Literary snobs and other complete tosspots

In a recent blog post of mine “Books and Literary Snobs”, I began it by saying the following:

Since the emergence of the internet, and with it, online publishing and the plethora of books now available to us, a disturbing breed of individual 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 publishing, rarely if ever will any of the former become successful.”

Since writing that post I have become even more aware of another trait normally associated with internet trolls among the literary snobs – sheer arrogance! Without exception they fundamentally believe that what they say should be paid attention too. Further, that we lowly scribes should be grateful to them for tearing the product of all our hard work apart!!!

Sadly there are a number of people who will only ever read books their equally arrogant parents introduced them to. There lies a problem for all Indies. Unless they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, the literary snob will not even glance their way – need I say more? The emerging author of today will be deafened by the loud ‘tut tutting’ being uttered by these narrow minded individuals who are quick to judge.

If they had their way, the only books made available to the general public to read would have been written from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth century, or maybe in certain circumstances until the middle of the twentieth. Certainly none published by anyone other than the establishment publishing houses would be allowed into the public domain in their view.

A little further on in my previous post I added the following:

“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, like you and I they were not from the right social class.”

One thing all of these pompous literary snobs seem incapable of comprehending is the fact that all writers, be they first timers, or old established hands, if they are at all serious about writing, continue to hone their ‘voice’ until the day they die. Writers like Dickens were panned beyond belief when they were first published; something the pompous literary snob of today conveniently ignores.

I feel exceedingly sorry for these pathetic individuals whose personal library is severely limited to a few volumes written by authors such as Tolstoy, Pushkin, Dickens, H. Rider Haggard, H.G Wells, Jules Verne, Agatha Christy, Graeme Green, or maybe even Arthur Conan Doyle. Unfortunately, they are the kind of people who firmly believe that to read anything new, is somehow beneath them. In a way, they remind me of my father’s Edwardian generation who clung to the dream that England still ruled the waves and had an Empire. Like them, today’s literary snobs are dinosaurs!

While they continue to prevail, be they private individuals posing as reviewers or British literary critics like Will Self,

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(according to him  he is god’s gift to journalism and literature in general) what chance do today’s emerging writers have of succeeding? Most establishment literary prizes like the ‘Booker’ here in England are almost never won by a newcomer beyond the world of the establishment publishing scene – certainly not an ‘Indie’.

While those of us who live in the real world are prepared to read something new, be it from someone like myself who self-publishes or not, the establishment publishing houses are all sadly missing out on so much promising talent by ignoring today’s plethora of new writers, or worse, dismissing them out of hand simply on the word of fully paid up members of the oldboy network who currently hold sway, or narrow minded literary agents in the pay of the establishment publishing houses.

The literary snob is easy to spot. Just take a look at the reviews for your book(s). He or she is the one who is obsessed with what kind of comma you are employing, etc, etc…

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As a writer, sooner or later your editor will let you down!

the-editor

They’re not pefect despite what they may say…

Face it, some editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but also how many there are. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally wrong words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers plead the old chestnut ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins, like which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding errors, which any editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant! Heh, a chance would be a fine thing. Or in other words, don’t hold your breath…

Before any of you reading this while professing to be an editor has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever turned in a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead. Just a thought…

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their opinion (which is all any review is when you think about it) won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

For instance – quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some Americans see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from American English (which bares little or no resemblance to the original – English English), there is also Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which of course is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us, despite believing they are a cut above humanity in general!!!

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the story, employing someone to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that’s it, job done. Wrong! Never let your editor get away with too much by not picking them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your image as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, written last year, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the editor you are employing.

Am I going to fix it? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!

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