What he said

I don’t see eye to eye with Mr. Scalzi on very many things, but I couldn’t agree with him more here:

Perhaps since I give out a whole bunch of largely unsolicited writing advice, I am often asked by readers if I would look at the unpublished story/novel/screenplay/poem they’re working on and give them some feedback or advice. Indeed, perhaps you yourself have been thinking of asking me this very same thing. I have two things to say to this sort of request:

1. I’m really flattered that you would think of asking me to critique your work and would trust me to give you valuable feedback. Thank you.

2. No.

While I enjoy working with people with whom I have a personal relationship, it’s work. While my literary success can best be described as “limited”, I still get bombarded by people that want me to read their work, critique their ideas and so forth. In the spirit of “giving back to the community” I did participate in the Critters Workshop for a while, only to discover that the vast majority of people don’t want criticism that will help them improve, they want encouragement. And I don’t do that.

The truth is that most would-be writers aren’t writers for a very good reason – they can’t write. A brief perusal of ten random blogs should suffice to demonstrate that to even the most optimistic idnvidual’s satisfaction. There are only two ways to become a successful author:

1. Write a lot, submit a lot and keep getting up after you get knocked down.

2. Become famous in some other field, preferably something involving large breast implants, and have your agent contact publishers about finding you a ghostwriter.

If you’re even somewhat attractive, I recommend the latter as your chances of success are much, much higher. (See: Price, Katie, Anderson, Pamela and Jameson, Jenna.)

Contemplating a run

The SFWA elections approach:

*Call for Candidates 2007

Between books? Irked at the way things are run in the industry? You have a solution before you! With the new year, a new SFWA elections season dawns. Run for SFWA office, and save the world!

Offices up for election this year are:

Vice President
Canadian Regional Director
South Central Regional Director

As it happens, I do have a few ideas for improving the operations of the SFWA and turning it into an organization that is capable of more than pointless carping about book piracy and the decline of the publishing industry. Here’s my prospective platform thus far:

1. Increase the prestige of the Nebula novel award by awarding the winner a cash prize in addition to the lucite trophy. I have already spoken to publishers who would be interested in providing sponsorship for the award. It’s worth noting that the most prestigious prizes in the world, from the Nobel to the Booker, are inevitably accompanied by an amount of cash.

2. Replace the Nebula Scripts category with “Best SF-related non-fiction book”. There’s a lot more of these works being published than scripts these days, furthermore, Hollywood script writers couldn’t care less about the Nebula, whereas the publishers publishing SF-related non-fiction are quite clearly committed to the genre.

3. Rename the Bulletin to SFWA Monthly and turn it into a bona-fide magazine of interest to the greater science fiction and fantasy community by publishing a novella and three short stories in every issue. Decisions should not be made on the fearful assumption that adults will squabble like self-interested children, but rather, the best interests of the organization as measured by magazine sales and subscriptions.

4. Increase the power of the Nebula juries by having the short fiction jury submit its recommendations for the fiction to be published in the SFWA Monthly to the editor and by allowing the juries to REMOVE works that have qualified for the Nebula ballot. This should bring an end to the award-by-popularity contests that are so grossly embarrassing to the organization.

5. Change SFWA policy from anti-ebook to pro-ebook. Turn the SFWA web site into the premier online science fiction and fantasy e-library by providing freely downloadable works available in all formats from every SFWA member interested in contributing. All of the evidence suggests that freely distributable ebooks help those authors who are not among the 50 best-selling in the world, they don’t hurt them. Blindly following the RIAA’s lead in attempting to protect dubious “rights” is stupid and shortsighted.

Anyone have any more ideas for my platform?