Thursday, September 1, 2011

Writers, Business and Self-Help, etc.

Just read The Business Rusch: Unexpected Gold in Self Help Books and I thought the list of items aimed at women (since Kristine Kathryn Rusch is reading women-and-money self helps books) that she replaced the word 'women' with 'writer' was especially apt. Writers are expected to submit to all sorts of bullshit to get published, and that ends up being interpreted as very deep passivity with respect to the business aspect of publishing.

The list:
•Writers undervalue themselves
•Nice writers don’t get rich (this works better in its original form: Nice girls don’t get rich.  The whole nice girls concept became a book for one smart writer).
•Writers are uninformed about money
•Writers want to be hands-off with money
•Writers are afraid of what other people will think of them
•Writers strive for survival, not wealth
•Writers don’t have financial goals
•Writers don’t know their worth
•Writers don’t play to win
•Writers listen to naysayers
•Writers manage egos not wealth
•Writers trust the wrong people
•Writers give away their time
•Writers fail to negotiate
•Writers don’t get rich because they don’t envision themselves rich
•Writers suffer from learned helplessness
•Writers lack a sense of entitlement
•Writers fear calling attention to themselves
•Writers rarely speak up for themselves
•Writers rarely defend themselves
•Writers expect to be ignored
•Writers give up too easily
•Writers expect to be screwed as a cost of doing business
•Writers refuse to learn when and where they have power
•Writers let emotions get the better of them
•Prince Charming will never ride to the rescue. (In a woman’s world, apparently, Prince Charming is a husband; in a writer’s world, Prince Charming is an agent.)
•Inheriting wealth is not an investment strategy (or in writing world, counting on a bestseller is not an investment strategy).
•Learn to say no.
•Risk is not a synonym for loss
•There are no secrets
•Learning takes time and dedication
Now, there are some where I question how applicable they are. As an exercise, however, I feel re-framing a lot of the 'don't just let them walk all over you' advice from the over-generalizing and oft-sexist self-help books to apply to business-passive writers is very useful. It makes an interesting starting point for a writer exploring their attitudes towards publishing. I am somewhat of a Rusch fangirl, so I'll be watching this series as it develops. If I remember I have a blog, there might even be more posts about it!

(Also, have some hyphens. I appear to be hyphen-crazy tonight.)


Jill said...

What does it really mean when you can replace 'women' with 'writer'? One you're born with as a gender identity, and the other you either have the talent or work very hard at. And are you sure all writers feel this way, or is it only female ones?

Also why do you need self-help? You're freaking awesome.

Alii Silverwing said...

Jill! <3 *grins* I don't usually have any traffic with self-help books, mostly because ones directed at women make a lot of assumptions about inherent submission that I take great offense to. Some of the list do the same.

With respect to this particular list, though, point is that the self-help books aren't actually talking about gender or career. The advice is talking about a passive attitude toward self-responsibility. The books are trying to jog the _insert proper noun here_ into taking responsibility for themselves and their own success and achievements.

The self-help books assume a negative passivity in women. The person I stole the original post from wanted to make the point that it's not /women/ and a monolithic /all woman's personality/ that the books are really address (even though they say they are (i.e. they're sexist)), but something else (learned passivity) that can be applied to other groups of people. She picked writers because she is one. Her fellow writers show a total passivity toward new publishing, falling back on mentality that is hurting their careers.

In the same way the learned passivity isn't a problem for all women, it's not a problem for all writers, either.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Replace "writer" with "artist" and you've got about the same amount of coverage.

That same "learned passivity" is a really big problem in a world where people want to, say, use one's drawings gratis, for "exposure."