Mark Terry

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writers Bitch


August 22, 2007


Please note that the title isn't "Writer's Bitch" or "Writers' Bitch." No possessives here. That's a different kind of bitch.

Anyway, I think I might be entitled to a little bitchin' about the publishing industry--yesterday I received rejections #10 and #11 for a project that I'm very positive about. There's no rhyme or reason to these rejections, either; they're just, "It's a very competitive market, blah, blah, blah..."

But I'm not going to bitch about it. Ha! See, it's possible.

Get a bunch of writers together and they tend to bitch, whine, kvetch, complain and generally have a pity-party about how miserable the publishing industry is, how they got screwed by their publisher (editor, agent, publicist, fill-in-the-blank), how their advances were too small, how their publisher dug in on foreign rights, how their agent doesn't get a big enough advance, how their copyeditor is an incompetent hack, how their publicist doesn't do enough (or anything). We'll complain about the business models of publishers are idiotic (returns, anyone?), how their distribution is horrible, how Kirkus always runs negative reviews, how we didn't get reviewed at all, how weird (awful, terrible, surreal) our last book signing was...

Somedays I think we should all just SHUT THE HELL UP!

As far as I can tell, none of us are being forced into writing fiction. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've got that obsessive-compulsive disorder thing going, we've "got" to write, it's "what we were born to do," blah, blah, blah.

Yeah? So go ahead and write then and file it away in a drawer. Fine, you've satisfied your OCD and you don't even have to flip for a prescription for Prozac. Feel better now?

I think there's a lot wrong with the publishing industry, by the way. I'm unlikely to be its greatest defender. But it is what it is and I seriously doubt that people go into the business of publishing with the idea that they're going to do things half-assed and get rich by screwing the writers they depend on. I think they get into publishing because they love books. I think they might even love (or at least like) writers. I wouldn't be surprised if many of them were writers (or at least aspiring writers) themselves.

If I were going to open a business strictly on the basis of the chance to make money, I wouldn't pick publishing, for God sakes.

I think the current business model is fallout from a different era and relatively recent tax changes that inadvertently (can you say the words "politicians" and "unintended consequences" in the same breath without screaming, boys and girls?) affected publishing.

I think publishers are doing the best they can under what, in this day and age, is not the best environment for books to be published and sold, at least in this country. [A poll I saw just yesterday found that 27% of people polled in the U.S. had not read a single book in the last year! The average--the AVERAGE!--was 7 books a year.]

So for today, anyway, I'm not going to bitch about the writer's situation and the publishing industry.

Tomorrow, though, as they say, is another day.

Cheers,

Mark Terry

6 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

Yeah, that's true. Well, I don't hear about the NY publishing industry, but the other. I don't know. Writing is one freakin' heck of a mind game, and I can't seem to master it unless I'm backed into a corner, practically choking to death.

Oh. That was bitching, wasn't it? Well, I had to balance out your positive post, right?

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Sorry about the rejects. Unless you're selling massive numbers of books the fact you've had books published doesn't seem to make marketing a new project any easier. It is frustrating when it is something you like. Mary and I have had no success getting anyone interested in our Victorian period novel, even though we both love it. And we wrote it after the first 6 Byzantine mysteries. We must have learned something about writing. Surely the book we can't sell really is better.

By now, of course, I should know how publishing works, or doesn't. However, that doesn't mean I have to like it :)

As you say, no one forces us to write. I'm not so sure I'm one of those people who *has* to write, or at least not books, or not necessarily to sell. Most of my life I've written for amateur venues, everything from humorous articles, to mini-comics to computer games and at some point I can see myself deciding to stop writing for the edification of my hard drive (is that the computer age equivalent of the drawer?) and write for an audience however small. Actually I can see day coming very very soon.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Actually, I was stunned to find out that 3 out 4 Americans can read.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Ah, Ron, the question they FORGOT to ask.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Aw hell, go ahead and bitch! It feels good.
Today the universe is in harmony..
When I woke up I read bookends lit agency site and she posted about how nice Minnesotians are. Then I go to work and they're talking about the same thing.
Tonight I check bookends again and the post said something about average books read by people. I come here and you say the same thing...I'm gonna run out now and get a lottery ticket. You don't get this kinda harmony often.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Bernita said...

That needed to be said.
Often.

5:41 AM  

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