Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Is Publishing Sad to You These Days?

Garrison Keillor discusses the woes of a passing era - an era of publishing when writers endured rejection before learning how to hone their skills and acquire acceptance and a publishing contract.

As is this man's style, the words are beautiful. They touch you, try to make a lump rise in your throat. Yes, we are moving on to a new era in publishing history. We don't quite understand what it is yet, but we feel ourselves balancing on the edge of . . . something different.

We are thumbing our noses at publishers. Self-published authors stand at arms en masse, telling publishing houses to shove it. If a traditional author speaks highly of traditional publishing, he is called an elitest. I hate to say it, but it's become cool to be common. Yet all the commoners complain that they haven't risen to become elitest, but somehow it's someone else's fault.

I read list groups, blogs and forums where so many people are bashing ebooks, editors, agents, traditional publishing, self-publishing, Apple or Kindle, depending on which you own and aren't able to shell out the bucks to really compare the two. So much criticism. So many excuses. So many people claiming they know the right way, the best way, the most opportunistic way to publish and be an author. So many scams.

Sorry, but guess Mr. Keillor made me stop and think, and those thoughts brought me down. Authors have become used car salesmen these days. And I'm just tired of all the screaming, condemnation and promises that any story is a bestseller or award winner . . . based on somebody's scale.

What happened to the days when authors were quiet people who kept to themselves empowered with volumes of patience, and took their time to just write a damn good story? Why the mad rush? Since when did writers become part of a mob, demanding to have a book on the shelf?

I wish each of us could slow down and carefully construct that one excellent tale that becomes a legacy. Imagine the phenomenal stories we'd read if we each had only one chance to do it right. Then it wouldn't matter how it was published. We'd have more respect and admiration for the author knowing it was his one message to the world, brimming over with the best he had to offer.


T. Powell Coltrin said...

I totally agree. May I add, there is something about "quiet people" gaining respect, mystery and a bit of power. We don't have to let it all hang out.

Bookie said...

Beautiful essay, Hope. I agree with you. I am "small potatoes" in writing field, but I work hard on my lines. I have wanted to write since I was a child and now with the time, I get frustrated at not being able to "make it" in the big publishing world. Finally, I decided to do as you say, slow down and enjoy...I might not make any money but I am enjoying capturing some stories and poems, getting pleasure from my own creations.

Melanie Hahn said...

That's all right. There are still those writers out there who are true to the story, and who believe in the "elitist" idea that a good editor is necessary, and perhaps it's a positive thing that not every story gets published. You just don't hear from them because... well, they are quiet people who keep to themselves and focus on writing. :)

Katherine Teel said...

I have such mixed feelings about all this publishing stuff. On the one hand, I think traditional publishing still has a legitimacy that e-publishing lacks. I hope my books can get picked up by a traditional publisher...and I want to see them on shelves and hold them in my hand!

On the other hand, traditional publishers are SO bound to their financial interests that they give the impression that if you're not the next JK Rowling mega-super-blockbuster jillion dollar phenom, there's no place for you. Why can't I just write a good book and have someone be happy to print it and read it?

Sometimes I think of e-publishing as the sour grapes of people who can't cut it in traditional publishing. Sometimes I think of it as a band of rebel warriors unwilling to submit to a fat king calling all the shots in their lives.

Susan said...

Enjoyed today's post. Like Bookie, I write for the LOVE of writing. Sadly, haven't made money with my writing lately but now I'm thinking, "who cares?" Writing gives me intense joy. My blog is my daily bolt of happiness. Writing is synonymous with breathing for me. And that is just how it is. Susan

BECKY said...

Hi Hope. What a beautiful post this is. Every writer should read it! (and those who read books!)
I totally agree with you. I'm working on my first book, which is taking a long time, but that's okay, because I want it to fabulous, not just published! I think the self-publishing and all that is because of the You Tube Era, the "Reality" shows on TV, etc. A lot of untalented people want to be celebrities!! (although some of them ARE talented)

Michael Shawn Keller said...

Great posting Hope,
Two years ago I realized I had a drinking problem and put the bottle down, the key for me was to figure out why I drank so much so I began writing to help me to cut through the fog. I put a book together and was enthusiastic about getting my book out there to help other people who have addictions and went with the first company that I heard was good. Now I know that NOT all companies are the same and like any business the bottom line is the dollar in most, but not all! I have read many first time authors books and most are great but what I don't understand is HOW any author or publisher can let a book out with simple errors such as a typ-o or mis-spelled words, this shows me that they were both in a rush and are only looking to make money. That is the biggest turn off for me as both a reader and beginning author. Wow, I feel much better! Thanks for being here,
Mike Keller