It’s the Treatment, Not the Rejection

Back in November, I discussed some of my reasons for choosing to self-publish.  More recently, I linked to a post by Judith Tarr (Escaping Stockholm) with my own added comment, “Some years ago, I decided I didn’t want to work under the constraints and conceits of traditional publishing because what such work would require wasn’t the sort of thing I wanted in my life.”

Today, Tarr revisits the topic to discuss predators, prey, and learned helplessness.

“Being civil. Accepting what they’re told they can’t change. Putting up with abuse because there’s no apparent choice. Keeping their heads down and their mouths shut and doing what they have to do in order to keep their careers alive–under the terms and according to the definitions of the old-style publishing industry. No power, no choice. Take it or leave it. Want to get your words out there? Put up and shut up.”

It’s good reading for writers and readers alike.

When everything else was good in my life, I could put up with poor attitudes the industry had toward writers.  I could let the snark and the disdain roll past.  I could brush off the lack of basic courtesy as something that didn’t really impact me.  I could laugh at the strange business practices as something quirky rather than insulting.

But after I took a break because of life’s personal tragedies–time I also spent reflecting on what I wanted in my life compared to the emotional abuses I’d tolerated–I could no longer pretend to find the practices and attitudes of Big Publishing acceptable.  Gaining the approval of a handful of people wasn’t worth enduring how those people wanted to treat me.  I no longer wanted to chase down and hope for that sort of validation.  Getting published wasn’t worth the “put up and shut up.”

And trying to explain that it wasn’t the possibility of continued rejection that led me to quit was usually an exercise in frustration.  Any other reasons I offered were considered false fronts to cover the fact I wasn’t “strong enough” to endure.  Frankly, I’d decided that enduring disdain and disrespect, and insults when the disdain and disrespect was pointed out, wasn’t the sort of dues I wanted to pay.  I began to think it odd that enduring such had become a badge of honor in some circles.

It was about that time I was accepted to Viable Paradise.  In the course of becoming reacquainted with the writing world–and wondering why the heck I was paying to go to VP if I wasn’t going to participate in the publishing business–when I found information on the new means of self-publishing.  I stayed up all night reading, too excited to sleep.  It wasn’t the Gold Rush tales that thrilled me.  It was the prospect of putting my work in front of readers, without feeling as if I had to ignore my own smarts and dignity.

On a related topic, here’s Dealing With Belittlers on Musing Without Credentials.


2 thoughts on “It’s the Treatment, Not the Rejection”

  1. I recently had a chance to chat with a writer whose book is being published by a big house. After hearing what she went through, all the work of self-publishing — the mangled summaries by reviewers, the occasionally-vanishing cover artists, the headache of opening online vendor accounts — seemed hardly worth complaining about at all.


    1. I feel much the same way.

      For years, I’ve heard stories from writers, usually spoken in hushed tones, about what they went through. Now, reading them in so many very public settings is most enlightening.

      I don’t see the work of self-publishing as being worth a complaint, either.

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