Reading Rage: I’m Kinda Sick of Your Smug, Self-Published Face

11 July 2014 by 144 Comments

Oh, hey, clickbaity title.  I didn’t see you there.  I may need to clarify a few things before I continue.

  1. I am fully aware that there are a number of self-published authors out there that are doin-it-rite.  This is not about them.
  2. I am going to be speaking today to a specific segment of self-published authors, so maybe don’t just get all ragefacey at the title.  Read everything before you rip me a new one in the comments, ‘kay?  <3

srs bsns

Okay, self-pubs, we need to have a bit of a chat.

First things first.  Can you stop calling yourselves Indies?

For one thing, “Indy” to me will always mean Indiana Jones and for another…if EVERYONE is INDEPENDENT, then the word as you’re using it kind of loses all meaning.

I propose a new rule:

If you’re a self-published author, and your sole distribution model is Amazon, you forfeit the right to call yourself Indie.

Cos, guys?  I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but ain’t shit that’s independent about a Fortune 100 company (Amazon was #49 in 2013).


Just SAY you’re self-published so that Indie doesn’t go the way of tartlet, okay?  Thanks.

Next we need to discuss this whole “WE WILL BE THE DEATH OF THE TRAD!PUB MODEL, JUST YOU WATCH!”

Listen.  If traditional publishing goes the way of the dodo (plock!), I will quit fucking reading, no joke.

It’s not even that I have anything against you, per se.  It’s that so many of you think that publishers are just out to take your money away from you by making “unnecessary changes” to your “babies.”

Fuck that, you guys.  Srsly.

I say this as someone who has edited books.  I say this as someone who has been close to a knock-down-drag-out fist fight with an author friend because of the words “bemused” and “akimbo.”


You are not the best judge of your own work.  Frequently, when you re-read your work, you see what you meant to say, not what you actually said.  And if you’re not hiring that shit out, you’re doing a disservice to your readers and yourself.


Yeah, we need to talk about that, too.

I’m signed up for many ebook mailing lists, where I get an email every day telling me what’s on sale.  I buy a lot of books, but there’s no reason to not take a deal, right?  Right.

The quickest way to make sure I will NEVER EVER READ YOUR BOOK is for me to see the following:

Almost 150 five-star reviews on Amazon.


Now, I’m not saying that ALL of these excellent reviews have been begged, bought or borrowed, but I’m fully aware of what a legitimate review sounds like.  I’m also aware of shady ass motherfuckers who sell reviews for only five dollars (oh, and for an additional five, they’ll downvote all bad reviews of your book!).

Wait.  What am I doing writing good reviews of books I loved for free like a SUCKER?

ORITE, I have scruples.

I clicked around the Fiverr Reviews For Sale and was kind of shocked at the number of authors who use their real names on their profiles when purchasing these services.  Soooo…of course I clicked over to Amazon and checked them out.

One has the same number of reviews on all eleven of his books.  All five stars.  All gushing.

How does this help anyone?

It doesn’t.  It makes all of you look like assholes.

Finally, and this really does go for every self-published author out there.

I. Don’t. Owe. You.

iou nothing

Here’s the truth:  I rarely read self-published authors.  I will read my friends’ books as support and I will occasionally check out something that piques my interest AFTER it has been recommended and AFTER I’ve read a sample to make sure it’s not an unedited pile of bantha poodoo, but that happens so rarely it might as well not ever happen at all.

But because I SAY that I don’t read self-published work (for the most part), suddenly I am EVIL and PART OF THE PROBLEM.

No.  No, I’m not.


You don’t get to try to guilt or shame me into reading your book.


I get that you are taking this whole non-traditional route and you’re proud of yourself for finishing that book (hey, I am too, swearsies), but the thing is…just because you wrote that book, doesn’t mean I have to read it.  And I see so many self-published authors attempting to SHAME readers into picking up their books.

Wanna know a secret?

THAT NEVER WORKS.  I’ve written countless posts on how if you attempt to shame me into doing something, my response as a consumer is going to be a BIG OLD FUCK YOU.

I heart Rat Queens so hard. via


The world does not owe you a living (tralalala), just because some words fell out of your head.  Get over yourself.  You’re making everyone look bad.


sj (never SJ) hates everything. Except books and music. Sometimes she hates those too. Ask her about drinkalongs.

144 thoughts on “Reading Rage: I’m Kinda Sick of Your Smug, Self-Published Face

  1. Agree with you 100% — and as a bookseller in an INDIE bookstore, I get very, very tired of self-published authors begging us to stock their books. I tell them over and over, very nicely, that we can’t even stock the vast majority of books that are offered to us by our trusted sales reps from “traditional” publishing companies. Why on earth would dedicate our precious shelf space to books that haven’t even been edited? That no one has vetted for us? Then they ask us to read their books . . . I very nicely show them the hundreds of ARCs from publishers that are waiting for us in our storeroom.

    Self-publishing has its place. We carry some self-published books in our store about local history, etc. that have very limited appeal — that’s why they didn’t get picked up by a traditional publisher. But they are of interest to our customers. That’s what an independent bookstore tries to do — serve its community. I don’t think the droves of self-published authors who show up on our doorstep understand that. It kills me when they try to shame us into carrying their books and they don’t even shop in our store.

    • “and they don’t even shop in our store.” Oh, MAN. That must just be soooo exasperating for you. Like, I thought we had a pain in the neck from blogging, I never even realized they would actually be walking into STORES and trying to get you to read/sell their books.

    • Yes. Yes. Yes. We sorely need the truly independent publishers, i.e. those who vet and edit the bejeesus out of their line, and who also offer high-quality alternatives to the Big Five (who are not, IMO, the source of all evil, but they can be skittish in their offerings). All the usurpation of the word “indie” by self-publishers does is make small press stuff even harder to find than it is already, especially if one is shopping on line. A small advantage, of course, is that it makes the self-publisher using the word inappropriately look like a moron. At least we know whose books to avoid.

  2. “…For one thing, ‘Indy’ to me will always mean Indiana Jones…” All these years I thought I was the only one.

    Enlightening article, sj. I expect the friends and family high ratings, but I had no idea people were actually buying 5-star reviews. Ew.

  3. Ooh! Not afraid to get fisked by Konrath and his acolytes? Atta girl!

    The big problem I have with self-pub is that there are just so many people for whom the majority of the discussion is about tearing things down. If all you can tell me is what someone else is doing wrong, I have no interest.

    You want to impress me? To get me reading works that have been published by their authors? Talk about genuinely awesome, self-published work.

    I bought Marko Kloos’ TERMS OF ENLISTMENT because people who like to talk about good books talked about it. I didn’t see a mob with pitchforks telling everybody else what they are doing wrong (“and, BTW, buy my book!”). I saw a bunch of OTHER people talking about what was RIGHT WITH THIS BOOK.

  4. I will buy self-pubbed work if it’s something that interests me and especially if it’s been recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust — just as I would with any book! I generally think the writers out there taking a hybrid approach — publishing some works through traditional publishers, and other works themselves — are approaching this new platform with the most level-headedness. I don’t have a lot of patience for superstar legacy-pubbed authors who look down on self-publishing just because, or for self-pubbers who rage at gatekeepers preventing them from getting their works to the masses/taking a huge cut/whatever.
    IMHO, the biggest problem for any writer is getting your book to the people who will enjoy it, ie. finding your audience. And for readers, it’s finding books you will love. Self publishing can make it easy to get your work out there but difficult for readers to find. traditional publishing can get your work into bookstores but even the big book chains are feeling the heat and closing down.
    Not sure what the answer is, for the reader or the writer, other than: writers, write the best damn book you can and get it out there; and readers, if you love a book, in whatever format, tell people.
    If a writer decides to take a way to publishing that doesn’t include professional editing, design, and promotion, the book suffers and frankly so does the reader.

    • “If a writer decides to take a way to publishing that doesn’t include professional editing, design, and promotion, the book suffers and frankly so does the reader.”

      A thousand times yes.

  5. I’m not Joe. I’m strictly low-level, but this click-bait deserves a low-level fisking.

    “Can you stop calling yourselves Indies?”

    Who are you again? Why should we listen to you?

    “Next we need to discuss this whole “WE WILL BE THE DEATH OF THE TRAD!PUB MODEL, JUST YOU WATCH!””

    Can you quote one person who has actually said this? I don’t believe you can. Very few indies care what goes on in New York. Some have been rejected by them. Many have been dropped (like Joe Konrath) because they didn’t sell enough, and the companies didn’t want to invest in the long haul. Most are probably people like you: wanting to make a living doing what they love best. So go ahead, snark on people smaller than you. Feels good, doesn’t it?

    “Now, I’m not saying that ALL of these excellent reviews have been begged, bought or borrowed, but I’m fully aware of what a legitimate review sounds like.”

    That’s true. Bad behavior exists in every profession. Picking one extreme to make all indy authors look bad is the same as, oh, pointing out there are services that make massive book buys to get NY-published books on the New York Times lists make your profession look bad.

    (Unlike your post, I provide a link here:

    “I rarely read self-published authors.”

    Admitting ignorance is the first step to getting help.

    • “Very few indies care what goes on in New York.”

      Would that this were true. We would have more conversations about books and what self-published authors are doing well and fewer about what trad pub is doing wrong.

      “Can you stop calling yourselves Indies?”

      “Who are you again? Why should we listen to you?”

      To me the question is less about who she is (and I’m pretty sure that she isn’t who YOU think she is), but more about being able to make a distinction between an author who really rocking self-publishing and the folks who just upload to Amazon.

      “Indie publisher” is, like it or not, often perceived as a brand and a large percentage of those who espouse themselves as such aren’t taking the time and making the effort to do a good job.

      There is a parallel with big publishers. Some of those brands also publish a lot of crap, so Cheffo the reader rarely cares who the publisher is. Outside of some quality presses (I’m looking at you CZP), I don’t even notice who the publisher is.

    • Can you quote one person who has actually said this?

      It has been said multiple times in the comments on this very blog. Go read the comments on Susie’s Amazon vs Hachette Play in Five Acts.

    • “Most are probably people like you: wanting to make a living doing what they love best.”

      True. But one of the things about making a living at something is that it usually involves having to actually be good enough at what you do to make money doing it. A shitty restaurant that managed to buy Yelp reviews in order to stay open would be a problem and nobody would say “but they’re just trying to do what they love and the big mean restaurant industry won’t accept them!”

      I have no problem with people writing because they love to write and wanting to use nontrad publishing to get their work easily to people who are interested. It’s precisely when people think that just because they wrote it, it should SELL that we have the problems sj is talking about. As soon as you assume your book is worth money and you start trying to push and shame bookstores, blogs, and everybody you meet on the internet into picking it up, you forfeit your right to sympathy.

      “Picking one extreme to make all indy authors look bad is the same as, oh, pointing out there are services that make massive book buys to get NY-published books on the New York Times lists make your profession look bad.”

      Pretty sure nobody here was defending the hallowed halls of the NYT. We’re a small-press/classics book blog, and one of our major premises is precisely the fact that traditional reviewing practices are flawed. Criticism is our M.O. here. If ONLY the behavior sj is critiquing was an extreme! That would be lovely and we could laugh and move on. But, alas, this post is not about picking an extreme in order to make “indy authors look bad” as if there was some secret vendetta, it’s a reaction to the ongoing and deeply maddening behavior we see by self-pubbed authors all the time. This is, you see, the REASON we rarely read self-pubbed authors: because they won’t listen to criticism.

      tl:dr: #notallindyauthors is not a great line of defense.

      • So, with all this said, I’m going to assume if one’s self-pubbed work HAS been professionally edited, the author does not buy or solicit reviews, and the author does not travel around to bookshops begging them to stock the title–it’s All All Right?

        Please. If there are any more criteria we of SP land must meet, please let us know post haste so we can scurry to comply.

        • You can do what you want, but these are things that real customers that I talk to all the time (bloggers, readers, etc) find problematic. If you don’t care what customers think at the potential risk of being less profitable, that’s your call, obviously.

        • You left out “be 100% transparent.” Anybody who makes up a fake company name (“Mr. Mittens Publishing” <==real life example) or uses the name of a vanity press ("3L Publishing," for instance) in an attempt to fool people into thinking they were traditionally published is a great big fat liar. How to be 100% transparent? Use your own name whenever asked who the publisher is. In other words, tell the truth. (This is also how you show solidarity with your fellow self-publishers, by the way. Anything else makes it look like you're ashamed of being self-published.)

    • Nowhere in this post does sj try to say that ALL self-published authors do this stuff or that she’s trying to make them ALL look bad. In fact, she clears that up right at the beginning when she says “I am fully aware that there are a number of self-published authors out there that are doin-it-rite. This is not about them” and “I am going to be speaking today to a specific segment of self-published authors,” so please calm your tits.

    • 1) Who are we? THE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BUY YOUR BOOKS. We read a LOT. We have a lot of friends who read. We’re the people for whom labels like “indie” matter because it speaks to us about what we might buy.

      2) While I don’t have my handy backlog of quotes of people who “actually said” that (because idgaf about keeping a log of such things to prove them to persons such as yourself), scroll through the comments of any anti-publishing post (including one I wrote not long ago on this very site) and you will see similar sentiments. It happens. Denying that it happens isn’t particularly helpful since we have seen this with our own eyeballs. Perhaps we didn’t link because we didn’t want to humiliate individual authors?

      3) “Most people … wanting to make a living doing what they do best” Did you miss the bits where this is about very specific behaviors exhibited by self-published authors and not all self-published authors forever? The reason it’s categorized under self-pubs is what, while not all self-pubs act like this, nearly every author we encounter who acts like this is self-published. It’s not like, “oh hey, 55% of self-published and 45% of published authors act like this.” So we’re not just tearing down folks who are trying to get by because we’re big meanies, it’s because there are folks in your category who engage in behaviors that we, as money-spending book-loving people, find frustrating.

      4) Lololol @ “Admitting ignorance.” Um, no. We’re under no obligation to buy self-published books until it becomes a viable market for readers to be able to find quality books. And calling me ignorant is not a good way to prove me wrong, but it is a really good way to make sure more of my publishing dollars go to people who don’t call me ignorant.

  6. I learned a lot from this post. Like if I start with “I know there are a few people out there who don’t meet my broad, sweeping, indiscriminate carpet-bombing generalizations, and this post IS NOT ABOUT YOU” I can celebrate my prejudices and totally claim the moral high ground. This could completely change the way I blog!

    Look, I and every self published author I hang out with agree with you that the smug, self-congratulatory, arrogant idiots who think the world owes them something are distasteful jackasses who are doing the rest of us (and you) a major disservice. We get it. We agree. There are people who throw crap up on Amazon and then call themselves a “best selling author” because they showed up in the top 100 free books in the teen werewolf dystopian paranormal western space opera category for six minutes. Self publishing technology has allowed everyone to push their NaNo novels on the world. That exists. Pretending it doesn’t is to deny reality.

    What kills me about posts like this, which are TOTALLY NOT ABOUT ME, is that they make it even harder for the bright lights to shine through the shitstorm. Posts like this reinforce–even celebrate–every stereotype underpinning the self-vs-traditional holy war. Posts like this don’t resolve anything; they don’t stop the idiots from behaving badly. But they do their fair share of collateral damage to those people who the post is TOTALLY NOT ABOUT.

    • It’s the authors engaging in the idiotic behavior that are obscuring the “light” of the ones who don’t, not the people venting their frustration about the idiotic behavior. I’m not sure how anything will change if frustrated readers (like sj) remain silent about the problem so someone else’s little “light” can magically shine through.

      Also, not sure what’s so unreasonable about saying, “I acknowledge that not everyone in this group does this stupid shit – I am talking to the ones who do,” and then making a point. Pretty sure that prejudice is when you assume something about someone simply because they belong to a certain group. sj did not do that here – in fact, from the very beginning of the post, she went out of her way not to.

      • “I am sure there are lots of gay people who aren’t shoving their radical political agenda down my throat. This post is not about them. Now, let me tell you why gay people are assholes.”

        “I am sure there are lots of working moms who are just fine as parents. This post is not about them. Now, let me tell you all about why I think working moms are terrible parents.”

        “I am sure there are some southerners who aren’t Bible-thumping homophobe bigots. This post is not about them. Now, let me tell you all about why southerners are moronic neanderthals.”

        “I am sure there are many very nice religious people. This post is not about them. Now, let me tell you all about why religious people are at the root of every social problem in the world.”

        “I am sure there are many self-published writers who are great people. This post is not about them. Now, let me tell you why self-published writers are dicks and why I would rather give up reading (plock!) than read a self-published book.”

        See? Each time I went out of my way to point out that I wasn’t saying that any one individual is bad. I’m just saying things about that group in general. The fact that you fall into one of those groups isn’t MY fault. No prejudice here. Because I acknowledge that some people in those groups don’t conform to the stereotype, I must not be prejudging. The fact that I refuse to interact with anyone in the category because there are so many bad ones isn’t prejudice. Right?

        I agree that the bad actors are the ones causing the problem. We should not remain silent about them. But there’s a difference here: this post doesn’t vent about individuals and their bad actions; it talks broadly about the category, as if the general case is bad behavior. The lesson in this post is that, generally speaking, self-published authors are horrible people. Saying “some of my best friends are black people” doesn’t make it okay to then say “but black people in general are bad.”

        I’m using extreme examples here. Clearly, prejudice against self-published authors isn’t really much worse than prejudice against used car salesmen, or against book bloggers; it’s very different from actual bigotry. I’m using these examples, however, to illustrate the rhetorical mechanism that’s being used to veil the inherent prejudice that permeates the article. The prejudice is there, in spades. Perpetuating it in this kind of forum, behind the veil of “I’m not talking about THEM,” does in fact make it harder for the ones you’re “not talking about.”

        Kind of like hearing someone on FOX news saying, “probably there are some people who use food stamps to feed their children, and I’m not talking about them here, but people who use food stamps are gambling alcoholics who just leech off the hardworking taxpayers.” Think that kind of diatribe doesn’t hurt the people who actually rely on food stamps for basic survival? It absolutely does. Again, an analogy that is beyond extreme, but you see the parallel, right? It’s important to out the bad actors, but it’s equally important to mind how you do it so you don’t harm the virtuous.

        • Nope.

          I understand that you’re feeling like I’m attacking you, personally, but if I had not witnessed each of these behaviours MYSELF on MANY occasions, there would have been no need for this post at all.

          Are there self-published authors out there that don’t fit this mold? Of course (and yes, I am friends with several of them).

          I’m not going to apologize for calling out shitty practices that I think need to stop, though.

        • Actually, the analogy you’re looking for is the #notallmen campaign, which points out that although obviously not everyone in the world perpetuates sexism, you don’t get a cookie for not being sexist. Similarly, if you’re a self-pubbed author who doesn’t behave badly, you don’t get a cookie for not sucking. Nowhere here does sj say ALL TEH INDIES! She is very carefully pointing to a set of bad behaviors and expressing why they infuriate her.

          The people who are making it harder for everyone she’s not talking about are the people she IS talking about. Period. People who cheat on food stamps make it worse for those who don’t. Bible-thumping southern bigots make it worse for those who aren’t like that. The people who express frustration with a given set of behaviors aren’t ruining the lives of everyone who doesn’t behave that way. They are pointing out why the people who DO behave that way make it suck for EVERYONE.


          • YEP, what Jericha said.

            Here’s the deal: the majority of authors (like, the vast majority) that we see on a daily basis who engage in these activities are self-published. So of course we’re going to file this under “things that self-published authors do.” Not things that ALL!self-published authors do, but it’s a subset of a larger category that exists nearly entirely within that category.

        • I don’t think your examples apply here, though. Nowhere does she say, “Some self-published writers do shitty things, so now let me tell you how self-published writers are terrible people.” She said, “There are some self-published writers out there doing stuff that’s total bullshit, and here is what I think about that behavior.”

          I still don’t understand how choosing not to read self-published books is prejudiced. The implication is that self-published authors are entitled to readership and therefore not giving it to them (for any reason) is somehow morally wrong. But nobody owes a particular author/publisher/genre their readership. If I read some romance novels and don’t enjoy them and decide not to read romances anymore based on that experience, I am not being an asshole or a bigot or prejudiced. I am a person choosing not to read anymore romance novels because I had unenjoyable experiences reading that genre. “I don’t like romance novels” is not the same as “gay people are assholes” or “working moms are terrible parents” or any other example that is ACTUALLY prejudiced. Those examples are moral judgments. “I don’t want to spend time sifting through the sea of self-published books because my personal experience tells me that many of them are badly-edited or not edited at all and I as a reader don’t enjoy badly-edited books” is not a moral judgment.

          • Two points:

            First, I am having trouble reconciling the “I am not talking about them” statement with the later statement that “If traditional publishing goes away, I will quit reading.” This latter statement pretty clearly says “no self-published book is good enough for me.” Am I wrong about that? The later statement really doesn’t counteract the meaning: “… I will occasionally check out something that piques my interest AFTER it has been recommended and AFTER I’ve read a sample to make sure it’s not an unedited pile of bantha poodoo, but that happens so rarely it might as well not ever happen at all.” Again, not talking about the good ones. Just that good ones essentially don’t exist.

            Second, I don’t believe I ever made an argument that any author, self-published or otherwise, is entitled to an audience. I figure that 6+ billion people will never read my books. While it disappoints me that you choose to be among them, I don’t think you owe me anything and I won’t try to change your mind. I’m not reading your blog to make a sale; I’m reading it because it entertains and occasionally educates me.

            • To clarify:

              1. It’s entirely possible that I may have engaged in a bit of hyperbole. I would likely quit reading new fiction unless it was by someone I already trusted. The (plock!) was a joke about dodos in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next universe. I’m upset, but still attempting to create an engaging post that people will want to read.

              2. I have read hundreds of samples of self-published ebooks (LITRUHLEE HUNDREDS) and have purchased fewer than 10. That’s a tiny ass ratio, dude. Without a decent sample coupled with a glowing recommendation from someone I trust, no – no chance. Not sorry.

              • Fair enough. Not asking you to be sorry. Not asking you to start reading self-pubbed books.

                My point, which may have gotten lost in dog poop and food stamps, was that saying “I’m not talking about the GOOD ones” at the beginning does not change the fact that prejudice permeates this post. The comments I’ve read reinforce that. I stand by my examples, and I stand by my point.

                There are lots of posts on the internet that come in the form of, “Here are stupid things that some self-pub authors have done. Don’t do these things.” This post, however, takes the form of, “The vast majority of self-pub authors are clueless hacks who do bad things.” Subtle but important distinction.

                Putting “not all” at the beginning of something seems to be a trend these days. It allows people to beat down an entire group while claiming a fake moral high ground. I don’t like it as a trend. I think it allows people to be uncivil and inflammatory, a la cable TV news.

                • [sigh]

                  If I didn’t have to deal with these things ON THE DAILY, I wouldn’t have had to write a post about it at all.

                  Every. Day.

                  There are lots of posts on the internet that come in the form of, “Here are stupid things that some self-pub authors have done. Don’t do these things.” This post, however, takes the form of, “The vast majority of self-pub authors are clueless hacks who do bad things.” Subtle but important distinction.

                  Wrong. This post takes the tone of “The LOUDEST voices are the hacks, and they’re bringing everyone else down.”

                  But what do I know, it’s not like I wrote it, or anything.

                • “The vast majority of self-pub authors are clueless hacks who do bad things.” Subtle but important distinction.


                  It may also be true, although I might not say “vast”.

                  If I look at my own limited experience (which I do not hold out as representative), for every self-publishing author that does it right, I see a dozen who don’t.

                  Actually, maybe “vast” isn’t that wrong after all.

                  To be a little more fair, I am not out actively seeking quality work from self-published authors (the same way I don’t actively seek quality work from specific publishers … save a few like CZP, Dzanc, etc.).

            • “First, I am having trouble reconciling the “I am not talking about them” statement with the later statement that “If traditional publishing goes away, I will quit reading.” This latter statement pretty clearly says “no self-published book is good enough for me.” Am I wrong about that?”

              Yes, actually. You’re conflating two different things.

              sj is talking about the behavior of a certain set of self-published authors. While not all self-published authors engage in this behavior, the great majority of authors who do are self-published. So, while it’s not ALL self-published authors, the authors who do, are nearly all self-published.

              “If traditional publishing goes away, I will quit reading”–this has nothing to do with the BEHAVIOR of self-published authors. This is a matter of being able to find books that we would want to read within the realm of self-publishing. It’s nearly impossible for readers who are serious about what they read and won’t just read anything that is 99c.

              This was introduced to counter a specific behavior that I have seen a lot of self-published authors engage in–ie, demanding that “you should be supporting our books! we’re indies! you should give us a chance! you’re ignorant if you don’t!”–but it is not the EFFECT of the behaviors. It is a separate issue altogether used to illustrate the fact that trying to all-but-bully us into reading their books wouldn’t even work if they were the only books left to read.

              To recap: a lot of self-published authors (though not all of them) engage in crappy behaviors; regardless of this, we’re still unlikely to read many self-published books, so they can knock off the smug, pushy behavior.

        • What sj actually said was more like this, to use your somewhat inappropriate food stamp example:

          “Hey, people on food stamps–not all people on food stamps, because we know a lot of you folks are honest and just feeding your families. First, can we agree that we should change the name from food stamps? it’s a little weird, amirite? Okay, but seriously, here is a list of problematic behavior within the realm of people who use food stamps.”

          If you read into it as being all self-published authors despite the fact that she 1) made it very clear in her intro that she was going to be discussing specifically problematic behaviors that occur within the realm of self-publishing and 2) then discussed specifically problematic behaviors… /shrug, we can’t really help you.

        • I think you missed her point. I’ve read your follow-up comments, and I’m not sure you’re interested in my opinion, but I’m going to toss it out there anyway.

          I took the point of this rant to be “Self-pubbers who act like sanctimonious idiots are ruining it for the ones who do it right.”

          Why do I not read a lot of self-pub? Because the books I have usually been rushed to market with more attention paid to the cover art than the content. Are there good self-pubs out there? Sure. Are they really, really hard to find? Yep. Why? Because now anyone can upload to Amazon, and they do. In huge numbers, ready or not.

          I don’t think it’s wrong to call out the folks who are skimping on the editing, who are buying reviews, etc.

          I have a book in the works that may not be suited to traditional publishing, and I may need to go the self-pub route if that project is to see the light of day. I feel pretty justified in being annoyed at those taking the half-tushied route to publication because they’re going to make my sales more difficult to come by because the term “self-published” is becoming synonymous with “Wrote ‘The End,’ and then hit ‘Send.'”

        • I am having an issue with the use of the words “prejudice” and “holy-war” (if you were being sarcastic please excuse me) but we are talking about a business here.

          Whether you choose to self-publish or traditionally publish you are making a business decision as an author who wants to choose how his/her books are marketed and how they’ll reach their audience. Not to step into the whole Amazon vs Hachette, Self V Trad hot-potato talking point. But calling it prejudice or a holy-war is more than a bit extreme when it comes to a consumers purchasing choices.

          Being titled a Self-Published author never prevented someone a seat at the lunch counter. Or had them hosed down or beaten. A customer isn’t attacking “you” because they have a preference for which books they buy anymore than someone having a preference for Penguin over Hachette.

          A customer is prejudiced if they refuse to read a book by an author because they are black.

          They are prejudiced if they consciously refuse to read books by women.

          By LGBTQ authors.
          By Jewish Authors
          By Muslim Authors
          By POC.
          By the disabled.


          There are many ways a customer can be prejudiced in their buying decisions but comparing having a difficult time getting book stores to carry your books because you are self-published and having customers write all manner of racist,sexist,homophobic,xenophobic reviews and comments without having read your book is a comparison without merit.

          There is no publishing holy-war, no one is dying or being physically assaulted. Business decisions are being made by Author, Customer and Publisher alike. Book stores and publishers (Including Amazon) are not posting “Irish need not apply”, “No Colored Allowed” or handing out litmus tests for “acceptability”.

          We need to dial down the hyperbole (and this is not directed just at you) because there is a huge difference between customers making a business decision and being a part of a disenfranchised group.

    • Then do something about it, because as book bloggers who regularly interact with authors hoping for a little publicity, this is a LOT of what we experience. We’re under no obligation to be helpful or repress our frustrations because #notallselfpubs.

      • To paraphrase Jericha, “you chose book blogging, and it’s not up to good authors you refuse to read to make it better for you.”

        But I’ll listen, Susie. What do you propose I do to make it better for you?

        • She was saying that the authors are looking for a little publicity. Not us. The authors approach us asking us to read their books. But the knee-jerk dickish response is much appreciated.

          • What Susie said.

            Peter, you keep trying to spin analogies that don’t fit.

            I really doubt there is a book blogger anywhere in the world who is desperate for material to review and is out behaving badly and demanding things from self-publishers.

            There are simply too many great books put out each and every month for that to happen.

            Some of the best books I read in the past year have been self-published and, without exception, not one of those authors behaved badly or even identified as self-published. That latter part is interesting to me because, having talked to a few of them about it, they are *more* ticked off about being lumped in with the misfits.

        • Yeah, we weren’t asking GOOD authors to make it better for us in the first place? We’re asking the people who specifically engage in that behavior to stop it?

          — Sorry, I realize that sounds dickish. What I meant to say is that if you’re concerned about how other self-publishers’ behavior makes you look, that part is not my problem. We’re only asking the people who engage in the behavior to stop.

        • Oooh, good twisting of my point, there.

          Let’s recap:
          1) sj wrote a post clearly entitled “Reading Rage” about some behaviors that make you angry.
          2) You claimed that her frustration was making it harder for everyone who doesn’t participate in the behaviors she’s raging about.
          3) I pointed out that you chose to paddle in a pool that lots of people piss in, and telling sj she’s making it worse for you by pointing out that there’s piss in the pool is ridiculous.
          4) Susie made a comment regarding the fact that the onus is not on readers to fix the problems generated by bad self-pubbed authors, and if you don’t like the ways people respond to self-pubbed authors, maybe you, as a self-pubbed author, should do something about it, instead of asking us not to complain about it.
          5) You tell Susie it’s not up to authors to make reading better for us.
          6) We thank you for underlining our point about exactly why self-pubbed authors drive us nuts.

          • um… what.

            Seriously, take a step back and try to understand what I’ve said before launching new attacks.

            k thx bye

  7. It’s called a “Reading Rage” for a reason: it’s about behavior that infuriates us. If the shitstorm is obscuring the bright light of authors who don’t fall into this category, it’s the fault of the people making the shit, not the people who really wish they weren’t being constantly begged, shamed, and tricked into READING the shit. sj’s not trying to “resolve” anything; she’s expressing her bitter frustration as a reader. Exceptions to the shit aren’t “collateral damage” – you chose self-publishing, and it’s not up to readers to earnestly make it better for you.

    • This. I was talking to Susie about this post the other night, concerned that maybe I was too aggressive in my wording, but then realized “Hey, it’s called Reading Rage, not Reading Ambivalence.”

    • Yup, I chose to self-publish, eyes wide open. I bet you think you know the reasons I did it, too, and I’d further bet you’re mostly wrong.

      As to where the blame lies: If your neighbor’s dog shits on your lawn and you pick it up and smear it on another neighbor’s face, you blame the dog? Slick.

      The one that makes the shit has the bulk of the blame. The one that picks it up and throws it around also has some blame for the mess that results.

      • Um…if sj is the one getting her lawn shit on in this analogy, here’s how this exchange ACTUALLY goes:

        shitty dog owner: *lets his dog shit on sj’s lawn*
        sj: HEY! Stop letting you dog shit on my lawn! Listen, I know not all dog-owners are assholes, but what is with all the fucking dog-owners letting their dogs shit on everything?
        affronted dog owner with non-shitty dog: HEY. Don’t say that! When you call dog owners assholes, it makes it way harder for us poor dog-owners who don’t let our dogs shit on your lawn! It’s already hard enough for us as it is without you failing to distinguish us from all the people who do let their dogs shit on your lawn! You’re contributing to the problem of shit on lawns by lumping all dog-owners together!
        sj: *headdeak*

  8. Some people need to go back to the beginning two points at the start of this post, and then come back to comment. sj is speaking to a very specific portion of self-published authors, not ALL of them.

    Otherwise, yes, I agree. I understand wanting to use either of the routes available whether self-publishing or traditional publishing, but knowing that being able to produce the best book I could would personally cost me a lot more money if I went the self-pub route than traditional publishing makes it a more reasonable decision. I know my work needs editing, a lot of it, and a great cover and people to promote it better than I have the time for. There are pros and cons to both, and people can choose which way they want to go without making it a moral issue and shaming people for reading or not reading self-published work. If more self-published authors put the work and money into making their work good, maybe the stigma would eventually die. It’s as simple as that. You have to put work into something to make it great, and that’s everyone, no matter how successful or unsuccessful of an author you are.

    • PREACH, Samantha. Yes to all of this. Many people do not read self-published books because there’s so much crap out there and it’s so hard to find the stuff that’s actually good, and I see no reason why they should have to apologize for that. It’s not a moral issue, it’s a simple matter of choice.

  9. Methinks the subject matter may obscure a salient fact, here: Shame, pressure, hyperbole, and SEO-like data/reputation manipulation are not effective tools of persuasion. The abundance of accessible information and resulting transparency (for individuals with curiousity & research skills) validate the healthy skepticism & cynicism of large market segments, regardless of industry, niche, or genre.

    • And then sometimes, your customers just get frustrated and need to say what’s on their minds. That’s what this is: real customers who buy books being frustrated.

    • (unless you were not talking about this post re: shame, pressure, hyperbole, and in that case, I apologize for misreading the context of your comment!)

  10. I’m a self-published author, and I wish more of my ilk would pay close attention to this. We shouldn’t expect special treatment, for sure. And the less sleazy marketing our lot get involved in, the better for everyone (not to say that publishers don’t indulge in same dick-waddery, but that’s another story).

    Authors need to understand bugging people with “buy my book” spam isn’t going to help anyone. And bookstores have enough on their plates without finding space for a bunch of unproven titles with no profit margin.

    The only point I’d add would be most (sane) self-publishers don’t take any offence to the idea of publishers / editors changing our “babies”. We take more umbrage with the idea of signing away a lifetime of copyright in exchange for a handful of magic beans and maybe some loose change for the bus ride home.

    • Part of the problem is that there’s no way to separate out the sane from the not-so-much sane! Like, honestly, as consumers, it’s reaaaally impossible for us unless we come across someone who has built up a significant name for themselves. So unfortunately, we do see a lot of that attitude, too–and even though we know there are people out there who are trying really hard to do everything right, y’all can tend to get drowned out by the clamor of people who do not care at all, and just want to shove their books in our faces. :(

    • Yes! Nobody here has an issue with self-publishing as a valid and meaningful alternative — in fact, sj is the one who turned us on to Chuck Wendig’s post on why publishing is not a religious war, and I recently reviewed a non-trad-published book right here on this blog that was absolutely worth questioning my distrust of “indies” for. Your reply is exactly the calm, thoughtful sort of response that reminds us that ACTUALLY #notallindys, etc.

  11. My big complaint about self-pubbed authors is that they don’t read before pitching me their books. My review policy states:

    “I don’t enjoy reading romance novels. I am very picky about self-published books; nine times out of ten, I won’t read them. Friends and people whose work I’m familiar with already are pretty much the only exceptions to the no-self-published-books rule.”

    I get a lot of self-pubbed authors pitching me their books…and many of them are romance-y.

    If they can’t even READ before they pitch me their book, why would I think their writing is any good, ya know?

    And yeah, the “not all self-published authors” bit is terrible. If you take offense to this post, then this post most likely speaks to you and you’re probably part of the problem.

    • I feel like authors doing that is the equivalent of receiving mail addressed to “RESIDENT.” They have no idea who you are, but HERE READ THIS.

    • If you take offense to this post, then this post most likely speaks to you and you’re probably part of the problem.


  12. Well, that was quite a post! Actually in part I agree with every word, but there is room also for the self-published book that has a small interest readership. My brother-in-law and his cousin in America have both written and self-published books about growing up a Guggenheim, not terribly world shatteringly interesting unless you are one or are married to one.
    So what I am saying is, is that I am glad it is possible to self-publish and I don’t expect everyone is using it as a vanity project.

    • We’re absolutely glad that there are people who are able to find a voice through self-publishing who would otherwise not be able to.. which actually makes the problems MORE frustrating, as those people’s voices are getting drowned out by the deluge of people who think “hey, I could make a lot of money doing this, let me spit out a book!” Sigh.

  13. Okay, as long as we’re using bad analogies, I have something to say about the obvious offense Peter has taken to this post. This goes for all other self-published authors that may read this and be quick to take offense.

    Again, if you are taking personal offense to this post, then you are probably doing the very things sj is talking about. Stop it.

    If however, you KNOW you are NOT doing these things, but you’re still taking offense in the name of ALL SELF-PUBBED AUTHORS EVERYWHERE, again, stop it.

    When I read ranty articles titled “White people do/say/whatever…” I do not take offense. OF COURSE not all white people do those things, and nine times out of ten (I’m not perfect), the article is not speaking to me. And what is being said in the article is invariably true, like the things being said in this post are invariable true, no matter how you feel about it.

    NOW, instead of getting all pissed off and wasting your time commenting on said article about how NOT ALL OF US DO THAT, there are a couple productive things you can do:

    1. Take a step back for a moment and make sure you are not engaging in said behavior. Are you? Is that why you’re taking offense? Could be. If so, admit it to yourself and change your behavior.

    2. If after Step 1 you have determined that you are NOT engaging in said behavior, but are still kind of ticked because you know the post is true and it bothers you that other people engaging in said behaviors are making you look bad…use your time to do something to change those behaviors within your group. Use your own space (blog, voice, whatever) to bring these behaviors to the attention of your group and ask them to stop making you look bad. When you see a self-pubbed author engaging in the behaviors outlined in this post, call them out and ask them to stop. Make them understand why what they are doing is wrong, and why it is important to other self-pubbed authors that this behavior cease to exist.

    Don’t waste your time boo-hooing about how YOU DON’T DO THIS STUFF. We get it. If you don’t do this stuff, then we’re not speaking to you. Get over yourself and get out there and do something to change it.

    The end.

    • “… use your time to do something to change those behaviors within your group.”

      It’s not my group. Which is sort of the point.

      Actually, that’s not my point at all. My point is that I don’t like the cable TV news style of “some people are okay, but we’re going to bash the whole demographic anyway and reject all counterarguments because we said up front that some people are okay.”

      I realize now that I am trying to make my point in the wrong place. This is reading rage, not reading ambivalence, as was pointed out above. It’s a rage/rant. I should have taken it for what it is. My apologies to all.

      • FWIW, I don’t think apologies are necessary.

        If the misfits of self-publishing aren’t your group, that is great.

        Men who are misogynist aren’t my group, so I don’t play pedantics with people who complain about men who are misogynist. I know that they aren’t talking about me.

          • <3 what you said there about misogynists, although I do appreciate that Peter came back and acknowledged the post for what it is. I continue to feel, as sj does, that she was very carefully NOT bashing a whole group, with or without the opening caveat, but regardless of that dissonance I always appreciate it when someone works hard to return to civil discourse. Even if the whole point of a Reading Rage is the boiling-point need to be wholly uncivil about something.

      • But I’m NOT bashing the whole demographic, Peter! I included the caveat UP FRONT because I hate when that shit is relegated to a footnote.

        FWiW, I shared this post on my personal fb page (something I rarely do cos I don’t mix blogging with my personal life), and several of my friends who ARE self-pubs agreed with all the points I’ve made here.

        The truth of the matter is that the majority makes the minority look bad. I laud those of you that are going about things the right way, but right now you’re falling into the very Blame Shame Cycle I’m talking about in my post. The fact that you can’t see that is, frankly, mind-boggling.

        • No no, I see that. Really, I do. I just don’t buy that “saying it up front” gives a person free reign the rest of the way. I totally acknowledge there are a large number of people throwing crap onto Amazon, calling themselves “best selling authors” when they’re not, even purchasing reviews, then acting like the world owes them a million dollars a year because Hugh Howey and Bella Andre worked it out. I get that they are belligerent and nasty and, in your world, EVERYWHERE. Like cockroaches, but these don’t scatter in the light. I get that. I am not defending them, nor am I suggesting their existence shouldn’t drive you nuts.

          Maybe I’ve spent too much time in corporate diversity training the past five years and am now just overly hyper-aware of subtle nuances in the way people speak and act that they themselves don’t see as inherently biased but which, in fact, come across a very different way to people outside their own kindred group. I am not at all surprised that your regular readers and your facebook friends agree with your points. And I’m not much surprised that my objections to it are seen as my own failure to understand. IMO, the tactic of “I said up front that I wasn’t offending YOU so if you’re offended then it’s your own fault” as fundamentally flawed. The speaker feels they’re being inclusive and sensitive, but the minorities in the audience feel disrespected and unfairly beat up. Try it out in any context you choose. Pick a place where you would be the small minority among an ugly majority, and listen to what people say behind this “I’m not talking about YOU” shield.

          I know what answer I’ll get to this comment because you think I’m the one that doesn’t understand. But I do. Better than all y’all think.

          • Peter, if you understand (especially if you understand better than we all think!) then aren’t we just being pedantic?

            I am fairly certain that everybody posting here, with the exception of we priviledged white males, understands the ramifications of inclusion and exclusion.

            Or do you actually believe that sj is being dishonest and that her disclaimer is some *tactic* to deflect and rage against all self-pubs?

            Can’t you accept that sj actually means what she says? I do.

            I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t say anything that she doesn’t mean, especially qualifiers, deflections and platitudes

          • I do get what you’re saying, but . . . this isn’t like, an issue of “minorities” because self-publishing is a choice and a business. And it’s, as someone alluded to above, a choice you have to make knowing that there are problems, and if you want to be successful, you have to know how to navigate those problems (same if you start a business–you need to spend time with your business plan detailing potential challenges and how you will overcome them).

            So you have willingly and choosingly hopped into an industry that is rife with challenges. You see a post that says “these are some things that make me angry that come nearly exclusively from people who self-publish”. This? should be GOLD to a self-publisher, because it tells people who want to be successful what behaviors drive people who buy books insane. You see all of these people fucking up and making readers upset? AWESOME, because they are your competition, and every person who is getting upset about the tone of the post is missing the larger point that you now have the information to get better market share.

            Don’t get upset because you’re not doing it. Get focused and use that information to your advantage. Prove how you’re different. We’re telling you things we hate and we’re telling you that your competitors do these things. It’s good news for you if you don’t do them.

            • Excellent points. Two observations, in the interest of ongoing pedantry:

              1. Just because it’s not attacking a protected class doesn’t mean it’s not potentially hurtful.

              2. “So you have willingly and choosingly hopped into an industry that is rife with challenges.” I might use a playground retort here to point out that… so have our hosts with this blog. Instead of ranting about it and refusing to deal with good suppliers, maybe they should use this to their advantage and find the GOOD self publishers that all the other book bloggers eschew. OH SNAP

              • Sigh. ” Instead of ranting about it and refusing to deal with good suppliers, maybe they should use this to their advantage and find the GOOD self publishers that all the other book bloggers eschew. OH SNAP”

                1) We had this blog open for a very long time for self-published authors to send us appropriate material. Exactly one person sent us something that was appropriate during all that time–one person out of hundreds. The number of hours spent reading my email and reading samples did not prove to me that there were enough suppliers of material appropriate to our reading tastes for us to continue accepting pitches.

                I want to impress upon you that I literally spent hundreds of hours “giving people a chance” to no personal benefit. I need you to understand this before you throw this “refusing GOOD suppliers” in my face again. It became economically unfeasible to do so, both time-wise and even financially, since I do make money off of things like t-shirt sales and writing at other sites.

                I also want to impress upon you that, despite the fact that it says very clearly that we don’t accept pitches, I still get pitched on a regular basis through various channels–email, Twitter, Facebook. So this is STILL an issue that affects us, even though we don’t actually accept pitches (from anybody, btw–not just from self-pubs. We choose our own reading material and I have written about why this makes our site better).

                So, this is an issue that frustrates us regardless of whether we accept self-published material, hence the rant. However, your suggestion that we work with GOOD suppliers isn’t economically feasible for our site. We tried it. It wasted a crapload of my time. sj has tried it. She has wasted a crapload of her time. Where then, exactly, are all of these GOOD self-publishers who are dying to work with us? They certainly weren’t showing up when we gave them a chance… either that, or your standard of what is a good book and mine are totally different.

                Which, I’m allowed. I’m allowed to read what I like. Out of hundreds of books pitched to me, I found one that I thought I wanted to try after giving them all a fair shake. Are you suggesting that I should read books that don’t look good to me? I would have to then give them an honest review… which would probably be less kind than skipping the book in the first place.

                2) Hurt feelings are unfortunate but sj wasn’t being cruel. I would never publish mean-spirited cruelty. I will publish genuine reader frustrations. I’m sorry if your feelings are hurt, but I won’t silence one of my writers if I know she’s being honest and that her points have merit.

                • My feelings aren’t hurt. That was never my point. No matter, though. I suspect I’ve hurt others’ feelings way more than mine have been hurt, and for that I am sorry.

                  What’s funny about this particular comment is that your point #1 sounds EXACTLY like any literary agent’s rant from… well, any time during the past decade, really. Which I suppose only supports the anti-self-pub camp’s contention that self-pub is simply a slush pile for the masses. Which, actually, I kind of agree with.

                  All I did here was return your disingenuous comment with one of my own. And if you don’t see how your prior comment was disingenuous, then… well… you have simply proven my original point.

                • I don’t make disingenuous comments. I have not said an insincere thing during this entire discussion. It’s not in my nature to do so. I could have been mistaken or misguided, but I was not insincere.

                  Am I correct to assume that you are referring to the “do something about it” comment that I made to you? Or was it another one?

                • The one I replied to. The one that said, “This is actually GOOD for the well-behaved self publishers because you can see what assholes do and not do that!” If not disingenuous then tragically naive and/or condescending. Maybe condescending is the word I was looking for. Disingenuous was probably the wrong word.

                • My intention was not to condescend. I don’t understand how it’s not good to be able to know what frustrates your potential customer base. In business, when you see frustration in a group of people, that presents an opportunity to fill that need and remove the frustration. If you figured out a solution to the problems that real customers have, you could revolutionize self-publishing and make it easier for good authors to gain market share.

                  Readers and bloggers don’t have any stake in whether self-published authors succeed because, at the end of the day, we have plenty of other things to read. Hell, all of publishing could stop making original work altogether tomorrow and we’d be saddened but okay if they just kept printing the books that exist, there are that many of them. It’s not going to affect us. Amazon doesn’t care enough to really help because it’s going to make money either way. Publishers don’t care because self-published authors are the competition; they probably want self-publishing to go away. It’s seriously up to you guys. Nobody else has a stake in the success of self-publishing.

                  It’s fine if you don’t like how we vent our frustrations. It’s fine if you think I’m condescending, even though that was never my intention, nor do I particularly feel superior to you or anybody. It’s fine if you think I’m naive, even if I’ve got a business background and what I said plays out logically. I don’t particularly agree with your assessments of my tone or sj’s, but you’re not hurting my feelings over any of this.

                • By way of illustration: About 15 years ago I was helping coordinate a technology conference where we expected 200-300 attendees. The rep for the CEO we’d lined up to be keynote speaker was on the phone. He actually said to us, “I have some good news. Our CEO can’t make it, but the marketing director will fill in. It’s great because no one knows him, so they’ll all want to hear what he has to say!” This, of course, was BS because the keynote needed to be a big name to draw attendance. What you said kinda feels like that.

                  Academically, your argument in the generic is of course true. If you know what your customers want and don’t want, you can better serve them. Applying that to this post as a good thing for the ones that are already doin-it-rite? Not so much.

                • If you know what your customers want and don’t want, you can better serve them. Applying that to this post as a good thing for the ones that are already doin-it-rite? Not so much.

                  Actually, the point for those who are doin-it-rite is — “Thank you! Please keep doing what you’re doing, and we’ll keep telling the doin-it-wrongs to (a) follow your example, and (b) to quit blocking you out, in the meantime, with their not-edited-enough-to-be-ready-for-customers products.”

          • Here’s one: “I know food trucks are super popular now, and I know some vendors are really excellent, but I just won’t eat at one. The last several times I tried I really didn’t like the burger I got, I thought it was poorly made and undercooked. So seriously, stop telling me I should keep trying food trucks, because I just don’t think they’ve got the skill and equipment to ensure consistent quality like the burger place I’ve gone to since I was six.”

            I like this example, because like self publishing, it involves a business decision. There are definitely some amazing food trucks out there, but you get burned enough, it’s not unreasonable you won’t want to try another, or would at least be seriously hesitant. It’s also not unreasonable you’d tell others your opinion. Add to that a few food truck vendors trying to shame or berate you into buying their food and you’d totally steer clear.

            And I know foodies that completely embrace the independent business model of the food truck. They like the gritty DIY ethic, and think people who go to a chain like McDonalds or Shake Shack are missing out on something amazing. I’ll even concede they might know of some amazing trucks. But their opinion won’t make the van parked outside my office serve better burgers. Nor does my unwillingness to try their burger make me a jerk. Me telling other people to steer clear based on my opinion doesn’t make me a jerk. But if they saw me walk by with a McDonalds bag and gave me shit for it, or called McDonalds employees “sheeple,” they’d most certainly fall into the jerk category.

            • Yes! Yes!

              I mean, I would tweak one thing in your analogy: take the last “several” times and make it “several hundred,” hee. While I do like food trucks, they have also delivered some amazing meals to me; if I’d gone to dozens without ever having a good meal, I’m sure I would become disenfranchised with the whole concept, regardless of scrappy indie status.

              And if I’d gone to a whole bunch and a lot of them had the exact same problems–maybe like, idk, sanitation standards were lacking or the food was always getting burned because of the equipment or the owners just often weren’t experienced enough to run the restaurant well–I’d probably write a “hey, food trucks, get your shit together” post.

              • And it’s important to note that, while food truck vendors (whether they actually do it right or just feel they do it right) might be pissed at that post, the least productive thing they can do is rant about the disrespect they get. The MOST productive thing they can do is what every entrepreneur with a good product has always done: move on to the next customer. Convince enough other people you’re doing it right, and you force the people who dismissed you to possibly reconsider. More importantly, you sell product, making the earlier slight less important. The last two books I bought are self pubbed titles. The authors of those books haven’t said a word in the midst of this whole Amazon/Hachette dust-up about what business model is best. They’ve been too busy making a strong case people should buy their books.

          • You are taking a legitimate problem (i.e. people who make Fox-style generalizations) and applying it to someone who is doing her best to NOT be part of that problem. It’s like you’re saying, I don’t care if you are explicitly directing your criticisms at a subset of self-published authors. I’m going to read your post as critical of ALL self-published authors anyway.

            The paragraphs following the two intro disclaimers are referring to a SUBSET of self-published writers, not to All Self-Published Writers. sj explained that, both in the post itself and in her responses to you — as have other commenters. If you choose to disregard all the clarifications people are giving you, then that is not sj’s fault. She can’t control how each and every person will interpret her statements.

            And she’s certainly not out to destroy the concept of self-publishing; rather, she’s trying to help make things better for the doing-it-rights by calling out the doing-it-wrongs. She’s telling the latter to stop ruining things so that she CAN more easily find the well-written stories. She’s telling the wrong-doers to follow the example of the good self-publishers. That’s how I understand the post.

  14. Hi, I enjoy IB quite a bit, although as a lurker I haven’t commented much. I’ve been following the comments on this today. It’s been entertaining and educational. As a relative outsider with no horse in this race (other than a bias in that I know sj from other places and I think she is awesome), it sounds like Peter Dudley is making a valid point, but the vast majority of people posting are coming across like they are not really hearing it. I am not saying that to hear is to agree, but the disagreements with his point thus far often sound patronizing, dismissive, and/or preoccupied with related valid concerns and frustrations. The overall tone, as viewed from the sidelines, is that you all are passionately talking past each other.

    • Patrick: I think the sidelines view is probably the most objective. I’m glad at least it’s been entertaining.

    • In terms of hearing it, I think the reason I (and I suspect others) have a problem with framing sj’s caveat at the beginning as a handwave to allow her to be prejudiced towards self publishers is that to do so is to misread her piece. Leaving aside times in history where oppressive political or religious regimes actively banned material, no one has ever stopped anyone from publishing a book. Some businesses have chosen not to partner with individuals to bring certain books to publication, but those individuals have always been able to print and distribute their own work. New technology has just made that process cheaper, which has created an unfortunate side effect where some people have taken advantage of the lower cost of entry to the marketplace to push poorly produced material into the marketplace with an overly aggressive sense of entitlement.

      Look back over sj’s piece, she doesn’t say a word about the creativity of self publishers. It’s all about professionalism, so that’s the point that comments should flow from. This isn’t an attack on a class of disenfranchised people, it’s a comment about the lack of professionalism that makes self publishing as a whole look bad (note the kicker at the end of the piece). Any defensive reframing of it as an attack on a disenfranchised minority misreads and misrepresents what sj actually wrote, and pulls the conversation away from a need for self publishers to strive towards greater professionalism if they expect to pursue publishing as a business.

      • I respectfully request that you reread what you wrote from the perspetive of the “disenfranchised minority.” This, specifically:

        “Any defensive reframing of it as an attack on a disenfranchised minority misreads and misrepresents what sj actually wrote, and pulls the conversation away from a need for self publishers to strive towards greater professionalism if they expect to pursue publishing as a business.”

        In that one sentence, you effectively illustrated my point. On the one hand, you acknowledge the existence of the disenfranchised minority, then you shut them up by saying any rebuttal is invalid, and finally in the very same sentence you roll the disenfranchised minority into the bigger community of “self publishers,” thus implying that even the disenfranchised minorty are acting unprofessionally.

        This is EXACTLY the structure I’m talking about, only you’ve done it in one sentence instead of over an entire blog post.

        I don’t see this as any different from, say, a sentence like this: “A handful of politicians are ethical, and any attempt by them to point this out is ignoring the point that politicians need to act more ethically.”

        I’ve been trying to make this not about me because I think there’s a lesson to be learned from analyzing the structure. Rants are great. They can be done in an entertaining way that gets the point across without denigrating the virtuous minority. I think, however, that many people are making assumptions about me because I appear to be defending the self publishing category. I’m not; I’m among those who think all paths have merit and good on you when you choose whatever path you choose.

        I’ve done nanowrimo four times (did not publish any of those). I have self published two novels with a third coming shortly, and I’ve used KDP Select (now the ebooks are with Smashwords). I think Amazon has done some great stuff for readers and writers, and I also think they have some flaws. I don’t make a living from writing, nor do I ever expect to except perhaps in retirement, if that ever happens. I don’t believe “novelist” is any more viable a job title, whether self-published or traditionally published, than “professional basketball player.” A handful can do it, and great for them. The rest of us should celebrate our midlist status, if we can make it that far, and do it mostly for the love of the game. I have worked as a volunteer at one of the biggest writer’s conferences for seven years and will continue to do so even though little of the content changes year to year. In my day job, I manage a multimillion dollar budget with a team of seven in a Fortune 25 company; my flagship program has been recognized as #1 in the country five years in a row; and I have chaired or spoken at several national conferences in my field. I have an engineering degree from one of the world’s top public universities, and I have experience that spans programming, marketing, customer service, and project management. I have two kids (one of whom just turned 18), and I am a youth soccer coach. When I chose self publishing, it was with a thorough understanding of the costs and rewards of the different options before me, and a thorough understanding of where writing fit into my life. Where does it fit? It’s a passion, like playing soccer, that I pursue when I have time. I sell or give away my books as it suits me, I am grateful to every person who gives my product some of their precious time, and I hope the people who read my writing get enjoyment from it. I am elated by good ratings, and I hope over time my audience grows organically. I don’t have a timeframe for success, or even a sales goal. What comes, comes. LIke I said, 6 billion people probably won’t read my books, and I’m okay with that. I’d prefer they do, but let’s be realistic.

        I say all this because I think there’s an assumption that I come from the “self publishing uber alles” camp and am simply offended by sj’s rant. Not the case at all. I found the rant funny and full of truth but took exception to the structure. The majority of my day job involves communicating to different diverse audiences, and there’s some evidence that I do this pretty well. As a professional in that field, and as someone who has gone through his own personal journey of understanding inherent, subconscious bias over the past several years (with some great coaching, BTW), I responded with my own rant that the “this is not about you” structure is a false shield. I stand by that, and I think the offense that so many have taken at my position illustrates my point to a certain degree. It’s my belief that when someone starts with that, they are exposing their inherent bias against the entire category, and very likely they feel righteous in their position and are blind to their own prejudice. I have seen nothing in the comments to convince me otherwise.

        I don’t personally care if someone is prejudiced against self publishing or the people who do it. It’s like being prejudiced against Wall Street Bankers or timeshare salesmen or TSA agents. Well, saying I don’t care isn’t entirely true–it does hurt my feelings I suppose, in the same way it would hurt a TSA agent’s feelings to hear all the negative talk about his coworkers. I understand you’ll never pick up my books. As I’ve said, that disappoints me but that’s totally your choice and I respect your right to decide.

        Sorry, I’ve gotten off my topic. To sum up: I am a neutral party in the publishing holy wars. I stand by my point and think I have some credibility in that area. I have yet to hear any argument against my point beyond “she SAID she wasn’t prejudiced,” which is an argument I reject outright. (That is my whole point, after all.) I’ll probably regret posting this. But there it is, I suppose.

        • “In that one sentence, you effectively illustrated my point. On the one hand, you acknowledge the existence of the disenfranchised minority, then you shut them up by saying any rebuttal is invalid, and finally in the very same sentence you roll the disenfranchised minority into the bigger community of “self publishers,” thus implying that even the disenfranchised minorty are acting unprofessionally.”

          I was bored of this because I thought it was just pedantism, but it looks like you (and this time I am giving you all of the credit) are taking your single interpretation and telling other people what they are saying. You have used bad analogies and partial analysis to do this.

          Specifically, that one sentence you refer to does not acknowledge the existence of a disenfranchised minority. It acknowledges that, should you choose, you could *frame* the post as an attack on a disenfranchised minority. Those are very different things.

          The original sentence acknowledges that it is possible to take a different meaning from the post, but that doing so isn’t representative of the message, so the author must have meant something else.

          I live in possibly the most diverse city on the planet. 400 kids at the local school and they speak 78 different languages. We are equally diverse in terms of sexual, gender and ability identification. My workforce equally so. I understand what you are saying.

          The thing is, and as a writer you know this, *everything* can be framed in a manner that is offensive to somebody. The important point is to consider the message and the messenger to see if your framing is consistent with those. You don’t have to, but it really helps to understand if there is actually any wrongdoing before you start telling people that they are being mean.

          If you had said “you know, I see your point, but I think people will find this to be a blanket statement, regardless of what you meant”, I would have no objection and might even be inclined to agree. I actually don’t think that taking offense implies guilt.

          But you seem to believe that *everybody* should frame the post as being intentionally offensive beyond the stated target and, knowing sj and the background here, I know that simply isn’t true. I find it the height of arrogance to reject any argument outright, yet we white males seem to do it a lot.

          If every occurence of the term “self-published” in this post were replaced with “self-published-and-doing-it-wrong”, would you have the same objection?

          • TL;DR

            You have taken a position that because *you* reject the disclaimer that everybody else should and then have gone on to characterize people and their posts based solely on your rejection (which is closed-minded and runs polar opposite to being inclusive).

            *I* have taken offense to the way that you have characterized people in this thread. I know them and I know that they don’t mean what you keep saying they mean.

            • Sorry. I was being my ‘holistic’ self, and trying to turn words of anger into words of love.
              If we come from a place of love it make the world a happier place.

              I totally agree some self-pubs are spoiling the marketplace for the good ones. And I completely understand how frustrating it must be to be faced with mediocre rubbish every day. I truly do.

              My point though, was more, let’s support the good writers (of all publishing routes), as the bad ones shouldn’t be successful anyway. Can we just ignore the bad ones? And support all good authors? Group hug?? ;-P

              Love & light

              • Actually, she didn’t say she wasn’t prejudiced. She makes it very clear that she IS. And then she goes on to call out the behaviors that MAKE her prejudiced. Prejudice comes from past experience: that’s what prejudice is. And when you’ve had bad experiences with something, and people continually ignore those bad experiences and insist that you’re just doing it wrong/not paying attention/mean/judgmental, it confirms your negative judgment.

                There are many situations in which expressing prejudice is deeply problematic. “Ugh, I hate when black people ______ except you know I’m not talking about my COOL black friends!” is an excellent (and horrifyingly common) version of this. I understand what you’re trying to say about how you see sj’s thinking pattern here as being uncomfortably close to that for you.

                Except, the thing is? There are times when holding prejudices and behaving accordingly is perfectly acceptable and not problematic at all. Mike’s food truck analogy, for example. Or not liking deviled eggs because you usually find them vile, goopy, and smelly. If sj didn’t like deviled eggs, and she was sick of everyone telling her she just haven’t had THEIR deviled eggs yet, and she wrote a rant telling all the people whose make vile deviled eggs to stop trying to make her eat them and explaining everything she finds disgusting about them, except her Aunt Patty’s because hers are delicious, it would be clear that anyone who came along and said “you’re exposing your inherent bias against the entire category of deviled eggs, and very likely you feel righteous in your position and are blind to your own prejudice!” it would be clear that a) her bias was not problematic for anyone except those constantly trying to get her eat their deviled eggs; b) she’s perfectly aware of her own prejudice and was actually busy trying to explain why she had it in the first place; and c) anyone who came along and told her not to make sweeping judgments about deviled eggs – regardless of their own role in the deviled-egg production industry – was really, really missing the point.

                The reason we have not been validating your critique of sj’s article is that your critique is not valid. You are drawing false parallels to make your point, and I find your inability to distinguish between harmful prejudice and legitimate consumer annoyance especially maddening given your boast about how you’re “hyper-aware of subtle nuance” thanks to corporate diversity training. The #notallmen hashtag is the appropriate analogy for your stance, and if that fails to make sense to you, there’s a reason we’re not listening to you.

                • “Actually, she didn’t say she wasn’t prejudiced. She makes it very clear that she IS.”

                  This is an interesting claim and seems counter to what I get from both the post and the comments. Huh.

                • Peter, in case you wonder why I keep harping on the “priviledged white male”, it is because, despite your training and my experience, not to mention our best intentions, we will never understand marginalization the way others (including a number you lecture in this thread) do. We need to be mindful of that because to do otherwise is arrogant and leaves us with a blind spot or twelve.

                  By way of example, I note that you have closed a number of posts with the sentiment that posting is probably a mistake. That *tactic* (your word) is often used as a *false shield* (again, your words) against backlash from bad behaviour. You have done exactly the thing that you rail against and I bet you didn’t even see it.

                  The difference is that nobody called you disingenuous for doing so.

                • “By way of example, I note that you have closed a number of posts with the sentiment that posting is probably a mistake… You have done exactly the thing that you rail against and I bet you didn’t even see it.” Fair enough.

                  Also, white males can’t possibly understand a marginalized person’s position, so I have no business talking about it. I am arrogant and loaded with blind spots. Got it.

                • Again, you are telling people what they are saying.

                  I said w have to be mindful. We have to understand that we are not the most qualified. We have to, most importantly, not reject things out of hand just because we have good intentions and *think* we know better than others.

                  Again, nobody called you disingenuous for using what *could* be a tactic. Everybody gave *you* the benefit of the doubt.

                  You, OTOH, charged in like a belligerent Kool Aid Man telling everybody else what they *really* meant.

                • Peter, as I understand your posts, your contention is that any time generalizations about a group are made, it reveals the generalizer’s bias against said group. I want to call this the “I’m not racist, but” stance: the idea that stating you know there are exceptions to a problematic generalization doesn’t make the generalization less harmful. (“I’m not racist, I mean, my best friend is black and HE doesn’t do this, but I hate it when all those OTHER black guys play rap music all the time!”)

                  If you hold this belief, then when others on this post try to emphasize that sj meant what she said about exceptions to her frustration with self-published authors, it must seem like doubling down: “But she really DOESN’T think all black guys play obnoxious music! She’s just annoyed at the ones who do!” And I can understand why you want to argue with this stance. But you’re relying on a false analogy as your basic premise, and this is why nobody here is willing to cede your point. Let me try to articulate why:

                  As it happens, I personally feel that sj’s post falls more into the “#notallmen” camp. If you’re not familiar with it, #notallmen is a hashtag used to ironically denote social media posts about misogyny referencing the fact that many men, when women try to discuss the problems of male privilege, immediately respond with “but not all men do that!” Of course not all men do that. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out the ones who do. And if the men who aren’t misogynist are frustrated by feeling lumped in with the ones who are, that’s not the fault of the women critiquing misogynistic behavior – it’s the fault of the misogynists who behaved so badly so often that such behaviors can BE a topic of widespread critique. #notallmen is a shorthand reference to the idea that certain problematic behaviors are widespread social norms, and while of course not everyone participates in them, those behaviors won’t change unless the social norm (i.e. misogyny) is criticized.

                  But really, sj’s post isn’t even really in the #notallmen category — because the fact is, she’s talking about something that has absolutely nothing to do with the language of structural oppression. This post is about how most manufacturers of a given product (we’ll call it product X) indulge in really obnoxious marketing behaviors, but a few of them don’t. While sj KNOWS not all the makers of product X do these shitty things, she’s been deeply turned off product X by the ones who DO, and here is a list of the shitty things she wishes they’d stop doing. This is not related to the language of oppression and everyone here really wishes you would stop drawing that analogy.

                  As far as I can tell, the point you’re trying to make with all the fallacious comparisons to disenfranchised groups is that Generalization Is Bad And Hurts People, Especially The People Who Are Exceptions, and stating that you know there are exceptions to said generalizations beforehand does not make the inherent problematic bias that LEADS to the generalization less present. Which is, in fact, sometimes the case, and is not an invalid point in the right context (Except that when generalizations are being made about ACTUALLY disenfranchised people, ALL the people of the group are harmed by the perpetuation of the prejudice, NOT just the ones who Aren’t Like That.) But having a bias against certain kinds of books and how they’re marketed to you isn’t problematic. It’s called personal preference, and it’s how reading works.

                  If sj & others on this thread don’t seem to be saying that sj is prejudiced, that’s because the whole point of this post was that sj is perfectly well aware that not every self-published book sucks, and she made the erroneous assumption that maybe her readers would take her seriously when she expressed that awareness, and NOT leap to the conclusion that she hates all self-published books ever. But is she prejudiced against them? Yes, of course she is, in the sense that she’s had a Aegean stable’s worth of bad experiences with them, as detailed in this post. Prejudice consists of making judgments based on prior experience, and her judgment here is that a hell of a lot of self-published authors do things that absolutely infuriate her. Prejudice and generalization are used in many, many ways in human life, not all of them relating to oppression. I, for example, am heavily prejudiced against dishes involving eggplant, because eggplant upsets my stomach. Saying that because I am prejudiced in my generalized dislike of eggplant, and because people are prejudiced when they have a generalized dislike of, say, black people, or queer people, or Southern Bible-thumpers, and that their prejudice is bad, so therefore my generalized dislike of eggplant is also bad because prejudice — that is frankly and fundamentally not true, and more than a little ridiculous, right? But that’s basically the logic behind the argument you’re making.

                  tl;dr: if you genuinely cannot understand the difference between generalizations used by a consumer venting frustration with the marketers of a product and generalizations used within the language of structural oppression, and continue to insist that they are analogous, nobody here is going to take you seriously.

                • I’m not entirely sure if I should be giving you comment awards since you write for us (though I’m also not sure why I couldn’t), but all of your comments on this post deserve all of the comment awards.

  15. Self-publishing will be the death of traditional publishing in the same way that a camcorder was the death of Hollywood. Though I do love a good video of someone hurting themselves on YouTube.

  16. “Self-publishing will be the death of traditional publishing in the same way that a camcorder was the death of Hollywood. ”

    Actually– this is a good analogy so I’m gonna run with it. While I’m sure there are some really nice people who make good and interesting videos with a camcorder and iMovie, I — personally –would rather go see “Belle” in the theater tonight than watch said videos online that are made with a camcorder. And I would rather go see “Belle” than the latest action flick that perpetuates terrible gender roles and violence (whatever that is now, I don’t keep track). Because I’m a person and a consumer and I get to make that choice. I have free will and you’re not the boss of me.

    But I’m with sj that if for some crazy reason that will never happen self publishing took over the world I would find other things to fill my time instead of reading as much as I do. Just like if home movies took over Hollywood I would probably stop going to the movies. I would… like… learn how to paint or something I dunno.

    Just like how I don’t go to concerts of music I don’t like. How by and large I don’t listen to much rap because I find that in general the lyrics tend to be misogynistic and glorify rape culture and gun culture. And these are things I don’t like. So while I’m sure there are some good rappers I don’t feel like wading through hundreds of hours listening to words that make my blood boil to find them. I would love for the rap industry as a group to be like — hey let’s stop being homophobic misogynistic ass hats and talk about something other than drugs and raping bitches– and if they did I would be much more likely to listen to them. But until they do I won’t spend time listening to thousands of samples to find that one cd that doesn’t make me want to punch people in the teeth.
    And if this makes me a snob then I’m okay with that.
    If wanting to read books that have been through a certain process — and we all acknowledge that there is nothing perfect about the publishing process– makes me a snob then I’m okay with that too.
    And if people are offended by that… well okay.

    Self-pub authors have the right to publish.
    I, and sj and lots of other people, have the right to decide not to read or buy self-pubbed works.
    sj has the right to rant about not liking self-pubbed works.
    And yes everyone has the right to comment on sj’s opinions.
    But I’ve never had my opinion changed by defensive people telling me that I’m wrong.

  17. So, we’re all agreed the self-righteous, idiotic ‘indies’ are annoying? Yes, I think we do.
    So, instead of wasting more web space on those morons, please can we offer support to the talented self-pubs… please?

    I am new to the industry, and like the freedom being self-published gives me. But it is really really tough to get your work noticed. I wouldn’t sink to shaming anyone into reading my work ever. Like you said, it wouldn’t work even if I tried.

    The reviews I have are totally genuine. Whenever I ask bloggers to read my book/s I stipulate I want honest opinions. I don’t want my ego to be massaged. I want actual feedback. I’ve been lucky enough that people have liked what they’ve read.

    I have a day job, so writing has to fit in around that. Then trying to promote your books which you hear others say are good, but you’re desperately trying to get more people to actually notice they exist? It’s exhausting!!

    I don’t have anything against the publishing houses. They charge to cover costs & yeah, make a profit. But in return all this ball breaking promo is done for you. But there’s fewer publishers willing to even look at books now. And you can pretty much forget about it if you don’t have a literary agent. So, good luck to anyone who manages to jump through all the hoops. I reckon this is because there’s fewer bookshops now. This actually saddens me. But it is like so many things in this modern age; go online. I wish we still had local stores; fresh fish at fishmongers, local meat in butchers, but the global corporations are killing their trade too.

    I know you said the article’s not about all self-published authors (by the way ‘Indie’ is much shorter, therefore easier to put on Twitter). But please do remember there are lots of fish in this net, and most of us are decent, hard working and honest. We just need some attention. And yeah, sorry if we get carried away sometimes. We just want you to love our books.

    Love & light

    • You might not have seen up there in the comments–we actually were open to pitches from self-published authors for over a year, maybe two years (I didn’t time it, or anything). During that time, we received very few (like 1-2% maybe) books out of hundreds that even fit the basic criteria that we set (literary, character-driven fiction–and yes, that means tons of self-published authors were sending us books that we specifically asked them not to send us), and out of those, we only selected two books that we actually wanted to read. That’s maybe half a percent return on my effort to check out every book? Less than half?

      Believe me, we tried. :( We opened the door wide, and the talented indies either didn’t show up or weren’t writing what we were looking for.

      We stopped accepting pitches because it became an enormous time suck with almost no payoff; I felt my/our energies could better be spent elsewhere.

    • This was a wonderful comment. I’d love to check out your work. Hopefully you can be found easily and I’ll look under your name. If there is a trick to finding your book, will you please let me know?

      • Sorry, I write romance novels (not popular here, I gather), but if you want to find out more please check me out here…
        Available to buy on Amazon/Kobo/Apple/Barnes & Noble.

        I’m sorry you chaps and chapesses had such a trying time with us ‘indies’. It is frustrating that the idiots spoil it for the rest of us.

        I know when I was searching for people who would review my novels I looked on ‘Indie Reviewer’ who have a really good list, which links to the bloggers/reviewer’s sites, and clearly state which genres they accept. Many had forms to complete online, and some wanted emails. Some wanted mobi and some wanted pdfs. It was incredibly time consuming. I reckon I sent over 100 requests to targeted reviewers. I had 5 positive responses, and over 1 month later, 1 whole review for my efforts (which was lovely btw). But what a lot of work for little return. So, I guess it works both ways?

        Hey ho. Back to the grindstone. Late home from work, dinner to eat, and more of book 5 to write (if I can find the energy in this heat). :-/

        Love & light

        • My favourite part about your comments is that you are aware that your content isn’t what most people here consume and so you aren’t trying to shove it down our throats… Most people either don’t bother to check the target audience of the site, or send requests even after they’ve been rejected. So thank you for showing that self-published authors can be classy!

          • Thank you, you made me blush. I am so happy I have helped improve your opinion of us self-pubs (even just a little). I know I’m not the only ‘polite’ one, but agree there are many that out of sheer desperation to get noticed do go OTT. I can understand why they do, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying for you. Anyway, peace out xx Happy reading to you all, whichever books you choose to read. It’s all personal taste at the end of the day.

            Love & light

  18. . . . so are you pro-‘bemused’ and ‘akimbo’ or anti? I’m on the edge of my seat over here, SJ. I’m just curious because I know how you feel about ‘whilst’.

  19. The way some self-pubbers act hurts me in my heart places. It has been my dream since I was a wee, 14-year-old Mandaray to publish my own books. When e-Readers came along I thought, “This is it! This is how it’s going to happen. Everything will be sunshines and rainbows and gloriousness.”

    But instead, it’s like a bunch of excitable puppies got together in a room and ate a bunch of laxatives. Seeing the mess they’re constantly making for both readers and other self-pubbers breaks my fucking heart. Not all self-pubbers are like this, [insert “not all” meme here, lol] as you mentioned, but damn. The ones who are make me want to cry. And throw things. At their faces. And/or keyboards.

  20. This feels a bit ridiculous after reading through all the comments, but luckily I remembered what I originally wanted to say, which was this:

    I love “doesn’t go the way of the tartlet.”

  21. Pingback: Linked! (12 Jul 2014 – 13 Jul 2014)

  22. I can’t even tell you how many ways I love this post. Pretty much every damn person I know is now a self-published “author” and because I’m a huge reader (I plow through a good ~300 books a year, mainly literary, mysteries, and science fiction) they all beg me to buy and read their books.

    Well, I do it because I feel obligated, but so far every one of them has been at best mediocre and at worst virtually unintelligible. And every one of these authors honestly, sincerely believes he or she has written a great book! A few of them were rejected by “the gatekeepers” and have ALL sorts of excuses as to why that happened, yet the notion that their book was underwhelming simply doesn’t enter the equation. The rest of them opted to go the self-pub route for various reasons that are, to me, misguided at best–such as the belief that traditional publishers will force changes that will “ruin” these masterpieces, or the belief that traditional publishers take a big chunk of royalties and do little in return (*snort*).

    Um–no. I actually know several writers who are with traditional publishers…some with actual independent presses (which is a real thing, despite self-publishers’ attempts to commandeer the term), and two of whom are with really big publishers. The publishers do a HELL of a lot for the cut they take, plus, if the book doesn’t sell, the advance is yours to keep. Meanwhile, Amazon (so beloved by the self-pubbers) takes 30 percent of the cut in exchange for doing NOTHING at all (aside from “allowing” you to put your book on their site). So the self-published authors have to pay out of pocket for frequently amateurish copyediting, formatting, cover design, etc., and rarely do they consider getting a real “content” editor, or doing legal clearances (I had to set a friend straight after she filled her book with song lyrics…egads, the ignorance), or doing real marketing, or setting up release parties, etc.

    One of my friends just bought a HOUSE in Southern California with his first advance, this from a publisher which is doing so well that they gave every single employee a 5k Christmas bonus two years ago (oh wait, I thought NY publishers were in their death throes?). A friggin’ HOUSE. And yet he still gets cornered by self-proclaimed “indies” who want to know why he doesn’t self publish, doesn’t it bother him that his publisher “ruins his freedom” by suggesting changes, and then “takes” so much profit from him? That cracks him up. He is the first to credit his editors for nuturing his book through many re-writes to make it as strong as it could be. And they set him up on a big book tour (which supposedly the publishers “don’t do” anymore…yeah, right) including heavy promotion at San Diego Comic-Con. That ain’t cheap, self-pubbers. Good luck getting Amazon to do that for you in exchange for the 30 percent they take. Meanwhile, as the self-pubbers must waste their time begging and cajoling people to read their book, my friend gets to spend that time working on his next book.

    Self-publishers, I *know* you all think your books are awesome, and no doubt a *few* of them actually are. But to me it’s just like all those people who have a baby, believing it’s a unique accomplishment, and then want you to look at all their baby pictures because their kid is sooo amazing. Your kid is amazing and special to YOU. And, yes, other new parents will fuss over your baby photos because they want you to fuss over theirs. The rest of us are able to make a more clear-eyed assessment of how special your baby truly is, and you probably don’t want to hear it.

  23. Pingback: What's What: July 13 (Sunday Salon) - The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and RandomnessThe 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness

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