So I was all ready to just settle down and do some writing over this weekend – then I read this interview. Now, normally I enjoy reading author interviews, especially by big name authors , I love reading their insights into their inspirations behind their writing, their success and even advice into helping authors with their works.
But reading this interview with author Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Milhone series (which is a number of novels done in alphabetical order like A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, C Is for Corpse, all the way up to V Is for Vengeance)... well, let’s just say THIS was my reaction to it!
Ok, it will probably be best if you read the interview first to understand where I’m going from. Long story short, she seems to have this idea that self-publishing is a crime against publishing and any who do it are “lazy” and “wannabes”. Check out the link below first, then come back to this blog to understand why I’m so utterly amazed at how much of an epic fail this is.
Read it? Good. Moving on.
Now, if that is the way Mrs Grafton thinks about self-publishing – fair enough. That’s her opinion and she is entitled to it. I actually would not have a problem mentioning this as part of her interview in of itself. But what concerns me is that the question prior to all this was “Do you have any words of wisdom for young writers?” Therefore, she wasn’t actually giving this information as an opinion but rather ADVICE to all authors out there. This troubles me because someone of her statue should know better – considering that even authors like J.K Rowling don’t seem to have a problem with self-publishing. And, as a supporter of self-published and indie authors (and being one myself), I feel that I just can’t let this go.
Now, this post had already been discussed by author Benjamin X Wretlind, which is how I found out about the interview (I’ll leave a link to his blog below), so I have asked him if I could also do my own blog on this, which he kindly agreed to. Whereas his blog was extremely impassioned (and I respect him for speaking his mind), I’m going to take a more subjective view on this post and give my thoughts on this.
Before I start, I want to say that this is NOT a personal attack on Mrs Grafton, nor is it a personal attack against any of her fans or any published authors. I just disagree with many of the points she raised and feel I should express an alternate view. Additionally, I am not claiming to speak for all the self-published authors out there (I would not be so arrogant) and I am aware that many authors can speak their own mind, so the points I raised are purely based on my own opinion and life experiences. Please bare that in mind when reading this blog.
What I have done is taken a few segments of the interview that I think are particularly bad and put my thoughts underneath. Let’s get to it.
Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work
Sorry to pour water on your fire, but what you said here is utterly, completely WRONG! Being self-published means you HAVE to do all the hard work. You have to promote your own work however you can, you can’t just sit back and wait for the monies to start rolling in – because they won’t. In fact, many authors get turned off by self publishing when they realise what hard work is involved. If anything, you need to be prepared to work twice as hard if you decide to self-publish.
By your argument, I could say that YOU are lazy getting your work published through an agent/publisher as they are the ones that do all the work for you and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the royalties. But then again, that would be an ignorant statement wouldn’t it?
Perhaps you should try self-publishing before bitching it. You may actually prefer it. Just saying.
The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception
Surely ANY success story from any author (self-published or otherwise) is good. Why should you say that indie author successes don’t matter? That would be like saying Tom Daley doesn’t deserve our respect because he only got a bronze medal in the London Olympics!
Yes, I will admit it is always a heart warming tale to hear of an author being accepted by a big name publisher and becoming a bestselling author – but surely it’s equally as amazing learning about an indie author becoming a bestselling novelist without the support of a major publisher. And it has happened! M.R Mathias, author of the The Wardstone Trilogy is one of the best selling indie authors out there, for example as is author L.M Preston, who’s book Bandits was the number one best selling free ebook, alongside The Hunger Games, which was the number 1 purchased ebook. Surely that must count for something?
ANY success story deserves to be praised as far as I’m concerned, regardless of where it’s from. Discounting a book's success just because of the way it’s published is just stupid.
The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth
That's actually a legitiment argument - at least to a certain extent. I have read some self-published works that are pretty bad and often put together very roughly or poorly – but at the same time I have also read a large number of self-published works that are beautifully put together, formatted and printed to a professional standard. So, to me, saying that self-published books are amateurish is as ignorant as saying all blondes are dumb (they aren’t by the way).
Also, what you said is YOUR truth, not THE truth – there is a difference.
Don’t forget that not every author is as lucky as you, we can’t all get a publishing deal – that’s why self-publishing is offered as an alternative. And with the release of the ebook, it’s now easier than ever for an author to get published themselves. But just because an author isn’t publishing through a major publisher doesn’t make them any less readable than a publisher author. Again, you’re making judgments without actually doing any research into it.
The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time
Surely self-published authors can do this WHILST they are putting their work out? I’ve learned more about my writing craft through self-publishing (from reviews and tips from other readers/authors) than any English class I ever went to. Writing is always a learning curve and authors are always learning as they go along. I find it very hard to believe that any published author gets it right first time – they still learn all throughout their lives and improve on things to be a better writer. Well, most of them anyway.
And again, why should they have to go through rejection from publishers/agents when they can just do all the work themselves? No, for me the hard work is learning to take criticism for their work and learning from the reviews of their books. I think so anyway.
To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research
Actually, most self-published authors DO research the world of publishing in their selected writing field – and many of them are readers as well. How else are they going to learn how to write and publish a book.
To me, it seems disrespectful...that an ‘author’ assumes that a ‘self-published’ writer doesn’t do their research or reads any books without actually doing some research themselves to make sure her point is justified. Just saying.
Oh, and one more point, many authors prefer to go down the route of self-publishing because they would rather have control of a project themselves. That was one of the reasons why I decided to self-publish. The major advantage of this is that indie authors write the story the way they want to write it and you often find that they go against many conventions to tell a unique story. Some of the most original books I’ve read have been self-published books.
Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts
No it isn’t. It’s an alternative. I’ve covered this before so don’t need to go over it.
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
And I compare you, Mrs Grafton, to a troll! Someone who publishes comments on the internet without properly researching or having any logical thought to their comments and then expecting everyone to go along with them.
In all fairness, Mrs Grafton is entitled to her opinion and if that’s the way she feels then fair enough. However, the fact that she was trying to pass this off as actual advice to aspiring writers did actually make me cringe. Once again, I like to reiterate that I am not doing this post to discourage fans of Mrs Grafton, nor am I trying to give her a bad name. I just felt that her comments were (with all due respect) elitist and ignorant – and someone of her standard should know better. Don’t forget, despite what you may believe, indie authors are readers too – and based on the amount of negative comments on the interview post, I worry that you may have bitten the hand that feeds you. If you anger readers, you can see your sales drop pretty quickly.
Then again, I don’t know Mrs Grafton personally and I’m sure she’s a nice person at heart. Maybe she meant no harm in these comments, but she certainly should have phrased them better. Reading her comments, they just come across bitter and laced with jealousy that so many indie authors are topping the Amazon bestsellers lists (or at least doing very well). I would hope that she would look back at this interview and realise what a big mistake she had made, if she hasn’t done so already.
Perhaps the title of her next book should be W is for What the hell was I thinking?
Be sure to also check out Benjamin X Wretlind’s original post on his blog at http://bxwretlind.com/blog/2012/08/18/f-is-for-f-you-sue-grafton/ and please do follow his blog for some interesting insights on the writing world. Please also leave your comments about this post below to let you know her thoughts.
Thanks for reading guys! Until next time!