Thursday, February 02, 2006

What's with Wikipedia?

My name is Roger and I'm addicted to googling. It gets worse. One of the things I google, obsessively, is myself. I will google myself. And then five minutes later I will google myself again. To see if I have creeped any higher up the hierarchy of Roger Morrises that populate the virtual space.

One of the other things I google is Macmillan New Writing. To see what anyone is saying about us. If anyone is saying anything about us.

I'm familiar with most of the articles available online that have been written about the imprint. More importantly, somewhere deep within me, I know what order they will appear when I google those magic words. And the order itself is comforting. It is the order of the universe. Or something.

Anyhow, tonight a new article came up. Someone's put something about Macmillan New Writing in the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Here's what the entry said:

Macmillan New Writing is an imprint of the British publishing company Pan Macmillan. Designed to attract previously unpublished authors, it offers aspiring novelists 20% of royalties from the sale of their book but no advance on signing. According to an article in The Guardian, Macmillan New Writing also requires authors to pay for their own editing, beyond a certain amount of copy editing that will be performed by the publisher. The first six books from Macmillan New Writing are due to appear in April 2006.

Okay. Thanks for the mention, but does anyone check these facts? (That's a rhetorical question, to which I already know the answer.)

Anyhow, I couldn't let it stand, so I clicked the edit button and added a little entry of my own:

Macmillan New Writing do not make writers pay for editing, and never have. This widely reported myth is the result of a wilful misunderstanding put about by members of the literary elite with an axe to grind. Macmillan New Writing did suggest to some, but not all, rejected authors that their work was in need of some editing before it could be considered for publication. At the same time, they passed on details of the society of editors and proof-readers, some of whose members provide editorial services at a price. Whether or not the writer did anything with this information was entirely up to the writer and would certainly not guarantee publication. Macmillan New Writing books were professionally edited by experienced and senior fiction editors to the highest industry standards.

So now I see they removed my addition from the main article and put it in the talk section, labelling it a 'rebuttal' of the Guardian article. They've put up this message, which I presume is only visible to me:

Hi there. I removed the paragraph you added to the Macmillan New Writing article, since it is unsourced and looks a little odd there in the "References" section. You're welcome to integrate it back into the main body of the article if you can provide a source; it certainly sounds like material that should be covered.

Well, providing 'a source' is a little difficult because I am the source. I will have to go back there and tell them that I suppose?

Maybe I should mention my book.


roger said...

I've been over there and put it back into the main article.

Dr Ian Hocking said...

Nice try, Roger. Wikip is a good source to target if you want to change perceptions...has more longevity than the newspaper articles, and is not written polemically.

You should definitely mention your book - it could go under the guise of 'to be released'. *evil hand-rubbing gesture* I've been tempted for a long to add an entry on myself, as a place to store my bibliography if nothing else, but my conscience threatens to throttle me.

Debra Broughton said...

The advantage of Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute to it.

The problem with Wikipedi is that anyone can contribute to it.

I imagine that's why they are asking for references.

But now you have a reference - give them the address of this blog post as a reference and you should get your information in the body of the story.

roger said...

Hi Ian and Debra,

Well I put my para back in the article, citing a piece I wrote for Jai Clare's blog And someone else came along and took it out again, putting it back on the discussions page. However, I did achieve something, because they removed the bit which said MNW authors had to pay for their own editing. The article now is uncontroversial.

It feels weird, messing with the Collective Misunderstanding.

Steve Kane said...

They have a point: why you would think that, as an author to be published under the New Writing scheme, you are any kind of authority on how it really works is anybody's guess.

I think you should interview yourself thoroughly to get your facts straight.

roger said...

RE: I think you should interview yourself thoroughly to get your facts straight.

I'm sure it can be arranged.

kathryn said...

"Collective Misunderstanding" - ha-ha. Good one, Roger. Checked out the wiki entry, well done.