Monday, November 21, 2005
Things that make you go hmmm
In addition to being the Problem Child and a Diva-in-Training, I’m also a Snarkling. Snarklings are the devoted followers of Miss Snark, a “dog-totin’, gin-swillin’ literary agent” (her words, not mine) who blogs about the business side of publishing.
But Miss Snark has been under fire recently about her identity. Is she really an agent? Does she know what she’s talking about? Why on earth would she spend her time answering questions, giving advice, explaining how things work? What’s in it for her?
I adore Miss Snark, even if I don’t know her real identity. Is she an agent? I tend to think so, since her comments seem to jive with everything the Mavens and industry people have told me. Do I care? Not really. Not to get too existential on a Monday morning, but does anyone really know who anyone else really is? Do I take her words as Gospel? No, but anybody who takes any information on the Internet as Gospel needs to have her head examined.
So what’s in it for Miss Snark (other than her own personal cult following)? Good karma? A sincere desire to help the unpubbed masses? I don’t know. But then I don’t know why the Mavens give us the time of day either.
Instigator touched on this last week, but I’ll expand the idea a little here. This is the only business I know of where the established openly and willingly guide the newbies, giving their time, experience, and expertise without expecting something in return.
Think about it. Business-wise, what’s in it for the Mavens (or any of the other published authors who go out of their way to mentor and guide)? The truly pessimistic will say “Oh, they only want you to buy their books.” That could be true, but my book-buying habits aren’t going to keep them off the best-seller lists. I don’t think the royalty off my purchase will make the house payment for them either.
I teach (sometimes) in my real life—and although I’m paid for my work, that paycheck isn’t going to make my mortgage. But I do it because I love what I teach, I love sharing what I know, and I love seeing someone else connect with what I love. There’s a powerful attraction and need to share your personal passions with others.
I may be a nobody in this business, but I’d be an ignorant nobody if not for the generosity of spirit of the Somebodies. That same generosity is what keeps many of us going through the rejections, contest losses, and harsh critiques. In a business that seems to be as much about timing, luck, perseverance, and trends as much as it is about talent, having someone in your corner explaining the facts to you can be just as important as the dictionary on your desk.
Maybe someday, when I’m Somebody, I can do the same.