, we were obviously at Richard’s last night, which is a fine place to eat and you should go there.  But it’s also the kind of place that, for better or for worse, is getting a reputation for good music.  Which means that you’re sitting in there eating your delicious barbecue stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon over a bed of rice with the largest heaping of vegetables you ever saw laughing at your dad complaining about a lack of zydeco for him to dance to when all of a sudden you see them: The Industry Folks.

I don’t know why it is that you can always spot the industry folks, but you can.  Sure, they’re wearing jeans, but they’re just a little too tight or a little too stylish.  Sure, their hair says “long and carefree” but with every curl perfectly in place.  And when they enter a place, they do that subtle look to see if anyone is looking at them.

I don’t have anything against industry folks, but when they show up, you know a band has buzz and when a band has buzz and there are industry folks, forget about getting your Diet Coke refilled, that’s all I’m saying.

Well, it’s not all I’m saying.  I’m also saying this.  I hate when you can tell by listening to a band what their pitch is.  Not what range they most comfortably sing in, but what the little hook the Industry Person who gets her fingers into them is going to use to sell them to the rest of the company.

Last night, the band that was starting just as we left was Dixie Chicks meets Little Big Town.  Which, as you know, is basically Dolly, Linda, and Emmylou meet Fleetwood Mac and if you understand why getting excited in 2008 about that act is somewhat troublesome for me in terms of country music, you’ll understand why I was less excited about the band than everyone else in the restaurant.

But it did get me thinking, what is a pitch that would make you have to see a country act?

For me, I think it’d have to be something like “Hank Williams meets Dave Brubeck” or something that just made you go “What?!”  I don’t want a pitch that gestures me to something I can imagine.  Gesture me towards something I have to see to believe.

Like that dude who used to play down at the Bluegrass Inn who could play the piano with his butt.

I ask you, once I say “There’s a dude who plays the piano with his butt.” don’t you have to see that?

Granted, I can’t say for certain if there’s piano playing with butt in this video because I can’t get YouTube to work this morning, but you can get a feel for how it might happen.