Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stigmata or It's Nice to See Some Things Don't Change

Gifted Education 101: Expert advice for the aspiring young author
August 10, 11:58 AM NY Gifted Education Examiner Alina Adams

From the Article, and I am copying and pasting for your enjoyment, bolding text for mine.

"And now, a final, FINAL thought. Getting published. Publishers are always looking for good new work. So make sure your book is as original and well done as you can make it, then look up the names of editors at your favorite publishers, and send them a short, well-written cover letter, describing the book, along with a couple of chapters. (Don’t forget to make sure your manuscript is double-spaced). Another way to get published is to get an agent (an agent is someone who shops your book to publishers for you). There are also reference books that list every children’s agent in the country. Write them polite query letters, describing your book. Again, include a couple of chapters. If you’ve spent all your time writing and loving your book, you might just be surprised at the positive response you get!

(Editor’s Note: The Gifted Education Examiner strongly discourages authors of any age from taking the self-publishing route. This is not considered a genuine credit in the publishing [word] and will work against the author’s selling a future project to a legitimate publisher. Any time an author is asked for money from their publisher, they cannot be considered legitimate. If you are asked for money, you are simply getting your book printed, not published and certainly not professionally edited. This is fine if you simply want a few copies to give out to family and friends, but not if you would like to be considered an author." Read the rest of this stimulating article Here.


This is the advice being given to young authors. Yup, publishers love those unsolicited manuscripts, and agents are always up for sample chapters they didn't request, not to mention that infamous "black list" you will wind up on if you self-publish a word ever in your life -- Oh wait, isn't blogging a form of self-publishing? Guess kids can't blog either then. Maybe that's a loophole, I don't know, not to mention I have read self-published books that were edited far better than this article. Nice typo.

Or is this advice meant to be some kind of a tough love thing? You know, get them used to rejection young, stifle them whilst they are still impressionable. Let's fill their heads with fire and brimstone old testament type diatribe. I just think if we are gonna give kids advice on publishing, let's give them all the facts and teach them the proper way to query and submit partials. And for Pete's sake, I can't see how a Lulu book you did when you were a teenager or even one you did as an adult is going to ruin your writing career . A few self-published words might give you hairy palms and make you insane, but I am not convinced it will damn your soul, certainly not in the eyes of a "legitimate publisher" anyway. You might not be able to sell that book, the one you self-published, but it won't hurt your chances for future work, especially if you have a book that meets what the market wants at the moment. Actually, I gotta say, "Good for the kid who has the guts to go to it and self-publish their book." To me it shows determination and courage and most of all: vision. Dawson Vosburg comes to mind. His tenacity will probably get him published some day. And think of all the things he has learned along the way.

But don't worry you parents of the "gifted" young writers. The evil Indie publishing world will not try to seduce your child, corrupt their grammatical morals, or doom them to a hellish dank hole of a basement library with leaky walls and rows and rows of books with the Lulu logo on the spines. Most of us know the shit out of our Lit theory, we have read and studied the classics, and don't breathe a word of it, but a lot of Self-published authors actually have MFAs. Shocking. I know.

There is a lot of good advice in the article, so it's a shame really that it had to end with the typical Trad vs. Indie propaganda dreck. Haven't we all seen enough of this ridiculousness. Here is some advice worth its weight: If you want to be a writer, stay in school and learn how to friggin' write. Live and love your Lit theory. If you want to be a mainstream published author, stay in school and learn how to friggin' write and edit and revise and address criticism and query properly, then research all your options thoroughly. Funny, it's all the same for Self-published authors as well, except trade the query process for marketing. So in the end, it's all about education as much as it is talent and hard work. Many a gifted author of old got rejected, so you can't skimp on the work no matter which path you choose. Self-publishing probably won't bring you fame and fortune -- the odds are against it. It might not be a genuine "credit" but that doesn't mean the experience isn't worth having, provided you are having it for the right reasons. This holds true for the Traditional Publishing process as well, unless rejection is considered "credit" towards paying your dues.

I think what it all boils down to here is that we should be fostering creativity and experimentation not breeding contempt. Sometimes holding an actual book in one's hand is just the sort of satisfaction that motivates an author, especially a child author, to press onward through the process. Becoming a published author is a daunting oftentimes humiliating process. Self-published or Trad Published, it takes an insane amount of determination, skill, and hard work. It takes a level of commitment most people don't have the stamina for. That little something tangible -- a printed book -- can be the inspiration that keeps a dream alive in the face of adversity. It keeps the artist loving the art even if the process is painful.

Cheryl Anne Gardner


Jim Murdoch said...

I am living in a very strange world. It gets stranger day by day and I expect by the time I die I won't recognise a thing about it. There was a time when getting a book published wasn't such a hard thing because there weren't so many people writing books and countries pretty much kept to themselves. Now, it's not like that.

You and I don't need to get into the pros and cons of self-publishing because we know them. But no matter how many books I publish I'll never feel like a real author because I've been indoctrinated. Just like living in sin will always be how I view couples who cohabit despite the fact I don't believe in sin: crime, yes – sin, no.

The world is changing. America has a black president but it's still an oddity. Acceptance is an odd beast. People resent change and resist it but change is a force of nature and there will be a time when all books will be published electronically and there will only be published. I tried on my blog to simply ignore the fact that I was self-publishing but someone outed me and made such a fuss about it as if I was deceiving my public. And suddenly I had to defend my position as if I was someone doing something wrong. That made me feel bad about something I already felt bad about. But people will be people.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Now that is shame Jim. I always say, out and proud, my friend. Out and proud. I reviewed your book, so I know, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

I am just tired of the "self-publishing will ruin your life" routine, when instead, we should be cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit, especially with our children. Today's economic climate demands flexible free thinking in order to survive.

Besides. You can do both. Self-pub what you want and continue to submit what you want.

I never have trouble with being a writer or being an author. I wrote and published a couple of books, books people seem to like, apparently. The stories are written, and they are published ... and I authored them.

Seems pretty cut and dry to me. At least that's what the dictionary definition states: a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.

L.K. Campbell said...

The writer of that article is very much behind the times in a lot of their views. Hmmm.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Exactly, because the so called "facts" provided are one-sided being only the "opinions" of the traditionally published authors who contributed to the piece. The article was weak on so many levels, and both publishing options were not represented accurately or in an unbiased manner. The facts, such as they were, were too brief, too skewed, and way too out-dated.

Funny thing is that many school writing programs are using places like Lulu to enhance creativity. I see a lot more kids being inspired that way than they would watching their manuscripts collect dust whilst they write query after query with little to show for it. At least the kid who published one book on Lulu will have that to look at while he/she's writing those query letters.

Emily Veinglory: said...

This advice from someone who works of Examiner, at less than a penny per hit to the page. I hope she isn't putting that on her CV as a "real" writing credit : /