Should Authors Shut Up and Write?
Much ado was raised by Miss Snark and her commenters about Anne Stuart’s statements to All About Romance. Ms. Stuart confessed that she felt “disillusioned about the lack of support” by Harlequin and that she felt the publisher is more about “slots and numbers, not about passion for what they’re putting out there.”
I recall during the Labreqce/Wallace incident that many of the authors said the same things – slagging about an editor online doesn’t make good business practice.
Debra Webb said
To knock an author is bad enough but to insult her house and editor, well that's just plain DUMB!”
My understanding used to be that the publishing industry was a business and that readers were the emotionally unstable part of the equation. Books are purchased based upon their quality (perceived) and not on personality of the author. I would guess that should Harlequin decide to kick Anne Stuart to the curb there are any number of publishing houses who would be willing to deal with her goddessness (which I took to be totally tongue in cheek). It doesn’t look like Harlequin wants to get rid of her based upon the blog post of Isabel Swift.
The thing most disturbing to me was the relentless piling on by anonymous and not so anonymous writers and want to be writers as they jostled to be the commenter most supportive of Ms. Snark. Sure, Ms. Snark has a point. Taking your complaints public aren’t likely to make the subject of your criticism eager to help you. But is the publisher going to cut off their nose to spite their face?
- Southern Writer offered to take Stuart’s publishing slot.
- Nancy thought that she heard the sound of a publishing contract whirling down the drain.
- Ric thought it was obvious why publishers lacked enthusiam for Stuart’s work.
Overall, there was a general sentiment that Stuart was an idiot and a prima donna. I read the interview and found her to be funny, tongue in cheek (I am a goddess remark), and refreshingly open. True, my bias is that I like Anne Stuart’s books. Not all of them, but alot of them. Maybe that influences what I thought of the interview. Plus, I like to know the honest opinion of authors when it comes to publishing. From a reader standpoint, stuff like Anne Stuart is sharing is pretty interesting.
Most of me thinks that as long as an author isn’t insulting the reader, the online reader doesn’t care. The online reader isn’t saying “Shut up and Write” to authors who are talking about the ills of publishing. We talk about the ills of publishing. I can’t get excited over an author saying “how could this book even be published.” I have those thoughts myself. Authors behaving badly on the internet only really bothers me when it affects me, the reader. Other times, its like a bad train wreck. Erika disliked that Anne Stuart made a political stance. I know that after last year’s RWA debacle, it would be a long stay on a deserted island before I picked up a Tara Taylor Quinn book.
I’d rather hear the Anne Stuart comments than those like Lydia Joyce telling readers on her blog that those readers who don’t like her book just don’t get it. For example, the reviewer at AAR disliked the TSTL actions of the heroine in Whispers of the Night. So did Tara Marie.
Cheryl thought that Alcy's running away was “boneheaded” and “reckless” and thought she should have confronted Dumitru about stealing her money.
Ms. Joyce launches into a long explanation of why Cheryl’s opinion is wrong and coincidentally, every reader, like Tara Marie, who agreed with Cheryl. What does that do to the readership? Pisses them off. Essentially, Lydia Joyce was saying “You could not possibly understand my book. You simply aren’t smart enough.”
But I suppose people will read things into what books that simply aren't there.
I am more apt to tell someone like Lilith Saintcrow to shut up and write after reading her Amazon plog. Lili, as she refers to herself, believes that readers who were unhappy with the ending of Dead Man Rising were whiny.
Now, I can hear the whining already. But Lili! We read stories to escape!
No you don’t. You read stories because it is a human hunger to communicate, because it is a human hunger to tell and retell and listen to stories. We make the world, our world, through the stories we tell ourselves. To draw a metaphor, we don’t eat because we like Twinkies. We eat because we are hungry and must nourish ourselves.
She goes on to state in her comments :
I make a promise to my readers to “tell the truth” instead of merely slapping a Hollywood-style happy ending onto my books to sell them. . . .there is more real hope in a true ending than in a saccharine Hallmark abomination tacked onto a work of art for commercial reasons. We can bemoan endlessly the violence and horror in our world, or we can recognize suffering is a part of human life (as Buddha said) and learn to deal with it instead of burying our heads in the sand.
I don’t get the Twinkie analogy because I am pretty sure Twinkies are eaten not for appeasement of hunger or nourishment, but for the craving of wonderful sticky sweets. I guess I am more hopeful when I read a happy ending than one that involves repeated deaths of loved ones. I also don’t think that a happy ending is a “saccharine Hallmark abomination” nor do I think that romance readers are “burying our heads in the sand” while all the other fiction readers are on the great search for truth. I’ve read both Saintcrow novels and the only truth I came away with was that Dante Valentine was a selfish user. How’s that a truth for you.
When an author behaves badly to booksellers or a bookseller perceives slights to readers, they don’t hesitate to strip the book the next time it is on the returns list whereas they have the discretion to keep a book that is on the returns list. Booksellers are more like readers than publishers and are going to be more affected by insults to readers than offhand comments about an author’s publisher. When authors say something to belittle a reader or offend a reader, that is an insult to booksellers.
And for those authors who have the courage to speak out and say, I feel like a number, or that my books are commodities and not art, or that this other authors book just did not work for me, shouldn’t other authors support them instead of rushing to take her slot or to trample her down? It makes the community of authors look, well, distasteful.
I would hope that publishers are making decisions based on business rather than personality. I think the romance world be less if it did not include Anne Stuart. I think the romance world would be less without Lydia Joyce. I just wish she would shut up and write. Alison Kent categorized the heirarchy as follows:
None of us who write need to give a crap about anything beyond #1) pleasing ourselves, #2) pleasing our readers, and #3) pleasing our editors and publishing houses.
In the end, what’s more damaging to your career? Talking negatively about peeps in the industry or readers? DOes it matter if the author/publishers are online or NY?