Anger…fuel or mistake?

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 herehere, 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.

13 Responses to Anger…fuel or mistake?

  1. Bill Webb says:

    An angry Lynn is a productive Lynn? I for one am happy you got mad and did what you did.

  2. I know people get frustrated, but it does no good to stay angry, about anything. When I was shopping my books and hearing that they were well written but “not right for us at this time,” I could have snorted and fumed. But I read the news and I listen to other published authors and I know what’s happening. It’s nothing personal. It’s the business. My books are nice little midlist books and it’s hard to break into the big houses with that kind of material. I wasn’t angry about it. It’s just the way things are at the moment.

  3. spbowers says:


    So true. I’ve bought books that are not my favorite genres or styles and wouldn’t normally have purchased them because I like the author as a person and want to support them. I have also steered away from books I may have liked because the author was just too obnoxious or rude. I’m only one person but I bet there are others like me.

  4. spbowers says:

    Hmmm, I tried to quote when you said “how you project yourself really does impact sales” For some reason it didn’t come through, sorry.

  5. NinjaFingers says:

    There are things you need to think about before going DIY:

    1. You need editing. The current going rate based off of my research hovers at around $100 for a short story and $1000 for a novel.

    2. You need a decent cover. Cover art starts at about $35. If you can’t afford that, then you *can* make a decent cover with your camera and a cheap graphics program, although this won’t work for all books. Using stock photos is another cheap option. What you need to be aware of is that your title and name needs to be *readable*. The cover needs to be reasonably graphically balance. A lot of DIY covers look like they were put together out of clipart.

    3. The big publishers may be right about your book not being marketable. Or it may even not be good (although a professional editor might be able to tell you ‘look, this needs a complete rewrite). You have to realize that IF your book has been rejected by big publishers, it is not marketable enough for big publishers and manage your expectations accordingly. I’ve worked out that in order to cover the costs of editing and professional cover art, a $5 ebook has to sell at least 600 copies. Can you sell 600 copies? (This is assuming you go ebook only. Print expenses are obviously higher). It will be above that if you need to get it professional converted. So. Is this book marketable enough to sell 600 copies to *break even*? (Assuming, of course, that you care at all about making money – you might be quite happy to sell 50 copies and make a loss on it). Oh yes, and if you want your own ISBN, you have to buy 10 of them for $275 (but this will mean that your book’s publisher won’t show up as Smashwords, CreateSpace or whoever).

    4. Do you have enough income from other sources to deal with the likelihood of ploughing *everything* your book makes into the business?

    5. Are you willing to spend time marketing and going to forums and eventually going to conferences? Can you get your book reviewed? Bloggers might be willing to do it if you ask them really nicely, but be prepared to be turned down as a lot of people assume that self-published = crap and won’t touch it.

    This is what you have to do to do it RIGHT. One way to slip in without much expense is to start with short stories that have already been published (and edited), but on which the rights have reverted.

    A lot of people do it wrong, and that’s the problem.

  6. Well said, Ninjie.

  7. Ivan Pope says:

    “less than incompetent”
    less than incompetent surely = competent ?
    less than incompetent surely doesn’t = even more incompetent ?

  8. awparker says:

    AS a member of the Pirated Sinking Ship, I resemble this post. I may not have a large book following or have done as well as the Price Lady, but I find peace in the fact that both my books are at another publisher, that they have outsold the Pirates, and have been treated with editing and cool reason. So much for the Pirate ship.

    And, a big tip of the hat to Lynn for the job she has done.

  9. Aston West says:

    When building a “movement” (or cult, or religious following), one must first create a villain out of someone and motivate the followers to hate them…in this case, it’s traditional publishing.

    I’m also glad my book escaped the pirate ship and found a home elsewhere. Other than an occasional story posted here or sent to me via e-mail, I’ve never looked back after that day.

  10. Todd, you bring up a good point, that any new movement needs its appointed villain in order to affect a following. I just get tired of all the animus because it creates so much needless confusion. Blah.

    Bless ye, Allen…we be lucky to have met you. Can’t imagine nicer peeps to suffer with than you gents.

  11. less than incompetent surely = competent ?
    less than incompetent surely doesn’t = even more incompetent ?

    Yes, I meant it exactly as I stated it.

  12. Kim Kircher says:

    Anger takes too much energy away from better pursuits. I agree with Asten that a common enemy often brings a group together. But that’s pretty sad indeed. In your case Lynn, you can’t simply let this slide if their anger is besmirching your industry. But still. It’s an uphill battle.

  13. […] Editor Lynn Price reminds us that it’s a small world: play nicely. […]

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