Monday, October 26, 2009

Less than zero

Last Friday I had lunch with a conference attendee who'd just been told he wasn't a real writer because his "publisher" was one of those book printing mills.

Horseshit.

Make no mistake about this: if you have written and finished a novel you ARE a writer.

Don't let anyone, particularly some snotty so-called publishing professional, demean this achievement. You've written a novel = you're a writer.

It doesn't EVER have to be published, and you're still a writer.
You can publish it online, on your website, or with any of those book printing mills, and yes, you are still a writer.

It doesn't have to be any good at all, and you're still a writer.

It can be fanfic, derivative, or a reincarnation of Harry Potter as an android, but if you've written and finished a novel you are a writer.

Do not let anyone tell you any different. If they do, you know exactly how much weight to attach to their opinion: <0

94 comments:

SundaySoup said...

This is why we all love you. Why we read your blog even when we already have agents. Go Janet!!!

cheers,
Joelle
http://www.joelleanthony.com

Tahereh said...

so i read your blog surreptitiously.
it's very funny with lots of good information and i'm a little afraid of you, i confess.
but this one line just made my day:
Make no mistake about this: if you have written and finished a novel you ARE a writer.

i just wanted to say thank you.

Kristi Faith said...

So refreshing to see. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I'm a writer, the first question out of their mouths is about publishing. Nope, not yet, but working on the coolest novels in the world. I'm a writer. Thank you, Janet. You ROCK

Rebecca Knight said...

This was very cool :). I've heard folks say something along the line of "If you don't write every day, you're not a writer," as well. Everyone works differently and everyone has different variables in their daily lives, but somehow if you don't do it a certain way, it's devalued in some people's eyes.

Thank you for validating writers' efforts :).

Matthew Delman said...

"Harry Potter as an android" -- LOL

You just know someone out there is composing that fanfic as we speak.

DebraLSchubert said...

I love you. No seriously, I do. ;-)

Whidget said...

That's good to hear! I am almost done with novel two, and so far, nothing but rejections. It makes me wonder if I am a writer, after all. I am hoping to polish up my query letters in time for the slaughter in NYC in a few weeks at Backspace!

Bridget

Watery Tart said...

I'm wildly applauding. Thank you for that.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Harry Potter as an android, eh? Now there's a good idea! ;)

Thanks for the pep talk, Janet!

Hollie Sessoms said...

Janet, you are air in a can for my deflated writer's ego. Thank you so much for that, it made my day!

BnB Paulson said...

I think I have a crush on you. Lol

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I agree this really is why we love you, you tell it like it is.

Stephanie Feldstein said...

This was one of my favorite things you said at the conference (well, this and the importance of "sexual" networking ;-) ). There are enough challenges in getting a novel out there without people demoralizing you from every angle. Most writers are hard enough on themselves as it is.

Aimee States said...

THANK YOU! *sigh*

Girl with One Eye said...

You had me at "horseshit."

Thank you for passionately giving me a title when so many want to take it away.

Bravo!

Carmiel said...

I Love You! Thank You!
Having finished two approx 60,000 word stories (unpublished of course) I wondered if I was a "real" writer. Now I know.
I'm so happy I read your blog.

Debra L Martin said...

Thank you Janet for this post. My co-writer and I have written and finished two science fiction novels and numerous short stories. We had interest from agents for the first novel, but in the end, no offer of representation so we decided to post chapters on our website www.otharia.com and share the story.

It's a tough time for publishing and debut authors, but no one can say we aren't writers.

Deb

ryan field said...

Nice Post.

Jennifer K. said...

Thank you!

Sometimes its hard when people say I'm not a real writer because I'm not published (nor do I really think I am every going to pursue publishing) even though I have written novels.

It's good to be reminded that I am still a writer, even if I'm only writing for myself.

Girl with One Eye said...

addendum: I just changed my profile occupation to "writer"

Good movie, btw.

Kate said...

You're not a real writer.

Is that like saying you're not a real parent if your child wasn't born in a private hospital?

Crimey said...

I hope writers everyone know this.

Pepper Smith said...

Bravo! I've blogged about that sort of attitude before, because it drives me nuts how some writers treat others as non-entities because of their publishing status.

Kate said...

Wait - what's this about "sexual" networking??? :D

Davin Malasarn said...

I appreciate this more than you know, Janet. I've been reading your blog for awhile, but I very rarely comment. Thank you for saying this.

Keith Schroeder said...

Call me a writer if you want, but if I'm not getting paid, it doesn't really matter what you call me because I buy my bread by other means.

I see debate on this and similar issues frequently. I have reservations if it is a productive use of time. Pay for my labors, that is what I want.

ella144 said...

Whether it's a kick in the pants or a post like this one today (and usually your posts are both), you never cease to inspire me to get my butt back in the chair and keep writing.

Thank you.

Malanie Wolfe said...

Thank you! I needed to hear that; we work our asses off making big sacrifices just to write a story like any published author. If I could hug you right now I would! Janet, I love that you are not a literary snob.

ClothDragon said...

There are days when one small hint of validation can push all the insecurities, fears, and rejections away. Thanks for offering all of us unpublished out here that day.

Natasha Fondren said...

I love it! The organizations have a tendency to divide up writers into varying groups, and they certainly do a number on making you feel like less than a writer. I've written well over a million words, maybe two. Every single word has been bought by someone else, and yet... I'm not a real writer in some of their eyes, LOL.

Besides, I've read too many unpublished writers who are more writer than I'll ever be.

If you write, you're a writer.

erikarobuck said...

Who hacked this blog and where is my shark-y Janet Reid?!

erikarobuck said...

But seriously, Steven King says that to be called a writer you must write each day. Very simple.

Welshcake said...

Are you sure you didn't mean to type 'nutty as squirrel poo' instead of 'a writer'? P’raps you messed up ‘find and replace’ or something,

Seriously, though, what a sweet post.

monica said...

Thanks Janet!

TRhis is why you are the fairy godmother of the LIRW!
Monica

Monica Spence
President
Long Island Romance Writers
Lirw.org

JEM said...

Thanks for such a great post, Janet! Although I just want to state for the record that Harry Potter: Boy Android was halfway finished on my computer before you ever mentioned it here. Just saying.

Southpaw said...

This was an awesome post.

careann said...

It's reassuring to hear your opinion on this. Since I have articles published I don't hesitate to call myself a writer, but even with my third unpublished novel underway I still stumble over considering those as legitimate achievements. Go figure!

Carol

Kristin Laughtin said...

I love this post.

The Rejectionist said...

It pleases us greatly to learn the Shark is also at heart a softie.

Laurel said...

This is clearly a shameless attempt to get us to send you chocolate, alcohol, and random octopus and shark themed tchotchkes.

It's just crazy enough to work.

worldofhiglet said...

Wow - that actually brought a lump to my throat, Ms Reid! I had this conversation with a group at the Surrey International Writer's Conference last week and I completely agree with you.

Hearing you (someone not known for their pussyfooting-aroundness) say it out loud means a great deal.

CNU said...

Did I zone out and have a stroke or did Janet "The Shark" Reid actually defend someone who went the POD route?

I'm shocked and pleasantly surprised at this realization.

Writers work hard on their craft, it's a shame that individuals have to demean someone because of their choice of creative outlet. Maybe they won't be a best seller, but since when was creativity solely a money making venture?

(*I've argued quite often that back in the day printing presses were used in the same way as they are in this digital age- someone wrote, edited, etc an article- then went to the print shop and paid for time and materials to produce bound copies. This in turn was distributed. The good ole' U S of A wouldn't be here without this mechanism of distribution. I'm looking at you Ben "not a 'real' publisher" Franklin. )

The jab that individual made kind of reminds me of someone saying, "What you didn't go to an Ivy League school? Then of course your education is meaningless."

Yeah...I'm going to go with-

Bullshit

-indeed.

(Still in shock... walks away a bit shaken.)

-C

Mystery Robin said...

Thanks Janet - a little encouragement goes a long ways some days.

julieoconnell said...

You make me smile! Here it is, bucketing down and black as the inside of an over-turned bucket, when you and your post show up and beam a golden ray of sunshine into my day. (Bet you don't use THAT as a blog quote!) Thanks!
P.S. Still have to figure out how to send VooDoo Doughnuts to you.

Julie said...

This is exactly why you are my favorite rock star. Carry on!

The Sesquipedalian said...

My heart's all aflutter. I would send you flowers, but that might be construed as a rather stalker-esque gesture.

In lieu of that I'll just say thank you. Thank you so much for the shot of encouragement.

nightsmusic said...

This post is going in a frame on my desk.

Thank you!

Authoress said...

Bravo! Bravo!

Tony Noland said...

Thank you, Janet! This was as clear a statement of principles as I've ever seen.

Bravo!

Crystal Posey said...

I relinquish my title: You are The Awesome.

Suilan said...

Oh, I've had that kind of conversation loads of times. It usually ends with the other person telling me: Oh, so what you really mean is you're a housewife.

(housewife = someone who writes full time but isn't published yet? OK. Sure.)

;o)

Buffy Andrews said...

I so needed to hear this. Thanks for making my day.

Loretta Ross said...

Thanks for a great post Janet! :) Some of my favorite writers have never been professionally published and probably never will be. Doesn't make them any less awesome.

Now, about that "sexual networking" . . . ? I think I missed the memo on that. Is this something I should be fitting into my schedule? Am I gonna have to wrestle Mindy for the cabana boys?

Sarah said...

Bravo!

It reminds me of the first writers' conference I attended. I was just beginning my WIP and was so afraid someone would look at me and point out I wasn't a real writer. I would've believed them!

It was a SCBWI conference, btw. You know how hard-bitten those children's writers are. : )

Anne-Marie said...

Thank you, Janet. I like to think of myself as being a writer in her pre-published phase.

Lydia Sharp said...

Heh. Okay. That's motivating, discouraging, and slightly disturbing all in one little post.

Gold star.

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

Wow. I believe I spoke with this same writer this weekend. I spoke with you. And I blogged about a very similar topic tonight. I know you think you're a vicious shark, but this proves you GET even those who are newbies. Thanks for giving some hope to them.

Sherry

Marsha Sigman said...

This is why your slush pile will never diminish and the queries in your inbox keep growing.

Even when we know how busy you are and how many clients you already have, how can we not want you in our corner?

I am a writer.

Liana Brooks said...

Thank you for this.

Richmond Writer said...

Thank you for the post/encouragement.

Oh and I would like to hear more about "sexual networking."

AM said...

Tell it like it is!

Miriam S.Forster said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

As someone who is waiting on the delayed publication of her novel with a VERY small press, and who has been fighting off insecurities about her own credibility and whether or not this publication credit means she's a legitimate author, I needed to read this.

I just let out a long sigh of relief...

Katherine said...

Thank you so very much. What a refreshing thing to hear from someone actually in "the business".

K. A. Cozy said...

This post couldn't have come at a more opportune time for me. I know I'm not the only one who appreciates it!

Thanks so much!

Jay said...

Two words. Thank you.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Thank you so much. Comfort food here, definitely. You know, even though my finished novel was a closet novella and NaNo is 6 days away.

Now, what about people who say genre fiction isn't real writing (I haven't gotten this--yet) or being young means your writing won't really be meaningful (I've gotten this)? I don't believe either of them, but they always put me on the defensive.

Jemi Fraser said...

Cheers! Great post! :)

Cass said...

Now off to finish my novel so I can be the writer I want to be. Thanks for the positive statement!

Aimless Writer said...

Horseshit!
That's why I would love to have you as an agent.
It's also why there's a quiver of fear in that thought.
Great post!
Thank you!

britmandelo said...

Anyone who writes is a writer, yes. I'd never dispute that. Hell, most of the writers I know started with fanfiction as young 'uns. Being a writer is about effort and creation and trying to move forward with your work.

But I think there is some major distinction when you get to PUBLISHED-writer between whether or not you paid a vanity press to print your book or went through the years of pain, suffering and work to break into the publishing field.

As a bookstore employee/manager, 100% of the vanity press writers who come in and attempt to get us to order in their book don't show up for their signings, act like pretentious assholes, or (my favorite) tell us that they're better than all the other books on our shelves because they were SELECTED... to pay for someone to publish their book.

Yeah, so I'm a little biased now. I mean, literally 100%. Not one vanity press author has behaved like a sane human being but every professionally published writer who's come through has behaved with general courtesy and at least CALLED if they weren't going to show up to their own signing. Not a professional statistic or anything, but dear god, it's made me kind of bitter.

Judith said...

Wow, Wow, Wow! I'm a writer! If someone else had said it, I'd would have thought maybe they were just being nice, but seeing as this comes from the Shark Lady herself, I'm taking it to heart. Thank-you, thank-you!

Jacqui said...

You absolutely crack me up. Thank you for this blog and for ripping query letters to shreds before the eyes of aspiring writers. You gave me a clue and you give me hope.

Please, someday, shred me. It would be an honor for this yet-unpubished, bonafide WRITER.

Josin L. McQuein said...

You realize you're going to be flooded with robot wizard novels, right? :-P

B. K. Birch said...

Thank you.

Drgnwrtr said...

If you write, you're a writer...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

I'm not published yet, but I am a writer.

Thanks for the boost and the blog, its my first stop every morning

Chantal said...

Thank you for that statement of faith - it feels good to know that writers aren't the only other ones that feel this way...

Angie Ledbetter said...

Good rule for life too. Listen not to naysayers.

s.w. vaughn said...

good lord, janet, i love you so hard. :-)

Leona said...

Thank you for this.

To the guy who says negative things because you're not paid yet? What you do for a living is your work. What you do because you care and love it is what you are. I'm a parent, writer and painter. I don't make any money as a parent. In fact I PAY THROUGH THE NOSE to be a parent.

I did a JV (pay some but get some) - stii considered POD - and I've made a little.


ATTN britmandelo Borders in Yakima WA ordered 20 copies of my book for a signing. Not only did I show up but I prepared color posteers with time and date. And even though it was the fourth of July, i sold 15 hardbacks at full price (25.50)

All other PODs, don't give all the other authors a bad name.

Thanks again, Janet!

Rebellion on Piza 7
http://www.leonabushman.com/Welcome.html

http://www.eloquentbooks.com/RebellionOnPiza7.html
http://www.amazon.com/Rebellion-Piza-7-Martilians/dp/B002B548GY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244899293&sr=8-1

Leona said...

Okay, had a chance to read the post I wrote with my almost one year old on my lap and I had to laugh. I am trying to edit my posts better before sending them, but I obviously didn't on that one :)

I read a blog that had some of the query points from a conference or something Janet did and lost the web page. However, if you get a chance to read any of her points on how to query a letter, I suggest all writers do so. It is a helpful list to anyone with query troubles.

Jude Hardin said...

I am a writer, but I won't consider myself a "published author" until I land a contract with an outfit recognized by the industry as legitimate.

What are your thoughts on that, Janet? Isn't the word "published" sometimes used a bit too loosely these days?

Wilhem Spihntingle said...

Juat what I needed!

Susan-marie said...

Janet,

You are awesome. This is a great message for anyone, and a timely message for me. Thank you, thank you.

Susan Lemere

Sharon Mayhew said...

Janet,
When you write a resume' or a bio for an agent should include a list of completed works, even if they have not been published (yet)? I'm submitting to a write for higher company and they request a resume'. I've been reading and everything I've read says your writing resume' should not look like a standard manuscript. I haven't been able to find a sample of a writing resume'.

Stuart said...

I've always felt that way. I have a romantic image of myself unpublished in 20 years with 12 novels on the shelf for the world to ignore, although of course I'll be doing my damndest to get published between now and then. Good words, Janet!

katrinastonoff said...

Yep, this is exactly why we adore you!

Amber Argyle-Smith said...

Horseshit is my favorite cuss word ever! lol (Reminds me of home (I grew up on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch)).
I really needed a laugh today, (sometimes the publishing world sucks) so thanks.

SharonK said...

I attended a session you taught where you said the same thing - and made some people smile for the first time since arriving in Myrtle Beach.

It was a pleasure meeting you...

trev said...

Not to be too sycophantic, but I think you're my new favourite person on the internet.

Jacqueline Battisti said...

This is why I love your blog.

Thank you so much for this post.

I always feel as if I have to defend myself after I say I'm a writer. The immediate response is usually, "Are you published?"

My response:
"No. I have completed a novel. I'm working on another. I blog. I freelance. I have not published and I am STILL A WRITER."

For me, it took taking a workshop with Judi McCoy before I had the courage to call myself a writer. Now I do so proudly...and I will defend my position.


Thank you for supporting writers, even those of us who are not published.

Jen said...

Thanks for this, Janet. As you can see, it's a sentiment very much appreciated by your writer-readers. I figure adding my thanks to the tottering pile can't hurt. *grin*

Glynis said...

I am so glad you shared those thoughts with us Janet. Tomorrow I am revealing my book, it is near completion. I am sharing a little on my blog, but so nervous. Now you have given me the confidence to do so, thank you.

lawrenceelliott said...

I get this nonsense from in-laws! Perhaps I need to refer them to your blog. It's a perfect response! Thank you!

Lawrence

Melissa said...

Thank You!

I haven't finished my novel yet but it nice to have some reaffirmation that I am in fact a writer.

=)