I received an email newsletter today, one of many I get on a fairly regular basis. The bulk of the newsletter wasn’t of interest to me, so I scrolled to the bottom, where a contest announcement sat.
The contest is for “beginning” writers, and it specifies who qualifies for entry with the following:
“Please note that it is for beginner’s only. If you have been fortunate enough to sell a short story or a book – congratulations – but you don’t qualify for this contest. If, on the other hand, you have only self-published, you do qualify.”
If you have only self-published?
I assume the writer of that little gem didn’t intend to sound condescending, but he/she/they/it succeeded in doing so anyway. Most English speaking people know that the use of “only” as it appears here gives the connotation of downplaying whatever it’s modifying. As in: “Oh, this? It’s only a vial of anthrax. Nothing to worry about…”
People who choose to offer their work to the world without benefit of an agent or publisher do not “only” self publish. There is a mountain of work that goes into self publishing if you do it correctly, and for most of us it is a second career that, at least at the start, pays about as well as volunteer work.
If it weren’t for the former journalism career, I apparently would qualify for this contest since I’ve “only” self published Chantal’s Call. However, even if I were beginner enough to qualify, I wouldn’t pony up the $6 for the entry fee. I think having sold somewhere between 50 and 100 copies of my “only” self-published novel in the four months following its launch would give me an unfair advantage.
When are certain people going to get it into their heads that self publishing is not only here to stay, but is in fact a viable and reputable way to get your work into the marketplace?
One last comment about that annoying announcement: we self-published writers (most of us, at least) know that the plural of “beginner” does not contain an apostrophe and “self-published” should be hyphenated only if it is being used as an adjective. If you’re going to be condescending, do it correctly.