I’ve been to a trade union conference, and I’m feeling all ‘Citizen Smith’ …
Last week, I was at the NUT national conference, which is why I've been a bit slack at updating my blog. For those who don’t know, it is the National Union of Teachers, for whom I do some work for. And for those who like to take part in a spot of teacher-bashing, may I give you some advice. When going on a first date with me, it is best to avoid the phrase, ‘bloody teachers and their holidays.’ No amount of snide jokes about my day job will make me sleep with you, as I had to point out to an unfortunate member of the male species a couple of weeks ago.
The conference was a tough gig. Sea front hotel, the dining out, the socialising, the freebies – yes, I managed to expand my NUT memorabilia – and I did a speech to 1200 people. It was about Ofsted; otherwise known as ‘the dementors’ to anyone else in the profession who actually has a heartbeat.
So, on to my point of this post. Something happened to me the other day and it got me thinking. Someone sent me an email pointing out that he liked my novel but then imperiously pointed out that he was going to punish me in the review he was writing because of the typos that he found. He then listed them in the email and told me he expected a response to his email. I had to reply, and be polite, because he was using the threat of a bad review if I didn't, but lo and behold, he then sent me another email with a link to his own review website, with a price list to get a review listed. Needless to say, I declined to take him up in his generous offer. But it got me thinking about being an indie author and the lack to come back we have on this behaviour. Apart from it being rude; sending indie authors, and complete strangers, emails with veiled threats as an attempt to extort money out of me is wrong and I fear that someone else more vulnerable than me would fall for it.
It got me thinking, if this happened at work, I’d have them in a meeting quicker than you can say ‘industrial tribunal’ but as indie authors, we have absolutely no protection from being ripped off, manipulated nor is there anywhere we can get any advice. There is the Writers’ Guild, which is a trade union, but if you’re self-published you have to have eight pieces of work published in order to qualify for full membership. And even if you were, I doubt there is anything you can do about receiving black-mail type emails from people who are threatening to write bad reviews unless you pay to use their service, or trolls leaving abusive reviews, or anywhere to connect with people who are in the know. Most of us don’t have agents and we have to rely on Amazon to behave well because there is no other way to do this.
I wonder, if there was a way to form a collective of independent authors, what would authors want from the service? What concerns to other writers have?
In other news, I’m currently editing my latest ghost story novella with the working title of The Book of Saint Giles, which will be my last ghost story for a while. Until I write another one that is!