Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Oh, the irony!

The new meme being trotted out by gatekeepers in the publishing industry, and their desperate, disgusting sycophantic supporters, is the “Why do self-publishing supporters have to be so mean? Why all the attitude? Can’t we all just join hands, sing ‘Kumbaya’, and get along?” meme.

Meanwhile, the traditional publishing industry continues to try and frighten writers into believing the gatekeepers are still relevant, important, necessary, and that the jury’s still out — and will be for some time — on whether self-publishing and ebook sales numbers are realistic and actual, something we can count on. (Yes, I have examples — one in particular — I could link to. But I’m not going to give them the traffic.) In short, gatekeepers are giving crappy advice to writers, still.

The particular gatekeeper I’m referring to isn’t the only one giving bad advice and trying to keep writers in a choke-hold, of course, but she used the phrase “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” in reference to self-pubbing. So, those of us touting the benefits of giving our writing a chance to reach readers are following a cult to our demise, essentially. Isn’t that what the phrase means? And isn’t that rhetoric a little harsh, and ironic relative to what those same persons say about self-publishing evangelists (also called “zealots” and “preachers” and other terms generally used with religious connotations). They can say harsh things but don’t we dare do so in return!

(An aside: I guess doing the same amount of legwork to research the truth on Jonestown is asking too much of those fat-cat lazy a$$es, or they’d know it was actually Flavor-Aid used, not Kool-Aid. You, the writer, need to do your “homework” on the agent before querying or you incur their wrath and ridicule; they aren’t bound by that same requirement — research — before they open their mouths and let complete stupidity fall out. See the irony here?)

Recently, an accepted “epublishing guru” (accepted, that is, by the gatekeepers) wrote a similar article, stating things may not be what they appear. That individual also called writers “content-providing brands” — which pretty well sums up how the industry feels about you, writers. You’re anonymous content providers. By saying that, they admit they need you, need your “content” for their livelihood, but they still want you to do the groveling.

They have a Wal-mart like grasp on the industry in their minds. If you don’t grovel, they won’t make your dreams come true. This, of course, implies they can make your dreams come true, but the odds of you getting what J. A. Konrath calls “life-changing money” as a one-time payout aren’t very good. More likely you’ll get something like my monthly salary or less, paid out over 4 installments, maybe three, over the course of a year, and which is actually a loan you might have to pay back if the book doesn’t sell out that advance (i.e., make more than they lent you).

Desperately trying to stay relevant while their kingdom burns around them. They don’t mind making snide remarks and insults, insinuating stupid ideas like the “tsunami of crap”, the “race to the bottom” and other such bullsh!t are true. But they also want to cry “be nice! be nice!” while they belittle the few voices of those who are trying to help writers break the trance and mind-control they’ve been under for nearly 70 years.

Then they gather in their usual places and in their usual ways and bash straw men and provide sycophancy to each other, and writers happily sing along, all the while shaking like chihuahuas with diarrhea. “They’re so rude!” they write in their comments, or “I’m so tired of the preaching!” or “I’m sick of the attitude!” Terms like “sanctimonious dick” and “jerks” are bandied about in relation to those trying to show writers — whose goal is supposed to be to have their stories read — how to get their work in front of readers.

The newest idiocy I saw was “all they preach is publishing, publishing, publishing! None of them are talking about the craft of writing! Aren’t we supposed to first be concerned with telling great stories?!”

Does that crap sound as stupid to you as it does to me? That’s flat-out stupid. Over the top, cartoony kind of stupid.

You’d better already know how to tell a good story if you’re going to try and sell it to someone. You’d better learn to be a business person too. A cabinetmaker doesn’t open his own shop until he already knows how to build cabinetry. A chef doesn’t start his own restaurant until he not only finishes culinary school, but does some time in someone else’s kitchen too, learning how a restaurant runs. A surgeon doesn’t start a clinic until he’s out of medical school and has done his internship. And a writer better not try to run a business based on their writing if they don’t know how to write. PERIOD.

That’s why people like Joe Konrath and Kristine Kathryn Rusch are so important. They’re giving us guides and insights on the business of writing, which is something both self-published writers AND gatekeeper fodder should know. You’re not going to do yourself any favors being deliberately ignorant. Where I grew up, we had a word for deliberate ignorance: “Stupidity.”

I find it amusing the gatekeepers are hanging by their fingernails and still trying to keep the illusion alive. It’s hysterical. It smacks of the kind of slimy, smarmy, underhanded tactics used car salesmen use to trick car buyers and manipulate them. The problem is, the illusion doesn’t work as well as the car sales trickery.

And while self-publishing isn’t an old-fashioned MLM scheme, like Amway, in that I don’t get credits or sales or even kudos for trying to convince anyone who will read my blog that self-epublishing is superior by far to the gatekeeper system, it also doesn’t cost me anything. I don’t lose a thing doing it. And honestly, there are lots of people selling huge numbers of ebooks they self-published who could tell you much better, complete with statistical data and facts, why you should self-publish now. That’s not even my bag.

I just like to be a sanctimonious dick, a jerk, and dance on the grave of the gatekeepers because they’ve been standing on the throats of writers for so long. They’ve stood there long enough. And they’ve deprived readers of anything they didn’t “feel” was “worthy” long enough too. Readers, not gatekeepers, should and will decide. I will, for my part, sing “Print is dead! Long live e-pub!” I will howl and laugh when a publisher fails, and I’ll laugh at agents as they get phased out, then try the incredibly interest-conflicting trick of becoming an ePublisher by offering to ePublish the backlist of their clients for a percentage (which should be illegal, IMO; wanna do that? Quit agenting first).

So it is. So it shall ever be, I pray. Amen.


Copyright DarcKnyt 2011, all rights reserved


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