Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You Have to Leave Home to Get Famous

I have a long-standing grudge match with a woman who writes a literary column in the Dayton Daily News. I won’t mention her name because I don’t want to give her any publicity. This person fancies herself to be “The Expert” because she teaches a few classes at an annual writer’s workshop and sold her first book to a major print publisher. I haven’t read it because it doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in.

I know, I know – live and let live. Ordinarily I would follow that rule but this woman has taken snobbery and bias to new extremes. She seldom features local authors (although there are an abundance of us here). When she does, she reserves her precious column space for those who wrote literary or historical books and signed with New York print publishers. She never gives e-book or mainstream writers their due.

I met her recently at a local book festival and asked her why she snubbed those of us who write e-books for the masses. Her response – “I don’t waste my time on e-books because anyone can publish those.” She then told me that it was her column and she’d write whatever she damn well pleased.

I must take exception to her comment. I’m traditionally published with a major e-romance player. I had to go through the submission process like anyone else. I signed a contract and I am paid royalties on a regular basis. My publisher provides editing services, cover design and marketing support. The only money that comes out of my pocket is for any additional advertising I choose to do.

How does that make me different from someone who writes for Putnam or Silhouette?

E-books now hold their own against print books. For proof, look at how many e-readers and books are sold every year. From my own perspective, my career didn’t really take off until I switched from print to electronic publishing. This woman needs to take her head out of the sand and check her calendar. We’re in the twenty-first century.

I used to have the same problem with book retailers about my first publisher (PublishAmerica), because they used print-on-demand technology. I went around and around with Barnes & Noble managers who should’ve known better, but just couldn’t understand that “print-on-demand” wasn’t the same as “pay-to-publish.”

We have a guy here who writes book reviews for the same newspaper. He only reviews books written by NYT best sellers. When I reviewed books online, I didn’t feature authors with those words after their name. I figured if they had achieved that status, one more critique wouldn’t really matter. Better I should devote space to someone who was lesser known or just starting out.

This same fellow used to have a book talk show on a local NPR station. When my first novel was released and won some good reviews, I naturally tried to book time with him. He replied that local authors weren’t important enough for his program. Well, excuuuuuuuse meeeeee!

Several years ago I got into it with someone at a book festival in Fostoria, Ohio over something similar. This woman wrote an arts column in the weekly newspaper, had a reputation for not liking anything, and local performing artists lived in fear of a bad write-up from her. When she approached my table she took one look at the publisher’s name on the book, threw it at me then stated that she didn’t read anything by self-published authors who weren’t good enough for a “real” publisher. I made quite an impression on the folks in Fostoria when I set her straight then told her what an ass I thought she was.

For some reason I wasn’t invited back the following year. Go figure.

* * * *

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.


Tina Donahue said...

Ebooks are the future. Cheap to distribute. Don't have to kill trees. Even NY is realizing this. This woman sounds like a Neanderthal.

jean hart stewart said...

A disgusting attitude that a few of my friends have. On the best seller list or you don't exist. One friend however, is smart enough to check the rising rate of e-books and is most impressed. Takes all kinds.. doesn't it?

Fiona McGier said...

Considering what kind of dreck and trash gets onto the best-seller lists, stuff that's unedited, grammatically painful and boring even in the sex scenes (we all know which books I mean), I can't believe anyone can still say those kinds of things with a straight face! I'm surprised they didn't castigate you for writing "women's books" since you write romance, Tim. The fact that your books are interesting, lively, and sexy, matters little to those who sniff haughtily at our entire genre.

Too bad, so sad for them. While I'm not sure eBooks will take over from print entirely, they are a big component driving sales in the MOST-READ genre in literature: ROMANCE! Women read more than men, as a rule, and among those who read romance you'll find the most voracious of consumers.

I'm flying my author flag high. And to those who think what I write is worthless trash, I'll ask, "How many books have YOU written?"

Tim Smith said...

Tina, neanderthal is the perfect word to describe this woman. That and a few others I can't print in a public forum LOL.

You are all correct in that some people get the e-book thing and some don't want to. I've read my share of self-pubbed trash in e-format and it gives the rest of us a bad rap. Then again, self print publishing did the same thing once upon a time.