Monday, 12 December 2011
Publisher, friend or foe?
It's been a while since I dipped into my diatribe bag, and so today, having seem a number of comments on self publishing and agents, I decided it was high time.
I write with courage, passion and professionalism (Thank you Julie Gray) but having entered into the world of self-publishing, still, I find myself adrift; lost amid a sea of rising mediocrity and much of what I’m seeing from the opinion of the reader, slamming indie work because of it.
The writing world is changing indeed; publishers going the way of video stores. And it’s not just technology, no, there’s a revolution; authors and readers alike increasingly demanding something completely different. And why not, it’s happening in every other world? Publishers aren’t to be trusted, they say, failed in doing their jobs, that much increasingly evident. No, not for much longer will they arrogantly scan a short paragraph that merely blends into their so-called talent scouting brains with the many other author’s paragraphs that came before it; not: seeing the woods for the trees; recognising individual worth; true talent, tossing it aside in all their professional conceitedness before they’ve even given it a fighting chance if so much as a comma is misplaced.
But it doesn’t matter; for is this publishing revolution not tantamount to the same deal? Yes, we may sail a different ship in these digital times, on a deck from where at least we can send up a flare despite an ever-ending journey of blogging and slogging and flogging to create our perfect storms, to impede us, perhaps making complete twits of ourselves; inadequately trained to come through them in the hope that we can finally reach our destination by the stroke of our own oar or perhaps that search & rescue will swoop down and scoop us up long before we drown?
But that rock congested too now, barnacles clinging in their masses, a pea soup of digital weakness closed in fast to obscure stunning marine life of those that breathe through the fins of creativity. Yes, ego-stroking oars paddled with a whip to the backs all set on a predictable synchronised course, most thinking that they can make a quick buck in Hollywood simply because they happened to put down 50,000 strokes during their entire lifetimes, and told along the way what a great job they’ve been doing by those who love them. And why? Because that’s all they ever see out there. ‘I can do that’, they say, and who can blame them? They probably can. And so they set sail and poison the waters grey, thicken the soup, most without actually having studied the art of writing at all, I’ve noticed, ignorant to the fact that it has to be different from their otherwise everyday eloquence that just any-old-body can tell and not show and without actually possessing an imagination outside of the subliminal sub-consciousness of a pond life who can’t even be told, apparently, that there’s anything else other than boy meets girl, husband leaves wife for younger woman, and don’t even get me started on vampires and werewolves, for that horror show speaks for itself; that is what sucked the blood from true creativity - but therein, methinks, my own downfall, for I will not be assimilated.
And then there are those who have studied writing, but a choice, for some anyway, not a calling, like a slutty girl forced into the sisterhood, technically correct, getting the formula right, but reading a recipe that anyone with half a brain can follow. What about those who experiment in the kitchen, mix up new worlds? What about me?
I used to be much more modest, but I believe now that I might be one of those, innovative chefs I mean, for my readers, those I have managed to magnetise, consistently say so; they always have done, even when I first started this journey with no writing experience at all. People who don’t know me, for I don’t know anyone; have no family to stroke my own ego, nobody owing me nuttin’ except perhaps a little admiration, appreciation even, for the effort I put in to the detriment of my real life business not to mention my health; lost in and preferring my imaginary worlds as I am and I do, the migraines I work through to bring something new to the table. Yes, readers consistently saying that my novels should be movies, over and over again telling me how original I am, again even from when I was a complete amateur with starry eyes, strangers who’ve started forums about my work saying how it should be on the big screen. And why? Because they actually read it. And readers, who all but harangue me, thank God, to get Pt II of one of my novels out. ‘Where the hell is it?’ they’re shouting. And so yes, I’m grateful for this digital sea for at least I can cling to a buoy where they can find me. But still, it’s not enough; I am a writer, not a marketer; I suck at self-promotion, maybe even at pitching my books, even writing their synopses probably, but nonetheless, in 2012, I must try harder.
But how do you get noticed when you’re not the child of someone famous or when there is no panel of judges to give an unknown a chance, how can you convince the arrogant those who think they know what will sell, all demanding originality but failing their own rubric to actually embrace it when presented, positively shoved down the back of their effing throats? How the hell can I get on with my writing when I’m trying to sell myself? Happy enough to blog, tweet even, if ever I can get around to that too, but the effort of getting noticed, gaining followers, soaking up all my time in these unfriendly seas where everyone else is trying to do the same effing thing. Kudos to those who can manage that, but perhaps they have more time than that which I can afford or even want to dedicate to this kind of self promotion in the hope that they would share my work on their Facebook page or something so someone more important might chance across it. Isn’t this one of the reasons I wanted an agent for?
I invent cliché, I make up words, I utilise the natural resource I was given, have turned that burden of imagination that always boiled my blood more so than it stews even now when I think of the writing talent out there that may never come to shore. Yes, that something that makes people view a strange fellow like me as being completely removed from normal society but are intrigued by nonetheless, people who love to compare me to countless authors living and dead, Joyce, Salinger, King, Dali to name but a few, all greats and all of whom I’ve never read for I am a writer, not a reader, despite the fact my professor said a writer needs to be one. ‘Crap’, I say to that, for I am armed with my own voice, if only I could have it heard. But how then, if I am a combination of these by my own volition am I not considered a superpower... a writing god? Because I write with courage, passion and professionalism – and that, evidently is scary; too much to handle for an agent or a publisher.
For any agent reading this though, hah! I invite you to my book, “Prickly Scots’, not for a professional perspective, but to sit back and enjoy, for that’s only how this work can be appreciated, digested; rich, nuanced and intelligent as it is, not a book you can read in one or two sittings, but one that, by the time you read it in its entirety, the second part will be available so that you won’t have to beg me to publish it like the odd person is doing online currently; a few only, perhaps, given my lacklustre efforts at doing your job for you, but making it all worthwhile; appreciated by at least someone at last. And don’t worry about not getting back to me; that’s a given from agents and publishers even when the old fashioned sase’s were sent, let alone an automated courtesy email that at least tells me you’re in receipt of my manuscript (and how hard is that to implement into your email programme?) No, I don’t need you anymore, apparently, but a review to help me along my digital sea journey would be most appreciated if you do find an island a thousand miles from anywhere to actually sit and enjoy something genuinely different and dare to recognise new talent in its entirety for a change.
What I need is someone who is going to tell the rest of us what we are going to like next. But apparently, your boat has sailed, so what does it matter?