This stems from a private joke amongst my co-workers over a misspelling we recently saw. There was a workshop on becoming published entitled How to be an Arthur. We all got a giggle out of it, but it really made me think about the differences between certain groups of writers.
The first group is comprised of authors. These are professionals who present themselves in a very businesslike manner. Whether they write literary or genre fiction, they take their writing seriously and work on nasty details such as proofreading and editing. Authors also realize their every word is not golden, and they are willing to rewrite and rework their stories where necessary.
More than networking opportunities, authors attend writing conventions, conferences, workshops, and classes to better their craft. They put as much effort into their log lines and query letters as they do their novels and short stories. They research their markets, and they research agents before sending queries. Once published, authors create blogs and web pages, working hard to market themselves and their work.
Then there is the second group, which is comprised of arthurs. These are writers who don’t believe that professional standards such as manuscript formatting, query letters, and insignificant issues such as plot and characterization apply to them. Their novel is perfect the minute it rolls from their printer, and if they are rejected, it is because no one appreciates their literary greatness.
Arthurs don’t need to research literary agents, they shoot out mass e-mails to hundreds of agents, because who has the time to wait? Arthurs believe that agents don’t bother reading queries, anyway, so who cares if the agent’s name is misspelled or incorrect? A query is a worthless waste of time, and most arthurs show their disdain for the process with misspelled words and poor sentence structure. Arthurs believe that it’s much more important to send their queries in an attention getting manner using innovative things like pink paper, interesting fonts, and of course, cash or liquor.
While not all writers who self-publish are arthurs, many arthurs do self-publish. They believe this wins them the distinction of being published, except most editors, publishers, and agents do not count self-publication as a publishing credit.
Arthurs do not believe that their personal appearance matters. My favorite was the arthur who published a photograph of himself shirtless and slumping in a recliner; he was slack-jawed and drooling. As one of my co-workers most elegantly expressed, “Ewwww.”
So which are you? An author or an arthur?
Copyright 2009 Teresa Frohock