Tuesday, August 15, 2006

We interrupt this blog...

To send you to Karen Templeton's blog, because I like what she says there. It sort of goes with what I said in one of my recent "What I've Learned Along the Way" articles, entitled "Your Goals Are Not My Goals, Because Your Needs Are Not Mine." (Read it here.) The point I make, like Karen, is that we don't know what motivates individual writers to write what they write, so we shouldn't assume we know and ascribe motives that may or may not exist.

On a similar note, I'll confess the idea that publishers are part of some Evil Conspiracy to foist junk on the unsuspecting public -- something that seems to crop up on message boards with disturbing frequency -- really bothers me. I appreciate that this theory springs from frustation, but it's upsetting nonetheless.

For one thing, those who believe in the Evil Conspiracy theory must then consider my work, which is being published with some frequency, part of the junk the Evil Empire is forcing upon them. Not too flattering.

Not any more more flattering is the notion that also follows, that writers are just a bunch of cowering sheep at the mercy of the Evil Publishers.

But see, here's the thing:
Most writers I know are wonderfully independent, with a fair helping of self-esteem, which you need if you're going to make it in this business.

Yes, there can be pressure to write a certain thing, some subtle ("We think your sales will build faster if you do X") and some not-so-subtle (rejections). Publishers are in the entertainment business, after all. They're not a charitable institution. They want to make money. And unfortunately, nobody can read minds -- or they'd be making buckets of money -- so the only criteria they have about what to publish in the future is based on what's sold in the (recent) past. If somebody else can come up with a better predictor, by all means, get thee to a publisher or marketing company, because you'll be worth your weight in gold.

That said, the ultimate decision about what to write is always the author's.

What if an author needs the money? That, my friends, is what makes walking the tight rope between writing what you love and writing what you can sell such a, well, tight rope. But when it gets down to brass tacks, there are other jobs, ones with a steady pay check and benefits.

Writers are independent individuals who make their own career decisions, for a variety of reasons as individual as they are. At the end of the day, the only person who decides what a writer writes is the writer. Maybe you like what's being published, maybe you don't, but if you don't like it...well, many a writer started a career because of discontent with what s/he found in the bookstores.

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