Writing is a joy. It’s an amazing way to bring things into existence that would otherwise only exist in our minds. It’s the closest we can come to imitating our creator God, and I believe He loves it when we strive to be like Him. After all, we were created in His image, right?
But there’s a disturbing trend in the writing industry. I’m watching my writer friends left and right experience burn-out at increasingly faster speeds. And I’ve heard more than one despair that they should just quit. I’d be lying if I said similar thoughts haven’t crossed my mind over the past six months.
Here’s what writing used to be. A person would work really hard for years, perfecting their craft and writing their novel. They would slave hours upon hours editing those words to a brilliant shine. They’d send it out to agents and publishers hoping to get someone interested. Eventually…success! Someone sees potential in the work and takes it on. The book is published. The reading world recognizes what it means for someone to slave over a book and what it means that a publisher has confidence enough to present it to the world. They respect the author for their hard work.
Let me repeat that last line. They respect the author for their hard work.
There’s the problem. That doesn’t happen anymore. There is no respect. People expect authors to BEG them for interview opportunities. They expect free copies of the book for reviews. They expect you to pay THEM for promotional opportunities. PAY! And even when you try to give things away as promotion, often most people don’t even care.
The system is so backwards. Maybe it’s because of the self-publishing craze, I don’t know. Maybe there are just too many people out there claiming to be published authors. Being published isn’t special anymore. Maybe there’s too much crap out there to make writing respectful. But authors, real traditionally published authors, deserve recognition for all the hard work they’ve put in and all the years of waiting and agonizing for someone to take a chance on their books.
It’s shameful. Recently I was contacted by the librarian of my hometown library. They were having a big literary expo to celebrate the library’s one hundredth anniversary. They were going to have a big open house with a panel of authors to speak to the crowd.
She told me I could pay $20 to set up a table and sell my book like the other local craft people. Seriously?? I’m a TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AUTHOR! There aren’t that many of us in this little bitty town, population 6,500! I should be ON the author panel, not piddling my wares begging people to buy from the poor local author. And I certainly should not have to pay for the opportunity IN MY HOMETOWN!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on, listing many such experiences I’ve had. The system is broken. Small-press authors have to do their own marketing in a hostile environment that doesn’t recognize their legitimacy as authors. It’s practically impossible.
I’m looking for a way to fix the system…or at least by-pass it. There’s got to be a fix for this. Us small-press authors shouldn’t have to put up with this. We’ve worked too hard to be treated as illegitimate by the reading community and as embarrassing step-children by high profile authors.
I’m brain storming. I ask you to help me. Authors – what can we do to change this status quo? Readers – what can you do to return respect to hard working writers?
That’s my rant for today. Let me go get my paper bag.