Blame Everyone But Yourself

Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen observes on her blog today that self-published authors love to blame the system for their failure rather than the vanity presses that suckered them.

They have signed up for a lesson in frustration and of course they feel rejected and angry, so they want to blame the “system”.  They should really be blaming those self-publishing companies who prey on their hopes and dreams, companies that lure them in with promises of fame and success and then take their money. But are these authors angry at the self-publishing companies who’ve victimized them?  No.  Instead, they’re angry at whoever points out the truth.

They are also unwilling to admit to themselves that their desperation and gullibility drove them to make a costly and embarrassing mistake. So they rail against the the publishing industry for being cruel, at published authors for being "elitist,"  at book stores for not selling their crappy-looking and non-returnable vanity titles, and at professional writers organizations like the MWA that won’t acknowledge them as "published authors."  What’s really sad is when these self-deluded writers defend the scammers and vanity presses as "up-and-coming small publishers" who deserve our support.

7 thoughts on “Blame Everyone But Yourself”

  1. I’ve recently had a go-around with a blogging author who says that NY publishers only consider market-researched projects, and have abandoned publication of quality literature. “Only” is her word, not mine. I suggested that was absurd, and her response is that publishing used to be a gentleman’s business but no longer is, and is run by rapacious people whose interest is the bottom line.
    I insisted that the business model still operative and very much alive among established publishers is that they do aggressively seek out marketable books, but divert some of the profit from these into producing books of great quality and importance that might not prove to be profitable. The profit from best-sellers is what enables them to publish works of merit that might not earn money.
    The idea that, say, Alfred Knopf or Random House or Harper scorns quality literature and publishes only books that have great market potential is absurd on its face. But this sort of thinking has gained currency among a lot of authors who are having the usual trouble getting published, and they make it sound like a conspiracy operating in NY.
    I guess she thinks that truly good books will be produced by small presses or through self-publishing, and the fine old publishers will be producing dreck henceforth. She seems to be getting support from people who have rejection anecdotes to tell, as if that made her case for her.

  2. It was really sad to see another well-known author embrace the prejudice and the doom-and-gloom mentality towards anyone who gets where they want to go via a different path than the one they used. As usual, it was clotheed under the guise of “I’m a smarter adult than you and see it as my duty to protect you from your own stupidity.”

  3. Jim:
    Are you referring to me, or to Tess Gerritsen? If you’re referring to me, you’re mostly right. I’m more adult and smarter than you, although I am not inclined to protect you from anything.

  4. Richard,
    I think Jim is referring to this discussion he had in the comments section on Tess’ site:
    Jim wrote: “I’ve asked named authors for blurbs, very politely. 60% do not even answer the email. 20% say they have no time. 15% fire back a rude reply (”did you read the fine print on my web page about not asking for a blurb?”), and occasionally someone will say, “send the MS and I’ll take a look.”
    Although establshed authors will blub newbies on occasion, it is almost always because the newbie has been brought into the loop by an editor or agent or other author with connections.
    I still believe that there are almost no random acts of kindness between established authors and newbies without connections.”
    Tess wrote, in part: “There’s another possibility why an author might keep getting turned down for blurbs (aside from the fact that it’s usually the editor who asks for them.) And that’s if the book is self-published. Early on, I used to read every galley that came my way, and didn’t really pay much attention to who the publisher was. It soon became apparent that the self-published books were, quite honestly, bad. Uniformly bad. After wading through a dozen of those, and then being forced to break the news to the disappointed authors that I just couldn’t give a quote, I finally just stopped taking on any self-published books.
    My feeling is, if the author didn’t go through the normal screening process of an agent and editor, if the author couldn’t manage to develop his skills and polish his manuscript to the point that it would be taken on by a regular publisher, then even a great quote from an established author could not save that book from (perhaps well-deserved) oblivion.”
    Jim wrote: “Well, it’s refreshing to see that another debate has ended with yet another proclamation by an established author that self-published authors suck. I’ll take my leave at this point and won’t be back. Good luck to all of you.”

  5. “Are you referring to me, or to Tess Gerritsen? If you’re referring to me, you’re mostly right. I’m more adult and smarter than you, although I am not inclined to protect you from anything.”
    Richard, thanks for the insult, but I wasn’t talking to you. Can I still have the insult, anyway?

  6. HarperCollins just paid what has been reported as a seven-figure advance for disgraced fake memoirist James Frey’s new novel. Gee, what could ever lead people to doubt publishers’ selfless, single-minded devotion to publishing fine literature?

  7. It’s good to see people like Tess speaking frankly on this topic in a public forum. So many aspiring writers are mislead by people who promise to fulfill their dreams, but instead only end up taking their money. As more people (and more prominent people) speak out against this practice, hopefully some would-be writers will be spared the con job.


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