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Old 06-22-2012, 08:54 PM   #1
Steven Lake
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Destroying The "Big or Bust" Mentality About Writing

Here's my latest writing blog post. I wrote it in response to something a friend of mine told me he'd run into at a major writing forum. (And no, it's not MR. Everyone around here is very nice, realistic, and level headed, for the most part. ) I won't say who, but I'm sure you can picture a few after reading this. Anyhow, read and discuss, because I find this mentality even outside of writing. But since I'm only concerned with writing, I tackled it within my field. :P

Quote:
One of the things that came up recently in a discussion with one of my friends is the incredibly vitriol, virulent and oftentimes vicious "Big or Bust" attitude that is displayed and expressed by a surprising number of people. Ie, If you're not published through one of the big 10 publishing houses, then you're not a published author. Yes, I kid you not. People actually follow this insane mentality.

The same goes if you're a publishing house and you're not one of the big ten, or "heaven forbid" you're one of those "pay to publish", "print on demand" or "vanity" houses. The "big or bust" people consider you the scum of the earth and you're usually called every nasty word in the book, and probably a few that aren't.

Now here's the kicker. The vast majority of these perpetrators are, believe it or not, people who have never ever in their entire life been published. Yes, I kid you not, again. This all sounds completely insane. Yet there are a LOT of people out there like this. There are also major writing forums that follow this mentality as well.

So if you're not from, or published by, one of the big ten publishers, you're almost guaranteed to get shredded the moment you step foot in the door. It doesn't matter who you are. If you don't fit their extremely narrow "big or bust" mentality, regardless of who you are, you will get eaten alive. Personally I find this kind of activity to be completely deplorable and infantile.

First off, it is *NOT* the publishing house who makes you big or famous. It's you, the author, who are responsible for that. Sure, some of the bigger publishing houses can help you in that effort, but ultimately it's entirely up to you. So if your book can't stand on its own, and you can't be personable enough to sell your book, then you will not succeed. Period. End of story. Therefore who you are with, as far as publishers go, means absolutely squat.

If you don't believe me, just look at the stats from Random House, one of the big ten. It only sees about 1% of its authors ever achieve a level of sales or popularity that the "big or bust" people would recognize or acknowledge as "success". Of the other 99%, most sell less than 100 copies for the entire "in print" life of their book. So just because they went with one of the "big 10" publishers means about absolutely squat in the grand scheme of things.

Secondly, if you've never been published, DO NOT tell someone else what is the "right" or "approved" way of doing things. If you've never been through the meat grinder, then you have absolutely zero grounds on which to stand. If you do that, you're no better than a 5th grader telling NASA they shouldn't have sent a man to the moon.

Now, if you've been through the meatgrinder, and you've experienced life as a published author, THEN and only then do you have any credentials to speak. But even then, don't think your few weeks/months/year or two of experience outweighs more senior writers who've experienced a LOT more than you. So before you open your mouth about anything in the publishing world, know what you're talking about for experience, and not what you've read or think you know.

And thirdly, success IS NOT how many books you sold. That means jack squat as well. The question of the day is, did people like it. If yes, you're a success. If no, then try again. And if you ever think that you've "arrived", then you've failed, because no writer ever "arrives". There's always room for improvement, always another hurtle to leap over, another level to climb up. A truly good writer is always self critical, humble, and never assumes that what they've produced is their best.

So, for any of you "big or bust" people out there, consider what I've said. Do not tell authors what they should or should not do unless you've been in their shoes, and have more experience than them. However, even if you do, always remember to be gracious, humble, and considerate as you should always treat others with kindness. Who knows, some day you may need their help.

Anyhow, that's my rant. Consume with your own portion of salt as you see fit. ^_^;;
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