It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...
The opening line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859, aptly describes our current age of information. I recently read a guest post on Amelia Curzon’s blog by author/blogger Anna Chaconas entitled We Are The Gate Keepers Now. I am about to rehash much of what she said right here, so if you want to read the original you can do so here: Curzon.
If you’d like to read both, I promise mine will have its own perspective, and I will add to what she’s saying. Nuff said? Here’s my spiel.
It is the best of times. Why? Because it’s a buyer’s market. The world is our oyster, folks. Never before in the history of mankind has the average person had so much power. Don’t want to pay what Joe is charging for his goods? There’s an app to show Joe you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Either match the lower price or lose your business... Think you’re getting ripped off by the local auto repair shop? Post a review about him. Enough bad customer reviews and Mr. Shifty either straightens up or finds himself on the unemployment line… Want to go back to school and get your degree but don’t have the time? Now you can do it online, in your own time. Yes, the power is clearly in our hands. If you’re an author reading this, you know first hand that if the Big Six won’t publish your book, there are hundreds of independent publishers who will, and if you don’t want to go with one of them, you can do it yourself. Yes siree, the world is changing people, and we are the kings of this new world. Yipee!
But it is also the worst of times. Why? Because as Uncle Ben once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” And unfortunately many of us just aren’t up for the task just yet. See, we have a responsibility, too. Remember all that free music you downloaded from your cousin’s baby daddy? Keep it up and watch the price of music soar; and then after music companies realize you’re not going to pay $10,000 to hear Lady Gaga warble her latest tune, they’ll go into the shoe business, because they’re in business to make money, and when music stops paying the bills, they’ll find a business that does. And pretty soon if you want to hear the next Pavarotti or Kanye West, you’ll have to listen at their bathroom doors, because the only place they’ll be singing is in the shower before they go to work. Okay, it may never get that bad, but you get my drift.
Don’t like TV commercials? I can’t blame you. I hate em, too. But I do realize that those commercials are what pays for free TV. It isn’t actually FREE. It’s just free to us. Somebody paid for the production and airing of CSI and The Real Housewives of The Jersey Shore so they could pitch their goods to us. Once corporate America realizes we aren’t there to hear their pitch, guess what? No more free TV. And maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know. What I do know, is in this new digital-information age- buyer’s market, we have to be responsible buyers, or the market will go the way of the Dodo bird.
And now I’m going to bring this home to readers and authors. If you’re reading this post you’re either one or both. Readers: STOP KNOCKING SELF PUBLISHED BOOKS.
Now, I’m not asking you to stop knocking BAD books—and Lord knows there are enough of those out there. But please do not knock a book just because it’s self-published or indie published. Some of these stigmatized books are so damn good you can’t even tell they’re self-published until you read the front page and see they’ve been published by Baby Mama Press (Yes, I have a thing for baby parents).
I see the back-handed compliments you guys are giving these books: It’s good for a self-published book. Please! I even read a recent review of Boyfriend From Hell where the reviewer said—and I’m paraphrasing here—“I loved the book. It was fantastic. But I’m not going to read the rest of the series because I know the author can’t keep it up.” Meaning: the indie author lucked out with this one. Give me a break. Some of us indie authors and self-published authors can actually deliver. You guys need to let go of the stigma. Like it or not (and why shouldn’t you like it—more choices, lower prices) self-publishing, like reality TV, is here to stay.
Authors: we have to do our part as well. Yes, buyers need to be responsible, but SELLERS need to be responsible, too. If you’re going to self-publish, please, please, please hire a qualified editor. Nothing against your aunt Betty who teaches third grade, but editing books, like any other skill, takes practice to be good. The best authors need editors. Hemingway needed an editor, and a good one, like Maxwell Perkins, who also edited F. Scott Fitzgerald. See, for you to be professional, your entire team needs to be professional. So if you’re not Hemingway, hire a professional editor. The problem with the stigma of self-published books is quite often it’s true. The more and sooner we authors can dispel the myth, the sooner the playing field will be level, and everyone will benefit.
Okay, I’ve said my piece, so now a word from our sponsor…
My books are good. Some of them are Amazon best sellers, others have been nominated for prestigious awards. I won’t say anymore here. You can learn more on my website (CLICK HERE) where there’s even a free sample of Boyfriend From Hell. Hopefully some of you will purchase a book or two, and I won’t have to wait tables. You don’t want me serving your food. Trust me on that.
Yes, my friends, it’s the best of times and the worst of times, and if we all do our part, we can let the good times roll.
*photo at the top is fan, James, at the first Never Slow Dance With A Zombie Fest.