The A’tist and the Businessman – a Blast From The Past, November 2010

*We’re making a megapush to finish the house this week (I REALLY can’t afford not to write for this long) and therefore a blast from the past.  A lot of this has changed with indie.  I.e. putting your manuscript out there for sale is now a good strategy.  (yay) Was this really ONLY five years ago.  It’s like another world.

On the other hand, note the part where I talk about viewing writing like “schoolwork” and being sure there’s a passing mark somewhere.  There isn’t.  And in the age of indie it’s more imperative than ever that one stop looking for the “magic fix” to career problems and concentrate instead on the fact that we are artisans AND business people.

A minor joke.  Got spam headed “Business Grants” and took a moment of blinking to figure out they weren’t talking about Peter and Dorothy.*

Periodically people – on facebook, via email, through my site – try to get me to read their manuscripts. Unless they are friends or I know that what they really want is an honest critique, I do not give it. This is difficult, because some of these people are quite, quite, quite persistent and keep coming back with “but I’m sure you’ll love it if you just read it.”

I’m not saying that they’re wrong. For all I know, most of them or a significant portion of them are right and their manuscripts would absolutely knock my socks off, set my world afire or rock my aesthetic perceptions.

I’ve long ago learned not to judge how good someone’s work will be by whether or not they’re published. Being published involves all sorts of other qualities/events than being a very good writer. For example, one of my best friends was writing much better than I was – or probably ever will – when she was completely unpublished and is still doing so now, when she’s only published short stories and I’ve published several novels. Her novels keep getting rejected, though. Another of my best friends writes so much like me that my own husband can’t tell our work apart. She’s published almost nothing compared to me.

So these strangers who absolutely want me to read their novel might be amazing writers, much better than what I can buy off the shelf. I’m still not going to read their work, because it wouldn’t do either of us any good. Note my examples above. These are people I like very much and on whom I depend as though they were family. They are still largely unpublished. Why? Because writers don’t have that kind of power. We can’t do the editor’s job for them. It’s not OUR job. We can at most – if we love something – recommend it to an editor/publisher/agent. I’ve now recommended my two friends a couple of times. They’ve been rejected. Mind you, they got the up close and personal rejection which means my view of their work is correct – they’re very good and publishable. But something about the work, something about the timing, something about the editor’s/agent’s taste keeps them from breaking in.

It might seem to you getting an author’s recommend, or a personal introduction gets you closer to the goal, at least, let me disabuse you of that notion. I have a lot of friends, many more – much, much more – successful than I am. Their attempts to give me a hand up have been about as successful as my attempts to get my friends published. Oh, it happens, once in a blue moon, that an author friend – and almost always these are close friends – will recommend you to his/her editor/agent/publisher and you’ll get a contract. However, just on percentage, it’s easier for you to go through the normal channels of submission. Discovery sounds glamorous, but it’s harder than normal acceptance.

Of course, some more creative souls do stranger things, like post samples of their work on my blog comments, my facebook wall or – and this is very creative indeed – send it to my agent/editor with a note that I recommended it.

The first two are at best annoyances. Look, yeah, I have a few editors/agents who, sporadically, read my postings. They do this because we’re friends outside of “work” and like to joke or tease me about stuff I post. They do not do this to find “the next best thing.” To be blunt, most of them get quite enough submissions to read during their normal work time. In fact, reading submissions is the chore that never ends. They get submissions through the normal channels, they get work from writers they met at cons and social occasions, and they get submissions from people (not always writers) who recommend friends and co-workers. And this is work for them. No matter how much they love reading, no matter how much they tell you, in interviews, that they love “discovering” new work, when they read submissions it’s in a different frame of mind than when blogging or reading blogs/facebook/twitter. TRUST me on this. I’ve edited in the past. When I read with an eye to what might be publishable/needed, it’s not the same as reading say Austen fandom, which I often do read.

I’m not saying they might not look at your work. I’m saying that after catching on it’s a “sneaky submission” slipped into their leisure time, they’re likely to be mad at you and, if I don’t take steps to delete it or dissociate myself from it, at me for ambushing them with work during their fun. Ambushing them in that way is as impolite as ambushing a doctor at a party and asking for a diagnosis. I don’t have numbers, but I’d bet you a lot of money that you stand a better chance of being ambushed by a meteor in a back alley than you have of selling a book this way.

In fact, some writers will block you/defriend you/shut you out for this sort of thing. I won’t, because I can understand where you’re coming from. (More on that later, as well.)

The third method – to send something to my editor or agent and telling them I recommended it when I didn’t – will get you defriended/blocked/shut out if I ever find out it happened, because frankly it could potentially affect my professional relationship. POTENTIALLY – as in, unlikely, but it could happen. The reason it’s unlikely to damage my professional credit is the same reason why this fraudulent action manages to be both dishonest and stupid.

The person who comes up with this brilliant idea doesn’t realize that there have been several people to try it before him/her and that therefore there are procedures in place to circumvent it. For instance, unless I send my agent or editor a letter asking “Would you like to see my friend’s…” and the editor or agent answers with “sure” any over the transom submission saying “Sarah A. Hoyt loves this” will be seen as a fraud. MOST of the time (exceptions made for writers’ group members I HAVE introduced to the editor and even those just in short stories, frankly) such letters from me to editor and answers are followed by MY sending the manuscript I’m recommending to the editor/agent, with a copy to the author, with whom future correspondence will take place.

What all three of these methods will do, in any case, is cause untold damage to YOUR reputation and your chances of publication – if they’re noticed. You should pray they aren’t. This is because the one thing the publishers fear is “the crazy”. “The crazy” might have been a perfectly normal person driven insane by the process of getting published and their fundamental misunderstanding of that process. Or they might be – and very often are – people who think of themselves as artists and tortured souls: people whose work doesn’t depend on excellent craft and practice, but on the bolt of lightening of inspiration or the touch of a god of some description. These people just KNOW they’re good. (A surprising number of them have ‘something’ – usually smothered under layers and layers of twitdom and lack of craft.)

For the Touched By The Gods Artist it’s hard to endure the fact that they have to go through the same selection process as common mugs. This is reinforced – for practically everyone – by

a) the fact our society’s method of educating the young gives everyone, even adults this bizarre idea everything is a class and has an exam/grade. So when your work is good enough and you’re still not getting bought it’s an “injustice”.

b) Stories of strange methods of discovering writers circulated around and highly publicized. I’ve heard these stories the same as everyone else has and I can tell you nine times out of then when you dig into them you find that they just ain’t so. There’s always something that’s not told, like that the new, amazing star happens to be the best friend of the editor’s boyfriend/girlfriend and that’s why their blog post got read. Or they went to school with the agent or the agent’s best friend. Or…

The stories of sudden discovery are just that – stories, which make for d*mn good publicity. But again, you stand a better chance of being snatched up by aliens to be their king.

The Artist doesn’t know this, or if he does, he thinks he deserves that almost-impossible chance. And that means, he tries creative methods. The other things that lie in his path should he not wise up are what will get him blacklisted at the first sign of “artistic temperament” – a lot of these tortured souls will make threats to published writers/agents/editors; they will act unhinged/aggressive at cons; they will at best be nuisances and at worst dangerous.

Worse yet, even if they don’t do any of those things, and manage to get published, they’re unlikely to be able to bear up under the slings and arrows of publishing fortunes. And if you want to know what I mean by that, let me just say I thought I was uniquely unlucky until – while siting with about twenty other writers, some of them bestsellers – we started comparing horror stories. And then I realized I’d practically been treated with kid gloves by lady luck.

As into every life a little rain must fall, into every writing career – even of those who will end up being bestsellers – a little sh*t happens must fall. And the sh*t includes but is not limited to: horrible covers, dropped publicity campaigns, completely failed early books, disaster doom and lack of sales. The people who go on to be bestsellers end up shouldering these issues, and forging ahead – not matter how much more difficult the road has become.

This is why the best and fastest way to get published is to play by the rules. This shows an even temperament, understanding of the field, and taking a realistic attitude towards the BUSINESS of publishing. It means you have a better chance of persevering, working hard and not causing trouble – all excellent qualities in a contractor, which is what the publisher/editor is looking for.

Nowadays, I agree the process of submission is a mess. I’m not going to advise you on that beyond the barest level: find editors/agents who take slush submissions, or find an agent and leave the process to them. Or if you’re absolutely sure you’re not a twit but a real writer, publish your own work, publicize heaven out of it and sell enough to then submit to a real house. All of these methods have been proven to work, as has climbing the ranks from small press to major publisher.

Things that will help your path will be attending cons and both making personal acquaintances in publishing (always showing yourself polite and professional, of course), reading in the field to know what people are looking for/like, and – needless to say – work at perfecting your craft, because the great idea must be married to great execution to work.

And then… keep at it. In my experience, a good publishing career depends on – preparation, persistence and professionalism. Luck helps, but it’s neither indispensable nor all important. And notice that the “p” of potential or the “g” of genius are not mentioned. Most bestsellers or even mega bestsellers didn’t make it on either but on sheer slogging and persistence.

Questions? Protests? Worries? Let me know and I’ll answer as I can.

148 responses to “The A’tist and the Businessman – a Blast From The Past, November 2010

  1. Joe Vasicek

    What is the equivalent in indie world of asking Big Name Author to read your manuscript? Asking Big Name (or Small Name, as the case may be) Author to accept a free copy of your self-published book and asking them to post a review?

    I haven’t done that yet, but I’ve been approached by other indies who do take that approach. So long as it’s the kind of book I’d be interested in anyway and we both understand there’s no obligation to write a review, I personally don’t see anything wrong with it.

  2. c4c

  3. Wow! Five years ago , self publishing was a last ditch effort to get in with a traditional publisher!
    Joe, my recent research has given me an idea on the topic you raised, and I will say !more when I am not on this tablet

  4. Birthday girl

    ” … publish your own work, publicize heaven out of it and sell enough to then submit to a real house.”

    So in five years, you’ve transitioned from thinking of Oldfart Publishing Houses as “real” publishing to thinking of indie as the bonafide publishing path for most non-anointed-prince/princesses. Five years just sounds like such a short time for that kind of sea change … wows …

    Then again, 5 years ago, I didn’t own a Kindle, either … so glad I have it and indie now!

    • Remember that the tech changed.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Mind you, there’s still the mentality “Indie publishing = vanity press” out there. It hasn’t gone away. Probably won’t for a while.

      • Certainly not for non-fiction. If it’s not from a “real” press, the book and its contents can’t be worth jack.

        • Quantity of indie material, and range of quality and correctness of self-identification of same, is why I think there’s a place for concierge reviewers. Suppose you, and 500 other people with similar tastes, were to discover that a particular reviewer was informative and reliable at least for the sort(s) of books you like. Would you pay an annual fee to receive his opinion, perhaps as a monthly newsletter or accessible online database? I assume readers with a bit more money than time could be attracted to such a service; and it might make a place for the better agents and editors to transition to when tradpub collapses. Just a thought…

          • Concierge reviewer is an implicit function of traditional publishers. Established authors, bloggers and ‘casters* grow more influential as that function has been abused by the publishers, rendering it a less valid component of their power.

            *pod- & broad- casters: a favorable mention or interview with the PJTV hosts or on Hugh Hewitt’s or Rush Limbaugh’s programs can significantly boost interest in a work.

            • Oh yeah. I remember when Gl-nn B-ck [to avoid a troll invasion] was on F0x. If he mentioned a book, or showed it, all of a sudden the Amazon ranking of that particular edition zoomed up.

              • Glynn Buck? He’s the guy who turned Hayek into a best-seller, right?

                Of course, there is a world of difference between getting people to buy a book and actually read it through.

                • That’s the one. He did start me reading Chicago School economists (the good guys, not the “Chicago Way” economists, aka “Tax All the Things!!!!”).

                • On the other hand, just having the book makes it more likely that it will be read.

                  As for myself, I somehow stumbled onto the Austrian School of Economics on the Interwebs, and have been convinced that “all” we need to do to end business cycles would be to get rid of the Federal Reserve, and its control of interest rates, altogether, and to get Government out of the money business–why settle for gold- and silver- backed currency, when you could trade them directly?–ever since.

                  Of course, I say “all” not because it would be difficult to get rid of the Fed and government cash, per se, the difficulty is convincing everyone else to give it up as well. On the other hand, I’ve committed myself to the living debt-free to the best of my ability (thus, I’m attempting to boot the Fed out of my personal life), and I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to convince my employer to tying my salary to the average of X ounces of gold and Y ounces of silver, or something like that…

              • Christopher M. Chupik

                Ah, like mentioning Pon Raul, I take it?

                • I was gonna make a joke about Ru Paul but when I pulled up pictures, looking to illustrate the jest … (shudder) … no, not gonna do it. wouldn’t be prudent. No joke is worth doing that.

        • This holds true, even for non-fiction genres (for want of a better word) where vanity press is the norm. There doing something like Createspace and/or offering an ebook version means that you don’t believe it is worth enough to pay to have it published. But they’ll still gobble up the ebook version because it is half the price, all the time complaining that they prefer deadtree.*

          *Yes, yes, I know that sounds familiar; I prefer deadtree, but my wallet prefers ebooks.

  5. “Another of my best friends writes so much like me that my own husband can’t tell our work apart. She’s published almost nothing compared to me.”
    So, you *really* do have an evil twin. 😉

    And she needs to get busy putting things up for sale on Amazon so that I can throw money at her. Anything that had, “‘My husband can’t tell my work and this writer’s apart.’ — Sarah Hoyt” on the front would be an instant purchase for me.

  6. At least, Sarah, you aren’t taking me for Granted.

    • For Granite, perhaps, but not for Granted.

      • Sad Puppies is not Slate! Isn’t that gneiss?

        • You can’t fool me so easily; of quartz that isn’t gneiss, it’s just a load of schist.

          • Yo, RES. Carp. Incoming.

            • Is it fossilized carp? I want some of that for my terrarium.

              • You sir are incorrigible. Also a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad man.

                • Ewe — now I feel aaaaaaaaaawful sheepish. I guess I’m the goat of that joke.

                • Funny you should say that — I was at the salon just the other day and got my hair corriged.

                  What makes a king out of a slave?
                  What makes the flag on the mast to wave?
                  What makes the elephant charge his tusk
                  In the misty mist
                  Or the dusky dusk?
                  What makes the muskrat guard hi musk?
                  What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?
                  What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
                  What makes the Hottentot so hot?
                  What puts the “ape” in apricot?
                  What have they got that I ain’t got?


          • Lest somebody mistake me for knowledgeable about minerals, let me hasten to add the Beloved Spouse hails from Philadelphia City where wissahickon schist (described as “a pelitic schist and gneiss with interlayers of quartzite”) is as common a building material as New York’s more famous brownstones.

            The Wissahickon Creek and its tributaries pass through several geological regions including the Newark Basin of Triassic sandstone and shale, the limestone and dolomite of the Chester Valley and the Wissahickon Formation where its waters merge with the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.”
            [ www[DOT]fow[DOT]org/about-park/wissahickon-gorge/geology-and-soils ]

            Much of the bedrock underlying Philly is wissahickon schist, and the stones are frequently used for houses constructed from their famed quartzite, found between the

            Wissahickon schist is quarried as a building stone and is used primarily as a decorative stone rather than a weight bearing stone. There are numerous old buildings in the Philadelphia area that are constructed almost entirely of this rock.
            en[DOT] you see, Philadelphia is absolutely full of schist.

            • Sigh, over edited. Last paragraphs should read:

              Much of the bedrock underlying Philly consists of wissahickon schist, and the stones are frequently used for houses constructed from their famed quartzite —

              “Wissahickon schist is quarried as a building stone and is used primarily as a decorative stone rather than a weight bearing stone. There are numerous old buildings in the Philadelphia area that are constructed almost entirely of this rock.”

              So you see, Philadelphia is absolutely full of schist.

          • I thought you had to put quartz under a lot of pressure before it would give a schist.

    • It’s obviously infected the whole family.

  7. I serve as an academic reviewer for two university presses. Thankfully, we are anonymous, because otherwise I can well imagine (having been on the receiving end of reviews that made me fume with rage) having Wood B. Author appearing on my doorstep, or in my e-mail account, screaming at me for rejecting his baby. Read the field, read things your chosen publisher has published, read their submission guidelines, and think hard if this is really the place for you. You might do a lot better indie. Heaps better. And you have control.

    • Why? I didn’t like your face.
      “But, but, you couldn’t SEE my face!”
      True, it’s the face I imagined after reading your work, and I like it even less now.

      • There was one I could sort of imagine that. All the more reason never to become the editor at an academic press.

  8. And another thing we weren’t even talking about in 2010 — the role of leftist political bias in editorial policy at most of the big traditional publishers and magazines. Am I the only one who sometimes looks back at that huge pile of rejections and wonders how many of them were genuinely the result of problems with the writing and how many were for failure to toe the PC line?

    I know that part of the reason I have so many half-written novels I need to finish and get up on Amazon is that I’d get about halfway through one and reach a point where I lost any hope that it would have a chance in the market, and rather than push on only to have it bounce around collecting rejections (and this was when book publishers still insisted on paper submissions, which meant five to eight bucks a pop, hard to justify to the keeper of the family exchequer when I had nothing but rejections to show for it and we were struggling to stay afloat), I’d start on something else that I thought might stand a better chance. Then it’d reach that same “no hope of acceptance” point and I’d set it aside and try something else.

    Even now that I know I can publish indie, it’s still hard to break that ingrained expectation of failure and keep pushing when I encounter difficulty. I’ve really noticed that anything which breaks the momentum on a novel project, whether it’s a sequence of very busy cons or a short story contest deadline or a family crisis, I have real difficulty picking back up and getting moving again.

    • Actually, I accidentally discovered (though Sarah has mentioned it a million times) having two going helps. Getting stuck in the one seems to dislodge the other.

      • I do several at once. Dangerous in different respects.

        Though I somehow or other managed to train myself out of imagining their futures as published book. I learned in my early teens that if I started to imagine a book as bestseller, it had just died. Otherwise I would be imagining the characters.

    • I think Sarah has discussed this as an effect of the bias — the knowledge that the story you want to tell is unsalable (to publishers) and the effect of trying to force it into the type of story publishers want renders the story untellable. Thanks to the elimination of the Keepers of the Gate (even though they declare it only a flesh wound) means you no longer have to wrestle your muse to get the story told, nor some leftist twit to get the story sold.

    • We’ll look forward to your finishing some of them and getting them out there for us Real Readers (TM) to enjoy!!

    • but that would require us to read something on The Guardian….

    • I read that. My general impression was that there were some interesting ideas buried under a lot of drek. I found the idea that Star Wars was so clearly a rip-off of Dune that Herbert could have sued to be hysterically stupid (yes, obviously the Jedi powers must be copied from the Bene Gesserit; no one else in sci-fi ever used weird psychic powers). There was also a pretty dumb sounding bit about “if The Lord of the Rings is about the rise of fascism…” which anyone whose ever read anything Tolkien wrote could tell you wasn’t true (though buried in there was some interesting thoughts about Tolkien’s, Herbert’s, and George RR Martin’s works all being products of their time). However, the story of Herbert being inspired by the movements of the Oregon sand dunes was pretty cool, and gives at least some insight into where Dune came from.

      • I also read it, doing a classic double-take over the Guardianship of it. Stripping away the pretentious drivel (a necessary skill when reading anything MSM, much less when reading the confessedly-Left) there was a fair bit of interest, if only for the perspective on a period in which the SF field was undergoing interesting changes.

        Declaring a work a “product of its time” is akin to declaring the Pope’s Catholicism, the preferred defecatory sites of bears and the dampness of water. By definition, a popular work of art is a product of its time; ’twere it otherwise there would be too few in its audience for it to achieve popularity. Further, it can only stand upon the shoulders of those who came before, as those who come after can stand upon its shoulders in turn. A writer who is “ahead of his time” best not get too far ahead, lest, like Kafka, he die unpublished.

        • BTW: note how, in the second graph, I swerved this back onto topic with only minor skid marks and no scratches on the fender that won’t polish out. Take notes and endeavor to perform similar duty when called for.

        • “A man may be ‘dated’ in the sense that the forms, the set-up, the paraphernalia, whereby he expresses the matter of permanent interest, are those of a particular age. In that sense the greatest writers are often the most dated. No one is more unmistakably ancient Achaean than Homer, more scholastic than Dante, more feudal than Froissart, more ‘Elizabethan’ than Shakespeare. The Rape of the Lock is a perfect (and never obsolete) period piece. The Prelude smells of its age. The Waste Land has ‘Twenties’ stamped on every line. Even Isaiah will reveal to a careful student that it was not composed at the Court of Louis XIV nor in modern Chicago.”

          ― C.S. Lewis

          • Birthday girl

            I’m currently reading a lot of H. Beam Piper and boggling at how, in the same paragraph, he depicts men who are never without pipe or cigarette in hand (so necessary for thinking), and describes so accurately the state of our world today (usually a sad state of affairs).

          • Frankly, listening to Professor Gelernter, I am inclined to despair over the idea that any works of our time will have lasting value except as contemporary poorly produced pastiches of the Decameron or de Sade’s works. The aesthetic of Swinburne, Baudelaire and Gautier reign triumphant:

            … ‘perfect workmanship’ made any subject admirable … combining lyrical language and complex metrical rhythms with subject matter commonly seen as antithetic to aesthetically pleasing poetry. … Swinburne’s poetry instead presented readers with moral ambiguity and provided them no comfortable psychological position.

            Flying in the face of Victorian notions of both objective reality and eternal truths, [the critic Walter] Pater described a world of fleeting impressions. All the individual has is the subjective experience provided by intense sensory engagement with lovely things. Pater advises that the wisest people will seek to concentrate all their energies and efforts on the pleasure of these moments.

            [Decadence] signalled a set of interlinked qualities. These included the notion of intense refinement; the valuing of artificiality over nature; a position of ennui or boredom rather than of moral earnestness or the valuing of hard work; an interest in perversity and paradox, and in transgressive modes of sexuality.
            From: bl[DOT]uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/aestheticism-and-decadence

            Our modern students have so far absorbed the aesthetics of such decadence that they no longer recognize facts as facts, but merely the tools of an oppressive cultural imperialism determined to impose its perspective on the world.

            … when I see a bright, young Yale student who has been reared not as Jew, not as a Christian, outside of any religious tradition, why should he tell the truth? Why should he not lie? Why should he be fair and straightforward in his dealings with his fellow students? He has sort of an idea that’s the way he should be, but why? If you challenge him, he doesn’t know. And he’ll say, “Well, it’s just my view.” And I mean, after all everybody has his own view.
            [ conversationswithbillkristol[DOT]org/transcript/david-gelernter-transcript/ ]

            If “everybody has his own view” there are no facts and we are in constant war to impose our views upon others, in the name of Social Justice.

            It’s nearly an hour. Watch it twice or go to the transcript (see link referenced above) and read it.

            • An additional word from the good professor:

              [Today’s students] know nothing about art. They know nothing about history. They know nothing about philosophy. And because they have been raised as not even atheists, they don’t rise to the level of atheists, insofar as they’ve never thought about the existence or nonexistence of God. It has never occurred to them. They know nothing about the Bible. They’ve never opened it. They’ve been taught it’s some sort of weird toxic thing, especially the Hebrew Bible, full of all sorts of terrible, murderous, prejudiced, bigoted. They’ve never read it. They have no concept.

              The source of the problem? Colleges and universities becoming dominant cultural institutions:

              [I]ntellectuals are abysmally bad at running institutions. The idea that the President of Harvard or Yale should be a professor would have struck the WASPs of the 1920s as idiotic. …

              These people were prejudiced but they knew what they were doing. They knew how to run an institution. I as an intellectual am an idiot at running institutions. Not my field. My field is to think and to write and to do whatever. But not to run institutions. I’m not a businessmen, I’m not an organizer. I’m a lousy person to run an institution. Now, I never will but the people who are running Harvard and Yale and Princeton are unfortunately too much like me. Are not as different from me as they ought to be.

              They’re running the university down. They’re turning them into political instruments, as we all know. Now, the universities were always to the Left of the general population, at least throughout the 20th century, but they never used to be hard Left, and they never used to be propaganda sellers.
              So the schools were failing to teach but at least the parents had been educated before the cultural revolution. You know, they’d been educated in the 60s and the 50s, some by the 40s or the 30s. So they – When their children were taught garbage, when their children were taught nonsense, when their children were taught outright lies, at least the parents could say, “Hold on, not so fast, are you really sure about that?” Or “You know, there are Republicans in this country, too.” Or, “You know, we’ve tried those policies, and they created catastrophes. Are you sure we should do this all again?”

              But what happened in – as we move out of the 90s and into the new century – the children educated in the first generation of the cultural revolution in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s, those children are now the young teachers. And then the not-so-young teachers. And they’re the parents.

              Much, much more; essential insights.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Did Kafka write anything that deserved being published? [Evil Grin]

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          I find that Dune has aged very well. Probably because the Butlerian restrictions on technology keep the future tech from being as dated as other works of that era. We don’t get clunky computers because there deliberately aren’t any.

      • When I saw SW back in ’77. seeing the giant skeleton on the dune behind the droids, I thought “Sandworm!” That was the only connection I saw.
        I read Dune in Analog.

  9. I am struck by the degree to which this works as a description of the process of early dating (a process about which many a young man is entirely clueless.)

    Early Dating (aka: Dating 101) is the process through which adolescent males pass muster as meeting minimal standards of being acceptable to females. Among guys it is referred to as (I gather) the problem of no girl being willing to date you until some girl has accepted a date with you (later in life this becomes the “Nobody will hire you unless you have experience and you can’t get experience if nobody will hire you” paradox.)

    Because girls have uses for their time (such as washing their hair or baking cookies for shut-ins) they are unlikely to invest in a date with a lad who has not been field-tested (i.e., broken in) by some other girl and thus certified as meeting certain minimal social standards (showing up at the appropriate time. dressed suitably, not reeking of unwashed or worse — body spray) and capable of minimal task related activities, such as passing muster of family and friends (in order of ascending priority), managing to arrange adequate transport to site(s) of dating activities, managing to conduct congruous dating activities (e.g., getting admission to movie theatre without creating a scene) and delivering the girl back home again with all parts intact (or at least those which she desired to remain intact.)

    Having demonstrated the ability to accomplish the minimally necessary standards of good conduct the young lad is likely to find that other females are now casting appraising eyes upon him and are more susceptible to enduring his companionship.

    Just so do we see the world of publishing: until some publisher has taken you on and determined your ability to meet minimal professional obligations, few publishers will spend time or energy cultivating you.

    It is an unfortunately circular situation, but it has been the way of the world since time began. Sometimes folks find a work-around, relying on influential parents or other connections, but that is a process which renders any success they achieve inherently demoted, tainted, suspect of being not entirely their own doing. (See: plagiarism, two-timing and related topics.)

  10. snelson134


  11. I’m wondering if some of the entitlement mentality that you describe from the “tortured artist” types comes from the “Most Writers are Writers” trope. Most aspiring writers are readers, and most novels are peppered with characters who are professional novelists. Even though the reader knows it’s fiction, that still shapes the worldview.

    I remember when I was convinced that I was going to be published by the time I got out of college, that it was going to be easy, people would be lining up to buy my stories as soon as they saw them. It was also the time when I was reading Stephen King religiously. Looking back, I think the two were connected: every third character in King is a writer, so subconsciously that says to me, “Look, everyone’s doing it. How hard can it possibly be?”

  12. Another O/T: Heinlein’s BAD LUCK quote is attached the the Greek economy problem: (text is the quote, and 7 comments)

  13. Many years ago when Spider Robinson was doing a regular review column he had one simple request regarding unsolicited manuscripts. It went something like this: “Please leave any manuscripts you send loose leaf. Staples or paper clips make it much harder to clean out the wood stove.”

  14. “What is the key to $THING?”
    “Cussed stubbornness, mainly.”

  15. Since networking at cons is the key, as a shut-in with only Facebook friends and 15 followers on my blog, I’m pooched?
    I have a fair bit of talent and am only just gaining enough self-confidence to put what I write before the public on the blog. Skill I’m honing.

    • Well you’re ahead of me. :o)

    • CMJ, I launched _A Cat Among Dragons_ before I had a blog or much of a presence on other blogs. I had stories, a little spare cash for art and formatting, and a crazy impulse that since a few of my friends kept asking me for more, that maybe, just maybe, other people might like to read my stuff. And possibly buy it. It’s been slow, and I’m really glad I now have a part-time day-job, but it worked.

  16. Many years ago I was a doorman at a bar that was momentarily THE hot local nightspot. (An honor that is in constant motion, like the token that represents the dealer in a casino poker game).

    During that period I got approached on a regular basis by musicians seeking a gig. Quickly, I developed a set speech: “As far as I know, we’re booked up, but since I don’t have anything to do with booking, what you need to do is send your information (we’re talking snail-mail here) to the owners and if they are interested, they’ll get back to you.”

    About ten percent of the time that ended it. The rest of the time I had people argue with me.

    Can’t I introduce them to the owners? No, because I don’t know the owners–sometimes I see them from a distance, but I’m hired help. They only notice me when I screw up.

    What about the manager? Can I introduce them to him? I could, but I’m not going to, because it wouldn’t do you any good since he doesn’t do the booking, and it would just piss him off, because he’s too busy for this crap.

    Can I give the owner their demo tape (cassette tape in those days). No. And don’t you send it either–if they want one, they’ll ask for it. And since demos in those days were usually very poor quality, they probably won’t ask–if they want to hear you, they’ll set up a time for you to audition.

    And so on. I realize that you are desperate for a paying gig, but I’ve got a job to do here and you can either show me your ID and fork over two bucks, or get the hell out of my line and let me work.

    I remember how I felt then when I interact with working writers and I try not to be that guy.

    • “Can you introduce me to your Chief Pilot?” Can? Maybe, if he’s in and in a really, really good mood, which will probably not be the day I’m at HQ. Will? No.
      “I don’t have any twin time but I want to fly for your company. Can I ride along and see what its like?” Not unless you are 1) a paramedic employed by my company or 2) a patient. You don’t want to be that sick, trust me.

      Yeah. As you say, I try not to be that guy.