Monday, April 23, 2012

Writer Conspiracy Theories

A writing organization of published authors recently received a rude awakening when a writer seeking admission was told she/he did not qualify. The org sent this writer a standard "sorry but your writing credits don't meet our criteria," only to have a concerned party issue a flaming screed. In it, this person accused the traditional publishers of an ongoing exclusion club, wherein self-pubbed authors were denied entrance. The organization's president replied very intelligently. But what's going on?
Writing Tip for Today: Everywhere I teach writing, there is always someone who is convinced their pet writing conspiracy theory is true. The editors/agents/traditionally published authors are actively seeking to discredit self-published work. It's a closed system. You have to "know" someone in order to get a publishing house to publish your work. And on and on. What's the real scoop?
  • Good Writing Rises. With very few exceptions, the really great writing finds its way into people's hands. While we all lament that readers don't always know the difference between a great story and great prose, the truth is that readers will almost always prefer a great story over a poor story written brilliantly.
  • Writing Ain't Fair. Neither is life. There are fortuitous events in writing as in any other area. When you complain that you can't get an agent to bite, consider that this is how the agent earns her living. She gets paid to intuit what kinds of books will sell.
  • Where's The Gold Standard? Any author organization which still regards traditionally published work as the standard realizes that self-publishing is catching up. But maybe it isn't there yet. The advantage that traditional pubbed authors have is the number of gatekeepers (agents, editors and other readers) the traditionally pubbed must pass. With self-publishing (so far) there is not a standard of quality. I have heard about a bunch of ebook romance writers getting together to vet each other's work, but this is still pretty rare. Not to mention that writers rating each other is a bit like foxes trying to assure the chickens they aren't going to steal anything.

2 comments:

  1. I concur with everything you said. You are brave for putting it out there so honestly, though, because there are many folks who get offended very quickly if they feel anyone is 'dissing' self publishing. As you said, it is catching up and there are many excellent self published books out there. However, with no 'gatekeepers' the not-so-goods are also getting through and its hard for the fiction buyer to know the difference

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  2. Yep, Tracie. It's a jungle out there. And the saddest part is that most of the not-so-goods don't know they still need to work on their skills before putting things out there. Thanks for your comment! ~Linda

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