In answer to D who wrote me this Re: traditional publishing.

When I went to the AWP conference in Portland a few years ago, it dawned on me that traditional publishing combined with the MFA degrees is one big racket. I heard an agent say that she could tell which specific MFA program a writer had come from. And the agents say that acceptance depends on what they individually like, not on quality or anything else. I was a prof (in Intercultural Communication) and can see how this works — faculty want to start an MFA program and maybe the English dept. has a prof who’s published something somewhere. One way to attract students is to have a journal and get them to work on it for free and publish their stuff to give them a track record. And if a college has a published author on staff, the author likely has connections in a traditional publishing company. Maybe the MFA grads get hired at that company, or at another company with someone who graduated from the same program. And won’t they all prefer someone who writes like they do? They’ve got co-students who’ve been trained with the same aesthetic and can all review each other’s work. On Twitter it seems the younger tweeter aspiring authors need to reach 1k followers. When looking for an agent, I noticed they ask you to describe your social media platform or plan therefor. I haven’t researched this, but it makes sense to me.

Like D, I’m an oldster in a world demanding fresh trivia. Welcome to the book market. Actually, it’s very unwelcoming and I’ve found what she says to be true. Just to get an agent to look at your work you need more than a good query. You must break into their buddy system or it ends in a slush pile. It took me decades before I had time & focus to start writing. Then comes the fear factor, the terror of exposing your truth to an often hostile audience. The naysayers tend to be the loudest voices & can poison the atmosphere in an otherwise appreciative group.
Fear doesn’t go away, but one must build the drive to forge on over it. I call it the ‘fuck ’em’ attitude. Constructive criticism is one thing, but if someone keeps repeating ‘it’s stupid’ or ‘don’t you know anything about the Hero journey’ without where & how that relates to your piece it can shatter your ambition and make you want to crawl into a hole & never come out.
In my case, I’m wedded to the unvarnished truth, life as lived history, & they want me to invent some murder mystery, or throw in a vampire to juice it up.
My answer? Fuck ’em! The slammers usually draw from less life experience. Stay strong, harried writer, we’ve gotta come out & say what we must for whoever gets it. All that without becoming bitter, or letting it crush you, takes supreme effort. So, any & all positive feedback is welcome. Celebrate the small victories, whether the book sells or not is up to the capricious gods of fortune.

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