I Am Sick of Writer’s Thinking That They Have to Take Abuse.
This is a bit of a rant so be prepared.
I have played witness to a new and very disturbing tread that appears to be growing amongst new writers. What I am talking about is writers that are willing to do anything, take any insult or wage, just to get published. Why do they think they have to stoop so low? Yes, competition is fierce in the writing world and of course publishers are overloaded with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of people all struggling for those few available spots in magazines, anthologies, or those precious book publications.
Still, this is no reason to treat writers without respect, since in the end isn’t it the writers that are making the publishers their money? I recently had some problems with a couple of publishers. One had kept my story that he promised to publish for a full 18 months and had not returned my emails for the last 6 of those (and no, he was in still in business). While this was happening , I told another publisher I was going to yank a story that he had been holding for 8 months with no real word and he asked me for a refund, even though he had not paid me a cent. Ah, maybe I should be getting a refund for my lost time?
The point of this is what happened later. In my frustration, I posted my tale on a social site and got several replies such as, “I’d do anything to be published.” And, “I’d never yank a story, because there could still be a chance.” So what are these writers saying? You can do whatever you want to us and we will take it? What sort of attitude is that to have? If you don’t ask for respect, you probably won’t be getting any. There is not a lot of money floating around those small presses, but taking advantage of the authors is not a reasonable answer. Sure, we can understand low pay, but if we have to be given that, can’t we at least get polite treatment along with it?
I’m not saying publishers do not work hard, because they do. They have huge slush piles to read through. Form letters don’t even bother me if it is from a bigger company, still they are weak and I think the smaller presses could do better.
Some magazines like Abandoned Towers, M-Brane, and Golden Visions are trying to change the face of small press publisher. Not only do magazines like this treat their writer’s with respect and kindness, magazines like Abandoned Towers even try to aid new authors by giving them feedback from a pool of slush readers. Publishers should learn that they will be getting more of what they want to see, if they are willing to provide feedback to the authors who submit to them.
Being published isn’t like getting knighted, it won’t prove you are a good writer. In the end it is just one or perhaps a handful of folks opinion. Yes, it is a wonderful feeling, but one should not have to take mistreatment and rude behavoir to get there.
I would like to see the playing ground leveled a bit. Publishers should not be the only people passing out rejections. We writers should reject publishers that don’t meet our standards. Perhaps this would send a message to the rude ones or maybe even put them out of business.