The Lyons' Den

Home of author Brenna Lyons. Join Brenna as she waxes poetic...or rants and raves.

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Location: Haverhill, Massachusetts, United States

What do you get when you have a child writing seriously at the age of 7 and competing at the age of 11? A woman raised in an inner-city DMZ, weaned on too many nights of watching classic Chiller Theater until the wee hours of the morning with no parental guidance? Someone who is rumored to have picked locks to libraries to get her reads in? You end up with the Susan Lucci of e-publishing, the president of EPIC, and a driven, sleep-deprived author of fantasy and horror, straight genre through romance, dark romance, and erotica, poetry and articles. You find a woman who narrowed her college degree choices based on a comment a teacher made about her becoming "the perfect auditor or the perfect thief." And, you probably find a woman who is rumored to have once incited a mutiny...by accident. With degrees in accounting and computer programming, backgrounds in everything from teaching to clerking, tracking fraud suspects to working for the Air Force and the Navy as as civilian, it's strange irony that Brenna Lyons will become best known for her first love...writing. Brenna is an active member of EWAG, BroadUniverse, EPIC, WRW, ERWA and TELL.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The pecking order of writing?

Informed sources assure me it runs something like this... The literary set look down on the genre set (just look at the way the literaries had a fit when Stephen King won their award!), the straight genre folks look down on the cross-genre romance folks and straight romance folks. The authors with NY look down on e-published/small press authors and those authors look down on self-published/vanity published.

Despite the fact that I KNOW it's not strictly true... I know plenty of NY authors who don't look down on small press and others who, themselves, work in both NY and small press. I know plenty of small press published who don't look down on self-published authors.

Despite that fact, there is no reason for this kind of backbiting. I know that NY authors have often worked long and hard to get there and want recognition of that fact, but if you want to know the honest, hard truth of life, NO ONE OWES YOU RESPECT. Respect is something you earn, and you aren't going to earn it treating other people, authors or readers, like crap.

A contract in NY doesn't make you a better person than another. It doesn't even make you a better author, if you want to know the truth. It just means that your book was in the right place at the right time when some editor was in a really good mood. You might want to read my comments on contest wins about now. It runs about the same way, actually.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to be sweet and kind to everyone around you. Some people are so condescending, rude or otherwise offensive, simple sanity dictates that you tell them they are being that way. Does it win you friends among their supporters? No, it does not, but you have a choice...the same choice you always have in life. Are you going to play suck-up to people please or are you going to remain true to yourself and make a name for always doing so? Either way, you make some friends and some enemies. I prefer to make the ones that I don't have to pretend with, but that is my choice.

Back to the subject at hand. What are the reasons people have for their snide comments?

Some think it's EASY to write another genre. Bull! Hate to throw ice water on someone's dillusions... Okay, I'm really not sorry to do it, but there I go being honest again. It's no easier to write cross-genre romance than it is to write straight genre. Especially now, when expectations for these books are so high, the author has to not only build a strong universe and characters but weave in the romance so that the book is a unit and not simply a bunch of things happening between the same cover flaps. The expectations are not that the world and fantasy (or whatever cross-genre) will be sacrificed for the romance but that it be as strong and the romance be as strong as a straight romance.

Want the truth? Whatever you write is easier for you to write than something you don't write. What does that mean? It means that I like writing straight genre fiction and cross-genre fiction. Those are (comparatively speaking) easy for me to write. I can't cut down authors of biographies, because what they do isn't easy. Having dates and times handed to you and using them isn't a breeze. No matter what you write, you have to make that interesting to a reader, and you can't do that if you view writing it akin to having your teeth pulled.

I've tried this before, but I will challenge any author who suffers from the dillusion above to try it. Choose a genre you think is "easy to write." Now, write something in it. You think you did a good job? I BET YOU DO! Now comes the test. Have respected, published authors IN that genre crit it for you. Bet they tore it apart. Want to know why? It's not that they don't get it; it's that YOU don't get it. You can't write in their genre, because you don't understand the nuances of it. You can't write it, because you don't respect it or your heart isn't in it. You can't write it, because you want to break the rules to suit yourself, whether you realize it or not.

NO GENRE IS EASIER TO WRITE THAN ANOTHER. Get used to it! You write what you feel drawn to write. You write what you like, what you want to read, what you want to project to the world. So do others.

Some people look down on others because there is less value to what the other writes. Less value? EVERY reader reads for a reason. Maybe that reader wants escape from a dreary life. Maybe he wants information. Maybe she wants something that will make her think WHILE entertaining her. So, depending on what that reader wants from the act of consuming books, it may be your book that is of less value to the reader. No book will please everyone, and (in fact) chances are that no one book will please more than 10% of all readers.

Some people look down on others for the manner in which a book is reproduced. This is one of the stupidest reasons I know to look down on another author. A book is a book is a book, no matter how it is reproduced. In fact, as readers have preferences in what they choose to read, they have preferences in how they choose to read it. There are some readers who, at this point in their lives, will only choose to read paper books. There are others who will only choose to read e-books. I've met many of them.

As I've stated before in this blog, small press and e-publishers are REAL publishers, royalty-paying (a much higher percentage per book sold so that some e-book authors earn as much as NY midlist authors, though they sell less books per release), with a high rejection percentage, reviewing well (even matching or beating NY books in many cases), and attracting NY authors into the fold. Even self-publishing or vanity publishing has its value. Books that have a very limited audience do well in a venue like this.

No matter what reason the author can attempt to give for the scorn he/she shows another author based on nothing more than genre or format of book, it has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the author dealing out the rude comments. That author is nothing more than a snob, and the comments bear that out.

Brenna

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