Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Exception NOT The Rule

       "That's the exception, not the rule." I am completely fed up with this phrase! I hear this all the time at my job, and I can't tell you how mad it makes me. Frankly, I have gotten to the point where I feel that the people who use this phrase, use it, only when it accommodates them. You may be wondering why NOW I have chosen to vent my frustrations. And I am more than tickled to explain. 

I recently read an Article from The Pulse of the City, where an Author Spotlight was done on Sue Grafton, who is a Louisville native. During this article, I became enraged and offended, and to put it honestly, felt as though I had been given the finger. No, I apologize. I wasn't given the finger... but every hard working individual out there who can call him/herself an Indie Author was.

Sue was asked the following question:

Do you have any words of wisdom for young writers?

Her response was this:
Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.
I was completely taken aback. LAZY?? Seriously. So someone who spends 18 of their 24hrs in a day, writing, promoting, networking, advertising, designing, editing - they're lazy? Excuse my language but are you F***ing crazy? I can think of so many Indie Authors who not only work full time jobs, but have full houses to take care of, and they are busting their humps to get their books out there.
I'm sorry, but to call them lazy, is not only rude and disrespectful, but its completely ignorant. We are in different times. The "keys to kingdom" (as one Indie Author I know puts it) have been handed over to Indie Authors and I feel that the traditionally published are not only jealous but they are scared and insecure. 
The interviewer goes on to ask the following:
In light of our Louisville neighbor John Locke’s blockbuster indie sales, and the growing percentage of each best-seller list being filled out by “indie” writers, do you still feel that advice is solid? I know it was the standard advice a few years ago, but is it still good advice?
If so, what hard work are indie success stories too lazy to complete?
Is it possible that indie publishing is more effective than querying agents & publishers, for the new writer? More and more agents and publishers seem to be treating indie books as the new slush pile.
And Ms. Grafton responds as such:
Good questions.  Obviously, I’m not talking about the rare few writers who manage to break out. The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth. The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time. I see way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to. To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall. Don’t get me started. already did.  
Well Sue, here's the problem. YOU got me started. I will agree with her on the point, that there are a lot of amateurish self published books out there. Trust me, I've read them, as I ran a book review blog. But there are more books out there by incredible Indie Authors, that are a hell of a lot better than some of the traditionally published books I've read. Including yours Sue. 
See in my opinion, it all comes down to this - the reader. 
The Reader is the person, who, well g-o-l-l-y, is reading your book! Sur-prise Sur-prise Sur-prise! They are the only ones, in the end, who actually matter. Yes Sue they matter. They give you reviews. They give you sales. They really don't care whether you are a "trad" or an "indie" all they care about is the story and whether they liked it or not. They are the ones who are truly signing your paycheck.
So to conclude my rant, I'd like to end quoting a traditionally published author who said, "I think we’d all be well-advised to ignore the opinions of others." Well thanks Sue! I'll be sure to remember that.