Friday, September 30, 2016

Writing: Don't Listen To The Ads

Over fifteen years ago, when I was still writing occasional editorials for the Southern Medical Journal, I had one published that bore the title, "Gee, You Oughtta Write That Up." (Sorry, seeing it now requires a subscription to a service). The gist of the short editorial was that, although doctors often hear those words about cases or situations, few take the time to prepare a paper, and fewer still have the knowledge and skill to do it right. Although I had over 100 papers published in professional journals during my four decades as an otolaryngologist, I often said that I was turned down more times than a Holiday Inn bedspread. Why? The material wasn't worth it, what I presented wasn't new, or (gasp) the paper was badly enough written that even the most skillful editor couldn't save it.

When was the last time you heard someone say, "I'd like to be a CPA...or brain surgeon...or attorney...or...?" You get the picture. All of those things take not only determination but special training. And to do them well requires experience as well.

That's why I cringe at the TV ad I've been seeing lately about a "service" that guarantees they'll publish your book. Not only that, they aver they'll get it publicized and sold via both online and brick-and-mortar stores. What they don't tell you is that it will cost you (they are, after all, a for-profit business), and at the end you'll wind up with a few boxes of the book in your garage, while they wind up with the money you paid.

Let me hasten to say this isn't a knock on "independent" or self-publishing, using one of the reputable channels for that activity. To do that requires a great deal of work on the part of the writer. I'm talking here about those who advertise what amounts to a turn-key operation, where all you have to do is provide a manuscript and they'll do the rest. Unfortunately, there are individuals who believe that, and it's sad.

I didn't start out to be a novelist. It took a lot of study, a lot of learning the craft, a lot of writing, and a lot of failure. But here we are now, with the scenery changing every day around those of us who consider ourselves writers. So you can either say to yourself, "I'd like to write a novel," or you can say, "I'd like to be a writer, so I'll learn the craft, practice, get rejected a bunch of times, but (hopefully) eventually succeed." But my advice is don't fall for the ads. They don't really offer a shortcut.

Have you had experience with those who say they'll publish your book for a price? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

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Patricia Bradley said...

I actually got a few of those ads, either through snail mail or email and I never considered them. I wanted a traditional publisher and with a lot of studying and hard work, I did get one.

While I didn't consider the Indy publishing, I have so much respect for those who do go that route. I've been part of an Indie published anthology and discovered just how much hard work goes into that route.

Thanks for a word on those 'service' publishers who make it sound like it's so easy and never mention that they're going to charge in the ads.

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, my experience with the two novellas I've "indie-published" was a lot like yours--it involved lots of work on my part. Then again, as I've said in another post, if it were easy, anyone could do it.
Thanks for your comment.

shirley said...

I agree completely. Although I am not a writer of novels, books etc. I have, in the past sold articles. Few, though they may be but, it took a lot to get those sold. So, when I ran across the "we'll publish your book" ads, (back in the day) I was fooled for about a minute then realized what it could mean and what they were up to. I still haven't written a book but one of these days... Great post!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Shirley. Yes, I learned it many years ago, but indeed, TANSTAAFL (They ain't no such thing as a free lunch).