Here’s what frustrates me the most about the publishing industry: First of all, despite the fact that we live in an era of instant modes of communication, it takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to get basic answers. For some reason, agents and publishers seem grounded in the 1950’s on a snail mail pace.
Second, most experts agree that breaking into the business keeps getting more and more difficult, and while mediocre mid-listers can hang around for decades, new writers have to offer what’s referred to as a platform. Simply put, a new writer needs some kind of gimmick to be noticed, like say having been a professional basketball player with pink hair or having written their manuscript while still in the womb, anything that will grab a headline. The problem with gimmicks is that they are usually flashes in the pan with no real substance.
Third, despite the facts that I’ve received outstanding reviews from numerous independent sources; sat beside Glen Cook on a panel and held my own in a discussion on writing technique; earned acceptance into one of the largest science fiction/fantasy conventions in the country; and have a Master’s degree in creative writing, because I’m an independent, many “professionals” look down their nose at me and don’t take me seriously as a real writer. Normally, I don’t give a flip what other people think about me; I do my own thing my own way. But I take great pride in my craft as a writer, and my books deserve respect.
I need marketing dollars; if not for that simple fact, I wouldn’t bother with an agent or a major publisher. I enjoy being an independent. I like the fact that I’ve accomplished so much with so little against such horrendous odds. I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, but I need to do it full-time. I no longer have the fountain of energy to burn the candle at both ends, and teaching has become a tedious chore. I’m at a point in my life where I’m tired of working myself weary and banging my head against the wall. One way or the other, I will find a way to earn a living full-time as a writer because I have no other choice.
One thought on “Monday Evening Ramblings”
1. This is a hard one because I deal with it as well. Minimum turn around time for gallery submissions is 6-weeks. They issue a “don’t call us, we’ll call you…or not” policy right from the start. Though it is difficult, try to think of from the other side. There are thousands of writers, musicians, artists and the like and a fraction of people to find, process, sort and contact them. Then, those artists, writers, musicians, whatever have to respond and have their stuff together, which is equally as rare. Yes, acknowledging receipt would be nice, human even. But this is unlikely to change. You want to play, the rules are already in effect.
2. That’s the nature of most human industries, I’m afraid. The notion that hard work and dedication alone should (or will) get you noticed in really any field is rooted in our Puritan work ethos and no longer in reality. Hey, good karma pays off sometimes but not always. Know and accept that “talent” and hard work aren’t going to be enough to get you past the gatekeepers. Once in, -it will distinguish you and lead to greater success.
3. Not everyone who has managed to get “inside” deserves it, and these people know who they are. Naturally they are going to fear real competition for publisher or agent’s resources. You want to be a ten-percenter? A one-percenter? Expect a few knives in the back. Again, not the way it should be but all too often the way it is.
Keep writing. Keep chipping away. Great walls collapse because of tiny drops of water. Remember why you do it and what you do it for. Find a way in. If the front gate is locked down, go in through the back. Find a window, smash it out if you have to, but get in. Your books are worthy of respect and they are getting it. Keep up the fight.