Donna already stated her thoughts on Diane Pershing’s original June article, and it sums up a lot of my thoughts. But today I read Ms. Pershing’s response to Deidre Knight’s Call for Change. And that’s when I pretty much came to the conclusion that Diane Pershing and I have something in common after all.
- Main Entry: an·tip·a·thy
- Latin antipathia, from Greek antipatheia, from antipath?s of opposite feelings, from anti- + pathos experience — more at pathos
- obsolete : opposition in feeling
- settled aversion or dislike : distaste <his well-known antipathy to taxes>
- an object of aversion
Yes. Distaste. That is what seems to seethe under the surface of every single word she writes about epublishing. Not hatred, not jealousy… distaste. During my brief tenure in the RWA, every single copy of the RWR that contained one of her passive aggressive missives made me furious. Because above everything else in professional interactions, I value honesty and logic. I have seen very little of either.
Now I am hardly a Rah Rah All Epublishing is Teh Win sort of person. The epublishing model is ripe for and rife with abuse. Some of it malicious and some of it well-meaning, but the end result is still the same: people without sound business sense and with no real publishing experience can set up their own publishing company from their living room and people will come. They’re selling dreams, which are a lot more in demand than bridges, and people gobble them up en masse.
In the end, only the author can decide if the dream of being published is sufficient reward to offset the fact that their royalties never break 2 digits. (However, I do not share Diane Pershing’s apparent distaste for hobbyists–as long as those hobbyists know up front that they’re never going to make a living, which might be something that requires that phantom education the RWA touts as one of their main goals.)
I think it’s clear that some epublishers and small presses with a digital focus are solid businesses that offer the possibility of earning potential. I know it’s true because I’m a relative newbie (first published short story in June of 2008, first category novel with Samhain in October of 2008) and I’ve seen 3 books from 2 publishers earn that (arbitrary?) benchmark of $1000. The first one took 6 months, the second took 2 months, the third took 1 month. Donna & I are not some overnight hit or bestselling behemoths who have been around forever, but rather two people who started small and saw the return on effort increase over the course of a year. We’re not outliers or an anomaly, and I think that makes our experience valid and relevant.
Of all the things that made me roll my eyes about the slightly defensive response this morning (aside from the gall it takes to claim you’re supporting all of your membership in the midst of an epic explanation of why it’s not your job to support the minority) was this gem of a passive aggressive parenthetical insertion:
(Emphasis, once again, mine.)
Well, Ms. Pershing, perhaps you should not base your illogical assumptions on the fact that members you’ve spent the last year smacking with a verbal stick repeatedly in an attempt to drive away aren’t jumping through the hoops required to join the Club For Super Special People. If this is the sort of logic driving decisions in regards to epublishing, it’s no wonder the rules are riddled with contradictions, loopholes and absurdities like the fact that an author can be Published, Unpublished or Other. (Really? Published can’t just be a yes or no status?)
Why am I not a member of PAN even though I’ve already stated that Donna & I have had three qualifying books in the last six months? Well, first off I let my membership lapse, partly to stop the damn RWR from showing up with its infuriating articles. But if I’d decided to stay, I still wouldn’t be a member of PAN because the PAN rules state that authors can only qualify off the profit of a book if one of the people taking a cut from that profit is an agent. Donna and I fall under the anthology rule and therefore we have to make $1000 each on any book we want to use to qualify. (Edited to note: we probably will make $2k on some of our books in time, too, but I’m too annoyed by that additional hurdle to join now.)
I wonder what they would have told us if we’d earned that $1000 in an advance? Does a publisher have to give us a $2000 advance to meet their minimum standards to be a qualifying pub? Does the fact that we get 50% royalties but can do twice as much work and therefore make pretty much the same amount not factor into this? (Short answer: no.)
I’ll be perfectly blunt: I think the RWA as an organization has the right to do any damn thing they want. They’re not the government. They’re not oppressing me. However, the fact that they are engaged in so much backtracking and double-talk means that they’ve turned their rules and standards into a mess of contradictions and shoddy logic, and it’s not benefiting any of their members.
If the RWA wanted to wear their antipathy openly and back it with clear, consistent rules, I might rejoin, even of those rules failed to benefit me as an epublished author. My Special Snowflake Author Ego heals. My logic-demanding brain, however, has had enough of watching the rules shift constantly as the RWA (from all appearances) attempts to exclude an entire path to publication without actually admitting they’re doing it.
And having written 1001 words on the subject, I have to end with this:
It’s not you, RWA. It’s me. I like you as a friend. You’re like a sister to me. Let’s have coffee next month, totally. Here’s my number…no, really, phone numbers only have six digits these days!