Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Hubris and Fury

(Long rant. For lighter and quicker stuff, scroll down to previous entries.)

Usually, I stay out of the bitch slapping, but I got blog, will slap.

'Member how I said that other writers can be nastier than editors? Case in point. Via Flat Land, Big Sky , I found this posting at Book Angst . In a nutshell: Darlene Ryan has published a couple of books through small presses and is, gasp, happy with the outcome. Of interest are the comments, one person's (let's call her The Gatekeeper) in particular who got her panties in a knot over "...a great deal about this post which confounds and irritates me."

This Gatekeeper uses the faulty comparison of equating a doctor's pay with competency. (Given the craptastic state of the American health care system, the analogy is flawed to say the least.) First, doctors are evaluated by their credentials, not their pay. Doctors, engineers and several other professions are subject to rigorous credential processes. We don't ask a doctor for a copy of his/her pay stub; when looking for good doctor we (should) expect certification and a certificate on the wall.

Second, Gatekeeper is mixing apples and oranges since I don't believe Darlene Ryan is talking about self-publishing or vanity publishing. So her little snipe about "paying to be published" doesn't apply.

Yeah, money matters--a lot--but the idea that an author should hang his/her head in shame if their manuscript is accepted by anything less than one of the big houses or big pro (short story) markets is hubris.

Regarding a comment on the first site: "So on that level, her 'I'm happy and dance just to be published by a tiny company that barely pays me and makes me spend the small advance on pushing my own stuff because they won't do it' is annoying, because it's naive."

How the fuck is it naive? Same commenter goes on to complain about the lack of support she gets being mid-list author. Nowadays, unless your name is King, even the big houses aren't exactly going out of their way to promote your book. At a recent conference, Liz Scheier said that the publicity department is the most under-funded in publishing.

And beyond stoopid and moving straight to condescending was this comment: "I think she's enjoying herself writing, that she probably (going by her comments) has a husband who helps subsidise her writing with a nice income, and that she's walking a fine line between optimism and reality."

I quit a full-time job to write for a myriad of reasons, sanity, health and marriage not being the least of which. It's not a luxury; it's a sacrifice. I'm a statistic--NO HEALTH INSURANCE. My husband and I aren't starving, but "nice income" is pushing it. I still work part-time. How nice for her [commenter] that she lives in a nice little world where everyone is paid fat wages. Not my bloody world. Maybe George Dubya's world, but not mine.

The number of big time markets is somewhat limited. Does this mean I won't continue to aim high? No, but I'll also be damn happy with the alternatives. Anybody ever heard of the silly notion of working your way to the top?

Taking the short story market as an example. There are few pro (by SFWA standards) short story markets, in particular those open to all submissions. My usual route is to send a story to as many of the pro markets as possible. That is, those markets for which the story is appropriate.

Pro markets all exhausted, I can stuff the manuscript in a drawer, or post it on my web page or a "for the love" market or...send it to a non-pro but paying market who accepts it and sends me a few centavos for my efforts. Money is money. I'm not enough of an artiste to sigh dramatically and say, "If the pro-markets don't want it then no one can have it. It's crap, just crap."

To use the Gatekeeper's words, "Money matters." And I'm gonna take it where I can. And be damn proud of it. And happy, giddy even.

On the same Book Angst posting, Douglass Clegg, who more and more is striking me as a smart guy and somebody to learn from, addresses--FINALLY-the most important part of the equation--the reader.

If the unhappy commentators aren't pleased with the state of publishing, they should get off their asses and do something about it, not attack other authors. (And don't tell me it's impossible. With that attitude, people of colour would still be sitting in the back of the bus. If it bothers you that much, do something about it.)

Love n' stuff.

Pat Kirby


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