Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Are Traditionally Published Authors Snobs?

I recently read an article written by Karin Gillespie, on Romancing the Blog, that grated on my nerves a bit, and thus, made me ask the question, do N.Y.C publishees consider themselves above authors who are published by E-publishers or small/vanity press?

I’m not really sure what the answer is, but I can tell you something, there is a definite air of superiority amongst some traditionally published authors vs authors from lesser known publishing houses. Karin’s comments probably shouldn’t have really surprised me.

She starts off by writing:

“There’s another author that lives in my same city. We’ve both been on the same noontime talk shows: we’ve both been featured in articles in the newspaper. At the bookstore both of our hardcover novels are displayed together at same local-author table. Most people assume we are colleagues, but there are some very important differences between us.
My novel was published by a large New York City publisher; his novel was published by a vanity press masquerading as a legitimate publishing house. As a result his novel is rife with errors, lacks a plot and is clearly the efforts of a novice. I doubt it would have been accepted by a traditional house.”

Do you get the feeling she doesn’t want to be associated with this author? (grin) When she states that she’s been published by a large N.Y.C company, is it me, or does she come off sounding a little superior?

She then goes on to add:

“I spent fifteen years learning to write until I felt ready to submit my work to an agent. I went to writers conferences, read tons of craft books and joined a novel critique group. He’d never written anything before his first novel and pounded out it out over a period of six months.
So why does this bother me? His novel will probably go nowhere beyond the small city where we live, and he won’t make a dime off of it. But still the situation grates my nerves.

When I was recently introduced to him at a party, the host said to me, “Bill is an author, just like you!”
“No, he isn’t!” I wanted to retort.”

Wow, you go Karin!! I get the fact that she honed her craft to the nth degree before she submitted her work for publication, and maybe it pisses her off to see somebody who obviously isn’t as talented as her getting a free ride, but come on, she’s made it, that’s good right? Why worry about a lesser mortal than herself? She’s already admitted that he probably wont make a dime, so what’s she so worried about? Him tainting her work? Hello?

She assumes that because of his publishing status, he’ll probably amount to nothing, which really annoyed the hell out of me. I can’t imagine that there aren’t really talented writers out there who for one reason or another have been refused by some of the big publishing houses, what are they to do then? Curl up and die, until Mira comes a-calling?

“Writing a book doesn’t make someone an author anymore than applying a Band-Aid to a skinned knee makes someone a doctor. Reviewers of large newspapers, publishing people and most media outlets can spot these so-called “authors” fairly readily, but how can the average Joe tell the difference between a real writer and a dilettante?”

If someone truly believes that they are talented, and they manage the great feat of finishing a book, why can they not be considered an author? The book that they’ve written may not be very good, in fact it might be flush-down-the-toilet bad, but that would just be an opinion, wouldn’t it, because as we all know, one man’s meat, is another man’s poison. Who’s to say that people won’t enjoy his book, as badly written as it may be?

The comment about reviewers spotting the chaff from the wheat, also hit my hot button, have I told you recently that I think reviews are just other people’s opinions, and that they NEVER influence my buying choices?

As an Average Joe, does it matter to me that an author is published by a main house, or by a vanity press company? Not really, do you know why? Because if the book sucks, I just don’t buy that authors stuff again. It certainly doesn’t make me turn me against a whole genre, or judge other authors on somebody else’s crap writing. I think I know better than that.

“I know I sound petty, but as a writer who went through a great deal of trouble to learn my craft, I’m annoyed that my efforts and other authors’ efforts are diluted by not-ready-for-publication authors.”

You know what Karin, I think you do sound petty, in the great scheme of things, how is this small guy gonna affect your sales and readership? People aren’t as stupid as you may think, they buy what they like, and if it’s a big disappointment, they shrug their shoulders, and never go there again.

“After all, the public is deluged with plenty of traditionally published books; it shouldn’t have to sort through the efforts of amateurs as well.”

Karin, I hate to say this, (ok, no I don’t) but there are plenty of crap traditionally published books out there, it may be that the ‘amateur’ one is just the thing that we’re looking for to get us out of a reading rut. Who’s to say otherwise?

“If I sound like a gatekeeper to an exclusive country club, I apologize. In fact, I’m glad to help aspiring writers and always take the time to answer their questions and give advice. I’m also thrilled when authors I’ve counseled finally see success in the publishing world.”

Yep Karin, you do sound like the gatekeeper to an exclusive country club. Not everybody has your patience, some people want success yesterday, and are maybe willing to pay to get it. This doesn’t make them bad people or in fact bad writers, but if they can’t get their work out there by traditional means, who’s gonna know how brilliant they actually are?

I think that everybody deserves a shot at their dream, and I think it’s pretty harsh to look down your nose at somebody just because they’ve chosen to take a different route to you. If they suck muchos big time, then they wont sell anyway, and the world can be free of such dastardly heathens.

So my question is, do you think that there is an almost sub-conscious snobbery amongst N.Y.C published authors, about small/vanity press or e-published writers? I know that some authors are probably too polite/politically correct to tell me what they really think, but readers, what do you think?