Guest Angst

My friend from Tennessee, Gretchen Smith, is the best unpublished author I know. She writes Southern gambling fiction with wit and insight and her characters jump off the pages. My last blog hit a nerve because she responded with this “love letter” to the traditional publishing industry. She expresses her feelings better than I ever could. I’m sure many of us feel her pain. I deleted a couple of F- bombs for the benefit of our younger readers; feel free to insert them anywhere you choose. Enjoy:


Here’s my comment: Publishing sucks. And on that note, I read an AOL thingy the other day about movie critics. There were two movies, but I only remember one, the “Twilight” one, that the critics tore to pieces across the board. Nothing whatsoever good to say; in fact, they ripped both of these movies in question completely apart down to the foley guy. (That’s so funny in the credits, the foley guy. What the hell is a foley guy?) One of the horrible movies in question grossed 100 million the first weekend and the other maybe,  I don’t remember, 80.


The author’s point was– these people have NO idea what they’re talking about, we don’t care what they like or don’t, and we don’t listen to a freaking word they say. Who made them boss? THAT’S what’s wrong with publishing! The wrong people are the bosses! The WRONG people are allowed to pick what we read. It’s all the wrong work for all the wrong reasons.


Is publishing such a dying art? Brian, I still crack open a new book and (seriously) smell the ink and the paper. I will always love books, but I feel so alone; that there’s no hope whatsoever that things will change? We don’t have the platform that movies do, other than self-pub, which doesn’t come with a big screen. Why does Oprah get to choose what we read? She’s so morbid. I’ve never been so glad to hear someone was retiring in my LIFE. Agents and publishers are so out of touch with what we want to read and it’s spiraling, spiraling, spiraling down the drain. Make that a sewer drain.


I can barely look at the bestseller lists. Danielle Steele. Garbage. James Patterson. Garbage. Sandra Brown. Garbage. Jodi Pucollt. Garbage. And here I sit in the middle of what I complain about. My agent had me, through two rewrites, anestheticize my manuscript all the way to the color beige, and for one reason– that’s her job. To take beige to the publishers so they can put beige on the shelves. And then you get into the “It’s too beige” and “It’s the wrong shade of beige.” Publishing sucks. Agents and editors, with their eye on the bottom line only, need to get the hell out of the way. The vicious cycle of agent-editor choosing what we read is the very thing that’s run publishing into the ground.