Monday, February 9, 2009

Critique Partner Horror Stories

We've all heard them before. All of those nightmare stories about submissions, agents, editors and the like. The story is always the same. Writers get together around their critique groups, they sit in their writing chapters, and they sit around at conferences, complaining about the worst things that have happened to them over their writing careers.

Now, this is not always the case, but I have seen it more often than not. Many of these writers are not published and if they have had an agent, in all likelyhood, they have had several.

So, do these horror stories happen to the good writers? Sure, every now and then. But I honestly have to say that most of the people we hear out there complaining about everything are, at some level, at fault too.

Remember that the publishing industry has two sides to everthing. Editor-agent relations. Editor-writer. Agent-writer. As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango.

Let me give you an example. I was at an RT Convention and listened to this writer complaining about how all of her prior agents were pathetic. But now... she was with Agent X and things were going to be fantastic. This writer didn't know she was talking with an agent around her but I was able to work out her name in conversation. I later spoke to one of the agents she had been with, someone I respect very much in the industry and, wow, did I hear another side of the story. I won't go into details but the word stalker does come to mind.

The thing is, sure, bad things happen, but remember that in many cases, those bad things have another part of the story that we aren't hearing. It is your job as a writer to do your own investigation and not rely 100% on this gossip.

Have fun!



  1. "I won't go into details but the word stalker does come to mind."

    What a world we're living in nowadays! That's what makes me a bit leery of becoming rich and famous. I'd settle for just rich but I already know that I'll have to promote my book and that means getting attention. Deliberately. As much as possible.

    Thanks for the paranoid moment, Scott! Now I must get back to work on that bestseller. :o

  2. Gossip seems to pervade every workplace even those that work at home. Maybe gossip is the easy way out. It's not our fault - it's theirs. I've seen some of what you've said on writers' loops and blogs. I usually lurk for awhile to see if there is anything I can glean or any truth in it, before ducking and running. I've been lucky that both my chapter and my critique partner are not into gossip. Carving out a writing career isn't easy and blaming everyone else can only make the path that much harder. On the upside, I'm thinking that a few conference trips might create a character or two...

  3. Good comment Ryshia and Anon, I didn't want you to get paranoid about your writing. I just want to throw out comments for you to consider.