Saturday, November 13, 2010

Are authors all idiots?

Why do so many people assume authors are idiots?

Case in point. As happens all to often to me, I got a call from a "freelance writer" the other day who was doing an article for a well known military magazine on a subject I had spent years working on a book about. Now clearly this person had no clue what they were doing (as in thinking the work "ETO" was pronouned "E-Toe" and meant an actual location).

But what they wanted was for me to give them them some photos for their work. Of which they would be paid additonal for. (I checked that mags writerss guideline: between $20 and $80 per photo).

So here I am. Having spent a very long time digging up rare photos that they cannot find, and them wanting me to give them to the writer so they can get paid for them.

I told this freelancer to have the editor call me direct. And actually, the editor did not call me, but their creative director did, who pretty much bitched me out for not just given them what they wanted, and for having the gaul to think that maybe, just maybe, they might want someone that atually knows the subject to go over what they were going to print so as to get it right.

She did not exactly say "we really don't care if we get it wrong, as no one will know and we just want to fill space." but it was pretty damn close.

There was a lot more to it, including her using the age old myth that anyone that who has ever had any connection to the military instantly knows everythign there is to know about militarry patterns past, present and future (even doctors specialize you know).

So I did say, sure, you want to pay me for the photos and I will get them to you. But no, as they had money to pay the staff, and anyone they assigned for the article no matter how incompetant, but not for someone who had wrtten the book they were basing the article on! Can I have one of those jobs?

But I have decided there is a new ring in hell. For writers who do not do their own photo/illo research work. If you wonder why photos in most books are horrendously lame, it is because most authors just write text, and then leave it up to some one else to find "X" photos to put in the book. Seriously, many have no connection at all to the photos work or selection. And if they did it probably would not matter as they would not know if the photo was mis-captioned or anything.

Photo research is a skill and a developed talent. If you find photos no one has ever seen, people take notice. If then everyone else starts using those photos their value decreases.

This is why, (truie story) when one guy sent me a manuscript to look at which had all the photos be copied out of my books with my original captions included... I got a bit upset.
His excuse was "you did such a wonderful job finding the perfect photos that I figured why bother redoing that!" Seriously. And I mean they were photocpied form my book with including the original captions!

And he still doesn't understand why I got pissed.

Sad thing is, this kind of crap happens to me about every 2-3 months.

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