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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

In Which I Probably Alienate A Few Writer Friends

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


I've been out of town for the past few days, and a few items of interest kind of congealed to form the basis for this post. Let's get going:

MWA Delists Harlequin. (Via Lee Goldberg)

The kicker for me is that Harlequin continues to think there's no problem with sending rejected writers to Dellarte Press. As Goldberg points out in the comments, when Random House owned a piece of Xlibris they kept it separate and never suggested to rejected authors that they might want to self-publish with Xlibris.

Author Solutions, Harlequin's partner in Dellarte Press, issued a video statement in rebuttal to the whole kerfuffle. This comes via Writer Beware, who also has some other interesting information. Scroll down to author P.N. Elrod's comment. Apparently it didn't take long for the confusion to set in.

If you want to pay the money and get your book out there, that's your choice. But don't be fooled into thinking that your book will automatically get shelf space just because the service you choose has some association with a major publisher.

The industry may be changing, but it's still a reader-driven market. Follow the money. It ultimately comes from the reader. The old adage, "you have to spend money to make money," is true to a point. It costs money to print and distribute books. But where does the money come from? All I'm saying is, don't rush into this without exploring all of the angles.

John Scalzi looked at a magazine publisher that pays 1/5 of a cent per word. That is not a typo. As he pointed out, it's a buck for 500 words. And I thought those content sites that paid a fiver for that many words were bad. Wow.

Now don't get me wrong: Not every market has to pay SFWA rates (five cents a word). Yet, there should be some value to the author, the reader, and the publisher. I know this business is rough, but when a magazine cover price is ten bucks I sort of expect that people who contribute get paid a bit better. Yes, yes. I don't have to contribute if I don't want to. I don't plan to bother. I wish them luck, though.

In response to Scalzi's piece, Ann Leckie writes about the value (or lack thereof) of publication credits in your cover letter. She writes that the thing that gets you published is (surprise!) good writing. Credits can help, but:
And when a cover letter claims credits from ten to twenty small zines and maybe I've heard of one of them...I am not particularly impressed.

Those credits will not get you a better shot with the editor. They just won't.
I'm so glad to see someone who works for a publisher put that into writing. (And here's a bit of reinforcement from Rachel Swirsky.) In fact, I'm going to take it another step.

Stop putting all those credits into your signature line. Stop it, I say. I don't care that you've been published in the "I was paid a token five bucks" market that went under six months later. I appreciate that the market felt it was worth paying a token, don't get me wrong. But a gazillion of those does not equal one story in a market like Electric Velocipede. And they EV doesn't pay pro rates. As I said above, it's a reader-driven world, and if eyeballs don't connect with your work (ewwww!) then it doesn't matter if you were paid five bucks or five hundred.

And there's where I start to alienate people.

I don't care about every sale since high school. I care about what you're writing NOW. I'm saying that as a reader. And please, don't promote that five buck webzine sale like it's the second coming. it isn't. And for the love of all that is good and holy, drop the Signature Block of Doom that lists your last twenty webzine sales. Stop it. Now.

Bottom line: Write well. Submit to markets that are meaningful to you, but by all means start at the top.  Self-promotion is good, but watch for the signs that your efforts are starting to annoy people, because that's when they backfire. And don't pay for overpriced services that don't get you anywhere.

So, do I have any friends left?

Filed Under: Publishing

Filed under: Publishing            
12/7/2009 6:39:34 PM
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