Thursday News: Samhain stays open (for now), YouTuber books, Bravo! imprint, and Hisham Matar
Samhain tells its authors that the doors will stay open: Chris Brashear informed Samhain authors that expense cutting strategies are keeping the publisher afloat, and they hope to re-open submissions (internally at first) by fall. They’ve also enlisted a PR service to market and promote their titles, so hopefully they will continue on the road to robust financial health.
YouTubers are expanding their fanbases—using books – An interesting piece from Ars Technica on the book deal trend for YouTube “stars” that goes past the usual head-shaking, CULTURE IS DEAD lament. While money is definitely an incentive for the YouTubers making these deals, in some cases, the book deal actually leads to video, while in others, a book can explore content that’s just not suitable for video (too personal, etc.). Or, in the case of Emily Kim, aka Maangchi, YouTube is an educational channel that has allowed her to teach Korean cooking to a mass audience, both through video and a companion cookbook. Kim also started on YouTube almost a decade ago and has managed to ride the wave of its popularity to even greater success. Then there is the cultivation of a fanbase, which is enriched through the development of other media:
Fans want to have a deeper connection to the personalities they love (this goes for any celebrity, not just YouTubers). For most YouTubers, that connection increases their authenticity in the eyes of their fans, which is crucial to longevity and success. That’s also why a book deal must be thoughtful and authentic to truly work in the YouTube fan space. For people like Tyler Oakley and Ricky Dillon, writing autobiographies makes sense since a big chunk of their careers is based on sharing their lives with others. For Caitlin Doughty, a book explaining mortality acceptance and exploring death taboos makes sense since death is, essentially, her life. – Ars Technica
Andy Cohen Launching His Own Book Imprint, Bravo! – A surprisingly optimistic article on Andy Cohen’s new book imprint via Henry Holt, which could either become a wasteland of Bravolebrity memoirs or, if Rachel Shukert has her way, an opportunity to give not-yet-known writers of significant talent a platform to become the ‘next new thing.’ Cohen does seem to have a knack for understanding what is and is not popular, and he is incredibly well connected in Hollywood and beyond, but it’s difficult not to see the potential here for an inane vanity project. Or maybe I’m just cynical.
As I’ve written before, Cohen has a breezy authorial voice, and is witty enough about his own vapidity—the name-drops; the meticulously amusing yet self-flagellating way he describes in his endless quest to get into better shape; his touching and evolving relationship with his beloved adopted beagle mix, Wacha (what can I say? I’m a sucker for a dog story)—for his diaries to prove a suitable, modern-day successor to Andy Warhol, whose purposefully mundane accounts of his star-studded but otherwise everyday life (complete with the exact accounting of taxi fares and uptown meal tips) served as Cohen’s inspiration. (If Andy Cohen, the college-educated yuppie-ish scion of upper-middle-class St. Louis Jews is not quite as interesting as Andy Warhol, the shy and vaguely unsightly genius-son of working-class Pittsburgh Ruthenian immigrants, well, then I guess we live in less artistically interesting times.) – Tablet Magazine
THE BOOK – Speaking of memoir, this relatively brief but lovely essay from Hisham Matar, which is sort of his story of writerly origins. Having books read to him as a child, many beyond his full comprehension, Matar had an early appreciation of language. Still, it was a book read aloud to his father, a book Matar could not then and cannot now identify, that “registered [the] full impact” of its language on him, such that every book he writes now can be traced back to “that unknown and unknowable book.”
I don’t remember what the passages read aloud were about, exactly. What I do remember is that they relayed the intimate thoughts of a man, one suffering from an unkind or shameful emotion, such as fear or jealousy or cowardice, feelings that are complicated to admit to, particularly for a man. But the honesty of the writing, its ability to capture such fluid and vague adjustments, was in itself brave and generous, the opposite of the emotion being described. I also remember being filled with wonder at the way words could be so precise and patient, illustrating, as they progressed, what even the boy I was then somehow knew: that there exists at once a tragic and marvellous distance between consciousness and reality. – The New Yorker