November 19, 2010

An open letter to writers

To (some of) my fellow writers,

Please stop embarrassing me. Your behavior causes me to cringe and makes me want to hide under a rock. I am referring to the those of you who:

  • Lack a basic understanding of the publishing industry
  • Write really terrible query letters
  • Refuse to properly follow the submission process
  • Attack literary agents when rejected for the above (or simply because)
  • Think you can change the process if you denounce it enough

You give writers a bad name when you do these things. Your actions reflect on all of us. Is the process maddening? OMG yes! Can it make you want to tear your hair out? That doesn't even begin to describe how it feels. Does it make sense? Not always.

I know. I'm going through it, too. I am trying really hard to make it in this business. By working with the process. Like it or not, it exists because it has worked successfully for many years.

To date, it is the best process anyone has been able to come up with. Many authors have managed to succeed by following it. So either work within its confines or exercise your other options. And stop the nonsense!

It may seem strange to call attention to you when I have connected with so many wonderful, talented writers who do get it. But the truth is, you are hurting them, too. And they are my friends, so I take it personally. Please stop. Because we really have a wonderful community and we need to be able to shine.

Let us all show respect and learn to work together. Put aside the "us versus them" mentality. Don't make me put you in time out. I have a toddler, so I'm getting really good at it.

With deep appreciation,
Yet Another Aspiring Author


  1. GREAT post! It's sad that there are far too many of these kinds of writers out there. They make it that much more difficult for those of us who are playing by the rules.

  2. Nicely said, Elizabeth! I absolutely agree that this process is in place for a reason, and that while it's terrible to try to wade through, it also demands respect. And, like anything else, working with (instead of against) the process to make your dreams come to fruition just makes good sense.

  3. Good post. I liken those kinds of writers to the drivers who think the rules of the road don't apply to them, because they're obviously special, and their time is so much more important than anybody else's. Maddening.

  4. I'm not a writer except for my blog. But, I do feel where you are coming from, and have a little something to add.

    My pet peeve is the bloggers (a form of writing) or freelancers out there who get paid to blog (through companies, reviews- whatever), and I want to go through their blog posts with a red magic marker correcting grammar, spelling, punctuation and just plain common sense errors. It makes me think, 'How are these people taking away from those who can actually write? Who might be trying to make a living at it? Step aside, please, you are ruining it for the people with talent.'

  5. Nice post! Yes, there are always rotten apples out there who give aspiring authors a bad name.

  6. Yes! For me, the worst ones are the writers who whine about how publishing people are mean when they describe reality.

    - Interns may presort queries (No, don't tell me that, I'm not listening, lalalala!)
    - Even good work may be overlooked if the market is saturated (How dare you! That's the meanest thing EVER!)
    - Just because you, your friends, your family, or even your creative writing class think your work rocks, doesn't mean it does (*sob* You're squashing our creative rights. Rights, I tell you! I'm entitled to your acceptance!)
    - Agents are people, not gods (Blasphemy! Be struck down by my righteous wrath!)

    Maybe we should form an professional aspiring author association? To be accepted, you have to be a serious writer who has expunged their entitlement gene :)

  7. I think it is good that interns are the ones that go through the slush pile. The more, the better. If an average pair of eyes unhurriedly peruses a piece of prose, it has a better chance of proper evaluation. If an agent skims a mountain of queries, only the gaudy gets noticed.

    Writing is not a holy calling; like anything else, that skilled wordcraft and storytelling can be overlooked is more natural than otherwise.

    (If anyone doesn't like the last phrase, they can resurrect Mr. Strunk and ask him about it.)LOL

  8. It's always sad to me that even as adults, most of us have never understood the concept of following the rules.

  9. brave! honest! real! well done, mama and excellent reminders for us all! :)

  10. I haven't even entered into this "process" yet...and perhaps I never will. It frightens me ;)

    Good post though

  11. Good to know! I appreciate your candor! Visiting from the LinkUp

  12. This is why I self-publish :) haha, yes, I can see why all of that would get annoying.

    Stopping by from Red Dress Club, hope you have a nice weekend!

  13. See, I come down on the other side of this... I'm grateful for those people. I hope they keep it up! As a writer who handles himself like a professional, has spent years researching the publishing industry, and tries to follow the "blogosphere" as much as possible - it comforts me to know that my submission will automatically be better than a solid 50% of the people who think they are above the rules. It's an easy way to slice your competition in half without ever having to lift a finger!

    And maybe someone, somewhere will be so relieved that I did not mail them my query on scented lavender paper that they'll feel just a shred more benevolent. :D

  14. I am not ready to even attempt the process, but it is a dream of mine to be published. When I am ready to really dive in, I think I am going to go through and read every single post of yours. You have such fantastic advice.

  15. So true!

    It amazes me that, in this day and age, there are still so many people determined to not learn anything about how this process works.

  16. I haven't been one of the amateurs hurling the critics bane, but one of the reasons I haven't entertained the idea of jumping in is that I am completely confused. There are so many opinions about what to do and not do vis-a-vis publishing that I'm hovering...hoping to learn which way the new world falls.

    Seth Godin's blog gives me pause to wonder what the publishing world is going to do to meet the changes that are occurring due to the Internet, etc. etc. It seems that something has to give. But what?

  17. @ Karla - I believe you are right. Which is why I wrote this.

    @ Ericka - It's not just people who won't play by the rules. I have ready some really nasty stuff written about literary agents, in general and specific to individuals. I think it is in very poor taste.

    @ Linda - Excellent analogy!

    @ Tatted Mom - I know exactly what you are saying. I'm not even going to go there! ;)

    @ Lauren - All the more reason we have to stick together! Thanks for your support!

    @ Angela - An yes, the entitlement issue. My hubby's response to this post was, "My momma always told me, nobody owes you nothin.'" LOL

    @ Max - Wait, writing is not a holy calling?! Well, darn! ;P

    @ KLZ - No kidding! And it doesn't just apply to this situation, does it?

    @ Galit - Thank you! I have a tendency to be honest to a fault. Expected to receive negative feedback on this one, but so far have not.

    @ Carrie - Don't be frightened. Just be prepared. Knowing what you are getting in to is half the battle...

    @ Nicole - You're welcome! Thanks for visiting!

    @ the Tsarista - Ha! I have been down that road. It has it's own issues, which is why I want to get published the tradition route this time. Thanks for stopping by!

    @ Dakota - What an excellent perspective! I love it! One thing I always enjoy is when the literary agents share some of the crazy stuff they see on a regular basis. Makes me feel much better about myself. LOL

    @ Helena - Thank you so much! I'm glad you find the information I share to be helpful. I've had a lot of other writers help me along the way, so I try to do the same as much as I can!

    @ Karen - I know! It is amazing.

    @ souldipper - It is very confusing. But I think there is a lot of good information and advice out there. Personally, I look to the literary agents out there, more so than writers. There are some fabulous agent blogs and they help you learn about the industry and the process. Plus, they are very honest and upfront about what they expect and want to see. Best to go straight to the source, I think.


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