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Comments on A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Writing Organizations: Should I?





Updated: 2017-12-10T18:21:01.483-06:00

 



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2008-12-30T05:59:00.000-06:00

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I asked a mystery writing organization I belong to...

2008-04-22T17:25:00.000-05:00

I asked a mystery writing organization I belong to to post a notice that our government is elminating Reading Is Fundamental and if authors cared that low-income children might never own books, learn to value them, they should contact their elected representatives. It was deemed too POLITICAL and not allowed. Also they had their OWN program to encourage young readers (which, I might add, doesn't include giving kids free books).

I've considered dropping my membership ever since I read your post. I am now definitely going to dump this writers group.

Do I need them? No. In ten plus years I've paid about a grand in dues. As Janet Jackson asked, "What have you done for me lately?"

The answer is nothing.

As you said: Fuck 'em.



vqI was a member of a few writing organisations an...

2008-04-19T19:27:00.000-05:00

vqI was a member of a few writing organisations and it was only after I dropped them that I really discovered my writing style. Getting the newsletters and hearing the industry gossip can sometimes act as a real detriment to your writing because you end up chasing the next big thing rather than doing what you love. And don't even get me started on the volunteering. It's a time-suck and no one appreciates it. Once you get seen as the sucker who'll help out the requests just keep coming but the thank yous seem to get lost in the mail.



I've been a member of sfnovelists for a year or mo...

2008-04-18T06:42:00.000-05:00

I've been a member of sfnovelists for a year or more, and it's been very useful. It's a loose gathering of published sf/fantasy/horror novelists with a common blog (and no fees!), and we share info & ask career type questions on the mailing list.



That's an excellent post, and I belong to a couple...

2008-04-17T10:05:00.000-05:00

That's an excellent post, and I belong to a couple of writing organizations!

I've also left several, because I felt they got too cliquish, and it was about a group of mostly barely-published writers trying to make themselves feel better by bullying others.

Not for me.

The one organization that I think transcends all the others I've known is PEN. Not that everyone and everything is perfect, but their World Voices Festival every year, their various events, and the Core Freedoms/Freedom to Write program have had a huge personal impact on me. Yes, I meet people at these events, but the whole focus is so different from most conferences, and the desperation's not there. It's more about inspiration and a reminder of why it is I do this.

I like your conference idea, by the way.

Great post. Hope people take it to heart, even if it hits too close to home for some of them.



Oh shit, sorry J.A, I didn't mean to call you a gi...

2008-04-13T19:00:00.000-05:00

Oh shit, sorry J.A, I didn't mean to call you a girl. I say that all the time "Girl..." just a habit ;)



Girl, you aint speaking nothing BUT the truth, all...

2008-04-13T18:49:00.000-05:00

Girl, you aint speaking nothing BUT the truth, allll throughout this blog post! I'm a multipubbed author, fairly new, but have been doing the damn thang and selling my booty off. I love my readers, they are the BOMB and they don't give a flying fig that I've never won an award. They don't go to blogs where books are reviewed, so they don't care that my books have never been reviewed by these reader blogs. They know nothing about writing organizations and all that stuff, the only thing they care about is me giving them the types of stories that resonate with THEM. I don't know why so many authors think an award will garner them ghetto superstar status. It won't. Period. Getting a bad review won't stop them from being a ghetto superstar either. Nope. I'm silent on the internet, focus on my writing, keep out of stuff and just do my thang, ya know? I do belong to my local rwa chapter, and honestly I get NOTHING out of it. I joined because a friend told me about it (after I had already sold my first book) and although the ladies are really nice, I find that they have this certain expectation of me. I HAVE to participate, either judging a contest (which I hate like a son of a bitch) get my editor to come to a conference (no biggie, me and my editor are cool like that) or something else...to give back. It is very very taxing and I have been seriously thinking of letting it go. I'm not trying to be mean, but, I get NOTHING out of it.

Now, if you ever help organize a group like the one you're describing, let a sistah know, for real, I'm THERE! ;)

Love, peace and hairgrease!~



Your story in the ITW book was great. Don't know i...

2008-04-13T13:19:00.000-05:00

Your story in the ITW book was great. Don't know if it was worth the money.

Thanks. I'm thrilled to be in that antho, and I'll always be grateful to ITW for the opportunity.



I'm not a member of any writing organizations.It s...

2008-04-13T13:09:00.000-05:00

I'm not a member of any writing organizations.

It seems like you benefited from at least one. Your story in the ITW book was great. Don't know if it was worth the money. (Don't know how much it cost.)



Thanks Joe. Good post.

2008-04-12T15:41:00.000-05:00

Thanks Joe. Good post.



And what would be wrong if he did? The books would...

2008-04-12T15:26:00.000-05:00

And what would be wrong if he did? The books would be getting into the hands of readers. That's the point.

Just seems like it would ruin the conference if a handful of people came in and scarfed up all the product.

Maybe you could limit the number of books per customer, the way grocery stores do with cans of green beans on sale.



What's going to stop some entrepreneur from coming...

2008-04-12T12:41:00.000-05:00

What's going to stop some entrepreneur from coming in and buying all the stock for 1/25 of the cover price and then tripling his money next Saturday at the flea market?

And what would be wrong if he did? the boosk would be getting into the hands of readers. That's the point.

As for returning the bookstores to bookstores for full credit, we can have a stamp on the bottom of the spine--like a remainder mark, along with a stamp on the inner cover for paperbacks, so they can't be stripped and returned.



Thank you for this wonderful post. I have been so...

2008-04-12T08:37:00.000-05:00

Thank you for this wonderful post. I have been so disgusted by the criteria that some of these organizations have for joining. For God's sake, with what they are charging for dues, it shouldn't even matter if you can spell. Since I am with an "undesirable" publisher, I have been told by several of these groups that I could pay to become an associate member, but I am still not good enough to be a "real" member. The dues are pretty much the same, but the recognition as a peer just isn't there. I came to the same conclusion you did, I simply said, "Fuck 'em." I've never been a fan of exclusive groups and cliques, so why pay to be in one? It is discouraging to be left out, but I feel that my writing will speak for itself and that someday, I'll get there.
Again, I'm grateful for the wonderful information you provide in this blog. It's always enlightening and empowering!



I'll probably join MWA when I get a book deal just...

2008-04-12T04:15:00.000-05:00

I'll probably join MWA when I get a book deal just so I can say I'm in the club John D. MacDonald once belonged to. ;)

Regarding your con: What's going to stop some entrepreneur from coming in and buying all the stock for 1/25 of the cover price and then tripling his money next Saturday at the flea market?

Jude



Hi Jim!$100 memberships plus $1 tickets? Will that...

2008-04-11T18:19:00.000-05:00

Hi Jim!

$100 memberships plus $1 tickets? Will that generate enough cash to pay for everything?

I dunno. The big expenses are the hotel and the program.

Let's call it a three day event, 150 authors (at 48 performing per day), that's $15,000. I think that would be more than enough money to fund everything.

As for draws---not only will all the authors involved have a hand in advertising the event, but the $15k can pay for some local ads.

As for the program, I see this going on at one part of a large conference room, with some chairs set up, while the other part of the room has author tables. So people can sit and watch a few authors, then browse the tables, then come back, etc.

Would it work? I have no idea.

This isn't a conference, where fans pay to see different panels. This is more like a book fair. No admission fee, and all books are $1, and signed by the author to boot. Plus, free entertainment.

Maybe it would attract some big names. Maybe not. But do there have to be big names?

I think this would be less cost for authors (even those paying for their own books to give away) but they'd reach a lot more people, and be able to give those people individual attention.

I realize this is taking money away from booksellers, but it is creating fans.

What if a local indie bookstore had a table at the event, and instead of giving away books for $1, they gave away a ticket for $1 that was good for a paperback book at their store? That would get people into their stores, wouldn't it?



I'm not sure that the numbers work for the confere...

2008-04-11T16:59:00.000-05:00

I'm not sure that the numbers work for the conference.

$100 memberships plus $1 tickets? Will that generate enough cash to pay for everything?

Single track of programming, one mike for all? At 15 minute intervals, you're only getting 48 writers into a (12 hour) day of programming. Is that enough?

Will an audience stay with a program that's designed like this? You will command attention. Will others? Does it matter?

In programming Bouchercon 2009, we're going to be trying a lot of new things that should really shake up how readers and writers approach the event.

We've got a bunch of oddball ideas already, one of which in small part resembles part of what you're proposing, at least in terms of mechanics. In practice and intent, what we have in mind will feel very different. (It's a crazy idea; we'll see if we can pull it off.)

We're open to considering EVERY idea out there. This one is WAY out there. Not to say that this isn't interesting, and I'll have to think about what if anything we might be able to steal for our use.

Thanks for a provocative post!



of course, if those organisations proofread my blo...

2008-04-11T15:40:00.000-05:00

of course, if those organisations proofread my blog comments, that would be a plus



Most writing organisations give their members the ...

2008-04-11T15:39:00.000-05:00

Most writing organisations give their members the believe that in belonging to something they are actually doing something. Waste of time. They need to go home and sit down at write and stop schmoozing real or imagined bidwigs.

Malcolm



Joe, there's no backlash because, as always, your ...

2008-04-11T12:06:00.000-05:00

Joe, there's no backlash because, as always, your post was thoughtful and well-considered. And what you said was true and accurate.

I belong to a writer's org. Just one. Dues are low, cheap. The local chapter is very active and has a lot of great writers who have become great friends and supporters. I love the local conference. It's fun.It's local.

BUT: I have writer friends who belong to every single organization and who spend tons of time and money going to conferences. And I can say, truthfully, they are no further along in their writing career than I am (some less so as they haven't written and submitted as much as I have).

That's why you don't have backlash.



Joe, somebody should set up a shrine to you. I hav...

2008-04-11T09:19:00.000-05:00

Joe, somebody should set up a shrine to you. I have been a member of just about all of them, thinking it would do my company some good, and unfortunately all it did was give me stress and more reasons for my authors to ask questions that I can't answer. Even in publishing, I gotta be me, and now it's okay, cause Joe says so!

Have a super weekend!
Karen Syed
http://www.echelonpress.com



Sorry if you're looking for backlash, Joe, you won...

2008-04-11T08:03:00.000-05:00

Sorry if you're looking for backlash, Joe, you won't find it in my post. I agree with you. I've dropped one org. that I belong to because after a year I see no benefits whatsoever. The second org. I belong to is a little different because I love one of the list servs that I receive. I get good advice and good support from this list serv. Is it enough to justify the steep membership price? Probably not, and I may have to re-think that. I do have one question: could you expand on how anthologies have been helpful to you? Maybe a new blog entry?

Anyway, thanks!



Ha! I've had "What would J. A. do?" as my mantra f...

2008-04-10T09:18:00.000-05:00

Ha! I've had "What would J. A. do?" as my mantra for quite some time.

Great tell-it-like-it-is post, Joe.

Three more weeks and I'm DONE being an officer/short story contest judge in my local writer's group! What a thankless task and a time-suck.

Three more weeks and the days of my joining any organization are over!

Happy dance to follow!



Timely post, as I was off to a lunch where our loc...

2008-04-09T17:38:00.000-05:00

Timely post, as I was off to a lunch where our local writer's org was pushing for 'volunteers'!



"So where's all the backlash?"But, dude, I think y...

2008-04-09T15:09:00.000-05:00

"So where's all the backlash?"

But, dude, I think you're right, about all of it (except I think the WWJAD conference should be a big old two-day party; no speeches).

I did have someone explain to me at the RWA National Conference last year that she was attending so she could meet an author who, she hoped, would introduce her to her agent. She further explained to me that she would never query an agent directly, as the above plan was the "only way to go."

I was stunned, and I think I just sat there nodding like an idiot, just mumbling, "I'd rather query."

But I'm guessing she's not reading this blog, and so I doubt she'll drop by to engage in debate. :-)



Thanks, chocolab!David - I'm not saying volunteeri...

2008-04-09T11:05:00.000-05:00

Thanks, chocolab!

David - I'm not saying volunteering is evil. The world would suck bad without volunteers. But it's a far cry from feeding the hungry to manning the nametag table, unable to see any panels. And don't get me started on actually being part of the organization process...

Erica - you should join some organization, because only then can you be called a pro, and because everyone else is doing it. :)

Laura - Good point. But even in the case of meetings, some organizations allow you a "one-time'fee" to attend a meeting with a speaker, rather than the large sum it takes to join. If they don't, they should, because you don't always want to see every speaker.

Jim - I don't think they've become elitist. I think they're worried about losing validity and watering down their brand. But I'm not convinced they have either to begin with. Exclusion can speak of standards, which makes being a member more desirable. But only for the member, not for the rest of the world, who just doesn't care. Think fraternities.

Joel - What Would JA Do?

Speaking of the con, I believe it would be an eclectic mix of die-hard small presses and big-shots, because those are the only two types who would risk giving away hundreds of books. And the speakers could do whatever they wanted for their fifteen minutes. Readings. Q and A. Or combining with other speakers to do panels.

Maria - My take on awards is pretty limited and unpopular. I'm sure some of them can help book sales. But the subjective, limited way awards are structured, and the thought that something is simply better because a select group of people voted for it, annoys me. Even fan votes, where majority rules, often involve nepotism without having actually read all of the entries.

I'm just not a back-slapping advocate.

Spyscribbler - The world is full of people who will try to define you. I find that defining yourself works better.

Thanks, Bernita!

Mark - I think the problem with bigger writing organizations is the loss of focus commensurate to the need for wider appeal.

Small, focused, trade organizations can help individuals. But once a writing organization is about the genre or industry rather than the individuals, then you work for the machine, rather than the machine working for you.

So where's all the backlash? I know some of my blog readers are huge advocates of writing organizations.

That's why I allow anonymous posts, people!