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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mid-Week Rude Awakening: YOU are Your Only Advocate

If the news around the interwebs teaches us nothing else, it's that, as my husband always reminds me: (a) People suck, (b) You can't trust anyone but yourself to have your best interests in mind.

After last week's post by Ann Voss Peterson on JA Konrath's blog (you can read the post here) regarding her dealings with Harlequin, a lot of bloggers tossed in their two cents, among them a certain agent I affectionately call Mr. Stiffie. (It has to do with the way he presents himself at conferences: stiff, unyielding, and totally unapproachable. Someday I'll share the story of when I pitched a story to him on a dare.) I won't post a link to his blog or mention his real name. Rumor has it, he's already removed the post I'm referring to anyway, but if you spend a little time on Mr. Konrath's blog and maybe stroll over to the blog of his friend, Passive Guy, you can figure out the details on your own. Google's your friend, kids. But don't Google "Mr. Stiffie." God knows what you'll get!

I mention Mr. S. because, since he's an agent, you might expect him to have the authors' backs--particularly since he represents several Harlequin authors. But, no. Rather than having his clients' best interests at heart, Mr. S. sold his soul to the publishers and claims authors not making enough at the Big H to quit their day jobs aren't doing enough to market themselves or churn out quality work at Nora Roberts speed.

Gee, Mr. S. Whose side are you on? I'd guess it's not your clients'. It doesn't take much reading to figure out that our intrepid author was complaining about the shenanigans pulled by Harlequin that dropped her royalty rate drastically. Speed and quality of writing had nothing to do with her poor take home pay.

But, wait! There's more!

Yesterday, a very raw author posted about shenanigans with her (and I use the term loosely) publisher: Undead Press. You can read her story here. Now, I've been in her shoes--most authors who are honest with themselves will admit that the lure of publication is sooooo tempting, you're willing to swallow some pretty shady stuff in order to gain that elusive first contract. Perhaps she should have seen the writing on the wall, should have done more research, should have taken a step back and really looked at what she was signing before putting pen to paper. But who's to say she didn't?

The problem is, in this business, publishers (and agents) know they hold the Everlasting Gobstopper in the palm of their hands. Authors are needy, desperate, hungry creatures--perfect prey. So the more predatory professionals offer you a lick and a promise: sign with me and I'll give you the whole Gobstopper. The poor deluded author signs and then watches the Gobstopper melt away before her very eyes.

Lastly is the story of the unfortunate name. Romance author, Adele Dubois, has been targeted by Sony Industries for having the same first name as singer, Adele. According to Sony, "Adele" is trademarked. Too bad for Adele Dubois who has that name on her birth certificate. Her parents should have known better. Washington Post picked up the story here.

What's the lesson in all these stories? Publishing can be like those haunted houses you walk through at Halloween. Scary stuff can pop out at you when you least expect it. While it's good to have friends to cling to, it's better to be armed with knowledge, confidence, and the courage of your convictions. Ultimately, YOU are your greatest ally.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html
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