"I’m an author and I’m not good about this stuff"

Passive Voice has a post on Penguin suing authors for not delivering books that they received advances for. Obviously Penguin is a troubled company, and suing is kind of an odd decisions, since unless the advance was huge, suing costs more than just writing it off as a loss.

But forcing people to feel sympathy for Penguin is...Elizabeth Wurtzel! She gave an interview with NPR that contains the hilarious line:

I think at some point they did send me a letter about this. I mean, I think it’s one of those things that I probably should have dealt with and didn’t because I’m an author and I’m not good about this stuff.

She then goes on to say that Penguin shouldn't sue her, because having a relationship with her (you know, the kind of relationship where they give her $33,000 and she give them bupkis) is worth so much more. Sooooo much more!

The whole "I'm an author and I'm not good about this stuff" bit is especially implausible because, as Peter Winkler pointed out, Wurtzel used to be a lawyerShe also graduated from Harvard, was a journalist before getting fired for plagiarism, and pretended to be a lawyer before she actually was one! A woman of many talents, it seems.

And, you know, many problems, most of which appear to stem from her having an ENORMOUS sense of entitlement. Still, that attitude that if you are an author and an artiste, then you don't have to worry about piddly little crap like, I dunno, actually writing books is one that obviously has some traction with people who aren't as pathologically self-indulgent as Wurtzel.

It's an attitude that traditional publishing has encouraged--you don't ask authors to deliver clean files because they'll think it's beneath them. You keep the authors removed from the publishing process, that process remains an intimidating mystery to them, and then they won't run out and self-publish. Everybody wins--as long as "everybody" doesn't include writers or readers.

One of the many things I like about self-publishing is that it forces authors to not be snotty little prima donnas about everything--I mean, you can be, but it's going to cost you. Explicitly. Don't feel like leaving out that junk code? Hope you feel like paying a formatter two or three times as much as you would otherwise! Don't want to think about how you're going to position your book to readers? Get ready for poor sales and angry reviews by people who feel misled! Too brilliant to worry about the "technical" details of spelling and grammar? Be prepared to have many, many readers fail to understand your genius!