I must open this blog post by pointing out that there is a nifty Agent Pitch Contest going on at http://yatopia.blogspot.com/2011/03/agent-pitch-contest.html and I think you ought to check it out. It might be too late, but give it a try.
That actually leads into why I say that writers are the best people in the world. Sure, you probably thought, “No, they’re not. People who sell their homes, move to Sumatra or Indonesia or Africa, and then devote their lives to helping the poor and downtrodden of the world are the best people in the world. You know, like Mother Teresa.”
See, you’d be wrong. Writers are the best people in the world because– well….
Okay, now I’m feeling bad about my hyperbole.
Writers are some of the best people in the world.
Here’s why. When you go to a bookstore, what do you see?
A lot of books. No, more than a lot of books, a plethora. No, more than a plethora. Scads. You see scads of books.
Some of them probably aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. (Hooray for e-books and yay that all of those lazy authors who somehow have gotten their crummy books with their crummily edited prose and stultifying stories onto shelves who can now put all of their other stuff that ‘wasn’t as good’ out there and really make a go at clogging up people’s brains.)
I love the idea of e-books. I love where publishing is going. But the glut that is coming isn’t going to do a whole lot of good because now people will really have to filter even better in order to get to the good stuff- since traditional publishers (the original gatekeepers) aren’t going to be filtering all of that.
Back to writers being awesome. And back to bookshelf after bookshelf bursting with books.
All of those books. Probably millions of aspiring authors– all contending for some attention from the Olympus-like publishing houses and their editors, or agents (who are really like demi-gods (think about the heroics they have to perform… doesn’t Hercules come to mind?)). With so many people competing for attention and that little bit of validation and a spot on someone’s client list or release list, you’d think that blood would be spilled more often when authors get together.
Not so much. They’re just so helpful (in general, yes, I’m looking at YOU, Frey) and almost always giving of their time, retweets, linkbacks and referrals to contests and such!
It might be because published authors went THROUGH the hell that it is to try to get published, paid their dues, and feel the pain of aspiring writers. It might be because they have seen that people will always read, not EVERYONE will like the same thing (just because you and I don’t like TWILIGHT doesn’t give us the right to mock those who do) and plenty of other writers have lots to offer to the world.
My point being that I have benefitted greatly by my associations with other writers, be they established, super-famous, or still slogging up rung by rung. I just don’t see selfishness in this group of people. The idea that if someone is buying ANOTHER writer’s book means that they aren’t buying MINE doesn’t seem to be at all common. Yes, I’m a bad person for even considering that idea as viable.
The truth is that writers are by and large generous and helpful- extraordinarily so. Self-interest is there, for sure, but I’ve seen genuine joy in others’ success, genuine interest in others learning the craft and so much more.
And trying to get your books out there and read by people is HARD. Having an author friend or acquaintance pay some attention to me or offer kind words or advice is such a shot in the arm. Seeing others who have fought and struggled and made progress is empowering.
I have to say that Twitter has enabled much of this interaction I refer to, by the way.
So a great big Internet hug to all of you authors out there. You are some of the best people I know.
Sorry that you’re not better than Mother Teresa.