blog,  publication

Dear self-important new writers: STOP. You’re making us all look bad.


I wasn’t going to write about this, because frankly, I’m a new writer and I doubt there’s anything I really say that will be enlightening on the subject. Except I started thinking about how pissed off I am when I read excerpts of the pertinent emails and conversations. It’s not the professional writers’ responses that bother me so much, but the tone and self-importance of the new writers that makes me ill.

Yeah, some of the established writers’ responses to Josh Olsen’s original piece have been a little, um, tough to read. But not every writer is going to turn n00bs away if they adhere to a code of actual decency. Okay, sure, plenty will. But clearly, enough whackjobs come out of the woodwork to really rub some writers the wrong way. And, initially, I feel almost guilty for being a new writer (like I can change that!) reading some of these posts… for a few minutes, anyway. Then I remember that I’d never do anything like that, never even consider it… then I get mad because all these writers are doing is making the rest of us who are trying to break into the business look bad. Not to mention decreasing the chance that any established writers will ever want to work with us!

So: stop. Stop being dicks. Stop rushing anyone in the publishing industry with your ideas, no matter how good you think they are. Stop thinking you’re on to something everyone else isn’t.  You know who you should share your book/script/play with? Other new writers. Establish a rapport with a writer’s group if you have any hope of ever getting published. You can actually learn a great deal that way.

And if you’ve decided you’re above and beyond this approach, you’re destined for rejection. Acting like a moron in front of established writers isn’t going to get you published, it’s going to get you ignored. Rejection is the hallmark of this business and if you can’t take it from some random writer without a vested interest in your book, how the hell are you doing to take it from editors, publishers, and agents in the future?

Wait, wait. I need to stop. Because it seems to me that these sort of people are going to weed themselves out of the business, anyway. Unfortunately that’s not going to make them go away right now. And in the mean time, they continue to make it very difficult for new writers actually make important connections. We’re busy trying to build our social networks, and these self-absorbed idiots are abusing them to get close, in a virtual sense in some cases, and practically harass writers into reading their material. The appropriate response when someone declines to review something for you is “Thanks!”… and then you walk away.

And honestly? I want to stop calling some of these truly reprehensible examples “writers” in the first place. They’re weeds. They’re trying to shove themselves into any crack of in the pavement to get noticed, while the rest of us are readying our flowerbeds and waiting patiently for rain and sun.

Where’s the Roundup?



  • mdg17


    I see a lot of what you are talking about, but luckily most of the people I surround myself with are not these folks, but like the weeds to mention, some people do need to be yanked. Purging people from Twitter, Face Book, email lists etc, should be a mandatory bi-monthly task.
    Sure being a new writer is tough and it is certainly tough to make money or fame or even fans, but conversely there are so many markets out there now. “Oh magazine X didn’t like my short story…oh no that means there are only 199 more magazine on this list to send it too.” I say relax, take a deep breath, and get to know some nice people along the way, isn’t that the goal of our lives anyway. (or at least one of them.)

    Mike Griffiths

  • Will

    Speaking as a writer, I think writers are the problem. Too many want to tell their story /to/ someone (including both new and established writers) than just plain telling the story. When you want to tell it to someone, you’re going in with expectations that cannot help but be crushed. If you’re really a writer, you’ll tell your story and find your voice and you’ll do the best you can rather than lecturing someone (established writers, I’m looking at you) or pestering someone (new writers, this is for you).

    Ah. Damn. I’m lecturing. Looks like I need to go back to writing. But thanks for writing a very insightful piece. Perhaps there should be a required course for all writers called “Rejection 101: How not to devalue yourself after the inevitable false starts.” I could sure use it 🙂

  • lindseydonner

    What a great post and a great subject too. I just came across it flipping through blogs. Thanks!

    While I agree with you in part, this does bring up a question for me: is it never correct to try and massage a connection? I happen to be completely unable to do this, because it’s simply not in my disposition; but I often wonder, if I were better at marketing myself, what I might achieve. I guess the real question is, isn’t it sometimes right? Don’t some of us actually have great ideas?

    (I haven’t had mine – yet! – but if I did…) I’m not sure what’s right. It’s always struck me that the literary world is about greasing hands. Myself, I’m mostly a copywriter for hire; my creative work hasn’t gotten to the point where I am ready to market it, beyond the usual routes.

    Thought provoking, in any case.

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