Maybe a little, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
So lately there’s been lots of lalala happening in Blogland. Bloggers being snarky, writers stepping in and being downright shitty, publishers threatening everyone. Romancing the Blog had a post about this the other day (the link will take you straight to said post. If you feel up to it, read some of the comments. Specifically mine. Here’s what I said:
“I think it’s about time we all started saying something about this. Romance has a bad enough reputation as it is, the last thing we need is for readers to start saying, “And the romance writers act like whiny children when criticized, too.”
If your boss criticized your performance, would you start calling him/her names? Not if you wanted to keep your job, you wouldn’t.
The readers are my bosses. They’re all of our bosses, no matter how much a few writers would have us believe they’re somehow superior to those pesky readers.”
Guess which part of the comment I thought might get people talking? That’s right, the bit about how shit like this spoils the reps of romance writers in general. Because it does. Publish America doesn’t get reviews, in large part because they’re shit, but also because the few places that took pity on their writers and did review them found themselves knee-deep in nasty letters if they didn’t give the book a glowing, five-star recommend.
That wasn’t the part that people responded to, though. Instead they all had to leap on my to tell me how readers aren’t their bosses, they would never see the readers as their bosses, they work for themselves and I’m just wrong to the nth level of wrong for daring to suggest that we keep our readers in mind when we write, and that we not pop into their blogs to call them names if we don’t like their response.
Okay, it was an analogy, folks. That’s all. The example worked. I suppose I could have said “You don’t insult your customers if they hve a complaint about your service” but the fact is someone would have said something pissy about that too (aside from the fact that I worked in Customer Service and retail for years and regularly insulted my customers. And no, I wasn’t a dominatrix.) The problem with the customer analogy is that it is easy to insult one customer. You know if they want your product they’ll probably be back, unless you spit at them and call them horrible names. We’ve all had bad service somewhere and still gone back because we really do love the food, or because the store is right near our houses, or whatever.
But readers aren’t like that, and you don’t fuck with your boss. Your boss is sacrosanct to his face. To tell your boss what a flaming dillweed he is to his face is career suicide. So should it be with our readers. To have your boss assign you to a project on, say, development of a new sales script, and you turn around and give him a project on the way fountains would brighten up the building’s grounds, is a perhaps less serious form of career suicide, but a bad idea just the same. So it is with readers. Yes, we write for ourselves. But once we’re published, our writing for ourselves–or rather, our livelihood therefrom–is governed not just by our own whims, but by those of our readers.
The other ranty thing happened on a different blog. Contracts were being discussed, and some brave anonymous popped in to say how any writer who signs a contract with a certain publisher (I think I know who it was) must be desperate because the contract is so bad. They turned it down, because their work is better than that and they want to find the right home for their baby. Arguments ensued, which I followed with great interest.
While I understand that mindset (except for insulting writers who made different choices than you did), I don’t agree with it. You know why? Because while each book I write is my baby, it’s not my only baby. I know I will write another one, probably an even better one. (Like, for example, Prince of Death, out Jan 07 from Whiskey Creek Press-Torrid! Which to be honest I thought kind of sucked, but last night I reread it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not bad. So you should all buy it. Anyway.) Selling a manuscript is selling a manuscript to me. So the contract for this one or that one isn’t the best. So I wish I had found a bigger publisher for that one or that one. Whatever.
There will be other books. My books are not me. They are not full of my precious, golden words that only the exalted may gaze upon. They’re stories, and I love them, but I’m also in this business to try and earn a living. I’ve chosen to start at the bottom and work my way up. I have complete faith in my writing and my books, this has nothing to do with that. But if I can go to an agent or editor with some credits, I might have a little leg up. I might be less of a risk than someone with no credits.
And if not, I’m still earning money as a writer while they wait for That Perfectly Author-Friendly Contract, because they won’t sell this book until they find it. Which means they will probably never sell the book. Why? Because they’ve gotten their egos so wrapped up in it that they think it’s their only chance. I know each book I write is not my only chance. Not by a long shot. I’m in this for the long haul, which means I’m working as hard as I can and selling what I can. An unsold ms is not a precious baby who still needs a home. It’s however many months of my life wasted. And yes, maybe one day I’ll sell it, when I’m a huge bestseller and people are desperate for anything by me :-). But until then it’s still months of my life wasted. (And btw, when I hit that bestseller list, you better believe I’ll be buying out my less-than-perfect contracts, baby.)
Well. I have really rambled on. I had some questions for yall, but I think I’ll post them tomorrow.