Straight off, what I’m going to say is going to upset quite a few people.
But not Henning Mankell, or Cormac McCarthy, my two author heroes.
I was told the other day that I am ‘self righteous’ and ‘a hypocrite’. When I first read those comments, after the initial shock, a few thoughts rushed through my mind on how to respond. Well, I had some choices.
One, the obvious reaction I suppose, was to become defensive and angry. So, I hastily sent my indignant reply. ‘Who the hell do you think you are, talking to me like that?’ A perfectly natural response because, in this particular case, I had absolutely no idea what had brought this on.
I’m a member of a few writing forums, most of which are fine, and many of the posts are thought provoking, interesting and engender varied responses. I’m not a self-published author, and never will be. I commented on one of the recent forums that spouts off about the wonders of SP as opposed to Traditional Publishing, how agents rip you off, and the big guns are only interested in you if you are a ‘celebrity’ or a sports star. Well, I don’t subscribe to that view. I believe, whole-heartedly, that companies such as Harper know what they are doing. If an agent picks you up, it is because you are good, that your words touch a chord. I shudder when I hear some people declaring that they have been rejected X number of times, and so have sought the self-published route. They are happy. And, I suppose for them, that is fine.
It wouldn’t be for me.
I happened to say on this particular forum that I still believed that traditional publishing was the only way to go if you wish to become a professional author.
Hence, the self-righteous moniker.
I also happened to mention that my latest book, ‘ROADKILL’ is now published and available.
What I unfortunately omitted from this declaration was that the book had been published by a publisher, that I hadn’t paid a single penny for any part of the process.
Hence my being called ‘a hypocrite’ because, of course, it was assumed I had self-published. When I pointed this fact out to the idiot who had lambasted me, she replied with a very badly written apology which said ,’It was only a joke, tongue and cheek’. Yes, you read that, ‘tongue and cheek’. This from a self-published author.
It was later that I realised that, in all truth, there a lot of disillusioned people out there. And a huge swell of arrogance.
So, let me ask, why on earth don’t these authors try and get taken up by a publisher, one who will edit the book with you, sort out the ISBNs, the blurb, the cover…and all of it for nothing? What is wrong with people that they think that all publishers charge money? None of mine do, and one of them is so brilliant and forward-looking that they actually market the book too. I read about many self-published authors trawling around for companies to publish their book for them, and they pay for the service! WHY??? I’m absolutely perplexed, befuddled and speechless at this.
Rubbing salt in the wounds, the amount of ‘How to be a successful author’ books which are appearing all over the place simply beggars belief. We went through all this years ago. I remember the mail shots, the ads in the local press, the ubiquitous ‘BE YOUR OWN BOSS’ and retire to the Maldives in ten years. Maybe even five. How? Well, by selling cleaning products door to door, working from home, selling this, doing that, etc, etc. I even went to one such seminar. Would you believe it? Me! Some guy at work asked me if I was looking forward to retirement. I did a double take. ‘What?’ He invited me to a meeting, at some guy’s house, where I would learn something ‘very interesting and important’. Yeah right. I sat there and listened to the usual bilge. Environmentally friendly cleaning products, the thing of the future. How to build up your own business, control your destiny, etc, etc. It sounded great. So great I still haven’t seen any of those products on the shelf of any shelf in any shop in the thirty-plus years since I went to that meeting. It’s all balls. And now it’s happening to the business of writing. Since the advent of Kindle, writing is becoming just like any other self-employed business, with tag lines such as ‘how to win your market’, ‘have you achieved your goals’, ‘what to do when nobody wants to buy what you’ve written’. Actually, that last one is pure fantasy, but I tend to think all of them are. And the ones who peddle this rubbish, they all seem to be the same sort of person. I take one look and want to run. The sad thing is, the more people become desperate to see their name in ‘print’ the more these sharks will make money.
So, take a big breath.
I’ll repeat it, writing is NOT a ‘get rich quick scheme’, but so many think it is. It is damned hard work. AND, not only do you have to be a capable wordsmith, you also have to have a very vivid imagination, coupled with knowledge of how to plot and structure stories which will engage your reader. If you have those, then write. And when you have your book, and you’ve polished it to the nth degree, submit it to agents. And if you do not have success there, submit it to independent publishers. If you do not find success there, well…time to pop it in the bottom drawer and do something else creative. These professional people know what they are doing. They’ve been doing it for a long time. Take the hint, if it comes. Please.
Harsh words, but not self-righteous. I write every day, and every day I learn a little bit more about this wonderful occupation called writing. I create, and my prime motivator is for people to enjoy my stories, not to make money. But one thing is absolutely certain – I’ll never self-publish, even if my next forty or fifty books never find a home.
For those not too upset, I write fiction, and my work can be found on my websites, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Read my ‘About Me’ page to find out a little more.
Thanks for dropping by, and carry on reading!
And if you’re on FaceBook, I’m being interviewed live next Thursday by Fran Lewis, so why not eavesdrop for a while. Details on her page.