Thursday, July 16, 2020

Introducing the Pulp Mindset

We've talked many times about the awful state of art right now in the modern world, but we haven't offered much in the way of solutions aside from the obvious: just keep trucking. Today that changes as I introduce to you my newest book due out at the end of this month: The Pulp Mindset!

I hinted at this book earlier, and now that my editor has handed it back to me and I am very close to the end in polishing, I can now reveal it to you. This is my next book!

The Pulp Mindset is a non-fiction work focused around the shift in the writing world from the crumbling empire of OldPub into the current wild west that is NewPub. Along the way I also cover a number of other things from the importance of the pulps in modern art and entertainment, why wonder and action matter more than messaging, and even include some tips for newer writers (or for badly educated ones) on how to get started as a writer of pulp. It's a surefire way to gain a winner's mindset in an industry that likes to lose.

Despite the above, this is not a How-To manual. It will not teach you to write or a instruct a way to game the amazon algorithm to sell more books. There are enough of those out there to shake a stick at. This guide was written to both reassess conventional wisdom that has hampered newer writers attempting to succeed as creators, and to rediscover old forgotten advice that applies more than ever in the growing frontier of NewPub. It's about putting order to chaos. Someone needs to sift through the confusion and muddled thinking modern writers are prone to, and that is what this book is meant to address. The modern industry is a minefield.

I first came up with the idea for the book while writing a simple essay on wonder. It seemed like a subject few were talking about. As I revised and rewrote the simple piece, trying to understand just what my overall intent was, I suddenly got the idea to expand it and make it part of a bigger whole. That essay is now a chapter in this book, and is still the lynch-pin to the whole project. Without wonder the entire process of writing pulp falls apart.

I soon thought to what the atmosphere was like when I began writing, never mind before I even really knew what pulp writing, or even NewPub itself, was. The climate for new writers is the same as it was when I began. It is total chaos out there, and a new writer has far too much good and bad information to parse through. There are plenty of books on how to write, all with conflicting advice (that is how writers are, after all) but none that really address the wider implications of what it means to write in the era we are currently living in. Most of the bad advice out there acts like we are still living in the 1970s.

Let's face it: most of the tips anyone in OldPub can give you are simply not going to help you succeed. It isn't because they don't know how to write (many do!) but that they are writing obliviously to an upcoming generation that will not be able to practically apply a lot of the advice they are given. By the time Gen Z is old enough to start writing for real, in a decade or so, OldPub will not be in the state it is in now. Heck, it might not even be around at all. But there is no one in that industry who will tell you that. Whether it is because they don't know it themselves, or wish to ignore it, I can't say. But OldPub is on the way out.

Of course, NewPub won't be the same as it is now either, which is why this book is not a how-to-write guide, but a book on gaining a mindset that will help you succeed as a creator even when the system is actively working against you, or is dead. More than tools, tips, tricks, or apps, what you need to become an artist is a mindset that can't be broken or bent. You need a mindset that looks to the past to connect to the present in order to move to the future. You need a complete mindset to help whether the turbulent storm of the ever-changing world of publishing.

You need a Pulp Mindset.

Before you can write a long-running series, before you can write that dream project you've had your eye on since you were an eight-year-old, and before you can even put keys to digital paper, you have to know just what mess it is that you're getting into. Once you understand and adapt your thought process to the reality of OldPub's failures and NewPub's meteoric rise, you can take advantage. Then you can do anything you want to do.

So what writers need, both new and struggling, is a simple, short, straightforward book that can steady their shaking knees on solid ground. That is what The Pulp Mindset is. It is the bridge over troubled waters. Once you have your mind locked in this Pulp Mindset you can move on to saving cats or the advice books of literary agents or OldPub authors, if that is what you wish. However, you will have a better idea of what to focus on to improve both your writing and your aim as a writer to the point that you might not want to do any of those things.

The old pulp authors from back in the day had a certainty to both their writing and their storytelling that modern authors just can't manage. Anyone who has been on social media can attest to that. With a pulp mindset these aspiring authors can turn their brains into a steel trap that will give them focus, discipline, and allow them to finally have fun while writing! Just like the pulp greats!

Because  entertainment and edification is ultimately what it's all about. You want to entertain the audience, and you want to have fun doing it. You both might also learn something along the way, but at least you're in this together.

This book is a culmination of everything I learned about writing and the industry since I started at it. Yes, this means lessons from fandom, the puppies, the PulpRev, Superversive, OldPub's collapse, and the current meltdown of mainstream entertainment as a whole. Where we've been, where we are, and how we can get to somewhere better than both.

All that in a small, concise book just like the pulps. I wouldn't have it any other way. That is the Pulp Mindset at work!

Artist: Bruce Timm (not my pic)

When I started writing near a decade ago, I thought it was pretty hopeless. What I didn't expect was that the climate would allow something like NewPub to come up. Before now, whole genres were off the table because OldPub said so. Not the case anymore!

Back in the day, you had to find an agent, edit your story for suits who probably don't understand the point of your work, and then wait forever for the book to be edited, acquire a crap cover you have no say in, then get no promotion before it died on the vine. And that's if you could even get in to the old system to begin with.

I've covered several periods on this blog from the pulps to now. We eventually got to the point where genres from adventure to horror simply got thrown under the bus for generic 400 page thriller paperbacks. This was all because OldPub decided those genres were over, and wanted to push more formulaic books instead. They wanted to gain a fandom that would fanatically buy whatever they put out: they did not want a customer base they would have to cater to. Minimum effort, maximum profit. Hwever, that profit is not what it once was. Killing the mid-list is part of the problem. No one new is coming it the hobby, which means it is dying.

OldPub, in essence, became about the publishers and those who worked in the machine lining their pockets before producing product for customers. Everyone else from the writers to the audience--the ones OldPub should have been focusing on--were dead last in importance. This is how they've ended up on the death bed they are currently writhing on.

At the same time, audiences are fed up with the way things are. They no longer get what they want, so why stick around? They no longer trust the system, for good reason, and have instead walked away from the entire mess.

Here's the thing: the internet allows audiences to get whatever they want for cheap prices, and for free. They have options now. They are no longer trapped in the cycle of having to pay premium prices for material they are only barely putting up with. So if you wish to compete as a writer you can't continue to offer the pap that pushed them away from reading to begin with. Not only does OldPub refuse to learn this lesson, they actively double down on their stubbornness, turning their own industry into a circle-jerk cesspool that everyone outside of it uses as a punching bag, and a punchline. The entire industry has turned into a joke.

There is nothing you can take from them, because they have nothing to give. OldPub is on the way out. It's only a matter of time.

However, many upcoming writers don't appear to understand this. As someone who has been on social media and sees "aspiring" writers and the like struggle to even type a few words a day on their keyboard before frantically deleting them in abject terror, it is obvious to see that they are completely unprepared for their art-form. And much of that is because of the bad advice they have received from OldPub. This advice is strangling their aspirations in the crib.

Whether it is the "Mutation or Death" rallying cry that still infects adventure fiction to this day, or the corporate-funded writer's workshops that insist "mundane" is where writers of wonder should spend their time appealing to swindling audiences, it doesn't make much of a difference. OldPub has had an anti-audience mentality for a long time, and it is only getting worse. They do not know what the people actually want.

And yet newer authors still have nostalgia-charged dreams of having their 1000-page book on a Borders shelf with the old Tor logo on the side of it as their masterwork shoots up the bestseller chart before getting optioned for a video game by Westwood Studios and a full length motion picture by Orion Pictures. Those childhood dreams! The stars in their eyes blind newer writers from uncomfortable truths. None of this is ever going to happen. That era doesn't exist anymore. OldPub will not help you achieve those dreams.

If you want to be a writer, or any sort of creator, in the modern age, then you need to put the nostalgia behind you. Stop putting your job on a pedestal. The old industries are not only dead, but what remains of them are now your enemies who want to hurt you or warp you in their image. Those in charge today put entertainment and audience last. Take advice from this dinosaur mindset at your own peril. They have nothing to offer that you can't already do on your own.

OldPub is over.

They're over, folks!

But you aren't part of OldPub. No one who wants to be a serious writer is part of that system, anymore. You are a new creator in a new era.

One of the things that convinced me to write this book was the realization that we should be celebrating. We are currently living in the most exciting era of art and entertainment in decades, one where anything can happen. With the death of the taste-makers we can do anything and go anywhere we want. So why should we go to those decrepit and outdated industries for advice? It makes no sense. They won't help you.

Even just this month alone I have done multiple signal boosts for new projects from top notch creators with fresh ideas who have more energy that anyone in the old system does. And there are still more to come! (July is a busy month!) If you keep your eyes peeled you will be more than surprised with how much good stuff you will find out in the wild. These are all creators working with a pulp mindset and have abandoned the old, outdated ways. They know what it takes to give the audience what they want, and they have fun while doing it.

We're in an ever-changing age, and it's one that isn't due to stop changing anytime soon. But there is one thing audiences will never tire of, and that is quality. As long as you have a pulp mindset you can do anything and go anywhere, maximizing your chances of hitting it big. Not even the sky is the limit in this new era.

So stay tuned for more news about The Pulp Mindset and its very close release date! Join the newsletter if you want in on early news, free stories, and future deals. If you already are signed up then you already know about it! I promised to make the newsletter worthwhile, because I appreciate everyone who tosses even a single dollar my way. The audience you connect with really is the best. And art is all about connections!

And yes, this is my second book release of this year, just as I said. I keep my promises. Unlike OldPub, I work to keep you entertained. There is also much more to come before the end of the year, so keep an eye out.

Also, keep your head up! Things are heating up in NewPub, and they ain't gonna stop anytime soon.


  1. Sounds like a great read, even for those who don't want to write for a living. The pulp writers of yesterday could write fast, write in a variety of genres, and be consistently entertaining. The word slaves working for old pub can't manage any of the above.

    1. Thanks!

      I definitely made it so that eve non-writers could get something out of it. The Pulp Mindset is universal.

    2. JD

      When's the book coming out?xavier

    3. It will be out by July 31st. I am aiming for the 30th, but you can never be too sure with amazon.