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. 


  1. LOL! Great rant Ashton! Coming from the Indie perspective, I have gone out to get traditionally published, I've talked with agents and have decided that for me, personally, that's not the avenue I want to pursue. As difficult as it is to be an Indie author, and I know you understand this, I love it. I love knowing that I did everything for my books. I wrote them, I edited them, I formatted them, I copy wrote them, I published them, I did the cover art and I promoted them. It's a serious sense of pride for me to know that I was capable of doing all that even when I work full time nights and have a family to take care of. I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life. I still get saddened, frustrated and annoyed at the ignorance of others. I think they should try self-publishing, just once, without their name to back them and without help, like so many of us have to do as we struggle from day to day. Then tell me that we're taking the "easy road."

  2. (Hands you a stiff drink) Amen and pass the uh...plate. Yeah, plate. ;) She ticked me off plenty today. What a narrow-minded view.

  3. Thank you for the rant. You said everything I was thinking. I couldn't believe it when I read that article. I was so angry! I could have chosen to go traditional, but after much research and soul searching, I decided that I wanted to self publish. I'm a bit of control freak, so I didn't want other people deciding what direction my story should take or what my cover would look like. I didn't want to be on someone else's schedule. It takes tremendous effort to self publish. Not just the writing/editing/formatting, but for promoting/marketing as well. She obviously has no idea what goes into self publishing. It's comments like this one that continue to fuel the animosity between indie and traditionally published authors. I've read bad indie books, but I have also read bad traditionally published books. But you are right, in the end, none of that matters. It is the readers who will decide. Bring it on!

  4. Wholeheartedly concur, Ashton. I also commented on the article. I was appalled and embarrassed for Ms. Grafton; she is willfully ignorant of her privilege, and her putdowns of people who opt not to go with the Big Six, for whatever reason, were completely inappropriate.