This past week there was something of a kerfluffle in the writing community. It seems that an unpublished writer had the unmitigated gall to let his frustrations overflow onto his blog. And it got picked up by the agent he addressed by name. And it went from one place to another, leaving a swath of nastiness everywhere it went.
I read the blog. And I understood where the guy was coming from. What author trying to break into traditional publishing hasn't had similar thoughts tapdance across their mind? Oh, sure, he made reference to the agent's weight a few times. That's not kosher, dude. It's ad hominem and you're probably smarter than that. Other than the references to her appearance, though, I didn't see what the problem was.
Unless the problem is voicing your opinions about the old boy network out loud and in a very public way. Shhhh, don't do it. Don't say it. Stay quiet. Know your place. Children should be seen and not... Ahem.
I had more of a problem with everyone who felt the need to dogpile on this guy. I saw 'how to kill your career' and 'what not to do' and 'how to get blacklisted*'. I also saw people saying things about him that made what he said about the agent tame. And other admonitions to distance oneself from this behavior lest one piss off the industry. It was like a herd of wildebeest shunning a member of the herd they perceived as standing out, and kicking it as they stampeded by, so it couldn't follow them and so that the lion would eat it first.
Perhaps right now you're thinking 'No, B.E.! Don't! Shhhh.' Eh. I don't think any of this will kill my career. Readers don't really give a rat's ass what goes on behind the locked doors of the hallowed halls of traditional publishing. Two years ago, I said 'Fuck this shit' and went out on my own anyway. I'm less than lint in the corner to the traditional publishing houses. My career is as a self-published author. The only way they can kill that is if they make it impossible for anyone to self-publish. (And they're trying that, but I don't think they'll succeed.)
After all I've seen and all I know, I don't want to be traditionally published anymore. Not unless something changes drastically. Writers NEEDED agents once upon a time. They had contacts we could never hope to aspire to having - chiefly editors at the traditional publishers. Then again, once upon a time, writers could submit directly to those publishers and have at least a hope of someone there reading their work. But that's not the way the world worked once computers came around and people could write more easily than ever before. Once that happened, the publishers were flooded with submissions. And in email submissions and the flood became a deluge. The publishers needed agents to stem the tide and writers needed agents to get their work in front of those publishers. And ultimately in the hands of readers.
Then came self-publishing. Oh, writers still need agents if they want to be traditionally published. But there's no reason why that's their only hope of finding readers. Creator straight to market. No one else in the way. Clean. Pure.
I think what's this guy's real problem was was believing he had any chance with the agents who swim in the traditional publishing pool. He'd already had 300+ rejections from them. Spending money to attend a speed-dating session where he'd get more of the same is just self-immolation. Let it go, dude. They don't want you and they probably never will. And that's okay. Take the money and time you would've spent on trying to slip in through their keyhole and put your books out there yourself. If your writing is any good, you'll sell books. Find a good editor. Find a capable cover artist. Set your work free. Maybe you won't sell 'bestseller list' numbers. Maybe you won't be able to retire to a villa in sunny Spain (or whatever your dreams are). But your books will be out there and people will be reading them.
And that's the point. Isn't it?
*Years ago, I was assured there was no 'blacklist' in the publishing industry. Ri-ight.