Saturday, June 13, 2009

Distributin’ Swords

I have to confess this sword distribution plan wasn’t my idea. A mandate from the masses seems to have more authenticity. But Merlin, my father, assured me that people are sheep, which probably explains the empty grazing fields in our area, but I digress. His point, I suppose, was that if every writer gave the people what they believed the people wanted, the people would be overwhelmed by too many choices and become unable to sort the good stuff from the oozing crap. (Dennis, there’s some lovely muck over here!) Unfortunately, and don’t tell him I said, so, he has a point. Morally and philosophically I believe that if we write something good, we ought to be able to put it out there and readers ought to be able to read it. Writers should benefit from people just enjoying their work, and readers shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to read. Making the most requested lists at libraries ought to count for as much as sales… in a fair world. Unfortunately, people tend to always believe the result of their own sweat and toil is good enough for mass consumption, so there is no self-screening. I’ve perused novels available online (the free ones that lack screening) and I’ve seen a couple ‘vanity published’ books. The only one worth owning, in my opinion, is the one my grandfather wrote, and the only reason it is worth owning is it is my own family history. (You’ll want to own it too when I turn it from a list of facts and detail into a coherent story and use fiction to fill in the gaps, but that is years from now, for now, I swear, you don’t want it.) My point is that I decided the agent/publisher route is the only way to reassure readers that my work has been quality screened and professionally edited. It is the only way to share it with many people, because I won’t lose all the people unwilling to wade through the crap that is out there. It is also my only hope of quitting my day job for a career as a novelist (my real goal). So I’ve been distributin’ swords, and getting stabbed through the heart for my efforts. I don’t like it much, in spite of the little thrill each time I push send. When I’m empress however, things will change in the publishing world. They will work by a mandate from the masses, which, in raw form, are unruly, but if you have an autonomous collective reviewing work, and a majority vote earns an agent, and a two thirds majority earns publication, then the worthy work will be published, without the game of who knows who coming into play. In my other super secret life, I publish scientifically, where the review process works much that way. Every work submitted has 2-4 reviews and all reviewers stamp recommendations on the work (publish, revise then publish, revise a lot and MAYBE we’ll publish, or this stinks, go to a lower tier journal). The reviewers offer feedback on what the shortcomings are--what must be changed, and what, though technically okay, could still make improvements. That is not to say there is no nepotism in the system… the big fish still get an easier ride. But it makes it less impossible for the beginners… an ultimately improves the quality, while still keeping the field open. So my minions… remember that when the empress elections come around. A new and improved system of publication government…

2 comments:

Shaharizan Perez said...

I hope the system does change. However, in the mean time, keep your head up. Your writing is very good and a publishing company will certainly pick you up.

Natasha Ramarathnam said...

I couldn't agree with you more. When there is so much garbage that passes itself off as published work, I wonder at the entire screening process.
Hold on there, you will definitely find a publisher worthy of your work.