OK, I've been at Westercon two days now, and I'm cranky. Why? Because my old-person stomach kept me up all night, and then my middle-aged-lady cats woke me up at the crack of dawn. (The sun was up, so why wasn't I?) And then, since Westercon is a con, today people kept assuming I was yawning and sleepy because I was up all night yiffing or something.
Anyway, last night as I was glamorously grabbing my stomach and wishing I was dead (because I am young! sexy! and exciting!), I realized that something was really bothering me about Jaye Manus' excellent post on not putting a bunch of weird formatting into your files. (To keep this from being a complete gripe fest--which, trust me, it's going to be--Manus also posted an invitation to send your source files to someone who is trying to develop software to automatically strip out the weird crap.)
What was bothering me was this: Why were people including all this weird crap in the first place? It's literally been decades since publishers set things in type--layout is all done on computers and has been for a very long time. Screwy codes mess up Quark just as badly as they mess up e-book conversions.
And then, of course, I remembered--it was always someone's job to yank out all the weird coding. A file would come in from a writer, and it would be all jacked up, and the very first thing that had to happen to it was that someone (usually a lowly assistant) would have to spent their day de-jacking it.
I would sometimes suggest that, hey, shouldn't we tell the writers that they're fucking everything up and making someone's life difficult by putting two spaces after every period or putting in a million tab characters and hard returns. Then maybe they wouldn't do it! Efficiency!
The answer, of course, was oh, no. Do not attempt to educate writers about publishing. The average writer is too dumb and too much of a prima donna to make minor changes in their habits that would save hours and hours of somebody else's time.
And there are writers who really embrace this concept, you know? These are the people who can't for the life of them produce a clean text file, even though it's probably easier to produce a clean one than a screwed-up one. This is how they wrote papers in college back in 1972, and they'll be damned if they're going to bother educating themselves or changing their ways, because they are writers, and their only job is to write.
Today, as I was groggily watching an ignorant and insensitive traditionally-published author act like a fool and an asshole, I realized that here is a new stereotype: The traditionally-published fool and asshole.
In the interest of not demonizing, I will note that I don't think all or even most traditionally-published writers are fools or assholes. But those who are seem to follow a particular pattern.
1. They are exceptionally ignorant. Exceptionally. This person opened the panel, which was about a fairly basic aspect of book production, by noting that they know absolutely nothing on the subject. They went on to state that they would probably be able to tell us only what their editor and agent say.
2. They spend 99% of their time bitching about how their agent and editor treat them. Their input is not welcome. They have no control. Bad decisions are made that have the potential to harm their book, and they are not allowed to stop or fix them. Their agent puts their editor before them. They are treated like a mildly retarded small child, and they resent it. If only some alternative business model existed, which allowed a writer complete control over their work. Too bad it doesn't!
3. They are convinced that self-published work must be crap. Oh, yeah. (And yes, I pushed back on that one. I was even fairly polite about it.) But apparently The Way of Self-Publishing is to half-ass it, because no self-published writer gives a shit about quality. At least, that what this author hears. You know: From their editor and agent and all the other good people at their publishing company. Who have no vested interest in this whatsoever.
Jesus Christ, I'm watching people beat themselves to death over quality, and this ignorant idiot has to blather on like they have the least fucking clue about anything--like they haven't put themselves in a position where they are at a very low risk of ever getting the least fucking clue about anything, because their agent and editor control all the information.
And I'm so very sure Hugh Howey cries himself to sleep at night over the quality of his work.