Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Clueless Writer

The latest buzz on the blogosphere is the author meltdown over a review at Big Al's Books and Pals.

What I find interesting is that the comments fall into two broad categories: those laughing at her meltdown and those who are trying to help her by reasoning with her.

It's clear to me from her first comments that she does not have the emotional maturity to get it: to understand that comments about her book are not comments about her as a person. So even those who try to reason with her will be told to "fuck off."

I find it rather sad. The reviewer of the book thought that the story was good. Who knows, with a bit of editing and the willingness to listen to feedback from a critique group, she might have been able to polish it into something an agent could sell. Instead she firmly believes that "my writing is just fine", "my first book is great".

We bump into writers like this all the time. The ones who think that everything that they write is absolutely perfect and if you point out a missing comma that means you hate their story and therefore must hate them. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do or say to them that will make them see the light. Well, I've never found a way. You want to help, but the best thing to do is to keep your mouth shut and walk away.

Usually they end up self-publishing their work because traditional publishers and agents are idiots incapable of seeing the brilliance of their prose. Which is why so many traditional publishers and agents do not want to purchase or represent someone who has self-published. The probability that the writer is going to turn out to be a nightmare to work with is very high.

This is also the reason so many people do not read self-published work. For those who are serious about their writing, who have studied the craft of writing, who have gotten feedback from a crit group, and have not been able to find a publisher for their work because it doesn't quite fit with what a traditional publisher is looking for, and so have gone with self-publishing to get their work published, it makes it even more difficult to sell their work.

And what makes this really sad is that the clueless writer will. never. get. it.


  1. And until there's a way to separate the wheat from the chaff, self-publishing is going to be an incredibly rocky road, even for those people who -- as you mentioned -- are serious about their writing and are self-pubbing because their work doesn't quite fit with the traditional houses.

    I'll be honest -- many of the self-pubbed books I've read haven't been ready for publication, and I put them down after about 50-75 pages. I'm very wary about reading more work like this, unless I personally know the author and know the amount of work that went into getting the book ready.

  2. I think it's going to get worse for those who are serious writers. With Kindle Direct Publishing making it so easy for writers to self-publish, it's going to be harder for readers to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Though review sites like Books and Pals can be a tremendous help to readers looking for good self-pubbed books to read.

  3. Your last point caught my attention, as I had a similar thought. Reviewers like Books and Pals will become the sanity filters for the readers, who will seek out those reviewers that they learn to trust.

    It'll be incumbent on the author to get their work to a wide variety of those sites - and to not act like a horse's ass if they get a bad review.