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I’m Not A Lamp Post!

February 17, 2011

The problem with forums nowadays is that anyone can own them, anyone can be a moderator in them, and anyone can join them. I use to be an avid forum-rat, enjoying many forums in my hayday, back before social networks came to be. And no matter how much I complain about the issues within social websites, I believe that forums are now ranking higher on the list (above even MySpace or Tagged) for cesspools of socially inept people. In other words, the freaks and weirdos… but not the quirky and charming kind, the  “still living in mother’s basement” and “cats missing in the neighborhood” types. And sadly, WritingForums.com is no different. :-/

I joined the site, after reading someone’s nice post in Goggle passing. Since I was trying to get my novels published and was feeling a little overwhelmed (which was the title of my post there, btw) with self-doubt, I wanted to find other writers to speak with and maybe gain some answers to some questions. Simple, right? So I joined and asked about the conflicting sites I had seen around. Some sites had claim that self-publishing is bad and some sites say it’s good. Some sites claim that you get no rights with a publishing house and more with self-publishing, and some sites say the opposite. And one site said that a story synopsis should be fourteen pages, when really it should one. So, I asked them simply which was true or not. A very simple question…

Instead the moderator replies without answering my question, just listing how to write a successful query letter… which I have done and knew that much, months before I ever found this cursed forum. But he added in some encouragement of “don’t give up”, so even though he didn’t answer my initial question, I did thank him for taking the time to post what he did, and stated that it had at least confirmed that I wrote my query perfectly enough. Even though he told me nothing new, I was nice enough to thank him for taking the time to reply.

Then a second person actually replied with answering my questions, which I really thanked him for his time and helpful reply. But in this  guy’s questions towards me, I mentioned that I wasn’t giving publishing a try with an agent. Not at this time. I’m not Pro-Agent, by my own personal choice… and even if I got nowhere in the publishing world without one (which I know for a fact is a myth, plenty of writers get published without an agent), this was the way I was going to do it unless proven otherwise. Anyone who knows me, especially my readers here, know that I’m a very stubborn woman and must try things my way first and not follow the herd. I am not a sheep!

Anyhoo, this is when all niceties went out the window and it sparked a free-for-all argument of people arguing that I was throwing away my efforts and works, dooming myself to a life of obscurity without an agent. Plenty of times, I kept saying, “Fine, I may be wrong to go without one… but it’s my choice to make. Besides, if things get rough without one, then I can always hire an agent later. But for now, I want to try this alone.” And instead of letting it go at that, they kept pushing and pushing, insisting that I was stupid and dooming myself this way. Hmm… Stephen King is anti-agent and doesn’t have one, after being screwed over by them in the beginning of his career. Even to this day, he’s agent-free and doing just fine. Not to mention other authors I know of who are published without agents… and also huge publishing companies, like “Daw Books” who have it printed on their site, “You don’t need an agent to submit queries or manuscripts”!

But obviously, these forum people were very Pro-Agent and now they weren’t so nice anymore. They then tried to go at the angle of convincing me that I’ll not make any money, without an agent. Well… I bet you all are laughing at this point and thinking, “Gee, they don’t know Dani very well, do they?” I’m not one to care about riches and that’s not why I write. If I wrote to get rich, this blog and others I have written wouldn’t be posted. My writings here would selfishly be horded into a self-help book (as this is the current hot market these days) and I could easily sell millions of crappy books filled with only my common sense views on life, if I cared about money. :-/

So, I repeated a lot of times, that I don’t write for the money. My motivation for getting my books published was strictly to prove to myself that I’m not a crap writer. And to hand out copies to my family and friends. And why did I have to say that I’m not writing for a paying career for? This is when the biggest freak of all stepped forward with this post:

Hi Dani,
At the risk of beating this horse to death again, it sounds to me like you want two things: 1) Publication (and all the adoration, credit and notoriety that goes along with), and 2) no strings attached. You’re not the first! The problem lies with the business model of publication. The people who produce books are in it for the money. Even if the authors they represent are not. It’s going to cost them some serious money to print up your masterpiece. Then they’ll have to convince the world (somehow) that you are the next JK Rowling. That’ll cost a fair bit in the marketing department. Then there’s distribution, overhead, blah, blah, blah. In short, you are asking a for-profit business to spend MONEY on your gold-mine idea.
In return, you want nothing. More specifically, you’re offering nothing. No rights, no futures, nothing. I think you can see, from a business perspective, where this is going. (That’d be ‘nowhere!’)
From what I have read of your intentions and desires, I believe your best bet would be to publish your story on your blog. If you want a wider audience, print up a hundred copies on your printer at home and take them to the airport. Leave them in an easily accessible location (on top of the newspaper racks) where they can be self-distributed. Money doesn’t matter to you? Good. You’ve just taken full responsibility for the costs of production. Want to protect your idea? Good. Copyright it and send it out into the world. Need and want more protection than that? Then buck up and live in the world that the rest of us have to. Give and get. That’s just how it works.
HOWEVER, if you are successful at breaking that sticky little paradigm, you can sell your experience for a cool million! And we’ll all buy the story!
Best of luck!

Now, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back! Not only was he way off and not reading a thing I had posted, he didn’t make sense in his slew of insults… as not having an agent and not caring about money means that the house WINS… they get their rights and because I’m not picky, they don’t have to pay me a butt-load for my work. Unlike with agented writers, where the agent’s job is to make sure to squeeze every last red cent from the publishing house as they possibly can!

And here I was, expressing that I wished to try things my way, already alerting everyone that I wasn’t out to make a quick buck, and that I was feeling a tad overwhelmed. Did I get any good tips, help, encouragement? No… Instead, I get this from someone I didn’t know and they didn’t know me from adam. So… I went off. I posted that I felt like I was getting snow-job by everyone, on my choice to not rush out and hire and agent, where the publishing houses themselves said that I didn’t need one. And if it came to signing contracts with publishing houses, IF the publishers liked my manuscript and wanted to market it, I can get a lawyer to do that… not necessarily an agent. But, if in fact I would get nowhere without an agent, I would break my pride and hire one… but that wasn’t enough for these people. It was their way or the highway, even though it’s not their work in question. I pointed to everyone and asked, “ARE ANY OF YOU PUBLISHED?”

It was a very valid question, because I was getting the feeling that everyone was talking big here, about agents and the like, but really haven’t made it far in publishing themselves. If they had, why did they have so much time to spend on a forum online and not off writing books? Or living it up, with having agents who make millions for them? Wouldn’t they be too busy to comment right away to every reply I posted, in the matter of seconds, just to bicker and to be SO very condescending towards me? So chances are they are not published themselves, but paying agents, and it’s not working out for them.

So, to that nut-job who started off with the comment of, “I don’t want to beat a dead horse” (which usually means that maybe you shouldn’t do so then, not push forward with beating a dead horse anyways), I called him an “asshole” and a jerk. And said, “I’m a human-being, not a lamp post!” I pointed out, that even if he believed that I was doing things ass-backwards, how is berating and belittling me going to make me see things his way? And how was that constructive and helpful to a young woman already in a overwhelmed state and just looking for some advice?  Not on agents, mind you… but simply on if a story synopsis was fourteen pages or not and so on!

And guess what… the Moderator deleted my post and banned me for “flaming”. So, I’m the flamer for trying to stand up for myself and not taking the crap that people were tossing my way? Is it just me or is this forum a lot bias? And to add insult to injury, the first guy who started the wave of arguments in the first place, wanted to “warn” me that an injury lawyer is different from a literary lawyer. Because, I had mentioned that I had a family lawyer that could handle writer’s contracts for me, he had assumed that it must be a injury lawyer and not one who’s expertise is in business contracts and making sure that his client doesn’t get screwed and is given ample rights and money deserved. And that’s a tad racist there, I think. Because these people didn’t know me from Adam, but I did post my real picture there, and I kept getting hit with negative assumption after assumption. :-/

Even though a few agreed with me and said they understood my angle of it. But their pictures was of a different color than mine. And no one seemed to argue with them, but just kept addressing me.

Still, racist or just jerks… I got disgusted with publishing now. If the queries I had sent last month, come back with a positive, I will follow through with it. But if not, I don’t plan to send out anymore queries. I’ve lost my drive for it now, a lot discouraged. So, here’s a warning to all aspiring writers out there… skip this forum. It’s a lot damaging than good. The people of this forum love to start fights for entertainment, many are snerts and don’t give constructive criticism or advice at all. Joining that site will only result in being discouraged, insulted, used for sport by  “writers” trying to flex their condescending-snarky writing styles, and if you fight back with one swear word the Mod will ban you for it. :-/

-D

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