Behold the art of torture. Pain, discomfort and fear are powerful motivators. Extorting confessions and achieving compliance through coercion is a “tradition” dating back thousands of years, usually in the name of God, King, or Country.
Fast forward to the present and the “Bringers of Pain” continue to wage war on innocents, but the motivation for the torture is not as clear as it was during the Dark Ages. No longer are these fearsome methods used in the name of religious uniformity. Now, it’s for market share and corporate identity in the publishing industry.
We, the readers and writers are under the oppressive thumb of the gatekeepers of the publishing world. They tell us what we can read, what we shall write and where we shall pick these corporate approved fruits of labor. They treat us as heretics and drive us into unground enclaves of self publishing witchcraft, so that we may practice our dark arts.
Self published authors are considered the great unclean stain in their world. How dare we defy the Big 5 and venture into the light on our own. We conjure our dark spirits in self imposed, but safe solitary confinement. The danger arises from the swampy mist when we bring our work into the open and beg for entry into the kingdom.
When one of our tribe ventures out into the wild savannah of publishing and dares to submit a manuscript, they are set upon by the little known, Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse – The Horseman of the Page. The Horseman subdues the wayward writer and punishes them for the audacity of showing a manuscript in public. I don’t mean punishment by watching Sex in the City episodes on an endless loop. God nothing that cruel, I mean real punishment.
The author is subject to hideous terrors in the publishing process:
Water-boarding – Preparing a one page synopsis of your one hundred fifty thousand word treatise is cruel and unusual punishment under any circumstance. The author painted word masterpieces, vast landscapes of descriptive prose and all that is holy and pure must be compressed down into a veritable post-it note. The author is left to drown in sorrow and adverbs.
The Dunking Stool – The publishing industry calls this a Query Letter. The would be author sends off a story pitch and if it floats – Burn It! Hey, it’s paper, of course it’s gonna float.
The Death of A Thousand Cuts – The Author is pelted by rejection letters, each one inflicting a paper cut, until that last impersonal, literary Dear John postcard slices into their soul.
The Rack – The Author submits the first five chapters of their lovingly crafted manuscript and waits. And waits. Each week passes and the tension increases until the author suffers a complete emotional breakdown.
The Iron Maiden – A full manuscript is requested by a publisher and the author is tossed into a spike lined coffin and left to rot, exactly like their pages on the publisher’s slush pile.
Burning at the Stake – The publisher rejects the final manuscript as something that the agency can’t support in their current catalog. The author attempts to explain their literary fictional account of the evolution of the platypus, entitled ,’What The Duck Am I?’ is, indeed a fit in the publisher’s collection of Y.A. paranormal romance. The publisher pours copious amounts of lighter fluid on said manuscript and sets it ablaze. The smoke does not announce the selection of a new pope, but it does signal other publishers of a heretic on the loose.
If you have met the Horseman of the Page, suffered and survived these torture methods, yet within you a dark spark remains; a spark of hope that your writing might one day see the light of day, then you, my friend, are an author.