Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RANT: Stop Raining On MY Parade Critics of Self-Publishing

Yeah, I'm going to say it. Ready? If you're writing a slam piece about self-publishing authors and warning about publishing poorly-written works, or saying those authors are not *real* writers, here's my advice.


Yep. That's right. Shut up. Because who you are really upset with, really annoyed with, are the people stealing copy or slapping expired copyrighted material up without any forethought to get a couple bucks off a sucker. And guess what? They aren't reading your blog anyway. 

You want to know who is? Me. My friends also working on their manuscripts. Anyone with half a brain doing their absolute best to publish a story and make readers happy. And you're killing our joy.

It's not my fault the traditional publishing world is elitist, exclusionary, and rips off great writers by offering them pennies on the dollar for their work. Writing is information. Information should be free for the masses. Not free as in cash, but free as in available to all, without restrictions. That includes the tidy version of restriction called a "gatekeeper." 

How many traditionally published books win literary awards? An infinitesimally small percentage. Does that mean every traditionally published book that doesn't win a literary award is not worth a reader's time? No. It means like every other industry, there are humans who work and operate at a level above the rest. You see it in mathematics, the military, athletics (without enhancing substances), etc. We naturally compete with one another and acknowledge excellence by merit. 

But these tirades against self-publishing are wrong. Why? Sure, it makes the poster feel better in his or her role as a traditionally published author, editor, agent, or other position in the publishing world. Yet, they are written at the expense of so many others working hard to put out the best book they can. That is wrong. That is stepping on the little guy to prove your own self worth.

I 100% defend your right to seek a publishing house to promote, edit, and publish your book. The book world would NOT be better off with only self-publishing; there is infrastructure our amoeba-like group cannot support. But perhaps you should acknowledge self-publishing offers advantages to the traditionally published world, too. Such as:

  • boldness to challenge genre definitions
  • sandbox to test new ways to enhance the author-reader relationship
  • faster lead time to experiment with new electronic formats
  • reinforcement of your publisher's pricing schedule as "quality" for a reader

I could pull out the printed books in my library and point out all of the typos I see, times when a page in the middle of the book was blank, or talk about the entire series I returned because chapters were printed out of order (sold in a retail book store chain, who proofed that?). But why? Books are written by humans. Humans are not perfect. 

These blogs and articles poking fun at self-published works are rude at best, bullying at worst. One even proudly teases about how many pages the reviewer can get through before the writing is just too bad to continue. To me, this isn't helpful, it's hurtful. The reviewer could offer constructive criticism, but not if they won't even evaluate the book as a whole. 

I could list hundreds of books I would never get past one, two, or twenty pages in, many of them favorites of my husband. Does that MEAN anything? Or is it just me being mean to the writers of those books if I write a scathing review to boost my page hits? I think the later.

So again, I'm telling you to stop being negative to a group of writers brave enough to push publishing in a new direction. No, we're not all John Locke, Amanda Hocking, J. A. Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Barry Eisler, and the other big-time sellers. But all the traditionally published authors aren't just like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Dan Brown, and the other names on the best-selling wall. 

The point is self-publishing authors are reading your blogs and articles. But you don't win many friends among us by looking down your nose. If you really want to help improve the quality of books out there for readers that you are so concerned will stop reading over a few typos, write about ways to improve a book. Write about what you do with your manuscripts before you send them off to your agent/editor. Give tips on strengthening characters, settings, and plot lines. 

Why? Because we, the self-publishing authors are reading. And you catch far more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. 

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.


  1. Well said! That's all I have time for, but I'll take the time to say it again: very well said!

  2. Love the Latin in your name :) I survived 4 years myself with a Magistra Williams.

    Thank you for the comment. I allowed myself to read so much negative press about self-publishing this week, it actually made me anxious about my own novel I'm working on. It shouldn't. I don't pretend to be the next Great American novelist. Never will. At best, my novel will give people a smile, a pleasant few hours of entertainment about elements we find in our love lives. At worst, I'll get flamed. Can't say it hasn't happened before, so what is there to really worry about? Right?

  3. very well said! I totally agree. These people dont realize the amount of work we have to put into our work in order to self publish. thanks for this definitely will retweet!

  4. The level of vitriol out there still amazes me. In a way, it's good to know in advance which websites and authors are welcoming or not. I have to just stay completely away from some otherwise insightful sites unless I know in advance I can afford the outrage. What I hate is when I'm blindsided by it!

  5. It may sound weird for a guy to say this, but you go girl! :)

  6. Thank you for writing this. It needed to be said.

  7. Here, here! Let 'em have it! It's simple: they see their monopoly slipping away. They see that authors - FINALLY - will be able to control their own destinies.


    However, we self-published authors must take care not to prove the elitist snobs right. Take care to offer your customers a professional product, one that will drive Word of Mouth.

    Then you'll be able to say to those elitists, "Na-na-na-na-na-na."

  8. Well said. We're in a time where there are publishing options that haven't existed in the past. There's no reason to bash any writer for choosing her own route to publication, whatever it might be.

  9. Thanks for the awesome rant! It's a big downer for certain to keep reading how we indie publishers are wrecking the whole darn world. I'm really not certain how it could be, but I keep hearing it! Shut up, indeed. :)

  10. Great post :) I think a lot of the vitriol is out of fear for the changing status quo since humans tend to fear what is new and different. Thanks for writing what you did. It really gives the rest of us the courage to continue indie publishing knowing the bulldozers are out there working hard to bash down the walls of myth.

  11. Great! Great! Great!
    I'm right there with you.

  12. Thank you--I appreciate your words more than I can say.

  13. I'm glad it's helped other authors. The first draft of this was a little too harsh. But I'm still proud of this piece and hope it helps encourage anyone out there with a story inside them to share. If we lose our literary tradition, we lose a big part of our culture. Let's keep people reading and smiling! :)