The Writers’ Mafia

Mar 4, 2011 | The Publishing Industry

John Scalzi has a great post up at the moment about how there’s some panic going on in young-adult writing circles (that’s for young adults, not by young adults) that somehow, somewhere, there’s a YA Mafia going around and keeping new authors down, presumably in an effort to keep all the glory and fortune for themselves.

It’s a bit silly. They’re committing one of the great blunders, the first being ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia’, and this one being ‘Never attribute to malice that which can just as easily be attributed to incompetance’.

Well, maybe not quite incompetance. I’m sure there’s a whole host of authors who are being ignored right now that have some great material on offer – such is the nature of the publishing world, it seems. It may be timing, bad luck, lack of contacts, bad querying, lack of marketability, or any number of other things instead of malice. If they’re so concerned about it, why aren’t they trying to publish on the Kindle, set up their own marketing, develop a fanbase, and start their career that way? Is it somehow easier to complain that the ‘Man’ is screwing with their career? Why continue to pursue an industry that is set against you, and on what planet would said industry choose an untested, unknown author over a proven bestseller, if said industry had to choose between them? Shenanigans, I say. I demand examples and properly attributed research before I grab my torch and pitchfork, thank you very much. It’s so embarrassing to start baying for the wrong person’s blood.


John a hugely successful author, and in theory, one of the Mafia that should be trying to keep all the money, power, women, etc for himself. His response to such a notion was delightfully apt:

On a daily basis I write a couple thousand words on whatever novel I’m writing,  crank out two or three blog posts, check in with SFWA in my capacity as the organization’s president and take care of what needs to be addressed that day, do other paid copy not related to novels, take the dog out on at least two walks, answer e-mail and other correspondence, make business-related phone calls to agents, editors and such, spend time with wife, child and pets, occasionally leave the house for errands, read the entire Internet, maybe also some portion of a book, update Livejournal and Twitter, kill me some zombies, eat, ablute and sleep. That’s not on days when I’m traveling, mind you, during which I often do many of these things and also hurl myself across the country at several hundred miles an hour.

That being my schedule, let me ask you: Where do you propose I slide in fucking with your career?

Needless to say, I would happily pay money to play Left 4 Dead or Gears of War or, hell, any XBox or Steam game with Mr. Scalzi. And I would totally join the Writers’ Mafia and be a goon, because it would be AWESOME.

Hat tip to Holly Black for the original post – well worth the reading, and another author I’d like to meet someday. And remember, kids – the only person who can really torpedo your career is you.