Saturday, September 24, 2022

Do You Ever Think About Quitting?

Scott D. Parker

What keeps you going? What keeps you writing? Why bother publishing?

I’ve had numerous thoughts on this subject throughout the summer as I wrestle with my own work. Every now and then, I’ll come across articles about the real data concerning the publishing industry: actual number of books published in a given year, average number of copies a given book sells, etc. It’s the usual stone cold reminder than if you want to be in this business, you’d better steel yourself for constant obstacles and challenges

Then I read posts like the one Dana King published yesterday on his website. In “A Cautionary Tale,” he describes how he was inspired to write a short story. He submitted the story to a mainstream magazine and received the happy news that it was accepted. Bravo, Dana! Then, like most of us writers, he waited for the issue to come out with his story in it.

What he discovered after contacting the publisher was that the story was already published earlier this year. Like six months ago. And here’s the kicker: he wasn’t even notified of the publication, the issue, the date the magazine hit the stands, nothing. Turns out the magazine’s staff doesn’t have the capability to communicate with authors—those who got stories accepted and, presumably, those who were reject.

The point of King’s post was to remind writers that we are, usually, at the bottom of the industry hill. This would be the hill down which shit rolls. I mean, think about it: having a story published in a magazine is a big deal. For writers who wrote decades ago, they would have received a letter informing them of the story’s impending publication and the check for said story. Now, that’s not even a thing (at least for this unnamed magazine). Seriously? Where’s the common courtesy? Where’s the professionalism?

Are you ready for a reality check? King—who has been nominated for Shamus Award twice—lays out the reality of a writer, the cost it takes to, say, maintain a website vs. the money received back in return. It ain’t pretty. The joy of writing a story vs. the “frustration endured.” He all but says that there is a marker on his road of being a writer where he might quit. “I’m not there yet,” he writes, “but I can see if from here.”

Sober reality, folks. That’s what King’s post from yesterday was. Read it for yourself, especially if you are a writer, then ask yourself if you have the constitution to continue. If so, why? And for how long?

I have my answers. Do you?

1 comment:

Dana King said...

Thank you, Scott. That was a hard post to write, and I had no idea how it would be received.