East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

An expensive hobby for rich chumps


Joe Lansdale, a writer I enjoy very much and one of the men that are working harder and with most success to keep high the banner of popular fiction (popular in the sense that people like it, not in the sense that it is cheap), posted the following on the first of September…

wvCpHwOA_400x400Write from the heart.
Avoid self-publishing until there is no other choice, is my suggestion. And if you think I’m telling you that you have to do as I suggest, I’m not. But like it or not, mainstream publishers generally sells more books. I’ve done a bit of it all, mainstream, small press, and even a bit of self-publishing of established books. I would love to see the rise of more small publishers that pay and do quality work, like SUBTERRANEAN for one example. But the thing is, anyone can self-publish, and there’s no vetting.
If you must, do it, but it’s always nice to have someone else validate its worth. Start with paying markets. I truly believe a large number of people who self-publish have never tried the traditional route and don’t want to deal with possible rejection. Rejection makes you stronger, or it did me. I became more determined. The mainstream publishers don’t necessarily know more than others, but they pay, and they pay because they believe the work is valid. Can it be valid and self-published? You bet. But I’ve gotten a lot more exposure to my work, which is certainly not typically mainstream, with mainstream publishers than with anyone else.

Today, an Italian translation of this text has been doing the rounds of Italian writing groups and Italian writers’ walls on Facebook.
See, you suckers? Joe Lansdale sez you shan’t self-publish!

Forget about the fact that the Italian publishing scene is totally different from the rest of the civilized world (remember Marina’s posts on the subject?), forget that we are a market that sells a few hundred copies and considers it a triumph, in which you pay agents to read your manuscript before they try and sell it, and authors get a few cents per copy.
We self and hybrid writers have been officially excommunicated by Joe Lansdale, or this is the interpretation of the Holy Texts on the part of the Italian Publishing high priests.


This distorted and self-serving narrative (with which, of course, Mister Lansdale has nothing to do) continues by pointing out that in this country “everybody thinks they are writers” and they pester the poor publishers sending their unsolicited manuscripts. Like a publishers had nothing better to do than look for good books to publish!
Is it any wonder, a candid soul asks, if publishers use agents as gatekeepers, and only those that can pay the high reading fees of the agencies have a hope in hell of publishing? After all, publishers want quality, and if you can’t pay the agency to read and represent you, your work is obviously low quality.

Quality as measured in how much you can splurge on an agent before they sell your book. Writing and publishing as a hobby for rich twats.
And I strongly doubt Joe Lansdale meant this when he posted his status.
But of course I am not a High Priest and I am not certified when interpreting the holy texts.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “An expensive hobby for rich chumps

  1. I’m not a pro and it’s quite unlikely that I will ever be, but after a bit of doing the rounds in the market I think I’m qualified for an opinion: the Italian market has nothing to do with the English-speaking market. It’s not a matter of size, nor it’s a matter of money or talent. It’s about the approach. In our country, an author is forced to go thru a number of gatekeepers, abroad you get the choice to have your works evaluated because all that matters is the story.
    As you already know, I quit after doing the aforementioned experience. I still think that a number of our common friends should do whatever it takes to opt out from this little pond and try their luck in the ocean. The Italian market is nothing but a swamp, where the algae killed every other life form.


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