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October 07, 2008


Emily Winslow

I really enjoy your blog, and I'd like some clarification about your "annoyance of the week." There is, of course, no excuse for rudeness or meanness. If that's what's going on, then, yes, it's lamentable. But rejection itself isn't rude or mean, and it's not clear to me that what you're describing isn't simply rejection.

Conference organizers are responsible for filling their panels and speaking slots with experienced professionals. That is their duty. With the spectrum of publishers being so vast, with "the big boys," as you called them, on one end, and self-publishing at the other, they must differentiate. There are many wonderful small presses, with varying degrees of impact. There are also many well-meaning small presses that are essentially self-pubs. And there are vanity presses. And there are scam presses.

It's the duty of conference organizers to attempt to tell the difference. They should do this with sensitivity and kindness, but still they must do it. Can you elaborate on what annoys you here? I respect your opinion and am curious. Were the conference organizers obnoxious, or is it the act of deeming *any* publisher unqualified that annoys you?

Were you organizing a conference, would you have, say, a vanity-published author as one of your main speakers? Or would you fill your panels with authors whose books are unavailable in mainstream brick-and-mortar bookstores? If yes, do you think this would be what your attendees expected, and that they would be pleased? If not, do you think this is "mean" of them?

Thanks for any further info you care to share...

AGATHO RESPONDS: These are all good, intelligent questions. The problem is that I'm feeling rather cranky on this topic right now and I fear anything I write would be borne of that frustration. Give me a few weeks to cool off, and I'll try to post something that responds to your questions with more light than heat.

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