Since the emergence of the internet, online publishing and the plethora of titles now available to us in the world of books, a second disturbing breed has emerged – the literary snob.
While thanks to small press and self publishing, it is true that the vast majority of published authors these days far outweigh the fortunate few, chosen by establishment publishers, rarely if ever will any of the former become successful.
The world of establishment writing and publishing is inhabited by old school literary snobs who will never deign to purchase a copy of your book, let alone offer you a contract. Why, because unless they have ‘discovered’ you through a literary agent or similar, treating you like a cash cow worthy of exploitation, you simply don’t exist in their eyes.
However, there are of course successful exceptions to this scenario. Beyond establishment publishing lays the world of self publishing; J.A Konrath is an excellent example. While clearly Joe has a head for business, the vast majority do not, hence his undoubted success.
Most, if not all, are reliant on which ever platform (in my case small press) we submit our work to, leaving the business side of things to them.
For every ten thousand struggling writers, maybe one will eventually ‘make it’ becoming a best seller worthy of the accolades enjoyed by the likes of J.K Rowling. But in reality, most of us will be read by a small handful of readers, curious or brave enough to read work from new writers.
Yesterday I read a list of best selling books that were rejected for years, in some cases – decades, before the snobs within the world of establishment publishing took notice of them. The list of titles, too numerous to mention here, astounded me. Perhaps it shouldn’t. After all, they were first timers once just like you and I.
With the introduction of technology allowing a book to be presented in eBook form, your sales figures will steadily increase. But do not expect to become a best seller overnight. Remember you are unknown to the vast majority of the reading world. A bit of self promotion via social interaction sites like Twitter and Facebook will help. But do not overdo it. Your potential readership will be put off.
Once you have the product of all your hard work available to read, get yourself an ‘author’s page’ on sites like Goodreads. Create a blog where you can advertise your work to your heart’s content, plus posts about fellow writers so as not to bore your readers, and get it registered on sites like The Speculative Fiction Database and The Blog Farm. In short do what you need to get your work noticed.
One thing is sure. Until the literary snobs finally and grudgingly accept that what you have to say actually matters in the world of books, you are on your own.
Above all don’t give up on writing. Keep on keeping on. In the case of writing, practice makes perfect. Get yourself into a writing group where your peers will offer constructive criticism. Explore all genres by writing short stories. Experiment!
Want a challenge? Then get writing. If you love reading, you’ll love writing.
The further you journey into the world of literature, the more you become aware of just how ‘bitchy’ so-called armchair critics can be.
To the average avid reader the aforementioned notion doesn’t even enter their minds as they are happily drawn into the story they are reading and the characters that inhabit it.
But, when that reader becomes an author, the literary rules of engagement take on a sinister new aspect. You become the immediate target of mindboggling invective and bile, usually aimed at your work from a group of people on open forums who hide behind avatars and pseudonyms. These people (I use the word ‘people’ here simply because they are fellow human beings) are semi-literate individuals who lock themselves away from the world and reality in their bedrooms.
While I cannot speak for writers in languages other than my own, I firmly believe that we all need to stand shoulder to shoulder defending one another from this constant barrage by these cowards who believe that what they are saying actually matters.
I experienced just such an attack last year when my first novel finally appeared for sale on a major book purchasing online site.
In all innocence I started a ‘reader’s comment thread’ on the site for anyone who had taken the time to buy and read the end product of all my, and my editor’s hard work, simply for feedback.
Oh boy, what a fool I was!
Within a few hours the thread was bombarded with a level of pure hatred and vile comments from those shadowy individuals across the planet. Thankfully my editor came to my rescue and took most of them to task, unfortunately re-directing their vicious attack towards himself.
What really got to me was the fact that none of them had actually bought and read the novel from cover to cover. Instead they had used the free downloadable sample chapter as ammunition for their vicious attack.
Since that unfortunate incident I no longer participate in any kind of ‘public forum’.
I now belong to a writers group set up by my publisher where any criticism about my work, and there is a lot, is constructive, not destructive. Both myself and my publishers learned a bitter lesson from my innocent delving into ‘open forums’.
Is it any wonder that so few authors are willing to participate in any form of public debate of their work, when the literary equivalent of low life muggers are hiding in the shadows of the internet poised to strike?
I think not.