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“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tired of the Negativity

I read a post this week that cheered me because it was so fair-minded. It was at Jami Gold's website, about whether we should take sides in debatable issues. Check out the post and read the excellent comments.

It inspired me to talk about something that has bothered me lately--which is the negativity I'm seeing in certain blogs and chat rooms directed at publishers, or at different forms of publishing.

There are blogs to “protect the writer against unsavory publishers” but the end result is a constant stream of criticism and negativity, aimed particularly at new or small publishers. Bashing contracts is one of the favorite activities, such as the incident that Jami discussed in her post.

Small presses are criticized for “lack of distribution” and "horrible contracts that might mean this! Or this! Do not sign this contract!" Whatever scare tactics these bloggers can put out there, they will do it, saying they're simply "protecting the writer" and "providing a valuable service." That might have been the original intention but when it deteriorates into spiteful bashing, it's no longer of value.

There’s one woman and her blog that exists solely to dispense negative information about publishers, and most of it is slanted and some of it is downright false. I would not dare give her name because she has a lot of power and influence online. She would tear me to shreds and probably set out to ruin the good name of my publisher.

I am just fed up with negativity on both sides of the publishing debate. I see a lot of it among self-publishers too, bashing traditional publishing and saying “You're going down sucka!”

And then there's the bashing of self-published books saying that they are lousy garbage in need of editing. (true that some are, but not all of them so why make generalizations?) Try reading Remix by Lexi Revellion, which is one of the best Kindle books I've read, and it's self-published. I found not a single typo or copy edit problem, and it's a wonderfully well-written book.

Like Jami, I am wondering, Why do we have to take sides? Why does there have to be just one right way to get published? And everything else is wrong and evil and stupid.

It's ridiculous to narrow the field to right and wrong publishing methods,  because the great thing about being a writer and a publisher in today's climate is that there are so many options!

43 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Karen. I'm really tired of seeing people say self-pub is for fools, or trad publishing is for dinosaurs. We're in a brave new world filled with unimaginable possibilities.

    We should revel in the variety of life!

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  2. I too wish everyone would stop bashing publishing, self publishing etc. What works for one does not always work for another. Live with it and move on.

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  3. Constant negativity on all subjects brings you down. We are surrounded by way too much of it.

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  4. Thanks for the link to Jami Gold's website - I'm caught up reading all the links she mentions in her posts - what a saga!!!

    The power of words - amazing!

    Take care
    x

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  5. Thanks for addressing this, Karen. Sometimes I just feel like giving up because it seems you can't get away from that kind of negativity. There is no right or wrong way for a writer to get their book out there. Each of us does what works for us. I am grateful there are options now for writers that didn't exist before, like small presses and self-publishing, because getting published traditionally is damned near impossible.
    Karen

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  6. I'm not taking sides. Half of the books on my iPad are self-published, and there have been just as many bad ones from both sides. Which means, there have been just as many good ones!

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  7. No one can be all things to all people, there is no 'one size fits all' and before I get into a run of cliches, I'll leave it there;-)
    Negativity - pah!

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  8. Problems! Problems! What are they? I only have solutions!! That should be the positive motto, eh!

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  9. I don't think the bashing does any good either. I have some opinions on some of these issues, but there is never a reason to make judgment on people who prefer a different road. I happen to think a lot of the decisions don't HAVE right and wrong, but are matters of personality, preference, goals and genre. I feel like calling for due diligence is fair--it is a service to our fellow authors, but I don't think it is necessarily fair to say anything about the PEOPLE. The industry is moving and changing fast and I figure you give the benefit of the doubt on motives, but keep eyes open for the details.

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  10. Thanks for the link, Karen!

    I was talking with a good friend of mine about this issue, and he pointed out that for too many people, not wanting to take sides equals "enemy" because we're not taking *their* side. *sigh*

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  11. When it comes to publishing, I only look at the posts that offer positive advice about publishing. That is, there are agents like Rachelle Gardner who will include warnings or what-not-to-dos, but people like her never bash anyone. I think it's unprofessional to bash anyone in the publishing business, because people like the ones you described are basically burning bridges. Not to mention that makes them look bad to other publishers/agents who might have been interested in them.

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  12. I learned from you, Karen, and I hope to remind myself of this: no responding to negative attacks. This is one animal I’d rather not feed.

    One of the reasons for the most vociferous posts is the ability to be anonymous, or have a false front. It seems to bring out not the fearless, but the scary. I have made the decision not to post anonymously, and to own my posts.
    Let us embrace the many ways we can be heard, and own what we say. I know you do.

    Thanks for your eloquent words.

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  13. I must float in different circles, because I've been lucky enough to avoid the negativity. But I agree with you . . . why should we have to take sides? There's more than one way to crack a nut, right? :)

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  14. For me, if a person wants to self-pub or go the traditional route (whether big or small publisher) I'm behind them. If you are going to go self-pub, just be sure to edit well. If you are going traditional, just make sure the publishing company has a handle on the changing times. (That's one thing I like about my small publishing company--they know how the publishing game is changing.) But, for me, although I'm very opinionated, I try to stay out of it as much as possible. And, I love reading my fellow blogger's novels--however they are published.

    Great post, Karen.

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  15. Mirka, Great comment and I love this statement: "no responding to negative attacks. This is one animal I’d rather not feed"

    Neurotic, Right, I have no problem with professionals dispensing information in a professional manner. What bugs me is the playing upon people's fears by making extreme statements and accusations. That's the stuff that's so annoying!

    Jami, It was a wonderful post about taking sides. Thanks for letting me link to you!

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  16. Clarissa, Excellent point about editing, and that's the word that's getting out more and more for self-publishers so I see it becoming less of a problem.

    Janet, Maybe I'm on Twitter too much LOL.

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  17. Negativity is bad. Period. Best to look for the good in everything. I know that makes ME feel good!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

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  18. For every person who is trying to do something, there is another trying to put and keep them down... It makes them feel better about their miserable selves...

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  19. I agree with Karen Walker.

    I think I know the blog you are talking about because WiDo does come in for a fair bit of criticism on there. Each to their own. Writers need to follow the route that is right for them.

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  20. I could write a whole other blog post on this issue so I'm gonna try and keep it short.

    Bashers are either:
    -closed-minded eejits
    -jealous of others' success
    -or closed-minded eejits

    Because (I'm gonna do a bit of bragging here, so brace yourself), I'm published by a small press and I independently released and album to go with it. Guess how many blogs I have that are going to help me plug their release? ONE-HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE. My album is going to be 'Album of the week' in a major online Greek entertainment mag next week, and 'Album of the month' in another Greek print mag.

    I DID THIS. Not the small publisher. The small publisher gave me the opportunity to get my work out there when no one else would because they were too scared they wouldn't be able to sell it.

    We make our own success, folks. It DOES NOT MATTER, whose logo goes on the spine of your books. Who gives a toss, really? They are avenues for us to consider, whether small, medium, or large. These small presses give us a CHOICE. I really can't imagine where I would be now without mine. They've given me the bread for my butter. They are my crutch. The rest is up to me. And unfortunately, the BIG 6 nowadays aren't going to be much more than that either.

    So yeah, let's stop the negativity and take our futures into OUR OWN HANDS.

    Great post, Karen. You've gotten me all wound up!

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  21. People take sides because they're confused and they want to know they've done the right thing and taken the right path. Happily, I have no idea what I'm doing in regard to getting published and I know it, so I'm able to rise above the controversies. (Also, able to remain unpublished.)

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  22. Murr, You always make me smile :)

    Jessica, Your publisher is lucky to have you, fearless girl that you are. The scare tactics inspire fear which keep writers from taking action for fear of being taken advantage of or perhaps fear of failure. Remedy for all that is to just move ahead and figure what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

    Donna, It's funny because I'm the only one at WiDo who's online that much to see criticism. The rest of them are too busy working with authors, producing good books and writing royalty checks to worry about what blogs might be saying about them.

    Pat, The only clear way to avoid criticism is to do nothing and be nothing. Not the way I want to go!

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  23. As with everything good in this world, there are those who will find the bad. I just don't listen to them. There's so much negativity in the world, we don't need anymore.

    I self-published and had to do a lot of work for it. I'm very proud of my achievement and don't really care what other people have to say about it. I know I wrote, revised, and edited the best book possible. The same book that went out to agents and publishers alike. I did my best and that's all that counts.

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  25. *I had to edit my post-see what you guys are doing to me?!!*

    I've seen the 'bash a small publisher' threads too, where it was obvious they hadn't done extensive research. For those of us with a small publisher, we can tell you that we edit very hard and are held up to high standards, yet we are not lost in the crowd.

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  26. Good on ya, Karen! I agree. I don't get the point - there are lots of ways for writers to work with their manuscripts - they don't get higher up standing on someone else's head - so why do it? I am fully in favour of ANYONE who is trying to get the stories to the people, whether they are booksellers, editors, publishers, agents, writers, or buyers of books. All good. Big world - lots of room.

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  27. "I have no problem with professionals dispensing information in a professional manner. What bugs me is the playing upon people's fears by making extreme statements and accusations. That's the stuff that's so annoying."

    Quoting you here, Karen. Playing devil's advocate because I've spent far more hours than I should need to defending myself to people who are under the mistaken impression I'm naive about publishing and legal speak used in contracts. I'm been at the mercy of some making those extreme statements in the wrong. I know some are far too quick to make accusations without research.

    Having said that, I have seen professionals called negative nellys for dispensing sound advice on self-pub, small pub and bigger publisher because the writer doesn't want to hear the truth. In some cases writers live in a happy little bubble where places like Publish America are the greatest thing since sliced bread, where every self-published writer will sell a million and a contract with a big six paves the road to fame and glory. They don't want to hear many self-pubbed books will sink without a trace, that signing to a big publisher doesn't automatically mean a book will sell or contracts will come easy. They don't want to know editing, cover-art and format is important. Or that there are people who will take advantage. What is negative and what is truth is often confused.

    For example, this morning I left a comment telling someone buying positive reviews is misleading to the reader and dishonest as a writer. I get the impression she thinks it's a great thing. I have no doubt I will be seen as negative when I was simply stating it in black and white so she can make an informed decision.

    I believe there is room for everyone in publishing and room for all types of publisher and author. Will I stand by and let someone make a mistake that will potentially cost them work they've spent months or years on? No. If they see that as negative because they would rather candy coat their journey, that's fine by me but my conscious will be clear. Publishing is hard enough without blindly walking down dead ends that others could have and didn't signpost.

    It's important for all of us to learn who we can and can't trust for sound information.

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  28. Carol, For some reason your comment went into my spam file. Glad I found it! A writer like you who expresses an honest viewpoint based on your own experience and research is one thing but blogs and chat rooms that end up slandering writers and publishers without due cause, are what I'm really burned up about.

    And meanwhile the real culprits who prey upon writer's dreams are out there. These are the ones who ask for money in return for false promises. PublishAmerica is a prime example. So is Tate Publishing.

    Love your final statement. That's basically what it boils down to, which is why it's important for writers to be online, doing their research,paying attention etc before jumping into anything.

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  29. Terrific post. I don't understand all the negativity either. We're all on our own journeys and we need to make choices that work for us. I get so excited when I see a bloggy friend's book out and about - I've bought dozens of them for my own library. We need to support each other rather than bashing. What purpose could it possibly serve?

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  30. Well said, Karen! I couldn't agree with you more.

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  31. The negativity is getting pretty crazy out there.

    I have awarded you the One Lovely Blog Award. Stop by and pick it up :)

    http://donna-realworldwriting.blogspot.com/2011/10/happy-halloween-and-award-to-pass-along.html

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  32. I love the publishing industry as it is. I can self publish and look for an agent for future books. We have so much available to us. I do not see right or wrong, just lots of different options.

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  33. So true Karen. Although I agree the publishing industry could do without more negativity, it's unrealistic to think this will ever change. As long as there are people in the world who can't see past their own faults, and need to blame others for them, then there will be negativity and criticism.

    I know it's not fair, but not much is in this life. Sometimes it's just best to ignore the negative people. If you don't read their comments then they can't bother you. Enjoy your Halloween.

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  34. This is very true. There is no right or wrong for publishing. Negativity is from those who think they know-it-all or only one right thing and that's it. Critiques are often the best kind of feedback for any work.

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  35. I agree Karen! I love the fact that we have so many options right now, and that so many indie writers are willing to help each other. There's room enough for all of us :-) (she says, as she enters the scary world of query land...)

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  36. I agree. I try not to take sides. I cheer when one of my blog friends gets published whether it's with one of the big six or an indie. I cheer when a blog friend makes the decision to self-publish. It is all getting more books out there. I think it's an amazing time to be a writer.
    Thanks for always being such a positive, encouraging, supportive blogger.

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  37. Carrie, "It is all getting more books out there" Right right right!! That's the whole idea! Another point I like to remember is that a writer's talent is more lasting than any one book they might produce.

    Deniz, Wishing you all the best as you enter query land! How exciting to have a manuscript ready to go.

    Angelica, I try not to act like a know it all and hope I don't come across that way on my blog but sometimes I get a sense that I'm being just a tad too bossy hehe, just like in real life I guess :)

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  38. I'm not so sure about right or wrong. But I do think there are choices for people to consider. Which choices work for you?

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  39. I know what you mean - it's easy to get the impression that any offer to publish our work must be a con of some kind. Publishers are trying to make money, but all businesses have to do that and it doesn't automatically follow they're cheating authors.

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  40. Great post. A certain amount of negativity is fine, of course, because bad things happen in the real world. But, yes, there's a balance to be struck. I suspect a lot of the over-negative stuff stems from bitterness and a sense of aggrievement ...

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  41. This is a great post. I want to approach those ornery people and remind them they don't HAVE to do this. And really, if you think about it, how many things have you read that someone thought was amazing but it was okay.

    I also believe that negativity begets negativity, and that's not the way to success.

    Love this blog - new follower :)

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  42. That's a shame that a powerful blogger is dispensing misinformation. I wonder if I've read this slanted info.

    The debate tires me sometimes too. I think there's room for everything. I find those who shout the loudest usually lose my respect. If you have to make your case that strongly maybe it doesn't have that much merit.

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  43. Thanks for addressing this Karen. Although I do feel out of the loop (in a good way) because I choose to ignore all that meaningless chatter. I'm turned off by blogs who "chatter" like this. Variety is the spice of life, so people need to do what feels right to them...enough said ;)

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