Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing

This blog post is best-selling author Christopher Nuttall’s fault. I’ve been on vacation, actively avoiding the internet. Only when Chris saw this ridiculous article he knew I would be compelled to fisk it and sent it to me.

 

Fisking is like one of those espionage movies, every time I try to get out, they pull me back in. Only since this is from the HuffPo, there’s less espionage and more bad writing advice given snootily. 

 

 

As usual the original article is in italics, and my comments are in bold.  

 

 

Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-gough/selfpublishing-an-insult-_b_13606682.html

 


By: Laurie Gough 
Award-winning author of three memoirs, she is also a journalist and travel writer.

Who? (but don’t worry, I’ll get back to why you probably shouldn’t take professional writing career advice from somebody who has gotten like 50 Amazon reviews over the last 16 years, and their hot new release that came out a few months ago already has 1.2 million books selling better than it)

As a published author people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say.

Those random dinner party acquaintances Laurie made up actually ask a very good question. In today’s market, can you make more money self-publishing? It is a complex business undergoing rapid changes because of new technology. How will our award winning author answer?

I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish.

Well, okay then. Between that and the catchy title of her little article that pretty much sets the tone for our discussion.

To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers.

BWA HA HA HA HAAAAAAA

Snort.

Oh… Wait… Laurie is being serious. Dear God.

At this point I realized that Laurie wasn’t providing writing advice for people who actually want to make a decent living as writers. She is providing advice to people who want to be aloof artistes at dinner parties, before they go back to their day job at Starbucks.

As for what Laurie says about gatekeepers, it is all horse shit. She has no flipping idea what she’s talking about.

Publishers are the “gatekeepers”. If they like you, you’re in, and if they don’t like you, you’re out. Problem is, at best they only have so many publishing slots to fill every year, so they cater to some markets, and leave others to languish. And at worst, they are biased human beings, who often have their heads inserted into their own rectums.

Agents represent the author. Their job is to find stuff they think they can sell to a publisher, and then they keep 15%. So “good” is secondary to “Can I sell this to the gatekeepers?” And then we’re back to slots and rectums.   

Editors try to make the author’s stuff better. Period. They aren’t gate keepers, because it is their job to make the stuff that got through the gate suck less (seriously, the HuffPo should hire one).  Only self-published authors can hire editors too. Andy Weir hired Bryan Thomas Schmidt to edit the original self-published The Martian. Last I heard that book did okay.

“National and international reviewers” are on the wrong side of the gate, and I’m baffled why she included them. Reviewers come along after the fact, some are useful, but most aren’t. Even though I was ignored or despised by most of the big review places for most of my career, they haven’t made a lick of difference to my sales.

These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good.

The problem is that “good” is subjective. What you personally think is “good” is irrelevant when there are a million consumers who disagree. I wouldn’t buy a copy of Twilight, but the author lives in a house made out of solid gold bars. “Good” is arbitrary. The real question is whether your product is sellable. (and yes, it is just a product, get over yourself)

Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates, to be vetted by professionals. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.

It was the only system we had before technology came along and upset their apple cart.  

When only the gatekeepers could vet what was “good”, sometimes they were right, but since often the “professionals” were 20 something lit majors just out of college, or some clueless weasel who had spent his whole existence in the echo chamber of Manhattan publishing, often the system fed its own tastes and ignored vast swaths of the market.

And when you neglect a market, it will spend its entertainment dollars elsewhere. So in this case, competition is good. Because the real competition isn’t between traditional and indy publishing, it is between reading and movies and video games and streaming. Ultimately the market decides who wins, not some self-appointed gatekeeper.  

Good writers only become good because they’ve undertaken an apprenticeship.

Nonsense. Writing is like any other job. Some get training, some are self-taught, and everybody gets better with practice. If your first product isn’t perfect, but somebody wants to give you money for it, take their money!

The craft of writing is a life’s work.

Nope. It is just a job. Again, get over yourself. Writers aren’t that special.

It takes at least a decade to become a decent writer, tens of thousands of hours.

I haven’t hit my ten year anniversary of being a writer yet, but I crossed the million bucks in royalties milestone a couple years back, so I can’t wait to see what happens when I finally become a “decent” writer!

The tens of thousands of hours part? Yes. Practice helps. The more you work at something, the better you will get. But if your first book is sellable, and people want to give you money for it, SELL IT.

Your favorite authors might have spent years writing works that were rejected. But if a writer is serious about her craft, she’ll keep working at it, year after year.

Yep.

At the end of her self-imposed apprenticeship, she’ll be relieved that her first works were rejected because only now can she see how bad they were.

Laurie made sense for a whole half a paragraph and then had to go and screw it up. Yes. Writers get better the more they write. So of course all of us look back at our first book and kick ourselves for things that we could have done differently now that we know better. But that doesn’t matter if that first book was SELLABLE. 

Every career has to start somewhere. And the sooner you are selling enough to quit your day job so you can focus all your energies on writing, the better.

So write your book. Try to sell it the traditional way. Once all those gatekeepers reject you (seriously, it is something like a 99.9% failure rate) then take a good hard look at your product and decide if you want to publish it yourself. And self-pub zealots aside, it isn’t a free lunch. It is hard to make a go of it. I’ll talk more about that below.

Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood said, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!”

I’ve used this too, but I think Laurie is missing the point.

The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book.

And here we see the real problem with Laurie’s whole world view. Yes, the doctor wrote a book and now he is “published” and apparently that wounds her. Because being able to put Author on your business card is sacred or some shit.

In real life, the doctor cranked out a book and self-published, but so what? If the book was crap and people didn’t like it, then he didn’t sell many, didn’t make any money, and the book faded into obscurity and was forgotten. (probably languishing in the Amazon rankings around the 2 million mark with such traditionally published hits as Kiss the Sunset Pig by Laurie Gough)

But if the book was entertaining and connected with some market, then the brain surgeon sold a bunch of copies, and now congratulations, Doc! You are in the Real Author business.

Either way, it is no skin off Margaret Atwood’s nose.  

People like Laurie think being an author is like an Yes/No proposition.  On the contrary, it is a ladder. What she needs is the OFFICIAL ALPHABETICAL LIST OF AUTHOR SUCCESS http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/07/24/the-official-alphabetical-list-of-author-success/

The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers.

Nope. The problem with self-publishing is that there are so many competitors that the challenge is to differentiate yourself from the herd. Sure, lots of them are crap (I can say the same thing for tradpub too), but if you find a way to market yourself and get your quality product in front of the right market, then you can make quite a bit of money.  

From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature.

From what I’ve seen, I’d say the same thing about the Huffington Post.

As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can.

As an actual editor who gets paid for this stuff, that sentence reads like garbage.

I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.

Only you just described exactly how most real working bands got their start. Add a couple of kids with a guitar and drums, set up in your buddy’s garage, and start jamming. Eventually you will get good enough that you can book some local gigs, and if people like you, they will give you money for your stuff.

Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician.

Nobody gives a crap about “validation”. Validation don’t pay the bills.

It’s the same with writers who self-publish. Literally anyone can do it, including a seven-year-old I know who is a “published” author because her teacher got the entire class to write stories and publish them on Amazon. It’s cute, but when adults do it, maybe not so cute.

So a grown up self-publishes a book, nobody buys it… Now most of us don’t care, but Laurie is offended, because how dare this nobody, this prole, this LOSER be able to say that he’s a writer too? HOW DARE HE?!

This all seems to be about how Laurie is offended some self-pubbed nobody can claim the same job title as her. Well congrats, Laurie, now you know how bestselling professionals like me feel about writers like you. Oh, but according to your bio you’ve written for Salon and the Guardian? That’s cute. 😀

With the firestorm of self-published books unleashed on the world, I fear that writing itself is becoming devalued.

Your fear is idiotic. The pie is not finite. If some other author gets a piece of pie, he is not taking pie from your mouth. You sound just like that other HuffPo writer who was mad at JK Rowling for stealing all the readers. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/02/24/fisking-the-huffpo-because-jk-rowling-is-nice-and-im-not/ 

Which reminds me of another ridiculous HuffPo writing advice article I fisked http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/09/15/fisking-the-huffpo-because-writers-need-to-get-paid/ Why do you horrible people want writers to fail so badly? I swear, HuffPo writing advice reads like it comes from the demons in a C.S. Lewis piece where they want everyone to be as miserable as they are or something.

I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. It makes a great gift for their grandchildren.

“I don’t hate you little people, I merely think you are beneath me… But I will grant a dispensation for your old people because they will die soon and no longer trouble me.” Sniff.

You know, when your sales numbers are shit, and you’re writing for HuffPo (which pays in exposure), maybe you should get off your fucking high horse, lady.

But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. The similarities end there.

How bizarrely condescending and totally untrue… The only thing that matters is whether those words on those pages are entertaining enough to get people to give you money for your stuff.  If the author went through the gate, or around the gate, as long as they are entertaining who gives a shit?

I think the real issue here is that Laurie feels like she has served her time, yet some of these self-published nobodies have far more readers than she does. How uncouth. How barbaric!

And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly why the person had to resort to self-publishing.

Which indicates that you have not read that many, or you suck at target selection.

These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer. Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.

And sometimes they are good enough to sell hundreds of thousands of copies and launch careers. The guy who sent me this article is self-published, and on any given day sitting comfortably in the top 100 ranking for his genre at the world’s biggest bookseller, way above most of his traditionally published competitors.

Author Brad Thor agrees: “The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re a good writer and have a great book you should be able to get a publishing contract.”

No offense to Brad, but wrong.  They should, but often they don’t. My first book got rejected by all the supposedly wise gatekeepers. It wasn’t until after I’d self-published and sold a bunch of copies, that I got picked up by a traditional publisher. 

Author Sue Grafton said, “To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy and s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. … 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.”

Sorry, Sue, but you can’t assume that everybody who goes indy is short cut trash. Sure, there are a plenty of hacks churning out garbage, but there are also plenty of great authors who got rejected by tradpub who went indy and made money. Or tradpub authors who self-pub their niche products. Or tradpub authors who self-pubbed stuff their publishers dropped the ball on, or that they got back the rights for things that went out of print and self-pubbed. The list goes on.

But since we are quoting successful authors now-

My first novel wouldn’t have been picked up, sold a quarter million copies, and turned into a six-book series if I hadn’t self-pubbed it first. Not bad for an insult to the written word. – Marko Kloos

Not all self-pubbed work is garbage, and not all traditionally published work is some sort of brilliant artistic achievement. They both have their fair share of crap. And ultimately the market will decide.

Writing is hard work, but the act of writing can also be thrilling, enriching your life beyond reason when you know you’re finally nailing a certain feeling with the perfect verb.

The verb I would pick for Laurie’s essay is Bloviate

[bloh-vee-eyt] 

verb (used without object), bloviated, bloviating.

1.to speak pompously.

It might take a long time to find that perfect verb.

Naw, it was pretty obvious right out the gate.

But that’s how art works. Writing is an art deserving our esteem.

Holy shit, GET OVER YOURSELF.

It shouldn’t be something that you can take up as a hobby one afternoon and a month later, key in your credit card number to CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing before sitting back waiting for a stack of books to arrive at your door.

Why not?

No, seriously. You bossy know it all… Why not? What if that book was brilliant, but the gatekeepers didn’t like it for some biased reason? Where do you get off being the arbiter of what the market can or cannot have access to?

If that book is garbage, it’s garbage. It probably won’t sell very many copies, but looking at your Amazon ranks, neither do you.

Let’s all give the written word the respect it deserves.

Which is why I took the time to fisk this awful article. Unlike the HuffPo’s abysmal writing advice pieces, my goal is to help writers achieve financial success, rather than some arbitrary and capricious fluff about art.

Thank goodness we got that tripe out of the way. Now onto business.

Okay, aspiring authors, this is how it actually works. I’ve said this plenty of times but there are really only two steps to becoming a successful pro author.

  1. Get good enough that people will give you money for your stuff.
  2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.

That’s it. That is how it works. Whether you do it traditionally or independently, that’s all there is to it. You want to make a living at this, you need to produce something that people want, and then you need to find a way to get it in front of them.

I’ve done it both ways. I’ve got friends who are making good livings traditional or self-pubbed, and I’ve got friends who are dirt poor and struggling both ways too.

Contrary to what you may believe, getting a tradpub deal is not all roses and sunshine. The average midlist author only makes like 30k a year. Which is way more than you get for writing for the HuffPo, but still not something that enables you to quit your day job. Only the top 1% of us make over 100k a year, which is kind of sad if you think about it. I’m making several times that annually and I still don’t meet the HuffPo’s standards to be a *real writer*. So basically they can kiss my ass.

The key is building a fan base and providing them consistent content. And unlike HuffPo staff authors, that means putting out books every year, not once a decade.

I’m not some self-publishing evangelist. It isn’t an easy button. It is freaking hard work. If you self-pub, you need to figure out how to differentiate yourself from the hundred thousand other scuts who just released something. If you put something out there but have no other means to drive traffic to it, it will remain obscure.

All of the self-pubbed successes I know aren’t like the hypothetical Doctor Book In A Month above, they are professionals who work their asses off building up a loyal fan base and consistently providing quality product.  

The big thing self-pubbed has got going for them is that they get to keep a far higher percentage of the sales price (something Laurie’s imaginary friend touched on in her opening paragraph but she never came back to).  So you can self-pub, sell fewer copies, but still come out financially ahead of somebody who is tradpub, but only keeping 8% of the cover price of every mass market paperback.

But, because of distribution, and things like being on the shelf in every Barnes & Noble, tradpub folks are going to sell more copies (hopefully). I can’t say if it will even out for you or not, because that depends entirely upon your market. (hell, one of the biggest things I’ve got going for me is audiobooks and ancillary foreign rights, which we haven’t even talked about at all)

Tradpub can be awesome for writers, but I’m not one of these twerps that worships at the feet of Manhattan publishing. They are dinosaurs, and not the cuddly kind.

All her stuff about Time Enough for Art is bullshit, because your editor is going to be dropping some nasty deadlines on your artsy-fartsy ass. And if you aren’t selling like Patrick Rothfuss or George Martin, they ain’t going to give you half a decade to leisurely finish the next one, they are going to cut you off.

Don’t believe the idealized hype. Tradpub turns out plenty of trash, and their gatekeepers often screw up, BUT if you can get picked up by a traditional publisher, they’ve got wide distribution, and if you are one of the lucky ones that they decide to throw some marketing money behind, you can make bank.  If you get a good editor, love and cherish them, because they are the best thing ever.

However, watch out, because many of the dinosaurs are carnivorous and they will eat you. I know many authors who have been screwed over in a wide variety of exciting ways by their big publishing houses.

Most tradpub authors aren’t treated like artistic royalty. The golden child gets all the love and marketing money. The rest are treated like monkeys banging a keyboard, and if you fail to bang the keyboard good enough, they will get a new monkey. Some publishers are ruthless. They will give you a deal, then give the book zero marketing push. It gets tossed out  there on its own. And if it doesn’t sell well, or doesn’t earn back its advance, so long loser. Sink or swim.

So either way, you are your own best marketing department. If you are indy, you are it. If you have a traditional deal, you can’t count on your publisher selling your books for you, so you might be it.   

Regardless of how you get your stuff out there, you have to keep doing it again, and doing it better. Most of us don’t have the reliable income to quit our day jobs until we have four or five books out, with more on the way. You live off of your back list. And your back list remains viable because every time you release a new book, the old stuff gets a bump up.

So each method has pros and cons. Only idiots and zealots get caught up on the method of delivery rather than the product being delivered. No matter how you do it, the more you produce art, the more art gets produced, the more likely we are to see great art.

 

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238 thoughts on “Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing”

  1. their hot new release that came out a few months ago already has 1.2 million books selling better than it

    That’s in the order of “maybe sold a copy a year ago” ranking. I’m a nobody. I know I’m a nobody. My short works sell better than that. My books, much better. And that’s without all the “exposure” she gets writting for HuffPo. (Oh, wait, people die of exposure.)

    1. I sell one copy of my Novelette, it jumps up to around 100K, if I don’t sell another, within a month or two it will settle down to 1.4 million. Actually, that cycle happens faster and faster now, which I think indicates a very healthy eBook market, because every place I go down means that someone else has sold after I did.

      1. 1.2 to 1.4 million is where my novelettes/novellas rattle around when they’re not selling at all. It seems to be the absolute bottom end. My absolute worst rank right now is for “FTI: Beginnings” a two-story collection which is a hard sell in the first place because 1) they’re reprints of stories 20+ years old, 2) The first one, the starting point of my “FutureTech Industries” series, is written in epistolary format which puts a lot of people off, and 3) I believe I’ve mentioned that I’m a nobody. And for the last several weeks the ranking has been wandering around that value rather than trending downward so it seems to have bottomed out. Others of my short works seem to bottom out at other values.

        No, I don’t understand how it works either.

        1. Yeah, I experienced that same “bounce” off the bottom too in the last two weeks. Went from 1422K to 1409K. Might come from amazon nuking bogus “books”?

      2. The vast majority of books I buy are now indie.

        Why? Less risk on a purchase. I don’t mind finding a dud if it cost me less than a burger.

        I also am slowly expanding my list of FB friends who are authors, and whose stuff I can reasonably be sure I’ll enjoy. And even if I don’t I really don’t mind spending a few bucks on authors I like for other reasons. (That method is atypical, but word of mouth is still almost universal for indie buyers. That and Amazon’s also bought feature)

        Trad publishing puts out some good books. They don’t do a very good job, as a whole, of putting out books people like me like though. Nature abhors a vacuum, and indie is selling well in those areas left fallow by the gatekeepers and their rarefied tastes.

      1. Military family so I grew up everywhere. Both mom and dad were born and raised in North Carolina so I claim that insult through blood. 🙂

      2. NC born and raised, family has been in the south since before the revolution. Bless Your Heart is a southern phrase, NC to TX. No stealing involved.

    1. I think this one falls into the “bless her precious little heart” category.

      Ma was a Texan and pa an Arky, so I may be a Calikid but I claim it by right of inheritance.

  2. I think the most important gatekeeper to her is the muscular guy holding the end of the velvet rope in front of the VIP section. The one who says “Oh, you’re a writer!” and lets her in. If he lets just anybody in, she’s not so special any more. And having done it once, she doesn’t have to keep performing – she wants to rest on those laurels forever.

  3. Thank you for taking on the thankless task of fisking stuff like this. I’ll never forget the time you took to sit and talk to me about self-publishing, and you were straightforward about how much time and effort it would take. You were right, I did it anyway, and I have no regrets. I’ll do it again, given the choice.

  4. *sigh*

    I just… shit, man. People like this are the reason English Lit majors work at McDonald’s and are ruthlessly mocked by philosophy majors working at Starbucks.

    1. …And the reason that anthropology majors like me work to market, go where the audience is and earn six figures in a discipline that most US folks slam as useless. Of course, location, location, location and the guts go . As an aside, I am a trad pubbed author, gone indie. Won’t be going back to the Big 5 unless it’s on my terms and I loved every word of this article

  5. Great fisking.
    What gets me is the sense of “if anybody can do it, it can’t be cool” that permeates the original article. The reality, as you say, is very different. Books fail to find an audience for any number of reasons – often but not always related to quality – simply disappear from sight so swiftly that they might as well never have existed at all. Their impact on anybody else is nil (much like Ms. Gough’s own oeuvre, amusingly enough). The so-called “tsunami of crap” drowns no one – new books that don’t get at least a few dozen sales in their first few weeks might as well be invisible by most online retailer metrics. The real competition lies with the writers who can generate enough interest to show up in “Also Bought” and “Hot New Release” lists, where potential shoppers can catch a glimpse at their covers and maybe check out the “Look Inside” preview.

    It was even worse for trad-pubbed authors before the advent of ebooks, because their books got 8 weeks on (some) bookstores to make it before their covers were stripped and they disappeared into obscurity.

    In any case, the market decides, like so many other things the Puffington Host sneers at. If self-pubbed crap sells, it’s not crap, at least as far as the people actually plunking down their hard-earned cash for it are concerned. Readers are the only gatekeepers that count, because even in the most rarefied publishing circles, if your books don’t sell, the authors will be cut loose.

    Doesn’t mean success is easy or guaranteed through self-publishing. The odds are horrible either way, although I think indies have better overall chances (call it 1-100 odds versus 1-1000 going trad). The trade-off is much lower chance of ever becoming the next Martin or Rothfuss (that’s where a big publisher’s muscle makes a big difference). The other cost is that one has to do more stuff than just write a book: everything from art direction to being editor-in-chief (even after hiring editors, the final decisions are going to be yours).

    I’ve been part of the self-pubbing “tsunami of crap” for three years. For two years I hovered between the L- and J-lists; this year I tried a new genre and shot up to the H-list, although of course there are no guarantees I’ll remain there next year. Still, I wouldn’t trade my new day job for anything, and the contempt of the likes of Ms. Gough is a net positive for me – anything that riles up the smug so-called intelligentsia adds a little extra spring to my step.

    1. Yep.

      I’m reminded of an acquaintance of mine, who will remain nameless.

      (I’m not putting my name to this either, because writing circles are small, and I don’t want to make the person in question feel bad, even though I have no real reason to think well of them either.)

      They went to all the same conferences I did, paid on another’s dime, and hired a pro editor and cover artist, also on another’s dime. The book was put up in three parts on amazon, since at that point the idea of more shorter releases was really popular. (Now it seems to be more don’t worry about length, do what’s best for the story, which I think is the better idea)

      Once I managed to find it again, the ‘trilogy’ has an amazon rank of more than 2 million.

      Dr Mauser’s novelette, mentioned above, is less than a fourth that.

      What’s the difference?

      Indie or Trad, if the book isn’t good it won’t sell, and will fade into obscurity.

      *Good* is subjective, of course, but if the book doesn’t speak to the reader on some level it will go nowhere.

      I’ve read that novelette. I really enjoyed it, despite the fact that it was waaaaaaaaay outside my normal interests. It was, however, well written, well paced, and with interesting characters. It also has a starting scene that really grabs me as a reader, with just enough information to be grounded in what is going on while throwing enough strangeness and mystery at me that I actually want to keep reading. The nameless book lacked that entirely.

      Granted, good stuff can fade into obscurity as well, but stuff without any merit doesn’t generally do well either. (And yes, I am saying that Twilight and 50 Shades had something good in them. The reader is never wrong if they like something.)

      1. (Of course, rank is REALLY dynamic. I had one sale on Monday and I think a Borrow. That took me up to 83K, and 6 days later I’m at 654K, so judging things by their Amazon Rank is a mook’s game, unless they manage to achieve a steady state from a constant stream of readers, or unless they’ve sunk so low that they’ve clearly gone months without a sale..)

  6. You know what I would LIKE to see. The exact wording of what she asked Brad Thor and Sue Grafton and their EXACT responses. It’s easy to cherry pick what you want in an interview but it doesn’t EVER tell the whole story. All we have to do is look at the “news media” over the last year. And I truly doubt that Thor or Grafton agreed with what she was saying in her drivel.

    1. Proof has been shown in the comments that Sue Grafton made these comments in 2012 and has since issued an apology. The research wasn’t done but someone contacted Sue and called the author out on it.

    2. I second that, also I want to know when they said that. I don’t know who Sue Grafton is but I know that Brad Thor seems to be a conservative based on his twitter. I also want to know when that was said too, as it’s possible that their quotes were 100% accurate reflections of their opinions when they said it, but that might have been back in like 2000 and they have changed their minds since

      1. Hmm Found this article about Sue Grafton’s comment http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/grafton-apologizes-to-indies-will-they-accept/

        So not only is it a bit dated now but she publicly retracted it and apologized for it four years ago, admitting she was not aware how much work it take to successfully self publish. So that’s one of her two author references she used that was purposely cherry picked, and not accurate of the author’s views.

        I am not a betting man but if I was I’d wager Brad Thor’s comment is likely also misleading.

      2. FYI Sue Grafton is the best-selling writer of the “The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series” started with ‘A for Alibi’ back in 1982, and is now up to ‘X.’ IMHO they’re very decent reads. On her website she links to her FB page where she says “four years ago when I made a careless and ill-thought-out comment about self-published authors. “

  7. If any aspiring authors out there are still wondering who to trust after that epic fisking, consider the differing motives behind each author’s advice.

    Laurie: wants to justify herself by exalting the delivery method she’s tied her identity to.

    Larry: interrupts his vacation to wave a big flashing WARNING! sign in front of the cliff that Laurie’s advice will send your career hurtling from.

    It boils down to this: “my goal is to help writers achieve financial success…”

    Well, the proof is in the pudding. Unlike Laurie, I don’t write for a periodical of note. Nor am I a D-lister (which is a good list to be on, see link above) like Larry.

    But I have followed his advice closely. Thanks to him, my first self-published book got into KDP’s top 500 and I was briefly the 28th best-selling horror author on Amazon.

    Sure, that was from a Book Bomb! But after that I used what I’d learned from him to get my second book onto the top 100 free list, effectively bomb the first book again, and bag a Dragon Award.

    Now my third book just launched, and I’ve made the J-list. So with all due respect to the Marie Antoinette of NY publishing, I’ll just go ahead and keep following Larry’s advice. It works.

  8. Yahoo. I’m in the 1% as a self-published author. If I had waited for that miraculous traditional contract, I would probably still be working my day job. Now I’m starting to get the interest of some publishers, after 200K sales and 31 books. Mark Wandrey alerted me to this piece (OS) in Huffpo by flagging me to ask my opinion, among others, and I read it thinking, oh great, another artsy fartsy writer with no sales, whose won some awards somewhere or other. I was involved in a project some years ago and the other eleven authors had 43 awards between them. I had no awards, but had sold better than nine of them put together. Every state and local book group has an award, so awards are easy to come by. I follow the advice of Kevin J Anderson’s wife, Rebecca Moesta. Washingtons are the only award worth worrying about. None of those other awards let you quit a day job or put food on the table.

    1. I got started reading adult science fiction and fantasy through Star Wars and Star Trek. I got into Star Wars through the Young Jedi Knights and Junior Jedi Knights books. I recall that KJA and RA were very responsible for those.

  9. Why in the world would you want to discourage a HuffPo writer from discouraging HuffPo readers from self-publishing their work? Your comments are certainly valid, but anything that strangles Progressive “art’ in its’ crib should be celebrated.

  10. “Yes. Writers get better the more they write. So of course all of us look back at our first book and kick ourselves for things that we could have done differently now that we know better. But that doesn’t matter if that first book was SELLABLE.”

    I want to get that tattooed to my offspring’s foreheads. Not that I don’t have the same tendencies… that internal editor is a minion of Satan, accusing the brethren, etc. But I can *see* it better in others. The offspring mostly do visual art and “your own worst critic” is being given full reign. It’s not that they look back at stuff they drew 2 years ago and realize it’s sucks. It’s that they look back at stuff they drew this morning and realize it isn’t quite exactly what they hoped for.

    Actually, taking part of that back, one of the kids regularly sells art commissions. It’s amazing how much he’s improved, but his first sales make me scratch my head. But it doesn’t matter… they were SELLABLE. And he went from there.

  11. I’m sitting around 291K on my first book from three years ago and 118K on my fourth book from October, so I ‘guess’ according to her I’m a failure… Sigh… 🙂

    1. I just read that as “291K [words].” I was about to offer you my editing chainsaw-katana to cut that bad boy into a trilogy.

  12. The only real advantage that I, as a reader, have found trad-pub to have over self-pub is the proofreading is generally better in the former than the latter. It’s nice to have some expertise at the purely technical part of writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.) brought to bear so I’m not constantly being jolted out of the story by stupid-ass mistakes like ‘the ship’s compliment of fighters’ or ‘he took the horse’s reigns,’ and so forth. Still, I’m willing to put up with a fair amount of that if the story is good, and I’ll gladly take a clumsily-written book with an interesting plot and characters over a boring one with every comma in place in meticulously-crafted sentences.

    On a related note, Amazon’s ‘send a sample’ function is an absolute godsend for sifting the Kindle wheat from the chaff. It doesn’t always work — I’ve had a few that started well before diving right into the crapper — but it lets me be my own gatekeeper.

    1. I have to say that I see just as much (if not more) of the homonym errors in the trad-pub books that I read as I do in the indie books. Since that is one of my pet peeves, I am sensitive to it’s presence.

      1. I think that may be due to even the trad publishers leaving the proofing up to interns with Microsuck Spellchek’s limited 10,000 word standard dictionary. Or not at all: having actual proof-READERs has to be one of the more expensive parts of publishing that’s been cut out of the loop as “not necessary any more” since millennials [as a group] have atrocious spelling anyway from having grown up on a diet of cell phone texts and Twitter feeds…

    2. There’s probably a market for a “homonym search” app that goes through and tags some of those so you’ve got to pass them manually… or at least a nice long list of commonly misused words that sound alike to use as a reference.

    3. I wonder if there’s a market for a piece of fiction where those phrases are the correct ones (The Ship Who Sang Meets The City Who Fought? :-D)

  13. So right, Larry. Awards and titles mean zilch, or maybe less; just the Benjamins … or on Kindle, the 35 cents for a 99-cent promo sale. Such joy!

    I ran a promo for a self-pubbed trilogy, with #3 free and 1 and 2 at 99 cents, for one day. Sold 31 of #1 and 29 of #2, paid for the promo and ran #1 up to #1 in its teeny niche category, political humor. Oh, whee! So now and forevermore, I’m an “Amazon #1 Bestselling Author.” Big whoopee. Like thousands of others.

    Lucky for me, I’m retired and don’t need the $$$. But they count.

  14. I think it’s more of a case of fear. They’ve lost control of what gets published, and what doesn’t. Non-PC people like me are now able to put our books out and get readers in far greater numbers than they can, and it scares them. Sure, I’m not in that 1% yet, I haven’t even busted into six figures a year on my royalties, yet.
    But the key word here is ‘yet’.
    I’m well past 20K copies sold each year now and growing. Everything I put out hits the top 100 in my categories for a few weeks, sometimes longer. I have a fan base, I work hard and put the hours in and treat this like the full-time job it has become. Success comes because you work at it, not because someone slapped a fancy title after your name.
    I learned that when I got my Engineering degree.

  15. The sad thing is I have a gender studies book of all things that in one particular day as an indie-pubbed book probably made me more than her last royalty check.

    She can suck it.

  16. My name is also Laurie, I’m planning to self-publish (just need final tweaks and a cover), and I think sharing a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump would be awesome.

    Many thanks – if I don’t get a new Correia fisking every so often, I go into withdrawal. And the indie pub advice is always welcome.

  17. Just a notion: a “professional writer” who has the time — and the need– to write for Huffpo for free is… not a professional writer…

    1. Good point.

      I’m not even close to Larry’s league, but I don’t write for free with my nonfiction stuff. The fact that she clearly does tells me she’s not even in my league.

    2. Or is someone who never heard – or understood – DWS’s comment about money should flow TO the writer. And time spent writing for HuffPo and other non-paying, non-selling sites is money.

  18. How old do you have to be to get a pass? You know, so that I can do something nice for all those grandkiddies I’m going to have. I would hate to insult anybody by writing and selling my crap before I qualify ….

  19. Out of curiosity, Larry, you mentioned doing well with ancillary rights. Are your foreign language rights a big source of profit for you? If so, which non-English language market do your books do best in?

    1. I’m a rock star in the Czech Republic, but it is a small country. My biggest are France (Grimnoir was extremely popular there) and Germany.

  20. But Comrades… without benefits of having Central Planning and approval by Party leadership, how will dirty Kulaks know they need to go to GULAG? All this having freedom is being madness and will end with tears. :/

  21. Larry: “1.2 million books selling better than it”

    A sales rank of 1.2 MILLION? Jaysus.

    “Kiss the Sunset Pig”

    That seriously sounds like it should be a Cabbage Point Killing Machine song. 🙂

    Larry: ” [Laurie has] written for Salon and the Guardian?”

    Because of course she has.

    Laurie: “It shouldn’t be something that you can take up as a hobby one afternoon and a month later, key in your credit card number to CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing before sitting back waiting for a stack of books to arrive at your door.”

    Wow, she is seriously confused. You don’t pay KDP or CreateSpace, Laurie. They pay you. Really. For real. You put in your bank account number, not your credit card number. Repeat: they pay you. I promise. Not only that, but KDP pays you every single month, and it gives you a clear, easy-to-understand statement that doesn’t require a team of accountants, lawyers, and voodoo priests to comprehend.

    Nor do any “stacks of books arrive at your door”. With Kindle, of course, there aren’t any physical books to arrive, and with CreateSpace you don’t ever even SEE the books if you don’t want to. Thats how POD works, Laurie. The book doesn’t even exist until someone orders it, then CreateSpace takes care of all the crapola involved with getting the book to the customer.

    Most people do order a copy or two for themselves, I’m sure, but there aren’t any “stacks” involved.

    TheWriterInBlack: “(Oh, wait, people die of exposure.)”

    I notice that the “exposure” from this HuffPo article doesn’t seem to have moved her sales needle on Amazon one bit.

    1. Well, CreateSpace does let you buy books directly. Granted, that’s supposed to primarily be for getting copies to take to conventions and signings, but I suppose if you wanted to put in the time and effort, you could buy the books, then put them up for sale and ship them yourself.

      1. Sure, but you don’t have to do that. She’s got CS confused with an old-school vanity press, the kind where you payed them hundreds or thousands of dollars up front and they sent you boxes of unsalable books in return.

  22. ““I don’t hate you little people, I merely think you are beneath me… But I will grant a dispensation for your old people because they will die soon and no longer trouble me.” Sniff.”

    Why am I hearing this in Loki’s voice, like here?

    https://youtu.be/L_DaDQTmkSU

  23. “Let’s all give the written word the respect it deserves.”

    I respect every single word I write and then I respect them all over again when my quarterly royalty check comes in.

    Then there’s the respect I gave Larry the ILOH yesterday when I bought Grunge at Audible.

    Little Miss Snooty Auteur probably gets all of her books as ARCs, which means she probably hasn’t respected any writer in a long time unless Mommy gave her a B&N gift card for Christmas.

      1. I debated, because I like the commas after the subordinate — but so many people are dropping it now unless the subordinate is longer than four or five words that I’m starting to get out of the habit. But yes, for my own aesthetic, definitely.

  24. Actually, Larry, you’re wrong on one trivial (but relevant) point. Very very few traditionally published authors make 30K a year, every year (I have been keeping track as best as possible for some time) That’s one of Trad Pub’s carefully nurtured myths, along with ‘being a traditionally published author will instantly make you popular and famous, and respected by all.’ The real figure is closer half or third of that – which is why Indy – which pays 70% as opposed to 17.5% of gross, is very attractive. Snooty plainly doesn’t live on her writing income.

    1. I can easily believe that, just given the number of such midlist authors that still have day jobs, and how many publish less than a book a year. Is the issue mostly churn, or are their other things going on as well?

      Hell, given the history of entertainment industry accounting, nothing up to and including “If we convert their income to Canadian dollars, then…” would surprise.

      1. Craig, even long time ‘upper midlist’ who were once earning 40-50k a year are in the same boat. Basically, as the industry has slowly shrunk, the midlist and noob income have been sacrificed to fund the bestsellers. A bit like US society ;-/

    2. I’ve always heard that 30k was for midlisters, so I don’t actually have any idea what it would be for just getting published. Obviously not much.

    3. Simple mathematics shows that a $15 trad-pub book and a $3.75 self-pub book at those payout percentages net the same $2.62 for the author. I’m not a writer (leastwise not outside of documenting my sysadmin work– tangentially, being willing and capable of writing good documentation has landed me my last 3 jobs; it’s what set me above the rest of the crowd), but if I were, I know which margin I’d prefer.

  25. Nicest thing the gatekeepers have said is “I really enjoy your style but I have no idea how to market it.” I’ve never gotten a form rejection for slush. Fair enough to them, it’s non-trashy modern-set fantasy (ie not the ‘tart with a tramp stamp cover’ market.) So I threw it on Amazon. Because I’m cheap and don’t buy ads or reviews, it doesn’t sell big (I hate marketing) but at least it sells. Then again the HuffingtonPuffington author probably doesn’t consider SF/F REAL writing anyway.

  26. My rebuttal to Miz Gough is three words “Andy Freaking Weir”.

    His first novel was rejected by those same gatekeepers. he then gave his second book away for free on his site and only when people complained that it was “too hard” to put on their Kindles that he self-pubbed it to stop the whining.

    So maybe the worst thing that can happen to a self-published author is a book deal and a “Save Matt Damon!” movie.

  27. Agents represent the author. Their job is to find stuff they think they can sell to a publisher

    I took a publishing course last year, and the agent who taught it specified numerous times that *rejection of a manuscript is not a marker of quality*.

    A manuscript might be rejected because it is the wrong genre (romance) or sub-genre ( “I don’t do dragons”) or the agent can’t figure out where to sell it; none of that means that it isn’t salable, just that it isn’t salable to *that particular agent*.

    And even established authors have problems with gatekeepers. Evidently Tanith Lee left drawers full of unpublished works *because the publishers didn’t want them* (rabid fans who would buy anything with “Tanith Lee” on the cover weren’t considered).

  28. This woman is the thought police and believes that we are too dumb to make educated choices regarding what we want to read. We must need far more intelligent people (gate keepers) picking out our material. If it is left up to us, we might read something that harms our little brains. The material might not be insulting liberal drivel. Who knows, maybe we’ll read… LARRY CORREIA. Bad things happen when choice is left to the people and taken away from the elite. Someone has to protect the nanny state.

  29. If HuffPo pays based on exposure, then we’re all playing right into this woman’s hand. Maybe she wrote this garbage knowing it would inflame all of us “wannabes” into sharing her filth all over the internet. I say we quit giving her said exposure and move on.

    1. They don’t pay BY (EDIT: “Based on”, not “BY”) exposure, they pay IN exposure. As in, you get exposure because they so graciously deigned to publish your article on their website. They don’t pay in dollars.

    2. Thing is that it gets clicks for HuffPo. It gets nothing for the author unless someone who looks up her book on Amazon goes on to buy it… unless Amazon pays you for clicks? I don’t think they do. And how many books do you think she sold? Probably not zero, but probably close.

      I wondered if this was almost at the level of some of those British sites that publish articles by clearly disturbed people who everyone rushes to the web-site to point and laugh at. You can about see someone there reading the thing and thinking… wow, people are going to tear her apart… clicks!

  30. You chose the word “Blovate” to characterize this essay. Fair enough. I would prefer the noun Blivot, which applies equally well to the essay and the author;

    10 pounds of dripping wet manure in a sack designed for five.

  31. I did enjoy the fact she pulls apart “all” self-publishers who are clearly not aware that “…clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer.”
    Only to then quote a “real” author who makes his point with… a cliché. “Author Brad Thor agrees: “The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

        1. Although I thought the Lemming Brothers in their cute little suits and briefcases in ZOOTOPIA were absolutely darling.

    1. Reminds me of something on the Foglio’s Girl Genius Comic (Jan 27, 2016) shouted by the staff of the Incorruptible Library as they prepare for battle “To read what you want, you have to be free!”

  32. You have a new fan, my friend!

    The first in my self-published series was considered by Jennifer Enderlin of St. Martin’s press not once, but twice (after revision)! In the end she said no, not because of quality, but because she thought mermaids would be a tough sell based on the performance of another author’s work. Now, I’m by no means a NYT/USA Today best seller, but I’ve won awards and am generating better sales figures for each new release in the series. I have every expectation that my sales will grow with my backlist and with marketing. There are plenty of hybrid and Indie authors in my RWA chapter who are making a lot of money on their self-published work because they’re doing it right (great covers, professional edits, savvy marketing, etc.).

    I hope authors discouraged by the original HP article find your fisked version!

  33. I think there is a difference between wanting to make money off writing, and expecting to get rich off your writing.

    I see both condemning making money and expecting to get rich off of it coming from the same place: a head shoved so far up ones egotistical bosom they don’t can’t possibly imagine they’re just like everyone else.

    I don’t think anyone is saying making money on writing is bad, besides this Huffington Post idiot. (Which is actually quite a conservative news sites, since it was brought up.)

      1. That commentator might be one of those foreigners that don’t realize that here their comments are likely to be evaluated in terms of the American political spectrum, and not, say, the European one. On the European spectrum, people might see the New York Times as being a right wing Nazi publication that wants to gas Jews. Whereas Americans realize that it is merely full of left wing anti-Semites, whose niche is being the UN’s town rag.

        RedState is a website that might qualify as quite conservative on the American spectrum. (Except to the righter than right hardcore Trump fans.)

        1. Hell, son, I’ve had proglodytes tell me the New York Times was a rightwing propaganda machine….

  34. I have an agent but 7 of 9 of my books are self published now. Most of those books had been traditionally published but I got my rights back. Two of those books were with a very well respected science fiction and fantasy publisher’s now defunct YA imprint. I got ZERO marketing support from that publisher. Moreover, the second book in the series? Yeah, they went and published the wrong manuscript as in a draft manuscript and not the final clean version. I even went to London to promote the second book in the series, on my dime, (it was a bit of a vacation as well) and nobody from that publisher even showed up for my launch! Serious!

    I am making more money now from self-publishing. A lot more money. I’m getting monthly deposits from Amazon because my book IMMORTAL REMAINS which my agent spent a year and a half trying to sell to traditional publishers was dead in the water. They said urban fantasy was dead. Well, it’s on Amazon now and it’s selling really quite well. I’ve got people subscribing to my newsletter and I’ve got fans now who are writing to me wanting the next book in the series.

    I thought the Huffington Post piece was smug, self-serving garbage. I still would love traditional publishing glory but I’ll take regular pay from my self-pubbed stuff any day of the week.

    1. Sean, I’m proof that commenting on a blog post sells books because I just discovered Immortal Remains and bought it on Amazon! (-:

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  36. You know what cracks me up? This gem right here:

    “These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ … ”

    If she was as educated as she claims, she’d know it was “show VERSUS tell,” not “sow, don’t tell.’ Every book and every story is a balance of one or the other.

    1. No, the clichéd bad writing advice is ‘Show, don’t tell.’ No doubt that was dinned into this poor fool by her Creative Writing prof. (When I scratch that kind of prose, I nearly always sniff a C.W. major.)

      The idea is that everything has to be shown, that it must be All Show All the Time, Because Tell Is Teh Evulest Evulz Evah. This is stupid and wrong, but it is easy to teach, a quality that commends itself to the bottom-of-the-barrel C.W. academic we so often see – the sort who couldn’t sell a story to save his soul, and fell back on an academic gig as a temporary reprieve from trying to find honest work. Besides, if you tell nothing and show everything, it’s easier to pad out a plotless and uneventful vignette to a length that looks like a story.

        1. The point is, she is exactly as educated as she claims. She parrots the clichés, which is just what people with that kind of education are taught to do. It would be uncharitable to expect anything better.

    2. One author, a really great teacher of writing, once said, “It’s all telling.”

      Which I thought was an interesting point to make. Obvious, in hindsight. But if you don’t realize what “show” or “tell” are really talking about you can get really wound up in knots worried that you’re doing it wrong. Sometimes you need evocative detail and action in the moment, and sometimes you need summary.

  37. Heh.

    I remember when Chris Nuttall first started asking questions about mil stuff in general and Marines in particular in a particular part of Baen’s Bar way back when.

    Then, reading through the comments in this thread I started recognizing some other names too. There’s some pretty dang good writers (besides the boss, of course) who hang out here.

    I feel a bit like I’m hob knobbing with royalty.

    1. I have found a number of new authors from the comments section of Monster Hunter Nation. I highly recommend C. J. Carella who I found here.

    1. Or Robin Cook, or Michael Crichton or Sherwin Nuland, though that last wrote nonfiction, he also wrote a memoir.

  38. And for those of you who would like a bit more insight into the Larry Correia “Two-Step Method to Being a Professional Author”™, then you might like my notes from a college class he taught on that very subject a couple of years ago.

    http://harrdharrharr.org/correia-first-week-1-of-2/
    http://harrdharrharr.org/correia-first-week-2-of-2/
    http://harrdharrharr.org/larry-correia-writing-class-2/
    http://harrdharrharr.org/larry-correia-writing-class-week-3/

  39. Interesting. Here is my ranking (John Thornton) on my first indie book: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,828 Paid in Kindle Store
    Here is Laurie Gough’s rating: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,081,697 Paid in Kindle Store

    I think I will stay with indie publishing.

  40. I subscribe to what Chris has to say. I have read books that were channeled through the traditional publishing arena, that did not make for great reading. And I have also read some fine works of art through this channel. At the same time, the same can be said pf self publishing. One of the greater hindrances to many aspiring authors is the gatekeeper(s). I just published my first book(novella) HOONKUDOONKU and had to choose the self publishing route. It’s a story I told to children several years ago, and wanted to share with others. Is it a hit as yet? No. But I’m still working to get it out there. The technology has changed and inertia is an expectant phenomenon for those who have been in the traditional publishing ring for some time. I am inclined to be more empathetic than critical. They will come around to acceptance, I hope sooner rather than later. (Please don’t kill me for my cliche)

  41. Speaking as someone who periodically has to sift through a slushpile, I can honestly say that it makes no difference to me whether the submission is from a traditionally published author or the very first story from a new writer. All that matters is if it holds my interest and falls within the magazine’s guidelines.

  42. I work with several authors doing beta reads, proofing, and copy edits. Keeps me out of the bars in retirement.
    One author in particular has books placed in two small publishing houses. One is run by a nice well intentioned lady who is absolutely incompetent at promotion. The other by a shady character who I am convinced is cooking the books and stiffing my author friend on her royalties.
    So after a great deal of persuasion I have convinced her to take the first book in a new series indie. It’s been quite an experience, but the book will be available on Amazon both e-book and paper next month. The paper proof copy is beautiful.
    And now the hard part begins, the promotion. For as you say, the difficulty is in differentiating your product from the vast sea of material out there.

      1. That was the first thing I thought of myself. Not to mention the usual suspects in the Writer Beware list (it’s a very good blog, subscribe. Also, buy my books on Amazon, they’re all on sale for $2.99 this month. See what happens to a hero whose face is burned off and has to live with it in a fantasy world in DEAD MAN’S HAND). Sorry about the commercial, it got out of hand.

        But every time I hear about something like ARE, I feel more happy to pub indie.

  43. Larry:
    Your fisks are a thing of beauty.

    It must have been a terrible blow finding out that because you did things without a publisher’s permission you’ll have to unpublish your books and start over again in the correct hierarchical order. But hang in there. Art will be its own reward.

    Honestly, what are we going do when HuffPo’s new owners give up on its business model and turns the site into a Viagra infomercial loop? These brave young people are going to have to go back to Starbuck’s. And without them to tell the rest of us how stupid we are we’re going to get into trouble and probably commit wrongfun. And we can’t have that.

    Seriously, something has gone very wrong with the kids today. They’re not gonna make it.

  44. The irony here is that Huffington Post is to newspapers what self-publishers are to traditional publishing houses. She just doesn’t get the parallels.

  45. Typical of the NY literati, all her travel books are about herself. As is everything else. Including the book about her son’s OCD. I wonder where THAT came from?

  46. Honestly, I’m loving the totally unanimous dumping on her that everybody across the spectrum is doing. Lots of people writing blog posts ragging on her, go to the article on HuffPo and all the comments are ragging on her. Go on to her page on twitter and all the comments are ragging on her there too. I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes dark soon, and eventually writes an article for some stupid publication about her ‘ordeal’ and ‘harassment by the internet hate mob.’

    Honestly, I love it when events happen that are so profoundly stupid that we can all come together in our disdain for them (the MTV ‘Resolutions for White Men’ video was also this, too bad they pulled it down).

    1. And I apparently just began two connected paragraphs with the same word and can’t edit. I should self-publish this just so that Laurie Gough can read it and be really angry at my mistake.

      1. Precious Snowflake, Authoress has deigned to step from her ivory tower and pass on her nuggets of wisdom, expecting the horrid masses to praise her for her pearls of wisdom.
        Damn that awful reality for showing that she’s just some lady who writes every now and again, who really isn’t in touch with the facts.

  47. In the FB thread linking to this, I came up with a pretty good response, which would be wasted on them at HuffPo. So I thought I’d bring it here.

    Actually, thanks to the way Amazon is set up, it is the readers themselves who are the gatekeepers. If they read a sample and like it, they buy the book, and the writer’s rank goes up. If they don’t want it, his rank goes down. The absolute drek settles to the bottom of the pond and the cream floats to the top. This can be supplemented by trusted reviewers (whose popularity is also weighted by the readers), and Goodreads Rankings, and reader reviews.

    In short, the gatekeeping has been crowdsourced.

    1. A shorter way to put it: There is no gate, because there are no walls to keep the riff-raff out. What is crowdsourced is the function of saying, ‘Lookitthis! Cool!’ —which was always done primarily by word of mouth in the first place.

      (I have been meaning for some time to write a piece about this distinction, to be called, ‘Gatekeepers vs. Safari Guides’. The title should give you a pretty fair idea what I’m getting at.)

  48. *Snort* I released an indie alt-history WWI Eastern front novel (A Carpathian Campaign) this past week that hit the top ten in Alt-history on the ‘Zon. It’s back down to #48,000, but people seem to like it. It would probably not get past the “gatekeepers” because I’m just a historian and novelist, telling a story, not a “serious student of Literature” who has put in decades learning the craft of writing. I just write, a lot, and polish a lot, and have a patient editor, from whom I’ve learned a great deal.

    Thanks for the fisk, Larry! It was a great way to end the year. 🙂

    1. I am intrigued, both by the premise of your novel and by the fact that, just over an hour ago, Amazon sent me an e-mail message touting your book.

      1. It did? Cool! I wasn’t aware the ‘Zon was doing that. Thanks for mentioning it.

        Oh, and I’m glad you think the book sounds intriguing. I’d sworn off doing anything about WWI or the interwar years. I should have known better.

  49. I find theses Huff & Puff “Professional Author Advice!!” post rather amusing. Mainly because they really are not aimed at people who want to make money by writing words.
    Instead, they seem to be aimed at the bored privilege class housewife who wants to add “published author” to her credentials to impress other bored privilege class housewives.
    To them, it really isn’t about the money, it’s about the validation that acceptance from a publishing house & literary awards bring. Hustling to promote sales is just vulgar.

    1. Bad Joe! You used the cisnormative patriarchist racist blah-blah crimeword ‘housewife’.

      Don’t you know that PuffHost pieces are written for an audience of genderqueer Postmodernists who are trying to pay off the student loan for their M.A. in Roadapple Studies by brewing charcoal at Starbucks?

      1. Not worried, wrote the first draft of PHOENIX IN SHADOW when I was a housewife, and the sweet darlings were at school. Shoot, my husband was a housewife during the summers (he’s a teacher) and I was in the military. Laundry will attack you unless you go after it first, you know.

  50. Excellent fisk.

    I admire your work, even though I have to confess that I’m not your target market for the Monster Hunter series. I’ve read a couple and purchased 1-2 more but unread. Apart from the “getting paid money” bit, isn’t another area of satisfaction for a writer to actually be read, to get into people’s minds? I believe it is, but I’m no writer, I’m a reader. Werewolves and vampires don’t do it for me in a book, it’s just not a genre I like. I guess that’s almost a bit of praise because your stories are so good they made me read a few even in a genre I dislike normally.

    Now…. Speaking of publishers setting you deadlines….. When Are you going to issue Son of the Black Sword volume 2? THAT is what I really love to read from you. I think volume 1 was an outstanding fantasy story. 5 stars, a phenomenal triumph of Contemporary fantasy! I do hope they kick your butt hard for you to hurry up finally publishing it! And then take my money Sir!

    As readers, another thing Amazon has done to spoil us is instant gratification with the Kindle ereaders. Imagine my disappointment having finished SON OF THE BLACK SWORD and not being able to kick WiFi, purchase, download part 2 in minutes, but having to WAIT FOR YOU TO WRITE IT!

    Please do hurry up good sir!

  51. Thank you! I am among those authors who did everything I was told: honed my craft for 30 years, earned an MFA from an accredited program with top professors, taught writing, workshopped my stories over and over, edited and revised, wrote many novels in myriad styles until my readers unanimously agreed that I was ready, then wrote and rewrote query after query, only to be jerked around by multiple agents and publishing companies. Finally, a friend who makes a nice quantity of passive income from her “downmarket fiction” sales in the Kindle store persuaded me to self-pub. And behold! People are buying my work for money. I never wanted to self-publish a novel, but I know that my work is better than at least 50% of what traditional publishers throw their weight behind. It’s not for everyone, but I’m not a 5-year-old making mud cakes and trying to persuade my mom to eat them, either. I’m a professional writer, and have made plenty of money writing non-fiction/web content. Fiction is hard to break into, and self-publishing levels the playing field in a stodgy industry that is resistant to change, concerned primarily with profit, and terrified to face the new model technology offers. I have also worked in publishing, at both a prestigious literary journal and one of the top traditional publishers in the country. I know *exactly* what I’m talking about. Agents and publishers aren’t magic gatekeepers. They are just people doing jobs and trying to earn money. As am I. And I have succeeded.

  52. Out of curiosity, how much control do editors usually have over a book ? Do they limit their input to issues of grammar and wording, or perhaps more high-level things like pacing ? Or, can they go even higher, and say, “this book is ok, but you need to add a spunky teenager with a heart of gold”; or, “change the setting from technologically advanced aliens to magic elves and you’re golden” ?

    1. It depends. Is the editor hiring the author, or the author the editor, and what does the contract say?

      Grammar and wording tends to fall under copyediting, a specific flavor of low level edit. The technical aspects of copyediting are almost within my ability. (I’d would basically need a manual of style, and the business skills.)

      Early readers might give feedback on pacing and such.

      Higher level, more valuable editors, work before copyedit. If their skills match the book, they can make it sing. Perhaps by nudging the author.

  53. The craft of writing is a life’s work.

    Nope. It is just a job.

    As usual, I disagree somewhat. Obviously, I know nothing about writing, but I know a little about software engineering.

    In my profession, there’s a very clear skill gap between the people who treat programming as just a 9-to-5 job, and who treat it as a passion that they just happen to be paid for. These are the guys who sit there at night, after hours, trying to squeeze a few more bits/object out of their compression algorithm; or refactoring their code so it’s easier to extend; or reading obscure research papers just because they think octrees are cool.

    By contrast, even the most skilled of the “just a job” 9-to-5 types usually check in code that works exactly as specified on the detailed step-by-step spec that was handed to them by their project manager. They can’t work at all without the spec. Their code will break instantly if something happens that is even remotely off-spec, and it will be very hard (if not impossible) to fix — because their priority was to hand it in on time and go home, not to produce an enduring artifact that they can be proud of.

    Because of this, passionate programmers refine and expand their skills throughout their career, whereas 9-to-5 salarymen tend to hit a ceiling early on and stay there. On the flip side, one could easily argue that doing so leads to a happier life… I wouldn’t know. Also, things might be different in a writing career (as opposed to programming); again, I wouldn’t know.

    In addition, while it is obviously possible to become a brilliant self-taught programmer, in my experience such cases are rare. Most programmers (myself included) would never get anywhere without some sort of an education, and the merciless criticism of more experienced professionals. It’s not enough to know that your code is bad; you must also know why it’s bad, and how to make it better.

    That said, I do not mean to imply that good programmers should all be holier-than-though prima donnas, like this Huffington Post author. You can never learn anything new, or indeed teach anyone else, if your head is so far up your own ass that it takes an assembly-level debugger to find it.

    1. The problem with you comparison is that the soulless, “9 to 5” type author doesn’t really exist in the fiction writing field. Not in the same way that it would in programming.

      It is possible for an author to lose their passion, and bang out stories in a universe they no longer have interest in, but that’s a different animal all together from the guy who got into programming because he thought it would pay well. Most authors who lose their passion just stop writing all together, or stop selling all together.

      For an author to get to the place where they are getting paid, there has to be both passion and a fair bit of skill.

      As seen in the article, music is a better comparison. But even then, the article would come across as the Juliard trained 3rd violinist from the Podunk Community Band kvetching about unschooled amateurs like Clapton or Hendrix, Nirvana or the Who. None of those bands have any real proper training in musicianship or the rules of songwriting!!

    2. Code is not fiction, and machines are not readers.

      Code is testable against machines. One can prove whether it functions to spec.

      Any given fiction will work for some readers and not for others.
      Creation and function are poorly understood compared to coding.
      (
      Editors are tricky because fiction usually targets a smaller group of readers, and each subset is a different skillset for the editor and writer.)

      Entry writing is poorly paid, so there is a surplus of passion. Like coders, writers need practice to experiment, and discover what works. Nine to five writing gets one the practice.

    3. You could have just stopped at “As usual, I disagree somewhat. Obviously, I know nothing about writing,” and saved us a lot of time.

      Do you know any of these 9-5 authors? No? That’s because there isn’t such a thing. If there is, they are rarer than Bigfoot. Even the biggest schlocky hack still gets into the career because of a love and passion for storytelling. Because if you want to phone it in and watch the clock, there are a thousand other careers where that is easier to do. So sorry, your analogy is crap and I am right. 🙂

      1. I sure hope that my analogy is crap and you are right 🙂 However, I’ve read many articles by people who say, basically, “Becoming a brilliant programmer is easy ! Just follow these 8 easy steps and you’ll be on your way to fame and fortune, just like me !” Usually, these are followed up with something like, “buy my book to find out how, only $49.95 !” These books are, thankfully, have become somewhat rare now; but I think they’ve done their share of damage to the software industry. I’d hate to see the same kind of damage done to the writing industry.

        That said, I have absolutely met those 9-5 authors. So have you. They mostly write for Huffington Post and Buzzfeed nowadays, although some of them diversify into romance novels sometimes.

        1. Well since I’m talking about novelists, nobody gives a shit about HuffPo and Buzzfeed. Your analogy continues to fail.

      2. Probably the people who write James Patterson’s novels for him are 9-5 authors. Of course, they are probably writing their own stuff on the side…..

  54. Well, the ‘pie’ is not infinite, either; there are only so many readers and all of them have to pay bills before they can buy books. But I’ve seen just as much crap from “name” publishers as I have from self-pub. Lots.

    You can’t eliminate snobs. But you can laugh at them.

    Back in the good ol’ days, a snobby SF writer sneered at Theodore Sturgeon because he was “lowering” himself to write for a (oh, noes!) mere TV show. “Ted, 90% of what’s on TV is crap!” said the expert.

    “90% of everything is crap,” Sturgeon replied. “I’m writing the other 10%.”

    The TV show was Star Trek. The episodes he wrote were Amok Time and Shore Leave. …

    1. My understanding was that Sturgeon was loath to say bad words, and said “Crud”, not “Crap”. This is also the first time I’ve heard “I’m writing the other 10%”. more authoritative sources put the quote as: “Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That’s because 90% of everything is crud.”

      1. Wikipedia cites Sturgeon’s original paragraph in Venture Science Fiction‘s March 1958 issue as follows:

        I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.

        I don’t know what he said in the 1951 or 1953 talks — whether he used the term “crud” or “crap” in those talks. But in Venture, he used both terms.

  55. i would say out side of maybe a half dozen big name authors such as larry 95% of what i read now days is from indie authors going the self pub route i have found some absolutly amazing works such as the Kurtherian Gambit Series by Michael Anderle, and i have found some real stinkers which i wont mention here because they were so bad i cant even remember there titles.

  56. Excellent fisk.

    I admire your work, even though I have to confess that I’m not your target market for the Monster Hunter series. I’ve read a couple and purchased 1-2 more but unread. Apart from the “getting paid money” bit, isn’t another area of satisfaction for a writer to actually be read, to get into people’s minds? I believe it is, but I’m no writer, I’m a reader. Werewolves and vampires don’t do it for me in a book, it’s just not a genre I like. I guess that’s almost a bit of praise because your stories are so good they made me read a few even in a genre I dislike normally.

    Now…. Speaking of publishers setting you deadlines….. When Are you going to issue Son of the Black Sword volume 2? THAT is what I really love to read from you. I think volume 1 was an outstanding fantasy story. 5 stars, a phenomenal triumph of Contemporary fantasy! I do hope they kick your butt hard for you to hurry up finally publishing it! And then take my money Sir!

    As readers, another thing Amazon has done to spoil us is instant gratification with the Kindle ereaders. Imagine my disappointment having finished SON OF THE BLACK SWORD and not being able to kick WiFi, purchase, download part 2 in minutes, but having to WAIT FOR YOU TO WRITE IT!.

    Please do hurry up good sir!
    .

    1. +1 for SotBS2. Personally, I do like were-vampires, but I couldn’t really get into the MHI series because of the lack of character and setting depth. SotBS has that in spades, so don’t be shy about throwing were-vampires into it 🙂

        1. I meant something like “shallow characterization”, not “lack of moral character, oh my, will no one think of the children” 🙂 To clarify further, I’m not saying that “shallow characterization” is somehow immoral or uncouth; it’s just not to my taste. And, seeing as I don’t work for Huffington Post, I’m not going to dictate my taste to anyone; to each his own.

          1. I don’t think you’re talking “shallow;” I think you’re seeing “on the fly” characterization. A genre like literary fiction or romance tends to spend a bit of time wallowing in characterization talk, whereas other genres tend to show and not tell. Black Sword has to talk a lot about backstory, motivation, etc. because it’s an alien world, whereas a contemporary fantasy assumes that we all understand life in the US and goes from there.

            And yes, I find it really hilarious that a lot of the proponents of “show, don’t tell” are very into explicit characterization statements, instead of showing a person’s character emerge from his actions.

          2. Well, my problem with MHI (or, at least, the first 3.5 books that I’ve read) is that most characters’ actions just amount to kicking ass. It’s really fun to read for a while, but then it just gets repetitive.

            But I think you’re doing SotBS a disservice; I disagree with your implication that LC spends a lot of time on “explicit characterization statements”. True, he does describe Ashok’s life since childhood to the present day, but he doesn’t filibuster the reader. Instead, he does precisely what you say he should: reveal the protagonist’s character through actions. Some of these actions end up shaping him, and thus the reader can personally trace Ashok’s current choices to events back in his childhood. I like this style of writing, personally.

  57. “Only you just described exactly how most real working bands got their start.”

    exactly. By their logic, NO punk bands have any right to call themselves musicians. Hell the Germs were by their own admission absolutely awful musicians when they started. Their act consisted of starting fights with audience members, putting peanut butter on the microphone and wrecking stuff. But they got better.

    They’re just mad that they got into the field just to say they are writers and now that anyone can do it, they don’t feel special anymore.

  58. I just counted and I have 21 Christopher Nuttall books on my Kindle. He seems to do okay with self publishing.

  59. Beautifully written. You have a new follower to your blog.
    Bloviate is the perfect verb.

    I was particularly annoyed Laurie chose such a subject as music for her hair-brained analogy, considering the only subject she’s more ignorant on than self publishing seems to be the music industry.
    Honestly, Laurie, it’s 2017. wtf is Carnegie Hall?

    As you mentioned, Yes. A musician does meet with fellow no-ones and they write songs, exactly as Laurie dreads. Then they play those songs in front of humans targets. Then, if it catches on, they book shows. Then, when people come up after the show and ask “Yo, do you guys have an album or something?” they make the choice to invest in studio time. Herein lies a reflection of our self-pubbed author’s plight:
    “Quality recording studios [editors] are extremely expensive. I can’t afford one yet because I’ve sold nothing, but if I don’t make this investment I’ll probably turn out garbage…”
    Let’s assume said band decides to then save their earnings or sacrifice personal time/money/effort and invest in that quality studio time. Then they have a source of income (however meager) and promotional material so that they eventually wind up opening for such acts as Puddle of Mud, Fuel, Breaking Benjamin, etc. thereby living out their childhood dreams.

    I imagine that even then, according to Laurie’s metrics, these are NOT musicians, they’re disgraceful hacks, and what they produce is an insult to the played song.
    Luckily for all musicians, authors, and everyone in between, no one in their right mind gives a shit about Laurie’s opinion.

    Thanks for your response to Laurie, and HuffPOS at large. Unfortunately, I imagine the damage is already done. This click-bait drivel earned HuffShit their clicks, whether or not Laurie suffered any consequence for bloviating on such a dated, clueless point of view.

  60. I wonder what Ms. Gough thinks of the myriads of fanfiction writers–especially the ones who got popular enough to strike out into the realm of self-publishing with the benefit of an existing fanbase.

  61. I can’t love this article enough. Thank you so much for putting her in her place. Her “essay,” even though it doesn’t deserve to be called that, had me pulling out my hair.

  62. I just stared at her post then started laughing. I don’t think that is what she intended.

    I’m a total unknown. I submitted my book in my niche to Amazon on December 15th. I hit the top 20 that night. [Bless you presales] All due to a wonderful author friend and her wonderful readers and the buzz they created before, during and after release. Why after? I’m selling.

    I’m totally amazed. It’s going to be a nice little check. And my mentor is nagging me to get moving on the next book. So are the readers. I’m falling in ranking but I expected that. I’m still an unknown. I promote, it picks up. And KU reads are actually converting to buys. Really nice. And I’m stunned. Mentor keeps saying aren’t you excited? Not yet, I still can’t believe it. You will all hear the screaming when it does finally hit.

    That’s why I started to laugh when I read her post. With all her hard work, and her attitude, she’s got the ranking she’s got. I took a different track. Much like Mr Correia’s philosophy and I got what I got. Yep. Artsy-Fartsy wins every time… not.

    I like eating. It’s nice to have food on the table, a roof over your head, and maybe electricity and heat… heat is good too. I like entertaining my readers with a good story. I don’t have time to be “artistic”. I just have to be good and keep my readers entertained giving them good value for their dollar. I owe them that.

  63. “I’m sorry, Mr Kipling, but you just don’t understand how to use the English language.” Publisher’s rejection letter 1889 to Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.
    (not much has changed in the trad publishing world)

    1. “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein”.
      -Decca record exec to the manager for some guys from Liverpool, often regarded as the stupidest commercial decision ever.

      1. ‘ There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.’ —Ken Olsen, CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation — often regarded as an even stupider commercial decision.

        (Yes, I know, he was talking about minicomputers, and centralized home control systems, and yadda, yadda, yadda. But the fact that he thought of ‘computer’ only in terms of what his company was already making, and entirely overlooked the PC market until IBM had already swallowed most of it – that was stupid. But hey, DEC was just listening to its customers, and they didn’t see any use in these silly toys that sat on your desk.)

        1. And Olsen was right: people don’t want computers, they want video games and cat videos. If you could get them by sacrificing chickens, sewage treatment plants would break down under the load of chicken blood.

  64. I’m guessing that this sort of attitude dates back to the days when self-publishing was commonly referred to as vanity publishing. -ah well-

    Funnily enough though I find ‘Kiss the Sunset Pig’ a rather intriguing title. Of course it would also make a great oath in a Sword & Sorcery story, “Call me a fisheater would you! Well you can go and kiss the sunset pig!”

    1. Ooh! Now I want to come up with a story that could use that. Actually, hmm, you know . . . Indo-European boar god, collision of herders with fisher-gatherer people . . . ‘Scuze me.

  65. Laurie Gough’s piece has now probably been read and commented on more times than all of her other works combined. Congratulations, Ms. Gough; you’ve now hit the high watermark of your writing career.

    Me? I’m prepping a novella of my own and my dad’s first SF novel for self-publication. Both will probably still sell better than anything she has published to date.

  66. I wrote a note and then had trouble posting…so please forgive me if this shows up twice.

    I read this to John and two of your sons in the car driving to a wedding in Georgia. They were hardly able to breath from laughter.

    The wedding was a young couple who are fans both of us and of you. When we arrived, we learned that the previous night, the bachelor’s party had consisted of a Monster Hunter International roleplaying game

  67. If the guy is a brain surgeon, chances are he can figure out the book writing thing and crank out a great one in not too long. That’s who brain surgeons tend to be, people who can do impossible things all day long.

    Some people are just more capable than others. Margaret Atwood has never struck me as brain surgeon material. The author of the article clearly not going to be holding the scalpel either.

    1. What I hope the brain surgeon said to Margaret Atwood:

      ‘Look, I get that writing, like almost everything, takes a lot of time and practice to get right. And I can understand how you might have been insulted by my implication that your field is trivial compared to mine. But, unfortunately, the truth is, your field *is* trivial compared to mine. I mean, seriously, I’M A FUCKING BRAIN SURGEON! If I try writing a book and mess up, the worst that happens is I humiliate myself. If you try brain surgery, PEOPLE WILL DIE. I’m amazed that you don’t get that.’

  68. I a guy who was the same way about music, seeing it as “art”. The funny thing was he both complained about his lack of commercial success (requiring him to work as a bartender mostly) and insulting anyone who gains commercial success in a manner he finds beneath him as a “sell out”. So playing music in a basement bar for tens of people is pure art, but having that same song used as the sound track to a video game or TV show is selling out.

    Like Ms Gough (rhymes with rough I guess?), he took himself WAY too seriously (and got very upset when it was pointed out to him that his songs were basically Bob Dylan songs without the writing, musical or singing talent. And if you can’t sing better than Dylan you ought to find a new way to make a living). But he was an arteest you understand, he suffered for his art, and it just wasn’t FAIR that people could go on American Idol and become rich and famous, but he’d NEVER do something so crude. So he’ll just keep playing basement bars.

    1. A fairly common attitude in certain circles is that commercially successful fiction, music, or art is “appealing to the least common denominator” and therefore inferior or, as one wag put it “shit floats.”

      Of course, if it were that simple anyone could do it. the fact that they can’t is pretty telling.

      If one wants to eschew whatever it is in their creative endeavors that makes them appeal to large numbers of people they are free to do that. But if they then turn around and complain that nobody buys their stuff, well, they are only deserving of mockery at that point.

      1. “A fairly common attitude in certain circles is that commercially successful fiction, music, or art is ‘appealing to the least common denominator'”

        They’re actually right, but they don’t seem to get that the important part of the phrase “least common denominator” isn’t *least*, it’s *common*. In other words, when you strip away the smugness, what is left is the observation that works with broad appeal tend to sell well.

  69. Larry, I went into a B&N over in San Antonio today. Your section was absolutely PILLAGED, just one copy of Nemesis in a about a foot and and a half of butt nekkid shelf.

    1. Back in the old days (1980s) that was bad.

      Publishers used to track sales in two-week periods. If the store’s entire allotment sold out immediately, then there were no sales for the period, and the book had no “velocity” and would not be reordered, since “no velocity” was reckoned as equivalent to “no sales.”

      Stupid? Well, there are good reasons tradpub is in trouble…

  70. Hi Larry,
    First time poster, long time supporter. Ages ago I was an active member at THR (Five of Clubs there too) and read a thread in which you were promoting MHI. I ordered one of the self published copies, loved it, and shared it with several of my friends. We have all been buying your stuff since then. Since I’ve helped generate enough income for you to at least buy a well-worn Makarov, I thought you might answer a question for me.

    As I read this blog entry it reminded me of something you said a long time ago. IIRC, MHI wasn’t the first novel you wrote. When promoting MHI, I believed you commented that you had written something prior to MHI and decided it wasn’t that great (but that novel provided the idea of Agent Franks). Would it possible for you to outline what that initial novel was about? Hopefully, I’m not asking you to reveal a lot of what has been incorporated into MHI.

    Thanks and keep writing
    5

    1. It was actually a thriller called Minute of Angle. It wasn’t the inspiration for Franks, but rather a bunch of the stuff that later wound up in Dead Six. Basically, a really rich dude is wronged by some terrorist scumbags, and rather than wait for the government response, he hires some bad dudes to go into the revenge business. It had some good bits, but overall was pretty rough.

  71. I’m reminded of a discussion (argument) had with my High School Literature teacher in the late ’60s. The class was in the midst of reading “Saint William of Avon’s” “Macbeth.” Part of the discussion was: What was Shakespeare’s motivation for writing the play, and what deep human emotion was he exploring?

    My comment was to the effect that he wanted to make money. Also trying to assign deep motives to a man dead nearly 500 yrs. and unable to debate the point was bit condescending. You would’ve thought that I had committed a grievous sin like mooning the class. In her view, all authors, and especially St. William, were above mere pecuniary motives and wrote for the love of the craft. Also, all authors were driven by a sacred calling to educate the uncultured and ill-informed.

    1. “Also, all authors were driven by a sacred calling to educate the uncultured and ill-informed.”

      Hmm. In that case, the uncultured of the Elizabethean era must have been severely ill-informed about fart jokes and penis puns, given the great effort that St. William and the other writers of his day put into rectifying this situation.

  72. OMG Snorting all the way and I was actually one who “commented” on the original HUFF PO article. Beyond ridiculous. Thanks for the laugh!

  73. As a long-time self-pub author, I heard a lot about this article from my writer friends, so when I found you fisked it, this was a must read. 😀 I happen to know a person that knows this chick and she’s embarrassed they’re from the same time, heh.

  74. “The problem with self-publishing is that there are so many competitors that the challenge is to differentiate yourself from the herd. Sure, lots of them are crap (I can say the same thing for tradpub too), but if you find a way to market yourself and get your quality product in front of the right market, then you can make quite a bit of money. ”

    What, all that & no reference to Sturgeon’s Law? For shame!..
    😉

  75. Older article, but I’ll post anyway– you mentioned something along the line of knowing multiple ways that authors have been screwed over by publishers. You might consider doing a blog article about that, I don’t write but I’d still be interested in reading it, and the people here that do write might find it helpful.

    And hopefully suggesting this doesn’t make in undoable because of sleazy lawyers, or whatever the deal is with making suggestions to media creators

    1. The reason I haven’t written that is because they aren’t my stories to tell, and when you out bad behavior some of those editors are vindictive and they will take it out on their authors.

      1. That is a pity. I would also like to hear about it, though, caution is always good. I know in the field I work in there is a subsection that is known for having some real vindictive pricks. If ya out their behavior they threaten your future cause ya made them uncomfortable. Naturally, naming names is a bad idea.

        Is it possible to give a vague description of the average bad behavior compared to other fields? Like this field rarely gets past a 3 out of 10 on bad behavior so it is alright, but this field… dear God it gets to a 9 out of 10.

        1. Vague? Hmmm… That’s tough without some editor going Hey That’s Me! HOW DARE YOU?

          Just after the recent election I know of three different cases where the liberal editor took out their frustration and anger on their conservative authors. Because by golly, Trump was their fault. I know of editors specifically turning down work they would have otherwise bought because the author was one of “those people”. I know of threats of black balling against authors who let it slip in public that they were anything other than liberal. I know of authors who got dropped because an editor got a stick up their ass about the author writing about conservative values as anything other than bad.

          Then there is just the sneering condescension in the professional environment, which is always fun.

          1. Huh, reminds me of work in a few ways, except multiple people were crying when trump won (I had to excuse myself once so that I could laugh in private. I didn’t like/vote for Trump, but what can I say).

            Now those examples concerns me. While I am only writing for fun right now, I would like to get a book published one day (still weighing the pros and cons of trad- and indie- pubs). The issue without too much detail is I have been toying with the idea for one character being the soul of an aborted child. I honestly feel that that fits his character and explains how he views the world. The fact that I am a conservative will probably affect how that is presented. So, what are the odds that would get traditionally published?

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