Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Current Project: Untitled RS
Status: Plodding along

I don't know if it is a lack of respect or simply a lack of industry education that makes an aspiring author strike out at others in publishing. Last week on the BookEnds blog, Jessica wrote about an email that had been sent to hundreds of publishing professionals. I read her blog with my jaw on the floor, and I imagine she looked the same way when she first read the email. And then laughed. The letter ranted against agents, editors, and authors.

Yes, this is a hard industry. Hard to get in, hard to stay in, and hard to be successful. But why lash out at the people who can help? Publishing needs gatekeepers (agents, editors) to filter out the crap. Does good work get skipped over sometimes? Yes. But if it is truly good, I firmly believe it will be recognized. A writer needs to simply find the right gatekeeper while improving their craft.

The letter was anonymous and made me wonder what the writer had experienced. Had she been querying for years and developed a folder with a hundred rejections? Had she written a dozen manuscripts only to find no one wants them? Or had she written one, queried a few agents, and gone into shock at the rejection. (I strongly suspect the last.) Whatever her experience, it pushed her off some sort of ledge.

My favorite bit was about how it is a crime for hard working people to spend years writing a manuscript only to get it rejected. I'm trying to image a world where every manuscript is published. With the internet anything can be published in some form, but imagine all those manuscipts with covers in a book store. I cringe to imagine my early work where people can see it. I was proud of it at the time; I'd finished a book. But did that mean I had the right to demand someone pay to publish it?

I believe this person will never succeed in the business. She may feel better after her rant, but it won't change the rules. I have an image of this writer crossing her arms and stamping her feet as she scowls at Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling. That's not going to help. Here's the formula I think will help: Buckle down, study the industry, ask for help, show respect for professionals, and grow a thick skin. A little prayer might help, too.

Keeping it anonymous, has anyone met an aspiring writer or published author like this? And what would you add to my formula?


Alice Sharpe said...

I read the Bookends blog -- good heavens. But it doesn't surprise. Okay, the scope of the writer's venue is a little startling -- I mean 400 people? That's dedication.

And yep, I have known this kind of writer many times. They are so sure of their talent they cannot accept anyone else can't see and respect it. They look down their noses at EVERYONE else with the attitude, if you're selling, then you must be doing something wrong because I never do anything wrong and I am not selling. They are out spoken, smug and impossible to like and until this current group of Mid Willamette writers, I'd never belonged to a group that didn't have one lurking in the wings. Yea for us!

You said: "Buckle down, study the industry, ask for help, show respect for professionals, and grow a thick skin. A little prayer might help, too." All I'll add is : Be generous. Understand we're all different and that out goals may not be the same. Be kind.

Kendra said...

Yes! Be generous! I can't describe the amount of help I've received from other writers and authors. Giving back is important. It's true that other's goals may not match ours, and that needs to be respected.

Paty Jager said...

Kendra, As my alter ego I have had some interesting e-mails after rejections. To me those are the people that will never be published because they don't feel they have room to grow as a writer. They think they are already there.

I believe there is room for growth in everyone. Each book I write I learn something new whether about craft or myself.

Those writers who blame everyone else for why they aren't published aren't growing.

I agree with your formula and Alice's be generous. Also don't give up on your dream. And keep it a dream not a nightmare.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Holy Shnikes, Tommy Boy. The nerve of some people really floors me.

I will never understand why some people in this industry - and I don't just mean unpublished authors but published as well - don't understand that what goes around comes around. Trashing industry professionals is NOT the way to break in, and you never know who's going to be the next best seller. My motto has always been, "Keep it to yourself. Be nice to everyone regardless of how you feel at the present time. You never know when something you say is going to come back to bite you in the ass."

I like everyone's mottos! Great words to live (er, write) by!

Lisa Leoni said...

I don't understand why some people do the things they do!! I love your formula, Kendra, and the additions so far have been great too :)

LOL Tommy Boy

Genene Valleau said...

Ouch! Glad I live in my sheltered little world where people like that e-mail writer don't exist. :)

Katie H said...

I feel bad for people who get angry because they don't understand. It is their fault for not being willing to grow and learn, but sometimes, it seems as though those people really don't get it. That's such a sad thing! They will never make it in life with such a negative, deserving attitude. Why don't they recognize their mistakes, especially after everyone points the finger back? Gah... I wish we could help them see the light. LOL

I think an addition to the "formula" being concocted here would be to recognize your mistakes, and swallow your pride so you can make changes. That's my biggest challenge in life, and it applies to this situation as well.

Deborah Wright said...

I read that post, too, Kendra, and my reaction was pretty much the same as yours.

It amazes me that anyone could do something like that publicly (and let's face it, if you send an email to 400 complete strangers, you're making a public statement) and ever expect to be taken seriously as a professional in any industry, let alone in publishing.

I like your formula (and the additions!). It's common sense advice and well worth following!