The indies are up in arms.
Recently there was a blog post over at this anonymous blog that I adore. The title was "Why Indie Authors Still Suck." Your computer screen will drip venom and vitriol by the time you get to the bottom.
The indies, understandably, are throwing a collective tantrum and the comments are exploding. However, they're exploding for all the wrong reasons. Judging from the comments, I think roughly 2% actually read the article and heard what was being said. The rest didn't get further than the title before having a hissy.
I had left a few comments trying to get people to just see what the blog post was saying, but the sheer avalanche of emotional immaturity, and author sensitivity, was overwhelming. So I gave up. Someone emailed me on my Facebook fan page to ask:
"Have a quick question. Was going through the blog post about 'Why Indie Authors Suck' and just wanted to say that your replies and posts have come off pretty hateful. I don't think that you meant for them to sound that way (or maybe you did) but I just wanted to know WHY you are backing the boat of all Indie authors sucking."
First of all, I deeply appreciate someone actually asking instead of making assumptions. So thank you, Facebook fan page follower --whom I won't name without their permission. It's refreshing. Thank you. =)
I had started to reply, but my reply got so long that I didn't want this person to think I was overwhelming them with a huge rant, and I thought I'd just stick hit here instead.
I wasn't being hateful at all. At least not toward indie authors. Not toward anybody, in fact. I know I often come across that way, but I'm just blunt. Always have been. It's why you'll never see me at a speaking engagement. =)
What I do hate is emotional immaturity and people who shove words into someone else's mouth, and that's exactly what so many of these commentors are doing. Did they even READ the article? The claims made in the article, if you get past the raging aggravation, was that this author is an editor --both freelance and for a publishing house, which is mentioned on other posts-- and what comes across their desk is garbage. What these indie authors tell the General (him? her? no idea) is that they don't have to spend time on all the necessary things that make a quality book. They think self-editing, or a quick run through spell check, is justified as "enough." The General did say that there are some poorly edited traditionally published books out there, and there are some indie bestsellers. But think about it: those are the exceptions that everyone talks about. The other 99% is what the article deals with. And it's not that they're going out and buying all these indie books, but what they have to deal with as an editor. And I can imagine that a lot of what used to end up in the slush pile of a publisher's desk is now coming across the General's desk, hired as a freelancer to edit what is basically crap. THAT is what they're saying.
Most of the comments there didn't acknowledge any of that. They were so caught up in taking "indie authors suck" personally that they misconstrued everything in that article and then even made up other things and claimed the General said it! I can't stand that level of unreasonableness. Reading comprehension and analysis aren't that difficult.
Did they just find it impossible to put away their personal prejudices and ego? If someone is acting like a child, I will point it out. I enjoy conversations with reasonable grown-ups who can listen to a conflicting point of view and at the very least acknowledge its merit. This was a bunch of whiny children who stopped listening after the title, and then went on totally inaccurate rants or even made assumptions about the blog owner based on entirely nothing but their own prejudices. I find it amazing that fully grown adults can throw such amazing tantrums and be so hostile about something that wasn't even said. Who actually stopped to read the entire article without seeing what they wanted to see? A very few, and they had good points, but still made a heap of assumptions, or accused the blog owner of extremes that the blog owner never claimed.
Go back and read some of the comments, or the pingbacks. There are tons of assumptions made about the blog owner that are pulled entirely out of thin air. How do they know the blog owner is a man (or is that subconscious cultural sexism-slash-gender bias?), or that they're afraid of the indie industry, or is panicking, or is bad at their job simply because a personal blog isn't Chaucer quality? Where do they get this information, aside from their own imagination? And they feel justified in grabbing torches and pitchforks? Some commenters are even saying the exact same things the General is, but accusing them of having said the opposite, or ignoring that it was even mentioned at all. I find it amazing that so few people actually put aside their egos long enough to read the article and listen to what was actually being said.
The General has some very good points. Indie authors have to work really damn hard, harder than any other kind of writer. There are a lot of indie authors in my local RWA chapter, and they all say the same thing. I have a lot of respect for them. They also agree that skipping steps, feeling exempt from hard work, or ignoring quality in a book is not the way to be an indie author.
And please, go back and read the article a little more closely. Nowhere does the article say ALL indie authors suck. Only a good portion, represented by every bad manuscript to slide across the General's desk. And then the General lists why most do: and it comes down to the ones who feel they are the exceptions to the "work hard" rule. Recently, I had an indie author call me a fucktard on her fan page because of my review, despite how much I offered to help her because I respected her passion for writing. This is the kind of writer the General's talking about, and they represent the indie market every bit as much as Bella Andre and Aleatha Romig do. They outnumber the bestsellers because it's just the rule of percentages. That's something that I think indie authors just don't want to face.
Think of it like the auditions at the beginning of American Idol. How many awful performers come, believing they are star quality? Self-publishing means there is no panel of judges to find the ones who really can sing. It also means that there were literally tens of thousands of awful wannabes for the hundred or so truly talented ones. It's simple numbers. Yet somehow we're supposed to treat all the lazy wannabes as equally valid?
I don't back the boat of all indie authors sucking. C'mon, you've seen the few books I rave about here, and they are ALL indie! Logically, I can't do that and back the boat of all indie authors sucking, now can I? I couldn't even push my OWN books, if that were the case.
I back the boat of morons sucking. I back the boat of lazy, no-quality wannabes sucking. I believe they bring down the quality that we all work hard to bring to the industry. If you were in a car accident, would you want a trained surgeon working on you, or someone who just wanted it so badly that they put on the scrubs and ask you to believe in them? We are professionals and craftspeople. Why should I support the wannabes who think it's okay to skip out on quality and refuse to listen to why hard work is so important? Can you think of any good reason why I should?
I know this is long, and I'm sorry. But I really do feel strongly about this. While I'm "traditionally published," my publisher is considered an indie publishing house. So I have all of the limitations of a trad publisher while also having all of the responsibilities of an indie author. I know how hard I have to work, and I can sympathize with why so many indies don't like trad publishing. I'm in both worlds. It's hard. But that doesn't mean I blindly support indie, no matter the quality. The kinds of indie authors the General is talking about are the ones who make it that much harder to earn real respect.
Indie has sheer numbers, true. But think about that logically for a second. For every indie success story, how many bad-quality indie books are there? Even if you were generous and applied the 80/20 rule, that's still a ton of bad indie books out there. Again, think of it like the opening audition of American Idol. It's like all those awful singers you laugh or jeer at going to make their own records, calling themselves professional, and expecting to get top billing alongside Tori Amos and Andrea Bocelli.
Look at what happened at the RWA conference last month: the workshops on self-publishing were put in small rooms and ended up being packed to the gills and spilling out into hallways. Do you really think ALL of them are as dedicated to quality or unafraid of hard work, or are there going to be quite a few who think indie is the fast track to publishing? (Hopefully, since they all paid quite a sum for their entry fees, they take it seriously, but think about this: for every writer at that conference, how many do they represent in the wide world?)
Seriously, just stop and think about it for a second. Is it okay that some wannabe moron is churning out crap and running around calling themselves equal to what you look up to while you, or I, or any other indie that actually *does* put out quality is working their ass off every day? Is a dream really enough? All the really successful people in the world, did they get where they are on nothing more than dreaming, or did they kick their own ass to get there? I know what I want representing me as an author, and a lazy wannabe isn't it.
Please, just stop and think about that for a second: some lazy wannabe saying they're as good as your blood, sweat, and tears.
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