Friday, April 12, 2013

The Famous Writer Facepalm

I'm getting really tired of the anti-indie sentiment floating around the internet. It's almost as bad as the anti-Amazon crap, but then according to Scott Turow, I'm too fucking stupid to understand that I need agents and publishers to ensure the quality of my manuscripts.

Really? If so, why am I getting daily messages from readers wondering where the hell my next book is?

Scott had an op-ed piece in last Sunday's New York Times entitled "The Slow Death of the American Author." In it, Scott accuses the U.S. Supreme Court, Amazon, Google, libraries, and pirates for the diminishing monetary returns of authors.

I won't get into all the factual inaccuracies in Scott's opinion piece. Suffice to say, many others pointed out the problems in more detail than I could hope to. Though if you want an entertaining read, Barry Eisler's commentary is the funniest.

First of all, anyone who can blame pirates and libraries in the same breath isn't inhaling the same atmosphere I am.

Second of all, what slow death? I'm doing just fine. (Just got my Apple numbers for March. Still ahead of Amazon sales. B&N still beating everyone. Go figure.)

But the thing is Scott's not talking about the death of authors. He's concerned about the slow death of the Big Six.

The really big problem that has the writers up in arms is Scott's position as the president of Authors Guild, a group that supposed to be on the side of writers. Or so we thought.

In some of the brouhahas lately like the RH Hydra fiasco or the Nightshade spiral toward bankruptcy, Authors Guild has not said one word. Not one. Other organizations, such the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, have. But not one word out of Scott on behalf of Authors Guild.

For those who think other writers are picking on Scott Turow, well, I think they have every reason to question where his loyalties lie when the shit hits the fan and authors get taken for a ride by publishers.

Because of the massive upheavals in the publishing industry, I'm not inclined to join another writers' association. Or even rejoin one.

You see, I quit the Romance Writers of America. Or that's what I was accused of in a private e-mail last year. As I pointed out to this person, I didn't quit. I simply didn't bother to renew my membership.

It's nothing against RWA. If you're a beginning writer, I highly recommend joining RWA. For the money, their craft classes outstrip any MFA program in the nation. I may rejoin down the road. We'll see what happens through the rest of this year.

But when it comes to the business side of your publishing career, look to your right. See those blogs I have links to? Those are the people who have a clue about business. Read them.

Or not. It's your choice.

But whatever you do, don't listen to Scott Turow.

[Edit to add: Stonekettle Station isn't exactly a writers' blog, but Ret. Navy Chief Warrant Officer Jim Wright is funny as hell. His style of social commentary reminds me of Mark Twain. Don't read it if you're easily offended.]


  1. I feel kind of sorry for Turow. His own experience as a writer has been so far out on the curve, "outlier" barely describes it. So he's got this fragile, porcelain view of what writing and publishing are all about, very narrow, and doesn't seem to get how fragile it is, or that 99% of the writers in the world have very different experiences.

    Or to pull up a different image, he has his head stuck in a small, mirrored box and thinks he's seeing the whole world.

    Whatever his issue is, though, he's definitely not the sort of person who should be leading what is (trying to be) a major writers' professional organization. His own experience is just too far out of step with that of his group's supposed constituency. They have, what, 8000 members? Out of how many people just in the US who've published some fiction and made at least some money? Yeah. It's telling that The Author's Guild has such a tiny membership, compared to the total number of all the commercial writers in the country.

    Don't blame you about RWA, either. They too have a very narrow view of what a writer should be, or should want to be. Bad enough they look down upon indie-pubbed writers, and even writers who publish through small presses. Add the on-going discrimination against writers of GLBT romances, and I'll be damned if I send a large annual check to a group that spits on me twice. [shrug] I've heard their craft info is great, and that the local groups can be excellent, but National is National. Sorry, no.

    It feels like we're waiting for people to die before the big writers' groups can get with the 21st century. :/ It's like the mid-20th, when the physics community was basically waiting for Einstein (and his cohort) to finish passing away so they could get on with advancing physics. Same idea, and for the same reasons.


  2. I'd feel sorry for Scott if it wasn't for the fact that Sue Grafton made a similar facepalm back in August. She had the grace to respond in public and admitted her ignorance on the subject of indie publishing. Scott just shoves his fingers deeper into his ear canals and sings, "La-la-la." Sue isn't the leader of a national writers organization either.

    As for the thing with RWA, I can't get worked up one way or the other any more. I had one friend try to talk me into staying. She thought we needed to change the organization from the inside. I did my crusading as a lawyer. I'd rather put my time and effort into my writing, and I'm already behind thanks to some personal stuff happening in my life. LOL

  3. Right, I remember Grafton's oops. She handled that pretty well; Turow should definitely sit at her feet and be her padawan for a while. [wry smile]