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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why I'm Glad I Was Poor When I Was A Stupid Writer

I've been thinking back to the good old days when I was young and unaware of my imminent demise from alcohol poisoning or a brain aneurysm. It occurred to me, in that musing, that I should be very grateful about growing up on welfare and various other degrees of poor-ness. Why?

When I started really getting into writing, there weren't a lot of great ways to "get published." This whole "webzine" thing hadn't happened yet, publishers were far away, meaning you had to pay for postage (because nobody took email submissions back in the day), and the scammers (i.e. what are now called vanity presses, in various shapes, since there was no Lulu or Createspace) were everywhere, milking anyone they could for every cent (to be fair, Lulu and Createspace milk you too, but at least they are honest about it and seem to avoid the unethical methods other companies do).

And back in those days, I was a dumbass. I actually thought that it was the same thing to spend $5 to send a manuscript to a publisher, to wait months and months and months, to get accepted with a $5,000 advance, and to see my book on the shelves as spending $5,000 to have a company print my book under the guise that somehow I would end up the same as Stephen King, that my book would be in stores and people would love me and all that happy stuff, and that the company was accurate and honest in its claims.

I learned my lesson eventually, much the same way so many others have: by seeing other people who weren't as poor, but equally as stupid as myself, get screwed over and lied to or put into various stages of delusion about the reality of their existence as "published writers."

So, if there's anything to be grateful for when it comes to being poor as hell as a kid, it's that I didn't have the money to do something absolutely positively stupid. You know, like fall for some of the horrible crap described here.

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  1. Being poor also means you're less likely to rush into a big purchase without research. Nowadays, it doesn't take much research to find out that vanity publishers are lying.

  2. Polenth: Well, no, but a lot of people still don't know where to look, or know that they should be looking. The writing world isn't as inclusive as people think; it's getting better, though.