David Comfort’s publishing guide is not so comforting

David Comfort’s The Insider’s Guide to Publishing is depressing, although I believe he was aiming for darkly humorous. Unfortunately, I found the humor to be more annoying than funny.

I will save you the trouble of reading it by distilling the information here:

  1. Publication is unlikely, especially paid publication.
  2. Your book will probably flop, and your agent will drop you, and you will never write again.
  3. Writers are miserable, crazy alcoholics who die penniless (and occasionally get into fights with each other over who’s best or just because they are miserable and penniless).
  4. Publishing is an incestuous industry and it really does matter who you know—or don’t. So if you don’t know anyone, you’re pretty much screwed.
  5. The 1920s were THE high point of literature, and things have gone downhill from there. No one reads anymore. No one writes good books anymore. Etc.
  6. Self-publishing is a thing! It’s great for the companies who are running the self-pub companies, because they are making their millions off the hard-earned dollars of writers and the writers’ friends and family. And if you self-pub, you will lose respect. Or something.

Reading this book made me feel crazy, like why am I even writing? Everything is hopeless.

But the more I thought about it, the more I disagreed with what Comfort is saying. Not the historic facts (and really, the book is mostly a compilation of depressing historic facts), but the doom and gloom attitude he seems to take.

I reject this attitude. There are good publishers out there publishing good books. We have more diversity in literature than we ever have (I probably don’t have to tell you Comfort mostly writes about Dead White Guys like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Poe, Pound, etc., with the very occasional nod to lady writers).

The landscape is changing, true, and change can be hard, but according to the Pew Research Center, 76% of Americans read at least one book in 2013. Print books brought in more than 20 billion dollars in revenue in 2012.

Clearly, people are still reading. So I’m going to keep writing.


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