The Myth of Meg Waite Clayton: Her Privilege of Being a Bestseller

While I may not have 100% traditional publishing clout, reading this guest article by Meg Waite Clayton left an intensely sour taste in my mouth, something in between warheads, those hubble bubble sour gumballs, and a dead possum that has been lying on the side of the road for days. I advise you to read the article before reading this post. I will quote pertinent points, of course.

First, a little background on me: I have little experience with the world of publishing. I hesitate to write articles on it because AEC Stellar Publishing is my first publisher. But I have loved everything they have done to help me with my novel so far. I am never left in the dark. I know exactly what is being done on my book, who is working on it, when it is being worked on and when I should expect it to be done. I was included in the process of approving my cover. Raymond Vogel, head honcho of AEC, even wanted me to make certain I approved of the copy edits because he said the book is my book! I am allowed a lot of control with a safety net, and I love it. But I don’t know enough about how other houses function to be able to start writing prolifically about publishing, but I have enough knowledge to know that what Meg Waite Clayton wrote is extremely laughable. Let us continue on with her points, shall we?

  1. Let’sStarwiththeEditing.

Yes, please, let’s start with this. “Yes, you can hire some pretty good copy editors these days, and even some decent book doctors, but they won’t have skin in the game the way an editor at a traditional house will.”

This is very assumptive. A lot of freelance editors used to work for traditional houses. The ones that charge a lot have had skin in the publishing game. They also know publishing houses, while they still do editing, want publishable manuscripts by the time the novel reaches them. It’s why many agents will spend so much time editing the crap out of your book. They want that puppy ready. She even has the gall to say that editing is not just about the typos, as though self-published authors don’t write just as many drafts as she has to.

Really, as a bestselling author, she has so many privileges that a lot of newbie authors aren’t going to have. Houses aren’t going to dedicate the necessary time to a newbie manuscript that they will to a bestseller. It’s just the truth. There are only so many editors in a publishing house that to dedicate the intense time and care needed to produce a great novel for every book is impossible. Again, this is why agents work so hard with their writers to edit the crap out of those manuscripts.

2.  What Sells Books?

“For every self-publishing success story, there are literally hundreds of thousands of books bought only by the author’s mom and dad and a few close friends.”

Success is very subjective. I have seen plenty of self-published novels that are making just as decent sells as midlist authors are making. In any case, who does she think she is? She is a bestseller! She is going to have time devoted to her! She will have posters erected of her new novels in bookstores! All bookstores will buy her books and stock them, and she will receive notoriety on those shelves. Target and Costco and Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart and drug stores and airplane stores will stock them too!

Is she so ignorant of her own business that she has no clue what marketing reality is like for the majority of newbie authors? I could go on and on about this one, but, dear stars, I will let you have at it.

3.  Unless Your Mother is Named Oprah…

“With a traditional publisher, the avenues for starting the word are varied and many—and sprinkled with free paper copies as well as e-ones. Booksellers. Bloggers. Television and radio. Reading groups. Major book sites. The publisher’s stamp of approval gives readers a reason to have a look, too.”

Dear Ms. Clayton,

How nice is it to be a bestseller that your publicity team is willing to put you on television and radio? Must be really, really nice because all [insert big publisher here] is doing for me is giving out ARCs of my book and putting me in listings for bookstores that will hopefully buy and stock my book. Otherwise, it’s my job to get bloggers to review my book. Oh, I think I had Kirkus look at it, but the great review didn’t increase sells of my book because I don’t know if my audience, being teens, actually looks at that. I’ve had to spend my advance on my own publicity team. It’s been fun.

Sincerely,

Author With No Clout

    4. Attention, Target Shoppers

“Do you have any idea how many books are sold at Target Stores? At Costco? In airports and at grocery stores? I didn’t either, but trust me on this: the answer is HUGE.”

Have you been into any of those stores? They have a small selection of books by, you guessed it? BESTSELLERS! WHOOPIE! Your first timie is not going to make it in unless a lot of fanfare is already surrounding that book. You are never going to see books by midlisters such as Kody Keplinger or Hannah Moscowitz in those stores because they aren’t bestsellers, although they’ve written a few books and are quite fantastic writers. They just don’t sell to bestsellerdom. At least, they don’t exist in any of the big retailers in my area, save for B&N, and even then I have a hard time finding Ms. Moscowitz’s books, so I have to go to Amazon to buy them. But you will never see their books among the small selections in those bookstores until they start pushing bestsellerdom. Go away. Get out. Take your bestseller soapbox somewhere else.

    5. Writing Time is the Best Time

“But here’s the most important thing: Every minute of your life in sales is time–and energy–away from writing. Yes, I still spend time getting the word out. I have a website that I manage myself, even though my publisher offered to do that for me when they bought The Wednesday Sisters.”

Wow! How privileged of you! Your own publisher actually offered to manage your website? Do you have any idea what the reality is for most authors? No? Oh, you’re so privileged that it’s cute.

I have nothing to say.

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Author:

Also known as The Dancing Writer, she is currently working on The Stars Trilogy, among other works.

4 thoughts on “The Myth of Meg Waite Clayton: Her Privilege of Being a Bestseller

  1. Yeah. The article gives kind of a fantasy view of traditional publishing. Bestselling authors like Meg Waite Clayton are one story. Another story can be found with authors like Saladin Ahmed, who’s debut novel has been nominated for TONS of big awards, but finds that he can’t pay for his kids daycare or the plane tickets to go to conventions to promote his work. He’s career’s on the way up, but to prevent it stalling out he has to ask his fans for donations. Here’s a link to his blog. It’s very eye opening- http://www.saladinahmed.com/wordpress/the-blog

  2. Yeeeeeah. I respect everyone’s right to publish as they choose, and to defend their choice if need be, but she’s kind of got a “Let them eat cake” thing going on here. Easy for you to say, publishing princess, we’re starving for bread over here.

    Writing time IS the best time, but we hear from so many traditionally published authors these days who have to invest just as much time in promotion as self-publishers do. Ideally, yes, it would work out that the publisher does the promotion. But for most first-timers, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    This doesn’t make me angry at all, but it does seem to present a very skewed version of the situation which may lead to unrealistic expectations.

  3. Wow. You’d think every author who signed with a traditional publisher ended up a success. There’s sour stories on both sides, more on e-books because anyone and their grandma can publish now, but that doesn’t make it a bad choice for serious writers.
    Yeah it is hard getting noticed when you don’t have great marketing behind you but in the end people will read whatever they want to read and no amount of “well known publishing house” can help you. It’s more so about perseverance and thinking out the box, it’s challenging but hey, like you said, success means something different for everyone.

  4. You are right, I think, about the marketing, especially. Authors are asked to do more and more to get the word out. It’s great to have a publisher on your side for edits and cover art and to get your name jump-started in the publishing and print world, but there are still quite a few hurdles authors need to overcome on their own.

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