Self-Publishing Rant

…and it’s not mine! Someone else thinks like I do! Wow!

I haven’t a clue who this guy is but I like ‘im.

(in the quotes below, the bolding and such is mine)

The Publishing Cart Before the Storytelling Horse

I got a little rant stuck between my teeth. It’s like a caraway seed, or a beefy tendon, or a .22 shell casing (hey, fuck you, a boy’s gotta get his vitamins and minerals somehow).

Self-publishers, I’m talking to you.

And I’m talking to the pundits, too. In fact, I’m talking more to the pundits than to those actually walking the self-publishing path. Not everybody. Just a handful.

If you get a little froth on your screen, here — *hands you a squeegee* — just wipe it away.

Here, then, is the core of my message to you:

It is time to upgrade the discussion.

See why I like him?

First, it means: we get it. Self-publishing is the path you’ve chosen and further, is a path you believe is lined with chocolate flowers and hoverboards and bags of money and the mealy bones of traditionally-published authors. Self-publishing is a proven commodity. You can stop selling the world on its power. This isn’t Amway. You don’t get a stipend every time another author decides to self-publish. You’re not squatting atop the pinnacle of a pyramid scheme. (And if you are, you should climb down. One word: hemmorhoids.)

Instead of trying to convince people to self-publish, it may in fact be time to help people self-publish well. While self-publishing may by this point be a proven path it doesn’t remain a guaranteed path. In fact it’s no such thing: I know several self-published authors out in the world with great books, kick-ass covers, and they are certainly not selling to their potential. In fact, if they continue to sell as they appear to sell then I would suggest these books would have done much better had they been published — gasp — traditionally. Succeeding in an increasingly glutted space is no easy trick. Every bubble pops. Every gold rush either reveals a limited supply or instead ends up devaluing the gold one finds there. The reality is that it’s going to become harder — note that I didn’t say impossible — to succeed in that space and so it behooves the Wise Pundits With Their Long Beards to acknowledge the realities and help authors do well.


Though, actually, let’s take a step backward. Here’s another problem: maybe we should stop putting the publishing cart before the storytelling horse. In self-publishing, I see so much that focuses on sales numbers and money earned, but I see alarmingly little that devotes itself toward telling good stories. After all, that’s the point, right? Selling is, or should be, secondary. The quality of one’s writing and the power of one’s storytelling is key. It’s primary. It’s why we do this thing that we do. Any time you hear about the major self-publishers, it’s always about the sales, the percentage, the money earned. What’s rare is a comment about how good the books are. When the narrative was all about Amanda Hocking, everybody was buzzing about her numbers, but nobody I know was buzzing about how good those books were. Focus less on the delivery of the stories and more about the quality of what’s being delivered.

It goes on from there in a wonderful, well laid out rant that makes me envious. To have such control and to make such sense! My favorite part is probably the end.

The rhetoric often assumes that we’re all on our own side of the fence, but here’s a newsflash for you: there’s no goddamn fence. You’re a storyteller. I’m a storyteller. Good books are good books no matter how they got to market. You make your choice, so why not let others do the same? Further: don’t be a sanctimonious dick about it. Upgrade your attitude. Elevate the discussion. You should be proud of your own accomplishments and excited that the path you picked was the right path. Go any further than that and you do little to endear anybody toward your imaginary bullshit either/or dichotomy.

We should all be helping one another tell great stories.

Let’s talk to one another not as publishers, but as writers and storytellers.

All of us, wondrously pantsless. And probably drunk.


*drops mic off stage, disappears in a cloud of incredulity and oompah music*

Romance Writers of America and GLBT

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has started a new chapter called “Rainbow Romance Writers” (RRW) for the GLBT authors. Be still my heart.

I am sooooo not excited about this group. I’ve never been to a RWA meeting. Nor do I want to fork over the $110 membership dues ($85 a yr after first). Nor do I want to fork over the $25 additional membership dues to join RRW. I just don’t see the benefits. Perhaps later, maybe, if everything actually comes along. I don’t see that happening. I could be wrong and, in a way, I hope I am. And, no, I do not consider it a bad thing to wait to see what happens once the glitter stops falling.

RWA has argued letting in GLBT writers for years. Perhaps this “chapter” is their way of quelling the riots (that may or may not exist). So far, the website for RRW is promoting what seems to be all gay (male) fiction with perhaps a transgender and perhaps a bisexual novel listed on the “bookshelf” page. The “links” page lists Lambda Literary (but not GCLS) and a bunch of publishers (some even lesbian oriented).

What I find missing from the sparse website is this: what are the benefits (specific to RRW)? what happens to the GLBT romance books (of members) now? will they be put on shelves alongside het romance (how would the bookstores know?)? will Nora Roberts’ books be just a few shelves away from mine (alphabetically)? It all comes down to: will joining RWA and RRW create more sales and/or help me to be a better writer?

RWA membership has some benefits, depending on how one looks at them.

    Advocacy (contract assistance it seems)
    Romance Writers Report (newsletter)
    eNotes (email newsletter)
    Chapters (local, online, special interest)
    Members-Only Resources (“Find valuable information and resources only available to members.”)
    Contests and Conferences
    Subscription to Nielson Bookscan (for an addition $58), Publisher Alley (an additional $30 reduced rate), and Publishers Weekly (30% off subscription rate)

Nope, not for me. The money is too steep and the benefits are too minimal. I get more from my $10 a yr dues to Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) in the form of friends, networking, and a cool yearly conference. For another $30 minimum, I can join Lambda Literary Foundation and get emails and newsletters specifically for GLBT readers and writers.