This post, by Christine Duncan, originally appeared on the Rule of Three blog on 4/27/09.
There are elitists in every area of life, and the mystery writing field is no exception. I thought I knew them all. I did know about the folks who thought you weren’t writing a real mystery unless it was (insert one) noir, a private detective novel or written in the style of the late great Agatha.
I didn’t think the people who were supposed to be my support system would turn out to be elitists–all under the guise of helping me. By now many of you know of some of the turmoil of the last year or so in some of the mystery groups to exclude from certain privileges those of us who are published by publishers who use print on demand print processes, or who do not give advances.
First we were told that our publishers had to be on some list of “accepted publishers.” To be truthful, I didn’t pay much attention then. My publisher is a legitimate royalty paying small press. They vet subs–taking only a small percentage, edit, use Baker and Taylor, take returns, the whole nine yards. And they were on the accepted list. I could have fought for the self-pubbed and excluded presses–but I didn’t. And now I’m sorry.
Then authors from print on demand presses were told we would not be on panels at certain conferences. When authors protested on the organization’s list, we were told that this wasn’t their decision, it was up to the organizers of the conferences.
When we pointed out the organization sponsored some of those conferences, they came up with a different excuse. This was done, or so they said, because people need to be wary of some publishers or even (Horror of Horrors!) self-publishing. The organization mustn’t seem to endorse these folks. There were other reasons, of course, but this is the one that stuck in my craw.
Apparently the organization doesn’t know that we’re all adults and can make our own decisions whether that be N Y press, small press or self-pubbing. Neither did they acknowledge that it used to be honorable to self-publish. Jane Austen, (see Michelle’s post last week) Mark Twain and Virginia Wolf all did and never suffered a stigma.
Then any discussion of the problem was banned from the organization’s listserv. It served no purpose they said. As my children would say with a roll of their eyes, “Whatever!” Many of us decided there and then not to attend [their] conferences and hope that our small (monetary) contributions would be missed.