Oh, Get Over Yourself! a rant.

For simplicity the numerous people I have seen do this, will be rolled into one person for this post named N.V. The examples are general.

I follow a lot of authors, on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs, etc. They are unpublished, self-published, traditional, fiction, non-fiction, The point is, this disturbing trend goes across the board. But the ones I have to call out, are the self-published authors.

What are they doing that is so bad?
They are becoming rude.

So lets take N.V I started following him/her a few months ago. I found their discussions interesting. I learned a lot. But then things started to happen that made me wonder why was I still following them.

Little things like:

From N.V blog:
A reader commented. “I really was inspired by this post. Point A made me really think.”
NV’s response. “Point A, what? That wasn’t the important bit. Do you really know what you are talking about?

On N.V Facebook:
N.V posted. “Did you read xxxx last post on her site? She is bragging about her latest award.”
NV posted “So xxxx thinks she is hot! Ha! I am better than her!”

Do you see what is going on? You have a right to brag, you have a right to be proud. But at the expense of other?

Before you think I have been attacked by one of these authors and this is a case of sour grapes. No, sort of. I did post a response on Facebook to one of these authors. And they posted back, twisting my words around. As if they wanted to get me into a forum flame war. I ignored them. That’s how I handle trolls and that’s how I handle that behavior.

But after that happened, I noticed more authors doing this. Mainly self published. Ugh.

What I have noticed is that all of them have reached their personal goal of success. Maybe they have quit their job, or maybe they have sold 10,000 copies. But that is where it starts. Not every successful self published author does this, but the few that have make the rest of us look bad.

I have to say this to them: You are a big fish in a small pond.

True.

So you have a website that gets 50 hits a day. Big deal.
So you have twenty books up on the Kindle. So What.

This doesn’t give you the right to look down at the rest of the authors out there and your readers! I am not talking about looking down at us “little ones”, but some of them have started to attack the “big names” too. And when they attack their fans, that makes me cringe.

I know it sounds like I am only attacking the self-published authors. Some of you might argue that it sounds like it’s okay if you are traditionally published you can get away with this behavior. That does not protect you either. A rude author is a rude author.

Look at Harlan Ellison, some people consider him rude. He is abrupt. I can’t see him starting a flame war on a blog (for one he is not on the Internet.) He backs up his points and argues. He doesn’t insult someone just to get the attention (he will insult, but after the conflict has started). Most of  his controversies are rooted in good points. He is famous.  I like his work. And there are many that are turned off by his behavior.

Being a success, no matter how you define it, does not give you the right to be rude. Maybe they want the negative attention. I really hope they start to think before they respond. Because I have stopped following them because of their behavior. Which means, I will never support them by buying one of their books.

And if I stopped, how many others have too?

Are you the best person to write your story idea?

I decided to emerge from my NaNoMo cave to rant. The above was a question I came across while reading my emails today. It was one of those thought provoking blog posts that makes you think, what the hell are people thinking?

Are you the best person to write the story idea that came to you? Umm…duh…of course you are! The idea came to you, not someone else.

I’ve heard this question applied to non-fiction before and its usually meant to ask if a visitor to France is really the best person to write a travel guide of the country. But I have never heard it applied to fiction, or in this case fantasy.

How can you be an expert of dragon slaying or otherworld kingdoms? Would it be smart to be a serial killer just to write it realistically? Or build a time machine so you could write a true historical?

If you don’t think that’s what it means when applied to fiction, than let me tell you what I first thought when I read the question. If you don’t write the story who will? No two stories are exactly alike. Even with the same historical or mythical characters someone is going to see a different twist to the story, or a different aspect of the same character.

Take for example my novel My Lord Hades, I looked into other books that told the same myth as I did. I found most books that painted Hades as an evil god, like in the Disney movie, Hercules, or a sadistic god who is into bondage and dominace of Persephone. My Hades was a tortured soul trying looking for love and not thinking he’d ever find it. And when he did, he was willing to let her go if that was her wish. I’ve never read another book like it, and if I hadn’t written it, it is unlikely I ever would. The same can be said of all books.

Does this mean you should write a story and try to sell it? I don’t know. That’s up to you. If you craft the best story you can and share it with the world, monetary payment is sometimes part of the process.
That really depends on you and your goals.

So what do you think about the question “Are you the best person to write your story idea?”

Why Do Some Authors Dislike “Indy”

That’s something that’s preyed on my mind for over a year now: Why do  some authors, and wanna-be authors, come down so hard on the self publishing/indy publishing movement? It’s a question I’ve had no answer to, until recently. To illustrate, though, I feel the need to tell you a boring story.

Growing up I was known for only one talent, and that was drawing. I was “destined” to be “an artist” because, as far as the tiny world I inhabited was concerned, that was all I was good at. They identified me as “someone who could draw”, and I eventually identified myself that way, too, whether I wanted to or not.

Enter the computer age with something called “computer art”. Back at the beginning it was forecasted that this magical computer generated art would level the playing field and make it so that anyone could create art – even *gasp* people with no discernible talent! If you’ve ever attempted this, you’ll know that it’s not as easy as everyone thought it would be, but reality is never as good as the forecasts.

At the time, I was outraged at the idea.  Yes, I know, me? The big proponent of “anyone can draw”? Yep, it’s true, back then the idea that anyone could draw – that they could enter into the exclusive little “drawing club” –  it was a horrible idea.  It would be like setting tigers loose on defenseless little antelope; the blundering, talentless creatures would chase off all the little antelopes with “real talent” who’d “spent years honing their craft”.

 

Run, run away! (c. Stig Nygaard)

But why did I care *so* much? Because my identity was so wrapped up in that ability, that it defined who I was. It, and it alone made me special and if everyone could suddenly do it,  then what did that make me?

 

Of course, I’ve since grown up and moved past that phase, but I think that some writers haven’t.  If just anyone can walk in and publish a book, then what does that do to someone whose self identity is wrapped up in the fact that they’re a published writer? If anyone can join the club, then that means it’s not so “special” anymore, doesn’t it? After all, they had to “pay their dues” and “spend years honing their craft” it’s only fair everyone else does, too.

But, just like computer art, that self publishing thing isn’t as easy as everyone thinks it is. To get a quality book out, it’s a lot of friggin’ work! In fact, unless you’ve hired out, you’re doing everything yourself, so it’s more work than a “traditionally published” author has to go through!

Of course, I’m not saying that this is every objector’s reason, but I think it’s the cause of at least half. So, the next time you find an author, or worse, a wanna-be author, running on about the evils of self publishing, just stop and realize how very, very threatened they may feel. There’s nothing to make you feel calmer than knowing you’re the tiger.

 

Run antelopes, run! (image C. Keven Law)

 

 

Yes, Authors DO Feel….

As writers we tend not to discuss our feelings, but rather to analyze them like a third-party and then hand them off to a character to feel for us; or at least a good portion of us do. To that end, we tend to be in denial,  at least publicly, about many of the emotional ups and downs of publishing, including those terrible book release jitters.

Whether it’s your first book or your third, when you put a book out it’s the same as taking a little piece of yourself and holding it out to the world for approval because, no matter what you write, some part of yourself is embedded in the words.  And what if “the world” doesn’t like it? What if they reject it, or sneer at it, or call it “trite”, “cheesy” or even “terrible”?

Though we smile and say, “oh, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if no one likes this; I’m writing for me.” We do care.  Just like everyone else, we want to be accepted and loved, and that extends to our words because our words are part of us, and a rejection of those words is a rejection of ourselves, and who wants that?

Even worse, what if we have fans who liked the other book(s) but hate this one and suddenly turn their back and forsake us forever?  What if we lose what fan base we’ve established? What if? What if? What if?

The what-if’s make it the worst. When there are too many possibilities, the imagination can shift into over drive and make up all sorts of terrible scenarios.  After all, that overactive imagination is what prompted us to write that book in the first place, so why shouldn’t it be running full tilt now?  How do you stop it?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t “stop” it, only distract it. I can try to “logic it away” by pointing out that the world won’t end, that it’s unlikely my five fans will hate it so much that they’ll walk away, and if they do, then I can surely go find five more somewhere else. And, just because they don’t like the book doesn’t really mean they don’t like me. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an author whose every single book I’ve love, love, loved.

But logic can only go so far, and in the end the best way to work through it is to just work through it. Talk about it, write about it, blog about it. Break the “rules” and admit that you’re not an unruffle-able being with a stone heart and skin so thick that every sling and arrow bounces off it. Sure, we might think we’re supposed to be, we might be following the examples of industry leaders who sail on with their perfect persona’s in place, but I’d be willing to bet that even the calmest and coolest of the cool has lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering “what if?”

After all, as a writer words, and feelings, are our craft, so why are we all trying to hide from them?

Digging Through the Mud

This is about the “advice” you will get when you decide to take the plunge and become an Independent Author.  I am not talking about the good advice you will get, such as from The Publetariat. No, I am talking about the advice that should send your b*llsh!t radar into over drive.

Biggest one: Write your book fast, find your niche and SELL.

The ones that tell you this are A: Selling their book that they wrote fast. or B: Selling you an overpriced service. Or C: Have nothing to do with fiction writers.

Write your book fast:

I do write my first draft fast. I can put a full length novel out in 30 days. But that draft is utter crap. You have to edit, rewrite, ask readers, edit, rewrite. I can put a book out in six months, if I work really hard at it. But some of my titles won’t see the light of day for years. You can write fast, but it won’t be good.

Find you niche:

This advice comes from the idea of thinking of the business end over your writing. Keep the business in mind. But the way this advice works is that you find something that has not been done before and do it. My problem with that is, you might get lucky. If no one has ever seen a book on how to train your bamboo plant to cook, but it takes the fun out of the writing.
Write what you know, write what YOU want to write. Readers are smart, they can pick out a book written to compete with the latest book trends. Those books are cookie cutter and lack emotion. If you are really passionate about your writing, the readers will be passionate too. And it won’t matter that it’s not the latest book trend.

SELL:

Selling is important. But the advice above, its SELL, not sell. In other words they want you to shove your book down people’s throats. You know what that is going to do, turn people off. You do have to get the word out about your writing. You do have to let people know it’s there. But don’t be a jackass.
Also they don’t take in account that if you have written a book that others find fun, they will help you sell. That’s how I landed my book launch party.  Use the idea of the street team from music. Once you have your product out, get a fan base going, make it fun for your fans to promote. That works in a lot of places. And with social media, is a lot better than BUY MY BOOK!!!!!

The other thing to watch out for is large promises.
I MAID $35,000 WITH MY BOOK IN ONE WEEK (spelling error intentional)

Don’t look at those posts, throw the snail mail away. It will not happen, unless you are lucky enough to be a blockbuster author. I’m going to be happy with breaking even in THREE years or less. Many of us are publishing our books because our family and friends want copies, or we just want to share, or we would like to make some money, but we know it’s an up hill battle.

Don’t buy the hype. Do what you love first and take the good advice to heart.