So Mister Wendig was kind enough to link me this article, and it made me smear my face down the wall with rage. Considering I have a lump on my head the size of Manhattan and lymph nodes swollen enough to make me look like the Hulk, I have zero sense of humor today. Well, okay, I did a House of Mystic Cheese on Twitter, but BEYOND THAT my funny button seems to be broken. Especially when it comes to this topic.
I’ma say it clearly and use small words because (apparently) people have a reading comprehension problem when it comes to self-pub versus trad pub: THERE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A SELF-PUB VERSUS TRAD PUB RIFT. AUTHORS, IF YOU’RE PERPETUATING THIS, STOP. YOU’RE MAKING US ALL LOOK LIKE DICKS.
So you self-pubbed because you liked to have control over your own writing. You liked the freedom of walking to the beat of your own drum. You liked not having a big overhead for money owed to other parties. You didn’t want to wait for the trad pub industry to pull its head out of its butt and decide what genre would follow up paranormal. You didn’t have luck getting an agent. You were too scared to try trad pub because rejection scares you. It was the course of least resistance. It was the way you figured you’d make the most money. WHATEVER THE REASON it is you as a writer decided to self- pub, All The Fucking Power To You. Seriously. ALL the power. Good for you. If the path is working for you, rock the balls off of that path until it screams for mercy. Milk every last nickel and dime and dollar out of it. Relish your positive reviews and feel content knowing that you made the right decision for you. I salute you and your choices.
You’re the guy that went the traditional route. You wrote sixty billion query letters, got an agent, went on sub, waited until you were old and gray for someone to read the sub, and then went through the nail-biting exercise of going to second reads and acquisitions. Finally, two years after the first time you wrote The End on your manuscript and your soul has been torn to shreds by a pack of slathering hyenas (who are actually very nice agents and editors, but in your imagination they were all frothing hyenas), you got your book deal. Good for you! Awesome. I hope the editing process treats you kindly. I hope you get prominent shelf-position in the three actual brick-and-mortar book stores left in the country. I hope you sell a billion copies, get a starred review from Kirkus, and can waggle your soft, flabby, writer ass all the way to the bank. I’m glad YOUR path worked for YOU.
Now, writerly dudes who chose different paths, I want you to tell your stories of how you got published, why it worked for you, and then . . . shut up. Please. For God’s sake shut up. Speak to your own experiences, but not to everyone else’s, because you don’t know everyone else’s circumstances, and pretending you do is silly and short-sighted. Self-pub guy’s way worked for him, and it might work for other people, but it doesn’t work for ALL people. Trad pub’s way worked for him, he’s cashing in on his patience, but his set-up isn’t going to be an ideal situation for someone else.
Look, folks. It’s just like anything else in this world. No one likes to be told what to do. When was the last time someone came up to you and called you an asshat for one of your decisions and you found yourself nodding, saying “Joe’s got a great point. I -am- a dipshit!” If you’re dismissing someone’s publishing choices because it’s at odds with your own, you are effectively trying to bully them to do things your way, and (being blunt here) it’s a douchey move. If a writer is happy, if they can go to sleep at the end of the day without a care in the world about their books, why do you care so goddamned much about how they got their words onto eReaders? How is their publishing choice affecting you in any way? Truth is, unless you’re married to said individual and need their writerly income to pay your electric bill, it has nothing to do with you. So leave ’em alone. Let ’em do what they wanna do. If they want advice, they’ll ask for it. But if you as a writer go tromping onto their blogs and Twitter feed like Rambo without a jock strap just to tell them they’re wrong about self-pub or trad pub . . . well. It makes you look like a cock. It makes writers look like cocks. And really, I’d rather not look like a cock by association, thanks.
Writers, we’re artists. We’re all needy, sensitive little basket cases about our word-children. Getting those word-children into the hands of readers is a stressful process regardless of our paths, so here’s a suggestion: concentrate more on supporting each other as writers instead of HOW we sell our books. Focus on growth and bettering our work instead of distribution, because honestly, our jobs as writers is to make the best story possible, right? Let’s remember that the next time some stupid gauntlet is thrown down. I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about self-pub or trad pub in the same conversation. I’m saying we should talk honestly about the publishing experience, both sides of the fence, with the understanding that everyone’s course is different. We should compare notes. We should listen and have real discussion. We should respect one another. Learn from each other and grow. We’re here to build words and topple them, to create lives and weave plot threads together. It’s a tie that binds, so embrace that instead of fostering this stupid, needless rift that (at the end of the day) means – quite literally – nothing.
And then, when we accomplish all that, let’s have big cups of coffee spiked with some hard alcohol and bitch about our negative reviews. Solidarity. Stop the divides. No one really wins when lines are drawn in the sand.