Archive for 'let’s play nice'
What Stace had to say on Monday, March 11th, 2013
Very longtime readers may recognize this story, but I originally posted it six or seven years ago, and it’s relevant, so I’m telling it again.
Back in 2002 I attended my first Dragon*Con (which was awesome). Coincidentally, I’d just finished writing my Very First Novel, a totally abysmal medieval romance. (Seriously, I wish I still had the printed mss to scan some of it to show you. While I still believe it had a couple of quite good scenes, for the most part it was pretty bad: overdramatic characters, contrived plot points, an Evil Ex Lover making silly threats, a Big Misunderstanding…I honestly barely remember the plot at this point, but trust me, it was lame.)
Anyway. There I was at Dragon*Con, and I happened to notice a panel on women writing, so I hopped on over to see it. It was held in a tiny room in the basement, and there were maybe fifteen people there, which was quite sad as the panelists included Betty Ballantine and a writer I hadn’t heard of named Sherrilyn Kenyon.
It turned out, though, that Sherrilyn Kenyon also wrote under the name Kinley MacGregor, and I’d just finished reading Kinley MacGregor’s BORN IN SIN, as part of my research-based orgy of romance reading. And in fact, BORN IN SIN had been one of my favorites of the romances I’d picked up. So once I realized Sherrilyn and Kinley were one and the same, I was quite excited.
Excited enough, in fact, to make a total idiot out of myself after the panel.
I went bopping up to Sherrilyn, all full of vim and eager puppy-dog dorkiness, and gushed at her that I, too, was a writer! I’d just finished my first romance and I was hoping to get it published! Thankfully I did manage to slip in there that I’d loved BORN IN SIN–although I did also say that I’d had no idea who Sherrilyn Kenyon was when I came to the panel and I was so excited to learn she was also Kinley MacGregor and was that information public, which, FFS, moron–but for the most part, I said the sort of things that make me shrink in embarrassment even now, over ten years later. I asked, stammering and blushing, if she thought I should get an agent, as if I could head for the phone book and hire one just like ordering a pizza (I may even have asked who her agent was; I have honestly blocked much of what I said from my memory). I believe I bragged about doing research and said how much I love the medieval period. And then, in a denouement so fucking ridiculous it makes me cringe, I said, “Maybe one day we’ll have the same publisher!”
Like we were going to play on the Avon softball team or something. Like we’d be Publisher Pals and spend our nights having giggly slumber parties and telling secrets. Like my very first mss ever was obviously just as good as any of her books, and of course I could just walk into a publishing contract simply by virtue of having completed a novel (which was, btw, over 114k words of facile plot contrivances and exclamation points. I didn’t even know not to capitalize the pronoun dialogue tag after dialogue ended in one of those exclamation points, so the book was full of shit like: ‘”Unhand me!” She shouted.’).
Sherrilyn was kindness itself. She gave absolutely no indication that she found my questions ridiculous or my lack of publishing knowledge silly and/or naive. She answered my questions nicely and wished me luck, and left me feeling that, well, maybe I’d been a bit nervous, but it was okay. She left me feeling positive and encouraged.
Now, at this point, I had joined the RWA. I’d done a bit of research on publishing; I knew better than to ask some of those questions. But I asked them anyway. Why? Because I was nervous. Because I was intimidated–I’d never met a real-life author before. Because I wanted to seem like I knew what I was talking about. Because I wanted to show her I was serious. And–this is important–because having read and really enjoyed her book, I felt there was some sort of connection between us. She had spoken to me in that book, and I had responded, and that meant something to me; it mattered to me.
I have never, ever forgotten that day. Yes, sometimes it’s a hauntingly humiliating memory, but I still haven’t forgotten it. I was just some red-faced idiot, and instead of responding with contempt, Sherrilyn Kenyon treated me with gentleness and respect.
But it’s not just her politeness that I remember. I remember the things I said, and WHY. All those reasons I listed above: being nervous, being intimidated, wanting to seem like I knew what I was talking about, feeling like there was a connection between us, like maybe we could be friends; like maybe on some level, insignificant as it was, we were friends. I felt like I knew Sherrilyn, a little bit; she had come into my home and entertained me for a while.
Quite recently there was a blog post written by an author wherein she complained about an email sent to her by a reader, which she felt was rude because it referred to her work as “her stuff” (as in “I bought all your stuff”) and said something like “Why aren’t you writing faster!? Get to work!” She rewrote the reader’s email to be more acceptable to her and went on to instruct readers on what questions not to ask authors, Because Rude, or Because Stupid, or something. She complained about being asked questions when the answers are on her website.
I’m not posting about this to pick on that author, which is one reason why I’m not linking to the discussion(s) about it or giving her name (and I have altered some of the quotes slightly, too). We all have bad days; we all make jokes that don’t come off, or get bad advice, or whatever, and she is human just as the rest of us are. As I’ve said before, internet pile-ons have gone way past the point of amusing for me and into nauseating territory, and that’s one big reason why I have cut back on my internet presence so sharply. This isn’t about her, really–although I admit I find it tremendously difficult to think of how awful that poor reader must feel, being held up as an object of scorn like that for the hideous crime of loving a writer’s work so much that she bought all of it and emailed the writer to tell her so, and asked eagerly when she can further support said writer by buying even more of her work, and I found the post pretty horrific–except that she’s sparked several discussions that break my heart.
Those discussions are from readers saying they’re going to think twice before contacting authors whose work they love, because they’re afraid they too will be publicly humiliated in such a rude and painful fashion if they say the wrong thing.
Guys…please don’t be afraid of that.
My story above is about Sherrilyn Kenyon, but I am absolutely certain that you could insert the name of almost any author on the planet and they would have responded with just as much grace. The fact is, hearing from people who love our books is one of the best things about this job. I can only speak for myself and a few of my friends, but I/we don’t seek out reviews. I/we don’t visit the Amazon pages for my books; I don’t Google them (or myself, unless I’m looking for something specific, like a guest blog post I’ve done somewhere or something); I don’t visit their Goodreads pages or my Goodreads Author page, in general. As I’ve said before, if someone directly sends me a link to a review, I will usually click and read it, because A) that’s a specific invitation for me to do so, which means B) it’s probably a positive review, and I like to retweet those or quote them here as a way of thanking the reviewer/giving them credit for the review without barging into their space.
Emails from readers are the most amazing things in the world. They are. I’ve gotten emails that have brought tears to my eyes. I’ve gotten emails that made me laugh. I’ve gotten emails that made me feel like I was floating for hours, all because someone out there took the time to hunt down my contact info and actually tell me, personally, how much they loved my work and that it meant something to them, really meant something. Without wishing to sound as though I’m making a dirty joke, something I wrote touched them, and they touched me back. Isn’t that what writing and reading are all about? A connection with someone else? Isn’t that why we do what we do, whether we’re writing or reading or reviewing–to feel something, to connect with something, to reach out to something? To share something?
Sure, I’ve gotten some rude emails, too. I’ve gotten a few so offensive and outright threatening that I contacted their IPs. I’ve gotten emails that called me names, that called my characters names, that accused me of all manner of nonsense. They’re not fun. But being asked eagerly when the next book is coming, and can’t I write faster, is not rude. It’s charming, and it’s sweet, and while we all know that intent is not magical, the fact remains that in those cases, when the intent is obviously to flatter, it’s rather silly to take offense. This isn’t a male co-worker telling you how hot you look today and then going, “But I meant it as a compliment! You’re sexy!” It’s someone expressing delight in our work, and that’s not an insult. Especially when if we stopped and thought about it we might realize that behind that email is someone trying to make a connection with us, someone perhaps a bit nervous, perhaps a bit intimidated, someone to whom we mean something and our work means something, and maybe because of that meaning they feel like they know us a little bit. Someone who, aside from everything else, is probably not a professional writer, and is writing private correspondence, and so perhaps cannot be expected to phrase everything in a way that perfectly suits and flatters and pleases us.
I never expect that anyone will be intimidated or nervous when speaking to or emailing me; I mean, who the fuck am I? Nobody of any importance. But I’m also aware that contacting anyone you don’t know personally can be intimidating or can make one nervous. I’m also aware that there are indeed people out there–I’ve met them, and more importantly I’ve been one and occasionally still am–who are nervous or intimidated meeting a writer whose work they love. I’d be willing to bet that when Sherrilyn Kenyon headed for that panel that day, she didn’t expect anyone to be nervous or intimidated at the thought of meeting her, and yet there I was with my face beet-red and my hands shaking as I wagged my Newbie Writer tail in desperate, eager neediness, so excited to be talking to a Real Writer that I pretty much ran down a checklist of silly questions and statements.
I have been horrendously lax in replying to my emails. I’m ashamed of it. I’m so far behind I don’t even know how far behind I am, and that’s inexcusable. But that also doesn’t change the fact that I read and am grateful for every one of those emails. And every writer I know feels the same.
So please, guys, don’t stop writing to us. It matters–you matter. Don’t think the fact that one writer was having a bad day or is rude or ungracious or pretentious or mean means we all sit around rubbing our hands just waiting to pick on you for misphrasing something or misspelling something or simply saying something in a way that doesn’t meet someone’s idea of how to correctly speak to An Author. Most of us don’t expect perfection and we don’t expect you to bow and scrape. We love you just as you are, and are interested in whatever you have to say, and are happy to answer what questions we can, when we can. When you email us we’re grateful, not insulted or offended or angry or upset. Hearing from readers is one of the best things that can happen to us, and if that stopped it would be heartbreaking.
What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 1st, 2010
No, really, hear me out here. This isn’t a “Twilight is great” or a “Twilight sucks” post. I’m not defending it, but I’m not raging against it either. I’ve just had a few thoughts abut it recently, and I thought they were interesting, and I thought my smart and wonderful blog readers might have some thoughts about my thoughts. So here we are.
I’ve read the Twilight books. Well, okay, I read the first three. The second, if memory serves, was the one I liked best out of those, but I simply could not force myself to get through the last one. I was dreadfully bored, so I skimmed it, and got the gist, and that was more than enough. And again, I didn’t hate them. I didn’t love them, by any stretch. I didn’t particularly like them. But I didn’t loathe them. I even thought–and it’s not an uncommon thought, I don’t think–that there were some good ideas buried in there, some really cool shit. And I admit as well that one scene in the first book, the one at the lake when Jacob tells Bella the legend of the vampires, was pretty nifty. I dug that scene.
But yes, I also see the problems. I see the essentially abusive relationship, the completely ridiculous parents, the ha-ha-semi-rape-is-okay bits, the oh-sure-it’s-totally-cool-for-adults-to-fall-in-love-with-infants bits, the female-sexual-desire-is-gross-and-must-be-suppressed bits, the creepy-religion-y stuff…you name it. I know it’s there.
Am I happy that teenage girls all over the world wish a man would stalk them, scare them, destroy their possessions in order to get them to obey, patronize them, treat them like morons? No. Of course not.
But here’s the thing. What exactly are the other relationship alternatives we as a society are offering teenage girls?
How many stories do we see about teen pregnancy rates going up? How many of the fathers of those babies stick around? How many women and girls do you know who’ve slept with a man who said he loved them or cared about them, and then dumped them shortly after they had sex? How many times does our society tell young women that for them to expect to be loved and taken care of by a man is ridiculous, a silly fairy-tale dream, and that they better get used to relying only on themselves because men won’t stick around? How many girls out there are led to believe that their only value is as a sex object? That being a sex object is the most important thing there is? How many of these girls have fathers in their homes? How many see men as people who drift in and out of your life, treating you sort of okay sometimes?
It’s not just about sex. I don’t mean to sound like I’m on some chastity crusade. But what I do think is that girls today are being raised to believe that they shouldn’t expect respect, love, responsibility, or anything else from men. That being cheated on is just the way it goes. That the only way to get and keep a boyfriend is to not mind when he treats you badly, to give him things, to not act like you really care that much, to place no expectations on him.
I realize I’m exaggerating a bit. I realize there are still plenty of decent people out there. I realize that things can be just as tough for teenage boys.
But my point is, our society seems to be moving further and further away from the idea that love is a valuable and good thing, that people belong together, that girls have the right to expect to be treated with respect and kindness, and that boys have the right to expect the same.
And that, my friends, is one reason I believe the Twilight books are so popular. Yes, Edward is a controlling jerk. But Edward isn’t embarrassed to care (he even says the L word!), and he doesn’t leave Bella at home alone while he goes out with his friends picking up girls. He doesn’t refer to her as his “bitch.” Once he admits he cares, he is committed. Twilight offers girls a view of a relationship that, if it’s not a great alternative, at least seems more secure than a casual hook-up. It’s a world where girls don’t have to be embarrassed to want a solid relationship, with a man who will care for and about them, and wants to make a serious commitment to them. It’s a world where, for all that the sexual attitudes in the book are troublesome to say the least, Bella’s sexuality and willingness to sexually perform is the least important aspect of the relationship.
And in this world it’s okay, even right, if the desire to love and be loved is the most important thing in your life. That desire isn’t pooh-poohed or put down in those books. It’s not treated as frivolity. It’s not spoken about or represented as if it’s a shameful thing to want to be loved or to be in love, and that any girl who thinks about relationships and romance instead of college and their investment portfolios are obviously ridiculous, irresponsible creatures.
Twilight offers a skewed view of relationship, yes. Twilight does not contain what I would say is a truly healthy relationship.
But Twilight is about a relationship, and Twilight takes that relationship seriously and treats it as an important thing, a worthwhile thing, a thing of respect. Something fulfilling. Twilight doesn’t put down young girls for wanting a boyfriend, or for wanting that more than anything else. It doesn’t make them feel as if they’re not good enough if they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, or aren’t spending their every waking minute working hard and collecting references for college applications.
I don’t think this is the only reason; it’s just the only one I can fathom, to be honest. And I’m not saying any of this is a good thing, or that I approve. And I’m not saying Twilight doesn’t deserve the criticism it’s gotten; it absolutely does.
But I also think that in relentlessly attacking Twilight, we’re once again attacking these girls, too. We’re telling them, once again, that they’re stupid and silly for believing in love and for wanting it. They’re ridiculous for wanting a man to truly love them and to see something special in them. We’re telling them that the desires of their heart and soul are unimportant, and foolish, and that if they aren’t focusing their entire selves on future earning power and getting ahead they’re wasting everyone’s time.
And to be honest, I don’t know which of those messages is worse.
What Stace had to say on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
First, I have a new review to share with you for UNHOLY GHOSTS, from LOCUS magazine:
“Chess is an intriguing character, a powerful Church witch with magic tattoos, but also a serious drug problem… She’s not your usual heroic protagonist, and this isn’t one of your humorous urban fantasies, but rather a lively thriller, full of action and ghostly encounters.”
Next, thanks to everyone who downloaded the 5-chapter sample of UNHOLY GHOSTS, and emailed me or contacted me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know how much you enjoyed it! For those of you who haven’t yet read it, why not? UNHOLY GHOSTS sample (2626) (The link is also permanently up on the UNHOLY GHOSTS page on the site, where the description and blurbs are.
Which brings me to today’s topic (see how neatly that was done?)
A while ago someone asked me in comments about blurbs, and last night I got an email asking about them again, which reminded me that I wanted to blog about them. Keep in mind this is my experience, and my thoughts, as always.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, April 19th, 2010
I’d planned to post about something else today (Amber Publishing, who are publishing the Downside books in Poland, have posted the cover and blurb on their site, in Polish [of course], which is totally cool), but that, along with the online translation of it, will have to wait. Because I’ve had this post in mind for like a month now, and I want to get it out there. Settle in, guys, this is a long one.
You may have heard of Young Adult Authors Against Bullying, a Facebook group made up of–as the name implies–YA authors who disapprove of bullying. I’m not technically a YA author but I’ve joined, as have a lot of others. And a few weeks ago many writers posted their bullying stories on their blogs. I didn’t; not because I don’t have bullying stories or wasn’t bullied as a child/preteen/teen (believe me, I was, horribly) but because I didn’t learn about it until it was already in progress and I already had this post sort of planned, as I said above.
A lot of this is in reaction to the death of Phoebe Prince, a high-school girl driven to suicide by a gang of less-than-human teenage shitweeds who decided she deserved to be mocked, bullied, teased, insulted, and otherwise abused because she *gasp* dated a guy who used to date one of the aforementioned shitweeds (and the guy later joined in, which just makes me lose hope in the future of humanity, but then, this whole story does).
It reminds me a bit of the Megan Meier case, in which a girl was cyber-bullied not just by kids her own age, but by the mother of one of her acquaintances. A grown fucking woman, who thought it was a good idea to harass and play tricks on a young girl online.
And that’s sort of what I want to discuss. Adult bullying, and the society of mean.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, March 29th, 2010
When you have a ho like Jaye Wells in your stable, yo.
I’ve been friends with Jaye for a while, and she is awesome. But what’s even more awesome are her books. See, last year when we were moving and all of that stuff, I really needed something to read during the journey. I grabbed a few books to take with me–can’t remember which ones–during a last-minute trip to my local Waterstone’s.
But what did I see there but Jaye’s RED-HEADED STEPCHILD. And lucky for me I did, too. Like I said, I don’t remember the names of the other books I bought to take along, but I know that after struggling to get through the first three or four chapters of each, I finally gave up and grabbed R-HS. Aaaaaaah. It was like finally getting to take a shower after four days of heavy physical work and sweat. I felt cleansed and refreshed. Yes, it’s first person and we all know that’s not my favorite thing. But, as with all the best first-person POVs, I hardly noticed. I loved the book. Good, crisp writing, likable characters who said interesting things and thought interesting things, humor in just the right places that was not over-the-top or silly (but also not mean-spirited, contrived-sounding snark). I practically cried, I was so happy to finally be reading a well-written book again.
Aaaanyway. The sequel, THE MAGE IN BLACK, comes out tomorrow, and to celebrate, I’ve invited Jaye here to do a guest blog (Ann Aguirre will be here next week, as well, so be prepared). Let’s all be nice to her, shall we? Heh.
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What Stace had to say on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
So a number of things have happened in the past few weeks/days that have got me thinking about this blog (No, relax. This is NOT a “I’m not blogging anymore” post). One, my decision to let the set schedule go. I’ve actually enjoyed blogging more lately, and if you notice, I’m still doing about two posts a week. The difference for me is I can now blog when something strikes me, and not hold back until it’s Blog Day or whatever. So I kind of feel rejuvenated as a blogger, if that makes any sense. I’m having fun with it again, and that feels great. So I thought this would be a good time to kind of renew my thoughts on the blog, and what its purpose is, and what I think about it.
I’ve seen a few times online in the last month or two people–people who should fucking know better, IMO–running contests where one of the ways to enter the contest is to post about the contest on blogs or message boards. In other words, don’t just promote the contest on your own blog or Twitter feed, but post about it on various message boards or in comments on other people’s blogs.
This is spam. It is spam, spam, spam. It is tacky and it is rude, and just as a general FYI–although I know none of you would ever do such a thing–it will not be tolerated here. I can ban IPs from this site, and I will do it.
Here’s the thing. This is MY blog. It’s MY website. And while I follow certain rules–which I’ll get to in a minute–the fact remains that at its most basic level, this site and blog are here to promote me and my books. Along with, of course, the books of anyone I mention in posts or invite to come do a guest post here. To “walk” into my blog and start dropping your own promo is the height of rudeness, akin to walking into my home and starting to redecorate without being asked. I don’t care what it’s for. Don’t do it. It’s rude to me and it’s rude to you guys, the readers of this blog, who do not deserve to be treated like rubes or fish in a barrel, just waiting to be led around by the nose.
As of this writing the blog gets anywhere from 200-600 hits a day, every day. On days when I post the numbers go up; no-post days, of course, have lower numbers (and some posts got much, much higher numbers, but those are obvious anomalies). And I’m aware that’s nowhere near the kinds of hits really popular blogs, really popular names, get. But they’re still MY numbers; you’re MY readers, and I’ve worked hard over the years to attract you and entertain you and get to know you a bit, even, and let you get to know me, and you and that work mean a lot to me.
If you have something to promote–be it a book or a charity–email me about it. There’s a good chance that I’ll invite you to guest post about it, or I’ll mention it. And if I don’t, it’s probably because I don’t think my readers would be that interested in it, frankly. And you know what? That’s up to me. because, again, MY BLOG. MY READERS. I owe them–I owe you guys–the respect of not being treated like some nameless, faceless gaggle of wallets.
Which brings me to the other thing. A long time ago now I did a post about why I don’t blog about politics, and the gist of it was, because I respect you all and think you’re capable of making your own decisions without my input. This is still true. But, as I believe I said in a follow-up post at some point, which I’m too lazy to hunt around for–there’s another reason, too.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, November 23rd, 2009
So Friday night my friend Jackie Kessler and I were invited to discuss the Harlequin Horizons situation on a podcast TV show. We readily agreed. I can’t speak for Jackie’s motives absolutely but knowing her as I do I assume they were the same as mine: to let people know that HWHo was a Bad Deal, that it is misleading, that it serves only to pour money into HQ’s coffers on the backs of aspiring writers.
Joining us were two other commercially published writers, Simon Wood and Paul Clayton, as well as the host and two other self-published writers.
I was excited to have the discussion. I enjoyed it immensely. I felt it was a lovely, civil, and fun conversation, respectful all around, and that we all managed to agree that vanity publishing along the lines of the HQHo model–whereby authors are charged exorbitant amounts of money and fed empty promises in exchange was something writers, whether they are commercially published or self-published, should not countenance or participate in.
Let me make something very clear, because I’m seeing confusion on this issue that frankly astounds me. The HQHo model is NOT a self-publishing model.
I have, as I’ve said here before and as I said on the show Friday night, absolutely nothing against self-publishing. There are some excellent self-published books out there. There are a lot of writers who feel that this is the way they want to go, and is the wave of the future. And that’s fine.
But let’s analyze the differences between what the self-published authors are doing, and what HQHo wants its customers to do. I’m going to use my Strumpet series as an example, because as I’ve said here before, I do have tentative plans to self-publish the thing one of these days.
Were I to do that, I would go to Lulu.com. I would upload the document into their system, choose a format (or more than one; ebook and paperback, for example), and set a price; probably either at cost or maybe a dollar over it. I could remove the file at any time. I would be using my rights as the copyright holder myself. I would be buying an ISBN for it (if I chose to) myself, and would own that ISBN. I would design a cover, if I wanted. I could advertise the book as much or as little as I liked; surely I’d link to it on my blog and site, and when I get emails about it (as I still do) I’d direct those readers to the Lulu page. I’d be solely responsible for the marketing and advertising. I could, for example, choose to pay Kirkus Discoveries a couple of hundred dollars to review it.
For this I would pay nothing. If and when people chose to buy the book, Lulu would earn the cost of producing that copy and I would make whatever amount was paid by the reader over that production cost.
In short: I pay nothing, I control everything, and I keep all the profits. That is self-publishing. (It’s a tad more complicated than that, yes, but I’m trying to strip it down to its essence for the sake of clarity.)
Now, what if I wanted to print the series through HQHo?
First I’d pay anywhere from $600-upwards of $2000 just to get HQHo to agree to print the book. I would sign an agreement with them whereby I agreed to give them that money and at the very least, the rights to publish it. I’d pay more for them to design a cover. More for them to assign it an ISBN, which I would not own. More for them to list the book. More for them to send it to review sites–several hundred dollars over the cost of the review itself, in fact. Heck, if I wanted to, I could pay $20,000 for them to produce a “Hollywood book trailer”–a service other companies will perform for less than 1/4 that cost, and that I could do for free.
If and when a copy of the book sells, I would get 50% of the net monies received; that is, half of the money after whatever expenses HQHo claims, which makes no sense since I have paid all those expenses up front.
Here’s what I don’t understand. All of the self-published authors I’ve ever met are passionate about self-publishing and the benefits they feel they get from it. They want to have complete control over their work. They want to make the largest amount of money they can for that work. That is absolutely their right.
So why, then, are self-published authors not condemning this vanity business model? Why are they not discussing that writers don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a big corporation like Author Solutions in order to self-publish, that it can be done on their own, and that by doing it on their own they get to keep control and keep all the profits?
I thought, in the discussion we had Friday night, that we were all in agreement that vanity publishing in this fashion was wrong, and that it mislead authors. I thought we were all in agreement that while self-publishing can be beneficial in some circumstances, and there is nothing inherently wrong with self-publishing (save the difficulties in distribution, etc.) vanity publishing simply cost too much and provided too little benefit. I thought we’d had a friendly and respectful conversation.
Apparently I was wrong. Turns out, Jackie, Simon, Paul, and myself are simply scared that self-published books will put us out of business, in addition to being elitists.
I don’t quote or link to that post in order to pick fights. I quote and link to it to demonstrate how incredibly disappointed I am, and how I feel I was lied to and misled.
At this time, my long comment in response to Mr. Cochran’s post has still not been approved. In it I expressed my disappointment, and how had I known the purpose of the show was to debate the validity of self-publishing I would have altered my comments accordingly. I feel as though I was bait-and-switched; i.e. told I was discussing one thing, when really the discussion was about something else, and that I was deliberately misled so that certain conclusions could be drawn from my comments.
Certainly I’m hurt on a personal level that my feelings on the topic of HQHo and its vanity press model, and my sincere desire to help writers, are taken as proof that I’m selfish, greedy, and jealous, and just want to keep those more talented than myself down.
I’m sorry, but I don’t believe at all that NY publishing is so out of touch with real people that they are incapable of choosing books people like to read. The mere presence of NYT bestsellers and literary phenomenons like Twilight belie that statement. Sure, Twilight may not be your cup of tea; you may think it’s a lousy book. But you cannot deny that a NY editor read it, thought, “Readers will like this,” and was correct in that assessment.
Just because YOU don’t like it, doesn’t mean other readers won’t. Publishing is a BUSINESS. That business is SELLING BOOKS TO READERS. Just because YOU do not like those readers’ tastes, doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to have them or that publishers aren’t entitled to cater to them.
Do great books get passed over every day because of the bottom line? Sure. Does that mean everything that does get published is watered-down same-same crap? No, any more than all self-published books are crap. No, I don’t believe self-publishing is best for everyone; remember, the average self-published book only sells 75 copies or so. But for some it can absolutely work, and I’ve never denied that.
And none of this changes the fact that I would expect someone who has self-published, who has learned about self-publishing and is an advocate of it, to see that HQHo is NOT self-publishing, and to be just as concerned about educating new writers about the difference and how they can truly self-publish and not pay through the nose, as those of us who are commercially published. I would have expected that self-published authors and self-publishing advocates would be just as vocal as we’ve been in trying to educate writers, and not use this as an opportunity to play “You NY writers are hacks running scared from us.”
But I guess that’s just my selfishness talking.
What Stace had to say on Monday, October 26th, 2009
A little note in advance: I’m about to rant. I may rant at some length. I’m ranting about something other people have ranted about, as well. So be warned.
So here’s what happened. Wednesday, the New York Times ran an article about the Kindle and how many Kindle owners are now buying more books than they used to. The end of the article contained the following paragraphs:
Ms. Englin has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like “The Lost Symbol” at the same time — while paying for them only once.
“I read much more, I tend to read faster for some reason, and I read a greater variety of things,” said Ms. Englin, adding that this is nearly the same as lending a physical book to friends. “We haven’t really looked closely at Amazon’s terms of service. But I do suspect we are breaking the rules.”
Now. I read the original NYT article because it was linked to in Publisher’s marketplace, in the daily emails I get from them. I saw that last paragraph and, I admit, had a twinge. A moment of “Hey, that doesn’t seem quite right.” But then almost immediately after I thought two things:
1. That this was clearly just a couple of friends sharing books
2. That this is in essence no different from, say, a group of friends with low incomes or little disposable cash, who pool their money and buy books together to share. I did this a few times as a teen; mostly for hardcovers, but sometimes to get three books instead of one or whatever.
And that was basically it. I closed the article and went about my day.
Too bad some other authors didn’t do the same. I’m not going to name any names here. You can find them if you really want. But a few other authors also saw that article, either through PM like I did or because they get the Times or whatever. Those authors went on Twitter and began what I can only describe as a witch hunt, a name-and-shame campaign where they not only scolded Ms. Englin and called her a thief, but actually listed her Twitter identity in their tweets–her Twitter identity, which appears to be her professional identity, as her Twitter seems to be used almost exclusively for business (she’s in marketing or consulting or something like that).
No, I’m not kidding. These people actually felt perfectly justified in naming and publicly scolding this woman, and in encouraging others to retweet their rants and join in berating her as well, in public, in front of her friends, family, clients, and potential clients.
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