Revisiting The Fevered Egos Of Self-Publishing
First, go read this:
“The Man Who Thought He Was King.” About a self-published author who gets kind of… well, crazy? Uppity? I don’t know. I’m not even sure what he’s pissed about, honestly.
Read it? Done? Cool.
One of the biggest things holding self-publishing back is the attitude of some — not all, not most and not even many — but some self-published authors. What you will find in the self-publishing (or DIY or “indie pub”) community is a handful of maggot-chewed bad-apples bobbing noisily in the barrel. They’re loud. They’re entitled. They’re oddly defensive (methinks thou doth protest too much). They often have books that look and read like they were written by a fourth grader on a high-test ADHD drug cocktail.
And they’re more than willing to get up in your face about it.
Don’t be that guy. Don’t be a cock-bag. A douche-nozzle. A righteous scum-topped cup of dickhead soup.
My message to the generic That Guy:
First, learn to write. Not just fiction but, say, forum posts. Tweets. Your own name. Whatever. UR JUST MADD COS I SELL TONSZ OF BOOKS AND YOURE SLAVE TO THE GATEKEPERS is not a compelling — or, frankly, cogent — message. Which leads me to:
Second, stop using your sales numbers as a bludgeon. BUT I SELL FOUR BILLION EVERY TEN MINUTES may or may not be true, but what it most certainly is is irrelevant. Is that how Neil Gaiman tries to end an argument? “WELL I’M A BESTSELLING AUTHOR SO EAT MY POOP.” I suspect he does not. (Though now I secretly kinda hope he does? I would give multiple pieces of my anatomy to have him on YouTube yelling that very thing — a boy can dream, can’t he?) Your sales numbers are not interesting. Nor do they represent a useful data point as the lever in whatever argument you happen to be in right now. Sales are not an indicator of quality. And it’s very difficult to establish if your sales numbers are even accurate. Take them off the table. Stop screaming them in people’s faces.
Third, please be advised that the number of books you write is also not an indicator of anything — certainly not quality. I could, if I chose, write a book a week. Each book would be a festering midden-heap, a clumsy orgy of misspelled words feeling up awkward sentences in the dark in order to give birth to a one-legged moaning monstrosity of a story, but I don’t. Yes, I do believe that authors in the 21st century will find increased productivity useful, but what that doesn’t mean is, “Vomit out as much poor-quality content as you can purge into the world.” Yelling, BUT I HAVE 137 BOOKS FOR SALE, leads people to suspect that you’re just another self-published whackaloon with poor impulse control.
Fourth, stop being mad at “gatekeepers.” Blah blah blah agents, publishers, editors. Every time you yell about traditional publishing it just looks like a dumptruck full of sour grapes. Which leads us all to what is likely the correct conclusion: you self-publish because you were rejected and your peen is in a twist about it, not because you have a great story you want people to read, not because you want the control that self-publishing affords you.
To the self-publishing DIY indie community at large:
Call these screeching moonbats what they are: screeching moonbats. I’ve long said that the self-publishing community needs fewer cheerleaders and more police — meaning, more folks willing to say, “That fruity nutball does not represent me, my work, my ethos, my nation, my planet, my species, or my very molecular structure.” Don’t let them be the loudest voices in your community.