Monday, July 9, 2012

It Was The Best of Times

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.


  1. I think this surprises me so much because I've never really thought about publishers. I choose books based on their book jacket descriptions. I've liked a lot of indie books lately, and I've enjoyed ones that are even written poorly if they can make it up with a great plot. Twilight got a publisher and became a best seller, and it's written on a third grader level. Publishers definitely don't mean good writing.

  2. Good post E. And, it's so true that at times you need a professional!.

  3. So grateful for your essay here.
    You make me realize my bias toward self-published books is their amateur appearance, inside and out, and the fact of them being poorly edited or not edited at all. Small things, but vital things. There is also the matter of copyediting, which is a rigorous pass for consistency of use.

    First thing I do when I suspect a book of being self-published, if I haven't already been given the cover test, is turn to the acknowledgments page. Invariably, self-published books thrown in that extra e, as in ack-nowledg-fucking e ments.

    The cover test. Ah, such mischief with design and type faces.

    The text test. Page layout. Type face. Margins.

    As you've seen, a well-written and well-published book is a team effort. The self-published book tends to regard such things as editing and consistency of use as "New York stuff."
    "Boston stuff." I don't care about any of that stuff, they say, I jus' wanna tella story.

    Yeah, and it shows.

    Self-publishing can be an important factor in keeping us a reading society. Don't for a minute think your essay here will not have effect; it will.

    You rock, man.

    See you for lunch next Monday.

    1. Shelly, what is your reaction to these spellings: programme, favour, flavour, behaviour, colour and neighbour?

  4. I'll never knock a book for being published by a smaller company. I've read too many amazing books from authors who need more people to praise them. I love your post. Especially the idea of paying an astronomical amount of money to listen to Lasy Gaga.

  5. I agree, there are too many people who will not give self-published books a chance. I have to say,most of them are missing out. Why? Because some of the best books I have ever read have been written by self-published authors. Not every book will excite you, but not every book written by a best-selling New York Times author will, either. I have read lots of different genres from different authors. Let me say this: there are great books by indie authors (like you) and horrible books by well-known authors. It's just a matter of taste. I buy what looks or sounds like my style and I read it. If I like it, I check out more by that author. That happened this week. I ended up with a "freebie" from an author as a newsletter sign-up bonus. Read it, LOVED it, went to amazon and bought 6 more of her books. It was the same with you. You marketed Boyfriend from Hell so well, I HAD to read it. Then I had to read more because the book was so good. So there you have it. Keep on doing what you're doing because it's working!

  6. I agree with you, E. I find the snobbery toward self-published/indie books to be ridiculous. One of the best books I've read was a self-published book. I never make that distinction in my reviews. A good book is a good book...period.

  7. I also agree with you E. There are so many self published books out here that are great. I don't even pay attention to who is self published and who has a publisher anymore. I actually attended an author signing on Monday. There was a panel of 4 authors and someone asked them what they thought about ebooks vs traditional publishing. One author actually made some comments that in my opinion were inappropriate. It sounded basically like she thought that you only self publish because everyone else has said that the book stinks and that was the only way to get it out there. I whole heartedly disagree with this and I know based on what I know now if I had a book to publish I would self publish. Thanks for your books E and to any other self-published/indie author who reads this.

  8. Your books ARE good! I have thoroughly enjoyed them and I'm really looking forward to the next book in the Falling Angels Saga.

  9. Wonderful post. I think I'm in love with you! Yes, it's time to stop knocking the indie.

  10. E, you always bring up the best points in your posts. I've actually been thinking about this best/worst of times a lot as well, as I see seismic shifts not just in publishing/how we read books but how we watch TV, go to the movies or Netflix, etc. I still enjoy the theater experience, for instance, but I FIND A TON more independent/quality stuff on netflix/on demand that is interesting/entertaining to me. The thing is you have to become discriminating because there is a LOT of gunk out there. And, yes, the folks making entertainment -- producers, directors, writers, editors, publishers, agents -- have to do more to distinguish themslves from the rest. I'm enjoying walking this two-way street but continually frustrated by missed opportunities on my own part and the parts of others when it comes to putting out indie stuff in a way that is quality, branded, focused and ready-made for our target audiences. It's an ongoing evelution and I'm looking forward to being a part of it...

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  12. Congrats - a very enlightening post indeed. We at agree wholeheartedly. Ever since we've started reviewing novels, short stories, etc. it very quickly became clear that just because a book or a story is self-published or even sent to us as a pdf manuscript doesn’t mean that the quality of writing is compromised. In fact on numerous occasions it turned out that the self-published authors possessed a well-developed and captivating writing style which far surpassed that of their traditionally published colleagues. I believe that the best example would be the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Well, suffice to say that we found the narrative, the characters and the eroticism, which was the main selling point of the book, horribly lacking when compared with the imagination and sensuality presented by other, more obscure, authors. Thanks again EVL