Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome To The Hierarchy

Many years ago, I attended my first writer's meeting. I was chipper and excited and raring to go, a typical newb. I knew nothing about the industry. I was still working on my first book, and trying to get the hang of POV and conflict.

It didn't take long for me to figure out a very key component of the writing industry.

The Hierarchy.

It wasn't just a group of like-minded women (and a few men) sitting in a room, supporting each other, offering advice.

It was a room divided.

The published vs. the unpublished.

The agented authors vs. unagented.

The romance writers vs. the erotica writers.

The print authors vs. the digital authors.

It never occurred to me, as a newb, to assign value to these things. Was a digital book less "valuable" than a print book? Did an erotica writer have less value than someone writing romance?

But I could see that these things were extremely important to many of the authors in this group. To the organizations we belonged to.

Perhaps because I started as a reader--a voracious, obsessive, 5-book-a-day reader--my viewpoint was totally different.

As a reader, I cared about one thing.

Do I like the book?

I didn't care if the author had an agent. I didn't care if the book was cross-genre. I didn't care if the writer was a man or a woman, self-published, made the NYT best-seller list, won an award.

Do I like the book?

I didn't care if it was a debut novel or the author's 27th book. I didn't care if the author had a website, or a Twitter account, or was fat or thin, or bitchy or nice.

Do I like the book?

Readers don't give a shit about the hierarchy. They don't give two shits about the hierarchy. Only the industry cares about the hierarchy.

Do I like the book?

The authors, and agents, and editors, and publishers, and publicity departments, and booksellers, and writing organizations, can carve us all up and assign us our niche and decide who has value and who does not.

But the readers--the ones who buy the god-damned books, the ones who belong to a book club, and recommend their latest fun read to the check-out girl at the grocery store, the ones who are the reason why we all write in the first place--don't care about the hierarchy.

Do I like the book?

That's all they care about.

Liking the book,