The Indie Writer Rejection Meme

That, above, is the meme.

It’s jet-skiing its way around Facebook right now.

It leaves me scratching my head. And my chin. And my nether-junction.

Let’s remove for a moment that this meme supporting indie writers has a number of misspellings — we can discount that because the list appears cribbed from this piece from Daily Writing Tips, which does not ascribe it any indie significance at all. The misspellings are from the original list. Originally I’d thought, “Ha ha, oh, the irony, some self-publisher propaganda that has — wait for it, wait for it — a passel of misspellings.” Ah, but it seems the “indie” banner has been attached only recently.

But that’s where I get lost.

Indie writers. Readers. Rejection. Support.

I’m trying to parse what these things have to do with each other.

“Great books have been rejected (but then published) so you should support indie authors because…” And here is where I start flailing about like an octopus on bath salts. Because indie authors have not been rejected? Is that somehow meaningful to a reader? “Because the reader’s opinion is all that matters. We write for you.” (As if traditional authors don’t write for readers?) So, self-publishers skip the submission/rejection process to put their books direct into the hands of readers. That’s fine, totally admirable, but that’s not cause to support anybody, is it? The motivations of the author matter? Not the story? Not the quality of the tale told? Just the motivations and business decisions?

Self-publishing is not charity.

It’s not a 6th grade trophy for participation. Readers don’t buy books by indie authors because they’re indie authors — well, I’m sure some do, but those readers are probably also indie authors themselves. Are you really hoping that readers will support you based on your decision not to tough it out in the traditional space? That they’ll “throw you a bone” because of a business choice? That, recursively, is insulting to self-published authors, isn’t it? That you should be patted on the head and given a lift because you made a different decision, not because you wrote a kick-ass book that deserves its space on all the bookshelves?

Here’s the other thing: this sends the wrong message about rejection.

It tells us rejection is bad. It’s not. Life is full of rejection. We need it. We need it for perspective. We need it to improve. Rejection isn’t always right. It rarely feels good. But it reminds us that we’re not special.

That we have to work for what we achieve.

Should we remove reviews? Because they’re a kind of rejection. Should we stop grading tests? Or trying to get jobs? Or applying for college, or scholarships, or internships? Maybe we should stop asking people out on dates and just bang a lamp or a pile of bean bags instead.

Now, you can make the argument that this meme proves how the system is fucked — how classic works meeting the Rejectionist’s Axe is proof of a broken machine. But that’s not at all what this meme suggests. Rather, these are books that made it. Books by authors who persevered and that ended up on shelves, in schools, in your hands. The very fact they exist — and have become the classics we all know and love (erm, excepting Chicken Soup for the Soul) — is proof that the system works. If these were all self-published after getting cornholed by the traditional system, hey, fine, I hear you. But these are books that the system supported. That became classics and sold bajillions out of that very system.

Sure, somebody rejected Harry Potter.

And it’s good they did.

Who knows what the book would’ve become under a different editor, different publisher? Oh, that rejection is proof that… humans are imperfect? That they don’t make perfect decisions all the time? Is the system flawed? Um. Duh? Of course it’s flawed. Everything is flawed. Nothing is perfect. No writer, no agent, no editor, no publisher. Could it be better? Sure. But that doesn’t automatically mean skipping the game just because you’re afraid you’ll skin a knee.

If anything, this meme proves that one rejection, ten rejections, two dozen rejections, doesn’t have to stop you. That you can keep on kickin’ and swinging for the fences because you only need one acceptance to make all those ugly motherfucker rejections fade into meaninglessness.

It doesn’t prove that you should be an indie author. Or that you should support an indie author.

If you want to be an indie author, go for it. It’s a path with value. But it’s not a path you take because of rejection. It’s not a path you should take because of something other traditional authors did or experienced.

You choose it because it’s right for you. Because you have the right temperament and ability. Because you want control. Because you think you’ll make better money and reach more readers.

Stop acting like the victim.

Stop making this choice based on your rejection of the “other” choice (or its rejection of you).

No more propaganda.

No more middle fingers to the “system” or its authors.

Oh —

And if you’re a reader?

Don’t support indie authors.

Don’t support traditional authors, either.

Just support good authors with good books.


*peels out of the driveway in a cherry-red Geo Tracker*

72 responses to “The Indie Writer Rejection Meme”

  1. I hate that list – mainly because it’s garbage. For one example among the many, Gone With the Wind was never rejected. Not once. It was never even put on submission. It was read while in progress, Mitchell had to be convinced – by the editor friend who read it – to finish it, and then it was sold to the only publishing house that ever saw it.

    (also, anyone who can’t use spell-check to know there’s an “i” in “Princess” isn’t worth listening to on anything pertaining to writing.)

  2. Ha! I never noticed the typos the first time I looked at that. I did wonder what exactly rejection had to do with writing for readers. I guess the person is saying all those publishers that rejected those books were wrong and should be kicking themselves now. But still, there are a number of other reasons a publisher would pass on a book. That meme is just a broad assumption that doesn’t take all variables into account in an attempt to prove they are right.

  3. I’m pleased to share with you, that only yesterday, I recieved my first ever rejection from an Agent. (No doubt, more to follow.)
    Your post made me smile, as it echos how I feel about self publishing. Not that’s bad, it’s just abused. Also, while I’m having a mini rant… Why not support an “Indie author”, as a bookseller it’s my opinion that the only people who get to call use this title, are (or should be) the authors PUBLISHED by an Indie press. Self publishers really need to stop calling themselves “Indie”. Very confusing for the readers.

    A pleasure, as always.

  4. “Life is full of rejection. We need it. We need it for perspective. We need it to improve. Rejection isn’t always right. It rarely feels good. But it reminds us that we’re not special.”

    Harsh words but true. Great perspective.

  5. The thing the meme is saying is just another iteration of the Gen X Parent mess where no one is permitted to /fail/ because that might mean their precious baby (be it an actual child or a brainchild of a book) is less than perfect, which would reflect poorly upon them.

    Load of total horseshit. It’s the same logic that’s fucked up the younger side of my generation with the ‘they need self-esteem more than anything’ mentality. If you don’t succeed, cry, pout, and quit trying – then be confused when the real world doesn’t immeadiately capitulate.

    Like most if not all popular statistic memes, it’s trash.

  6. Yeah, that logic makes no sense at all.

    I’ve got to say I’ve about had it up to here with the word “Indie.” “Indie Authors,” “Indie publishers,” “Indie music”–I don’t even know what the word means anymore.

  7. The logic here is rather interesting. Except for Chicken Soup for the Soul, all of those books were traditionally published not self-published. So a list of books which were rejected a bunch of times (duh) were finally picked up by a traditional publisher, traditionally published, and became bestsellers. And that means you should support self-published authors. *scratches head* Could someone clue me in to that leap in logic?

    “Because the reader’s opinion is all that matters. We write for you.” So authors who are traditionally published don’t write for their reading audience. Really? That statement is supported by a list of traditionally published books and authors, so wouldn’t it be the other way around: that traditionally published authors write for the reader?

  8. That list is total bullshit. Anne Frank’s Diary was never submitted to a publisher, it was on the contrary the publisher who approached Anne’s father for permission to publish it. Watership Down was rejected 13 times, not 26. The Dubliners was submitted 18 times, not 23. I can only imagine the other entries have been similary ‘well-researched’.

    Regarding rejection, I’m not yet at the stage of my writing career where I have something that can be rejected, but when that time comes, I plan to have my first rejection letter framed and hang it on the wall. It’ll be awesome.

    • Indie authors also tout the myth that a great many classic authors were self-published — which is in some cases true, and in some cases not as true as folks would believe (and also speaks to a different time in terms of the industry).

      And it’s not particularly meaningful what Edgar Allen Poe did, anyway. He also died broke. And maybe drunk.

      Again, self-publish because it’s the right path, not because of something someone else did, classic author or no.

      — c.

  9. This.

    I support self-publishing, but I’m heartily sick of the crusade to defame traditional publishing, as if there’s only room for one type.

    Sometimes, I like to pick up a book which has the same basic level of quality as every other book I’ve read from that author or publisher; sometimes I feel adventurous and want to explore something new, even if it’s raw. I don’t appreciate either side telling me how to spend my money, and I can’t help but notice that traditional publishing doesn’t ever tell me not to buy indie books, but indie authors are often demanding I stop supporting “the system.”

  10. I just don’t get why our modern culture tries to enforce polarization, regardless of subject. Why aren’t more people trying both avenues to revenue? (See how clever I am? Shut up.) I like cake. If I buy cake, I own it, I have it. You see where I am going with this, right?

    The snobbery between traditional authors and self-pubbed is pathetic. We’re all just writers. We’re all just self-obsessed narcissists forever on the edge of collapse, and each day is a struggle to choose between writing or reruns of Dora the Explorer with a box of bon-bons. This is not a forgiving vocation, and there sure as shit isn’t a trophy for just showing up. Write, refine, and send forth through what channel works for you. Don’t bash the path of others, and don’t beg the audience for pity.

    Honestly, I bet the majority of those books would not have become classics on their first submission. I further believe the majority of them were probably damn near unreadable.

  11. I’d rather see a list of successful self-published books, so that I could judge their merit myself. Me thinks that would be a better argument for self-publishing.

    Also, since “indie” is slang for “independent,” I really don’t find offense with anyone using it for any reason, as long as they understand the definition of indie.

    Indie, definition:

    1. One, such as a studio or producer, that is unaffiliated with a larger or more commercial organization.
    2. An artistic work produced by an independent person, company or group.

    I’m a little biased on that, however.

  12. The writer’s job: write good books, revise & edit the hell out of them, get them into the hands of readers.

    There are multiple paths to all of the above.

    One of the hard parts of these kinds of conversations is that it lumps writers into two opposing camps: indies and traditionals. As if 1–all indies are the same/all traditionally published authors are the same, and 2–there is an unbreachable wall between those two groups.

    I propose a different categorization: writers who approach the work professionally and those who don’t. And by professionally, I mean seriously, willing to do the hard work, respecting the craft, and respecting the reader, and willing to deal with rejection.

  13. Wait…if that list carries any message at all (other than red text on a green background being a bad idea), it’s ‘Why you shouldn’t give up on traditional publishing’.

    That list represents the fruits of persistence, not of self publishing.

  14. What Rick A. Carroll said.

    Also, a top agent once blogged, “You get one chance at this.” They know each other, and I think many of us weren’t ready for prime time with our first submissions. As we were diligently learning and refining, probably to no avail, a section of the fence fell down. The gatekeepers couldn’t get it back up AND guard the gate, so a bunch of us ran through.

  15. @Rick Carroll: The majority of commercially published authors I know aren’t “snobbish” about self-publishing – it’s mostly inverted snobbery by them towards us (and I say “us” purely because I don’t have any projects on the go that fit a self-publishing model. Never say never, and all that). Most of us are, like Chuck, simply concerned that they might be doing it for the wrong reasons, like fear of rejection, and that they’re just putting off the sad day when, eventually, they have to admit that their self-pubbed book is failing to sell.

    Sadly you can’t tell a zealot anything – there’s a certain mindset for whom facts that are contrary to their own belief merely reinforce that belief (I know. WTF??). Cf all the Holocaust/climate change/(insert fact of choice) deniers…

  16. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, it’s a big brown dick.” – George Carlin
    Sometimes a rejection is “I like you, but not in that way. My friend X will, though. Go say hi.” And sometimes it is “Hey, there’s this invention called soap, and my eyes are up here, dumbass.”

    Writers really need to get over rejection. They are par for the course. You don’t bowl a 300 every time you write a story. Sometimes the book/story is just not a good fit with the editor or publication. And sometimes you need to improve your game.

    Yeah, Stephen King was rejected dozens of times. He nailed them all to the wall to drive his ambitions. Carrie was rejected numerous times by editors and publishing houses that couldn’t see its audience. Not because big evil publishers thought King was an upstart and they knew better what readers wanted.

    Indie publishing is not rebellion. It is a business decision. My wife designed our wedding invitations herself. We did not strike a blow against the man. We utilized her talents and saved some money.
    You can reach your audience with traditional or indie publishing. If it will be a long battle to reach your audience- who may be far and wide, and require years of word of mouth to coalesce- then in this financial climate, you will most likely publish yourself, or with small presses.
    Do I like how traditional publishing has treated writers for the last few decades? Generally, no. It reminds me too much of the ’50s rock ‘n rollers who got a Cadillac while the rights and royalties went to the manager. Works good for some, not for others. That will inevitably improve now that they aren’t the only game in town, but it doesn’t make them the Evil Empire. Just businessmen. Amazon isn’t Luke, they’re another business, doing what will make them more money. It benefits some writers, though. And there’s no reason not to take advantage of this new competition in the publishing biz.

    Chuck and others have said it again and again. Let’s not make indie/trad as strident and shrill and hateful as red state/blue state has become in the political arena. It distracts from the issue… and from writing!

  17. I was so with you until the Geo Tracker.

    Kidding. Excellent points, all, delivered in true Wendig fashion (with sprinklings of f-bombs and genital references). This is how I wish all my life lessons were delivered.

  18. I have to say that I’m finding that the authors I like and want to support right now are those who, like Chuck, proclaim the wonderful choices writers have right now and embrace any and all paths that they have the opportunity to.

    The folks who are starting to really piss me off are the self-published (or indie – I don’t really care what it’s called) writers who have been traditionally published but shit all over it. These folks tend to say something like this:

    1) I was traditionally published and I didn’t like it.
    2) Then I went to self-publishing and was really successful.
    3) I make way more money now then I did then.
    4) If you don’t follow me into self-publishing then you’re an idiot.

    Two things really, really piss me off about this.

    First, these folks tend to completely ignore the fact that their success as self-pub authors might rest largely on the shoulders of the audience and cred they built up as traditionally published authors. If Joe Nobody like me tries to follow in their footsteps right now I’d probably fall flat, and quietly unnoticed by most, on my face.

    Second, they completely ignore the fact that their greater success might be largely due to the fact that they are further in their careers now as self-pub authors than they were as traditional-pub authors. It makes sense that over their career both their skill and audience may have grown, thus making it easier to sell more books and make more money.

    I’m really enjoying the embryonic beginnings of this thing called a writing career I’m trying to forge and I appreciate those who blazing trail before me and show me the options and possibilities that are out there. I don’t appreciate those who have decided to burn bridges for themselves and tell me that I’m not allowed to rebuild them for my own use.

    • @Jeff:

      And they also confuse “anecdote” with “data.” As in, “I did this and it worked, so it works automatically for all authors all the time.”

      Where I am in my writing career is a very good place that is the sum of all my choices so far — DIY and trad-pub, blogs and books and games and whatever, and nobody else will be able to replicate that because there’s just too much *weirdness in the water* for it to be a perfectly reproducible thing. And yet everyone wants to hammer everyone else with “DO THIS OR FAIL” proclamations when, plainly evidence exists that Others Who Have Done Differently Are Just As (If Not Moreso) Successful.

      — c.

  19. Excellent points in response to a poorly made “argument.”

    The only thing I’ll add is this point:

    George Lucas had an editor. Someone to keep him in-check. Someone to make his nebulous ideas better. More structured. More nuanced. Essentially, someone to reject him.

    But only on the first three Star Wars films (1977-1983).

    After that, he was given free reign to splatter his idea-seed any which way he wished.

    And look what we got.

  20. This is my first encounter with this list, and my first question was “Yeesh, who chose this color?” I half want to charge the designer with visual assault.

    My guess is this is meant to address a frequently underlying assumption that many independent authors chose to publish their work only after having gotten rejected (and by implication deemed not good enough to be part of the corporate publishing industry). I’m not saying this list soundly addresses that assumption, just that that’s my guess. That assumption might not even exist, for that matter; it may be solely insecurity on independent authors’ end. I think it’s also somewhat of a challenge to the oft-made claim that there is some “gatekeeping” or “curation” aspect to corporate publishing, or that a book’s placement on a shelf by some such “curative” entity is some guarantor of quality.

    But those are just my guesses. I could be way off.

    Rick A. Carroll asked “Why aren’t more people trying both avenues to revenue?” It’s a good question, and I think what it seems people are calling “hybrid” publishing–working in both the independent and corporate realms with ease, as you do, Chuck–is a great undertaking in addition to being yet one more viable option of how to forge one’s career. The problem with the question, however, is simple: ultimately, publication within the corporate print distribution model is not a choice an author can make. Pursuit of publication most certainly is. And, perhaps, given world enough and time, one’s likelihood of gaining representation or selling a manuscript might increase toward near-certainty. But in the end, “yes” is mostly up to and can only be said by someone besides the author, and of all the control over things like design, lay-out, and execution independent publishing makes possible, that simple control over “yes” is probably the most important.

    When I was in high school, I thought they were Geo Tractors. I couldn’t understand how one would use such a vehicle to commute.

  21. So far, I hadn’t seen this image have an indie message attached to it. Yet again, I have only seen this image on Facebook two times so far.

    But great article though. Maybe it was a good thing Harry Potter was rejected several times and landed in the right hands for such a right book.

  22. The origin site for this list makes about as much sense as this meme. and whats really funny is that the site this comes from (typos and all) sells a grammer ebook. 🙁

  23. Actually, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” was self-published. But it was self-published by two successful motivational speakers who sold it at all their lectures until it caught on. They were, in essence, being paid to market the book. Good nor not, it managed to find an audience and become a big success. But as a template for success — especially for success of a novel (most indie authors write novels, which are a much tougher sell than nonfiction) — it is worthless.

  24. This. This. And this!

    Well put, Chuck. I’d also add that the savvy writer should be doing both, pushing the envelope, using all the resources out there. Publishing is evolving. Hell, everything is always evolving, and you’re doing yourself an injustice if you don’t evolve with your work.

    It’s not “us vs. them”, it’s not “gatekeepers”, it’s not “indie power”, or any of that nonsense. It’s about putting a good story out for people to read, and giving them the best story possible. It’s about understanding the system(s) available and using them to best serve the reader. It’s about being a professional.

    And it’s about goddamned time folks started figuring this out.

  25. Is this all the result of the “everybody gets a ribbon, nobody loses” nonsense that this latest generation of children has been raised under? Sometimes a writer does need to be told it’s not that special, go back and do it again. Try harder, learn, show us your best stuff, not the stuff you just threw together and pasted up on the interweb.

  26. Perhaps you’re more annoyed by the presumption of the meme and therefore don’t want to understand it.

    My guess is the list is playing on an unenlightened perception that most indie authors are “indie” because they must have been rejected by traditional publishers. And as traditional publishers also rejected a lot of books that became famous, we should therefore support those indie authors.

    • @Joe:

      I’m not annoyed by anything. I just don’t understand how this list has anything to do with indie authors. Or, frankly, what rejection has anything to do with indie authors at all.

      — c.

  27. In an ideal world, independently published books would push boundaries and break rules in a good way. It should never be used to circumvent quality control in order to support the author’s ego.

    I recently read an example of a book that broke the rules in a good way. It’s horror/fantasy/literary with a reversal of reader expectation in the middle that made my head spin. A Pallid Waste by Mike S. Elton. I doubt traditional publishing would have taken the chance, but it’s dang good stuff.

  28. Chuck, thanks for this post. I agree with everyone who has said that Indie publishing is a viable route for anyone who chooses it. Of course it is!! Trying to create and sell good art is a human need/joy/ frustration!!! I was in a garage band once. Two of the musicians worked hard enough to eventually make a living at what they loved. I didn’t. I ended up a writer, doing something I loved even more.

    I want to add this:

    At least some of the those rejections came with editor notes. “Not for us, but I see potential in the mystery element.” or “This is an interesting premise but the main character is so hostile I had trouble caring about her.” or “The subplot feels too elaborate to me, too distracting. It mutes the core of the story.” ETC. So editorial rejection can help the author reshape/rethink the work, assuming the author agrees enough to consider a re-write.

    Rejection isn’t a hostile suppression of the writer’s work via an “elite” editor. It is a business decision made by the people who decide if the work, in current form, would pay for it’s production and make a profit beyond that. That judgment is grounded in what the publishing company’s stats tell them people currently like to read. The marketing department has to agree with the editor who loves the book or it is rejected. So the reader has always been, and remains, the final judge of any book, no matter how it is published. Write well and then write better and then publish in whatever way you want, whatever path serves each book best. I think a lot of us will end up with hybrid careers.

  29. The Elephant in the Room that is left out of these conversations is the intermediary editing and revising that occurs between the rejections and the eventual publishing.

    Books are sculpted art – they take careful chiseling, molding and occasionally hammering. Once that is done you must get someone (or multiple someones) who have no idea what you are making to look at it. If you think you have sculpted a horse and the first viewers see an elephant – there is still work to do.

    The processes of traditional publishing helps you find the horse under the elephant. Writers that choose any other road to publication need to create those processes for their own books. ‘My mom loves it!’ is not good enough. This is the woman who put your childish drawings of freaky balloon handed stick figures in a frame.

    What tees me off about the ‘indie’ horn-blowers is not that they choose to self-publish but that they discount the process and claim that they can publish an elephant and the reader will ‘find’ the horse.

    Show me an indie author who speaks of revision, beta readers and hiring an editor and I will happily check out their book. Show me one who crows ‘Just finished last chapter of book – will get formatting done and make it available for sale tomorrow!’ and I will place a black mark by their name and never read them. I know an elephant when one is in the room.

    • “Books are sculpted art.”

      My god, @Eddie Louise, I hadn’t thought of that before.

      It’s really quite an elegant metaphor. Well said! I gotta noodle on that one some more.

      — c.

  30. Chuck, good for you, you shouldn’t need to stand under (or understand) outdated correlations between indie writers and rejection. Reminds me when I started my first online company in 1996 and people asked me what I was going to do after this new “internet fad goes away.”

    • @Joe:

      If I’m reading you correctly, you seem to be under the impression I’m attacking indie authors. Which is, of course, absurd. I don’t consider self-publishing a “fad,” I just question the connection between this meme, the concept of rejection, and why readers should support indie authors.

      The connection is tenuous, at best.

      — c.

  31. WOWSA. I’ve often lurked here, but never commented. But I just hafta say: Thank you, Wendig. You’re my hero.

    I’m an agented but not yet published author. If I had a nickel for every time a self-published writer sneered at my choice to pursue traditional publishing, we could both have a latte (or a shot of Poe’s favorite.)

    I have absolutely nothing against self-published authors. I’m not out to get anybody or discredit anyone for making a different choice. So why can’t the converse be true?

    Yes, the traditional path is hard. But for me, that’s the whole point. I want my books to reach their maximum potential. I want an amazing editor who’s an advocate for the reader, who shines a light on the blind spots I could never see on my own. I’m not in this to top the kindle charts or become a ninety-nine cent millionaire. I’m in this to make something worthy.

    Again, for me, If this were about money, there are plenty of other much more efficient ways to make a buck.

    At the end of the day, yes, the traditional path sometimes feels like trying to pull Excalibur out of the rock. But I suspect the challenge will sweeten the victory. Would I personally feel the same way if I bought a (nice, well-made) replica? I don’t know. For now, that’s just not the right choice for me. To everyone else, godspeed. Choose your own path.

    I guess this post really got to me. Thanks for articulating things I couldn’t express.

  32. I think the point of the meme is that traditional publishing is inefficient and that people should support indie publishing because it provides channels that may keep good books from falling through the cracks, even if it floods the market with crap in the process. And by support I don’t think they mean “buy and stop expecting quality” but rather stop stigmatizing indie writers purely for being indie. I saw a lot of readers on GRs act like Angelfall by Susan Ee being self published was somehow a personal insult to them. Like they had been lowered to buying a self published book because Ee was just too lazy to go out and get it published for real. O.o

    Readers have this idea in their heads that if something is good it should have absolutely no problem getting published traditionally. What this meme is trying to say is that’s not at all true. Many good things, indeed many GREAT things, had a lot of trouble breaking through. One can’t read that story about Stephen King’s wife fishing Carrie out of the garbage and not wonder how many really great books didn’t make it to rejection 10 or 20.

  33. Yes! This!

    Thank you for continuing to call a spade a spade. Life without rejection is really life without risk – which is something that many of our egos cannot handle. Can your ego sustain getting a whole lot of “no” in the unsure hope of someday getting a “yes?” I think for many (though by no means all) self-pubbed writers, this is the case. It isn’t a calculated, well-planned business decision, as it should be. It is a false avoidance of the risk of being rejected. Worse, it’s a false avoidance of believing that there is a valid reason they have been rejected. (which leads to a lot of one star reviews and/or low sales)

    The self-publishing route is an important evolution of the industry and I’m grateful that people are beginning to call out the ginormous chip on many of it’s participants’ shoulders. Hopefully, there will be a shake out period where some of the negativity and plain old poor craftsmanship can fall by the wayside.

  34. I’m with Chuck and LJ on this one: the whole “Indie” vs. “traditional” deathmatch mindset was old before it even really got underway. The real key is “good book” “bad book” and/or “professional writer”/”not professional writer”

    This meme reads “non-professional” to me all the way, for all the reasons Chuck enumerated and ones I won’t even bother to go into.

    Any author who wants to make a career of it needs to put on the big-boy pants (or big-girl pants if you’re into that) and realize that a rising tide floats ALL pants. (What, yours don’t have balloons in them? You’re doin’ it wrong.) Mutual support across-publishing-genres trumps pitching fits every time.

  35. Not much I can add to this, I agree totally with Chuck.

    Just to say that this silly and inaccurate meme is on the same order as “Geniuses are always scorned. They laughed at Alexander Graham Bell, they laughed at Einstein, they laughed at the Wright brothers. They are laughing at me, so I must be a genius, too.”

  36. Amen! Here’s to rejection and adversity. May I be lucky enough to be kicked down and told “no” a million times, only to fight my way back up.
    Personally, as a writer and creative person I don’t want to be an island. I want to collaborate and keep growing so if that happens independently or with a publisher, so be it. I’ve learned so much from rejection and bad reviews and harsh editors from hell. Also, being indie doesn’t mean you’re instantly a better writer or more edgy or interesting. If you suck, then people won’t read you. With or without a publisher. Great work, and I really believe this, always finds an audience.

  37. I write for myself. If someone else happens to enjoy it, well, then that’s awesome.

    I’ve seen this making rounds on Facebook, and I kept holding back the urge to tell everyone posting it why it’s dumb. Now I don’t have to. Much obliged, Chuck.

  38. This–post and comments–is great. The only problem I have with self-published novels is that it’s so hard to sift the elephants from the horses. I don’t want to read elephants. I keep getting books that are great clear up to the start of the third act, when they mysteriously mutate into paperweights full of randomly typeset words. Or something close.

    I know I’m not going to self-publish for a while. It’s too much business, and frankly, I can’t sell water to a parched Arizonian right now.

    Support writers who don’t let their crappy drafts be their final drafts.

  39. “Books are sculpted art.” – Not just books. All published writing should be. When someone new approached me when I was a magazine editor and wanted to have their article in the mag, I wanted to see their raw material – not what had gone through the editorial mill and finally been published. Unfortunately I’ve been caught out – as have many editors I’m sure – by people who show you a shedload of published articles/short stories etc which actually show how good their editors were!

    A good editor works with a writer to help them write what they thought they wrote in the first place, to achieve their vision. Far too many of the self-published books / ebooks that metaphorically come across my desk editing Sci-Fi Bulletin for review haven’t even been proofread let alone edited!

  40. (yet another soon to be traditional market that will no doubt be sending out thousands of rejections….)

    Excellent points, Chuck. It reminds me of those words in Kennedy’s speech that opened the space race and led to men walking on the Moon:

    “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

    We do this because it is hard.

  41. Chuck, we are on the same page, I actually meant that others who appear to link rejection with indie authors remind me of those who thought the Web was a fad in the mid-nineties. Of course you’re out proving for self-pub when the early adopters of the Web proved, that such things are the wave of the future.

  42. The only way that list makes any sense is as an encouragement for discouraged authors to rise above rejection letters and keep trying to get their books out there. I can’t see any way it relates to indie anything.

    Crap like this is as damaging to the collective reputation of indie authors as poorly-written books and public mental breakdowns. It needs to stop.

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