15 April 2014

Enduring the Sledgehammer: Lessons from a Small Press Horror Story

From Victoria Strauss’ post at Writer Beware: 
Another Small Press Horror Story: Silver Publishing is Gone 

In mid-2012, I began getting complaints about Silver Publishing, which started up in 2009 as a self-publishing facilitator, but in 2010 transformed itself into a "traditional royalty-paying press"…
…Looking at it from the outside, authors could reasonably have assumed it was stable. Also, complaints didn't really start surfacing until well into 2012, nearly two years after Silver started up… 
Link back to Writer Beware. 

My Thoughts
There may be one obvious lesson here- to do your research before submitting your ms, but nothing in the world is ever black or white, or simply simple.

To quote Writer Beware: “Any publisher can go bad. You can't always predict which ones.”

You can't just say that it’s just a matter of always checking, double-checking, and crosschecking with your sources just in case you miss something in your market research. If you're lucky enough to get good advice, stick to it, if you're not, well…

I think writers- both the newbies and veterans, won't admit that sometimes they forget the basic fact that publishing is run like any other business. But sometimes, it’s also a matter of luck.

A real world analogy
A really desperate person (be it a fresh grad or industry vet) needing money, doesn't question the ‘seedy’ doubts he's harboring about the firm he's working for.

Any truly ruthless and practical person who desperately needs to make a living doesn’t pull out of a really shitty job even if his/her morals is tested. But he can’t stay there forever because he knows his soul can only contain a certain amount of corrosion and smut.

I know I didn’t in my previous day job, but you grin and bear it for as long as it’s necessary to pay the bills.

Sadly, in the publishing analogy, it’s like being hit by a sledgehammer

Often, you can’t help but wince and sympathize with writers unable to get their rights back, or being ill-treated by their publishers. You can’t just sit back and grit your teeth, because it’s your sweat and blood you see pooling by the drain.

Hating your day job is one thing you can endure. You can even endure it if your life is slowly falling apart. Because hey, you can indulge in your passion in the meantime.

You can still write. Life can hit you with hammers all the time, but you can be that stubborn little nail that always pop back up.

Except, when it comes to your book, it’s not a tiny hammer that hits, it’s a damn sledgehammer. No matter how many blows in life you’ve convinced yourself you’ve become immune to, this one hits like no other m*****f****r. 

Realistically speaking, it’s not easy to shake off the heartache of something like ‘not getting the rights to your book returned’ and starting again somewhere else. Sure, we can keep writing new manuscripts, but the metaphysical puncture wounds in our souls are still there and it would take time for them to mend.

In the end, you can’t really honestly say that publishing is like any business, especially if you put your heart and soul on the line. Even if you claim to be capable of compartmentalizing your personal and professional life, your logical and creative side…no one is truly immune to a sledgehammer.  

We're all porcelain piggy banks. No matter how thick our skin is, we can also shatter at unexpected moments. 


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