Last weekend, I read this essay in The Guardian when it was shared by novelist Steve Mosby.

Despite it being published on April 1, it does not appear to be an April Fool’s joke. The Guardian’s April Fool’s story is here

The thing that jumped out at me most was this:

I still read, but stick to the classics. I have next to no interest in contemporary fiction and avoid literary debuts by British female writers, which all seem so safe and samey.

So…you wrote a book (two of them, in fact), have had difficulty getting them published, and so you basically stopped reading contemporary fiction? That seems an odd choice to me.

I understand that getting published can be an exhausting, morally draining, and discouraging process. I haven’t heard many stories about it being easy (this one by Catherine Ryan Howard about it being difficult is hilarious). It can be confusing and painful. The fact that publishing generally moves at the speed of molasses in Vermont in January doesn’t help.

But every single successful author I’ve heard address the subject shares one trait: they are, without exception, voracious readers.

Anonymous also seems to have an aversion to understanding how the business of publishing works.

Dear writer, The Publishers aren’t out to get you. Nor are they too stupid to recognize your literary brilliance. They do, however, need to sell books. They are not nonprofit public service organizations. Of the books they publish, more will fall flat of the massive sales they aim for with each of them than will be bestsellers, but this doesn’t mean they’re evil or stupid. It is simply the nature of the publishing business.

Publishers will be the first to tell you that they sometimes make mistakes. Remember Robert Galbraith? His first book was rejected by some publishers too. But both those who chose not to and the one who chose to publish that book had valid reasons for their choices.

I also find it interesting that she talks about writers’ groups, but never mentions working with an editor. When she was “bewildered” by publishers’ rejections, perhaps she would have done well to hire an editor to work with her on her “masterpiece.” Any published author–and I do mean all of them–will tell you how crucial it is to have an editor. And any editor will explain that sometimes they’re able to help authors with their manuscripts and sometimes the author is unwilling or unable to use their feedback to hone their story.

She also mentions her “reputable and confident” agent. Seems to me that these are both subjective. I’ve worked with a lot of different agents and even filled that role for some authors. There’s no one single rule book for agenting. No Dummies Guide. Not every agent is suited to each author or books, and perhaps the one she found wasn’t well-matched to her or her manuscripts.

And finally, from a marketing perspective, I feel sorry for this woman, but I wouldn’t want to try to market either of her masterpieces. She seems to know everything, and would therefore be unable to learn anything or to accept feedback in terms of how she presents herself publicly. I’m not saying being a jerk isn’t an effective marketing strategy–it has worked for some, and will work for others in the future. But for it to be successful, you better have a book that’s going to appeal to the masses, and how.

Ultimately, I hope writers will never “shut up about” their writing or their reading.