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The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: October 22nd, 2010, 6:39 pm
by Margo
I fussed around for awhile about how to name this thread. What I really want to get is other writers' thoughts on how much responsiblity we as writers have to learn about the industry we're dealing with, whether we've gone POD or e-publishing or indie press or traditional publishing.

I tend to fall heavily on the personal responsibility side of things now that we have blogs and websites for agents and editors and publishing houses. It just seems lazy to me not to use these easily available resources to find out what's expected of us. My first go-round in the publishing industry was pre-internet. I like to use that and age as an umbrella excuse for being horrendously ignorant. I can't use either excuse anymore, so I do my research. I'm afraid I look at those who haven't done their research and stumble blindly into a problem like I viewed those kids at school who never did their homework and expected the teacher to let them slide and maybe give them extra credit assignments at the end of the year to make up for ten months of watching tv and hanging out at the mall.

Other thoughts?

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: October 23rd, 2010, 12:57 am
by Colonel Travis
Moving to digital from, I don't know what else to call it, analog is the most significant change in publishing/writing in centuries. I don't think you need to know the industry in detail. But anyone who wants to be a writer needs to know more about it than before, or else you're going to be working toward a dead purpose. You're right about the internet, Margo, plus I have always thought that what we call "a book" will go from physical word/photo to digital word/photo/video/interactive. Not all books but a significant number. Already started with magazines, newspapers. Since this transition is ongoing, who knows how things will shake up.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: October 23rd, 2010, 9:05 pm
by Margo
Colonel Travis wrote:Moving to digital from...
Yeah, I gotta agree with you. New territory.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: October 24th, 2010, 5:35 pm
by Mira
Well, I can't be positive, but it seems to me the writers who don't know much about publishing are the ones that are new to it. They come here and find out that it's much more complicated than they thought - and then they start learning about it.

I guess I don't see it as a responsibility issue so much, as one of practicality and goals. Depends on the writer's goals. Also, if a writer has money, they can hire someone else to do things for them. So, that's a consideration too.

Although, I still hold onto the belief that if someone writes an incredible book, it will sell itself. In some ways, that, above all, is the most important thing for a writer to focus on - writing an incredible book.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: October 25th, 2010, 8:44 pm
by Sommer Leigh
I think it is a professional responsibility these days, for the same reason you mentioned Margo because it is hard to not educate yourself when there are so many resources available.

If that's not reason enough, or at least, no longer an excuse not to educate yourself, I think you'll save yourself a lot of stress and heartache by getting some of the facts ahead of time. For example, I read a lot of agent blogs and one of the big questions that comes up over and over is someone who writes saying:

I put my submission out to agents and I haven't heard back or I've gotten only form rejections. I'm so upset I'm ready to give up. Help, how do I keep going?

Inevitably two questions are asked: how many did you send out and how long have you been waiting. The answers tend to be 1) 5-15 and 2) A few weeks

Or something similar. The commenters then jump in to point out that that's not very many submissions and you have to wait a lot longer than that. They are always polite and kind, for the most part anyway, but I can't help but think maybe this person hasn't done much homework on the industry and they'd have saved themselves from feeling like they are the brink of failure if they knew what was more typical of submissions.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: October 27th, 2010, 10:38 pm
by Steppe
In the old days people had to, "pound the pavement and wear out shoe leather."
Now it's more a situation of being a good filter and using intuition to store knowledge.
It is still quite a bit of intuitive luck and then briskly opening the door when opportunity knocks.

It was weird recently, I was reading Robins reaction to her first page critique and her various reactions and situations.
Somehow I clicked on "Pimp My Novel" then a link on there to a big name player-acquisitions editor.
I was also thinking about what you guys were talking about in the "Bad boys thread" and the thread about boys and girls developing their emotional identity.
I was playfully obsessing with all the lines expressed in the threads on Friday as I went through the business of the day from location to location in the car, and was actually trying to tempt myself to post a miniature treatise on all I know about those subjects. Hopefully something of value to add to the thread and also keep in my essay collection.

So long story short. Nathans House(click) Pimp My Novel(click) Big Time Players House(click)


An acquiring editor at a big house.
I did stalk him the way he likes to be stalked, including the cool picture story.
Broke every single rule in the book and got to send the full three book manuscript.

Dear XXXX, I have an innovative piece of work that is an evolving
manuscript. I believe from reading your blog archive (cultural
historical knowledge perspectives) you might find this piece I am
building uniquely interesting. I read "X XXXXXX XX XXXXX XX XXXXXXX
XXXX" at the point of a gun, when briefly captured by a short term
alliance, formed between the catholic nuns and my hippie wannabee,
public nose picking, seventh grade instructor in 1970. Currently a lot
of physics disciplines and religious disciplines and cultural trends
are arriving at the same conclusion. The piece I want you to help me
with is the conclusion of those narrative trends. I can point to many
detailed instances of proof of concept and design that I left in my
wake, strategically, as incontrovertible proof that I got there first
(inward, middle & outward border - three zero point engines) and
continue to hold the victors position in "The Great Game" that serves
as the "fair play" input register for narrative adjustments, in the
loops of knowledge that sustain consciousness, as the vehicle that can
be used, in the eternal hunt for power and the individual's perpetual
quest to establish a unique identity; which serves as the core
function of every beings participation in physicality. Do you still
have one great book in you? I'm satisfied you have the talent to help
me. It's your call.
Sincerest respect for you, your work and purpose. XXXXXX

Either way you would read a book unlike any other book that
encapsulates all of them. Still needs an editor, a good editor though.
Maybe that's how it all started between selfs and others. The writer,
the editor the agent, the publisher, the bookstore and the reader.
The traditional 5 Vs.1: who-what-when-where-why vs. the how.

Picture - Lightning
There's a mirrored facial image of two 5vs3 facial spatial fraction
relationships that resemble a discussion in the picture.
35% vertical marker 20% inward from border horizontal. Two Z-Faces as
Black vs. Pink.





If you would like me to consider editing your manuscript, please send it as a single word doc email attachment. I'll read it through, no cost, to see if I could be helpful and if so, suggest how we might work together and what would be the approximate cost.




Thanks for a lightning quick response and a willingness to examine the manuscript.
Volume one and two are proof read for lyric & melody six times to date and volume three is locked in a process
toward a battle that clears old obstructions and begins the rebuilding of a long range transportation hub in 2013.
That goal of long range transportation is the over arching quest requiring many sub-plots.

I'm grateful for your willingness and don't want to overwhelm you with details in an email.



Thanks for sending. I've read through many parts at the beginning middle and end of the manuscript, and don't think I can be of any assistance. Not a good fit, as they say.

Good luck,




Thanks for your kind consideration.
Your website provides a wealth of valuable information.
Kind regards.

Sincerely XXXXXX


(...) Bingo Bango. Get in, get the job done,(send product) get the job right (display robust product) then get out with a yes or no.
It was pretty cool because it was only my third query. My first was to Nathan but I told him it was mostly to get my first rejection under my belt.
The old idea of needing to get skin in the game to feel involved and put some ego and self esteem at risk.
I definitely had no clue as to what is expected by different types of professional when I found Nathan's site.

I had success with this person by browsing their site and behaving like a bit of an aggressive mad man in need of his very professional restraint.


He's a cool old school cat with debts to his own pasts and a well established image to protect.
Even rebels tend to gather into small groups to banter about the nuances and finer points of rebellion.
A worthy exercise. A complete breaking of all the rules that achieved the aim of displaying the product.

In this case the rule was; break all the rules or more succinctly; "Inspire Me Damn It."

I had fun.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: November 5th, 2010, 5:34 pm
by sierramcconnell
I'm beginning to wonder, at the beginning of the quest, when looking dauntingly into the fray and seeing all the carnage on the sides, if I should sit the sword and shield down and e-publish.

Agents are quitting. Writers are deciding it simply isn't fair to be bent over a barrel after having been dragged through the mud for years upon years. (Something I haven't much of anyway, and the minute an agent hears that they won't want to work with me regardless because who wants to sign a dying artist?)

I've never had delusions of glory in being a writer. I only wanted to get a word out. To inspire and to make people happy. But after educating myself it seems that the main thing they want you to know is this:

"It is impossible unless you know someone. This is just as the real world. Pucker up and kiss."

I don't play by those rules. I never have, and I never will.

And I refuse to lose my integrity now. :)

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: November 5th, 2010, 5:54 pm
by Margo
sierramcconnell wrote:Agents are quitting.
Come on now, easy there. Nathan quit. A few others I know of who came from other aspects of publishing found new positions in their old specialization and went back to what they loved. New agents are coming in regularly, and editors and publicists are still switching over to agenting. It goes back and forth. Not the end of the world, publishing or otherwise.
sierramcconnell wrote:Writers are deciding it simply isn't fair to be bent over a barrel after having been dragged through the mud for years upon years.
If this were true of the majority of writers, there wouldn't be 20,000 queries per agent per year and all the traditional houses would be gone already. Yes, some fine mid-listers have been done very wrong. But the loudest protesters ain't them -- Konrath excepted. An awful lot of never-weres can't accept that they just haven't put in the hours or the words to be good enough for publication yet, so they desperately want to console themselves that traditional publishing is a club of bad eggs they wouldn't want to belong to anyway.
sierramcconnell wrote:"It is impossible unless you know someone. This is just as the real world. Pucker up and kiss."
People who preach this line are IMO letting their frustration cloud their thinking.

How did all the published writers get to 'know' someone? I 'know' several agents/editors well enough to get hugs and chat about the new baby, but I don't have a published novel (short stories only). How come, if it's all based on who you know? And how did I get my short stories published, since I didn't know anyone at those magazines?
sierramcconnell wrote:I don't play by those rules. I never have, and I never will.
What rules are at issue?
sierramcconnell wrote:And I refuse to lose my integrity now. :)
By doing what?

Snap out of it, girl! If you want to e-pub or self-pub, because of the illness issue or because you want total creative control. Do it. Do it unapologetically. But don't cave to the 'you have to know someone in the big evil publishing houses' myth. Don't let your frustration make your decision for you.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: November 5th, 2010, 5:58 pm
by sierramcconnell
Hey, now, you know what we talked about. It's not going to matter who I focus on now, Margo. XD

I'm just feeling a little cursed is all.

My professional responsibility: Stop getting close to agents before querying them.

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: November 5th, 2010, 6:02 pm
by Margo
sierramcconnell wrote:My professional responsibility: Stop getting close to agents before querying them.

Pish tosh. (I've never been able to apply that phrase before.) Nathan might not have been the right fit for you anyway, nice as he is. In my opinion, the best agent-author relationship becomes a friendship. Don't be afraid to like an agent, in case that agent can't be your agent. I seriously like several of them. They can't all be my agent, though wouldn't that be a great problem to have. HA!

Re: The Writer and Professional Responsibility

Posted: November 5th, 2010, 6:09 pm
by Margo
Doh, I take it back. I knew someone at one of the magazines that published me, and he asked me to submit after reading something else he saw elsewhere.