When I saw that the ship of fools publishing my book many years ago were less than incompetent, I got mad. Really mad. I’d put a year into research and writing that book only to have them screw it up. I channeled that anger and Behler Publications was the by-product. After that, my anger dissipated because had it not been for those bottom-feeding-ground-sniffing-disease-ridden-sons-of -yaks, I would have never had the lovely honor of publishing so many fabulous books and meeting so many wonderful people.
I’ve been asked why I’m still not angry with those toe-suckers after all the horrendous things they did to me, and I can honestly say that I made a conscious decision to rise above it. I’m in a far better place than I ever dreamed possible, so why hang on to the anger? It serves no purpose, it takes too much energy, and I have far better things to do. Sure, they enter my life just often enough to remind me what toolbags they are, but I also remember they have to look at their own reflection for the rest of their lives – and that’s punishment enough.
And this is why I find myself at odds with the DIY crowd who crow about the death of mainstream publishing and the rise of a new publishing option that gives power to the people – raised fists and all. I’ve talked about this anger here, here, and here.
I’m not absent my entire collection of firing synapses to know the genesis of their anger. It comes from the Big R…Rejection. Being told over and over again that your writing isn’t marketable is like a cup of warm fish. At some point people are going to get ticked off. And you know what? That’s not bad…provided that anger has a productive outlet and a positive result.
The outlet of a lot of anger has been DIY – Do It Yourself – via e-books through Amazon or other outlets. These writers have decided that, rejection or not, they’re going to put their books out there. And I’m good with that. At no time have writers had so many wonderful options in which to produce their books. Bravo, I say.
Yah. Me. A trade publisher is pumping a fist up for the DIY’ers. And why not? There’s plenty room for all. What I don’t understand is this protracted anger that almost makes me feel apologetic for my business, as if I’m the evil warlord who’s goal is to steal off the backs of our authors.
I’ve read their blogs and posts on writer’s sites, and one thing I’ve noticed is how they can’t stop discussing their hate of mainstream publishing. I was discussing this point with good buddy Lauren Roberts, who runs the fabulous BiblioBuffet. I lamented about this disturbing trend, remarking how “they hate us. Why?” Lauren, ever the sage one, reminded me that hate isn’t the opposite of love…indifference is.
Right! I understood my feelings about my ignorant baptism by fire with publishing. Those scam artists were simply the fuel toward something quite wonderful, and I’d become indifferent to them. A core of DIY’ers haven’t yet reached that evolutionary climate, and they take up scads of room hating on those who “kept them down.”
It’s a matter of perception, of course, but what they’re missing is how they project themselves to their potential readers. There were a number of DIY e-books that looked really interesting, but their vitriol was so potent that it altered my impression of them. I chose not to buy their books. Of course, my decision not to buy won’t hurt their sales, I’m sure, but there’s a bigger issue at hand.
At what point do writers allow themselves to wallow in the Angry Zone for too long and become embittered? So many of these DIY sites should be filled with posts about how they are happier, more successful writers because of their experiences. Instead, posts are filled with “I got dumped by my mainstream publisher, so screw them! All publishers suck stale Twinkie cream.”
I’m the last one to diminish the sting one feels over having a contract canceled or not having their series picked up. But if these authors have truly found more satisfaction without their publishers, why not focus more on that, rather than bringing out the same tired message of “mainstream publishing is filled with dinosaurs.”
For one thing, it’s not true. Secondly, that anger has ignited a lot of untruths about trade publishing, and new writers are obviously confused. I see that firsthand when I speak at writer’s conferences. Lots of questions center on misinformation they read on DIY blogs and writer sites. I’ve seen the same kind of whack advice on vanity sites…
- We’re giving you the chance you deserve.
- Publishers will change your book without your approval.
- All publishers use Print on Demand printing – don’t even get me started on that one.
- You have complete control.
- You get a much higher royalty than those dinosaurs.
There are always two sides to any story, and most people will only project the information that best supports their opinions – and it’s often conveyed in an acidic tone. This services no one. Why is it that in order to make oneself look better, the other option must be torn down? Can’t there be a number of options that have equal opportunity for success and happiness?
Time would be better spent concentrating on the reasons why DIY works for some and not for others. DIY isn’t for everyone, and it’s vital to discuss the benefits of both options in order to allow authors to make informed choices that will favorably impact their literary careers. Given that perspective, there really isn’t any need for anger to enter the equation.
If any of you are angry and bitter at mainstream publishing, or any of the publishing options, I urge you to channel that anger into a positive. Do the research, ask questions, figure out what kind of literary career you want for yourself, what kind of personality you have, and then take the steps that will give you the most bang. Become indifferent to those who ultimately propelled you to take action, and bless the experience. Without them, you might not be who you are today.
And how you project yourself really does impact sales. I’m always a bit scared to buy a book from an angry author. Are you? And do you want to be perceived as an angry author…or simply a very talented one?
I’m amending this to add one very sad case of anger gone wild. I can’t begin to fathom the amount of energy it takes to maintain this level of animus.