Writing is a solitary art. It’s you and your word processor. The end.
But even in the age of self publishing, to get your writing out to the world, you must collaborate with other humans on some level. You need your editor. You need a graphic designer, and in some cases you need a publisher.
But you don’t need to kiss anyone’s ass.
If you’ve been around small press publishing for more than a few years and you haven’t connected the dots between publishers and their best selling authors (often times one in the same individual) then you’ve either got the perception of a rock, or you’re purposefully turning a blind eye toward the rampant nepotism that exists in the publishing world.
Oh my god, he used the N word!
Yeah, I did? So what? Nepotism runs the world. It invades every facet of our lives from government all the way down to our menial labor jobs. Hang out in any writers group for a few minutes and you’ll see the brazen gloating about it. Except it’s never referred to as nepotism. It’s called social networking. To use the N word is to immediately give social networking a negative connotation. It says that the individuals didn’t get where they are by talent and merit, but rather by social station alone.
You’re kidding yourself if you think that every published author on a small press label got their break by talent alone. Again, hang out with writers and publishers for five minutes and they’ll tell you how they don’t want to work with assholes. Or that people who aren’t friendly won’t find success. Or that their talent pool is derived from the friends they make in writer groups.
That’s what makes the world go round. You don’t put your name and face out there, you don’t get noticed. You pick fights and start drama, people avoid you. Common sense. Don’t be an asshole if you want friends. But what if I told you that success based on talent and merit alone is, in fact, attainable?
Are you the kind of person who sees all the schmoozing and ass kissing going on in writer groups as disgusting, or at the very least as pandering and maybe lacking in integrity? Well, take it from me, a guy who puts the bare minimum amount of effort into writer groups and socializing with publishers and editors. I’m friends with influential people in the small press, sure. But I’ve never asked those individuals for favors, nor do I ever expect to receive one. I’m not friends with them to take advantage of their station, but because they’re interesting people with similar interests.
What I’ve done as a writer, I’ve built on my own. I’ve won and been nominated for awards very important to the genres I write in. I’ve done so while speaking my mind honestly and with integrity, and never compromising my core beliefs, even when those beliefs piss off influential people in the small press. I truly do not give a fuck what affect that has on my precious reputation because in a few years I’ll be dead forever and my books won’t. My books aren’t assholes, they’re books with their own reputations completely separate from mine.
Yes I network with authors. Yes I attend literary gatherings and conventions, but I never do so with an eye toward using others to gain station in the literary world. That’s ugly. That’s gross. When I look at the awards and nominations on my writing desk, I don’t owe that sense of pride to anyone. I didn’t get here by nepotism. I got here by hard work, self belief, and talent. I get that everyone won’t be so lucky. I came to fiction writing with a fanbase from making movies, but I built that the exact same way. On my own. A decade of hard work. Without the help of any producers, or investors or distributors compromising my vision as an artist.
I am a literary lone wolf, here to tell you that it’s ok to go it alone. You don’t have to dress up for the party. You don’t have to be best friends with the kid throwing it, either. Write well, and the rest will follow.