If you’re doing it yourself, going alone, self publishing, being an independent – whatever you prefer to call it – there’s something you need to be doubly aware of. Something a whole lot of writers are ignoring these days, including the ‘traditionals’, and that’s Respect.
For yourself, your fellow writers, but most of all – your readers. Those people you’re writing FOR, the ones you’re hoping will shell out a few bucks to be entertained by your stories, the folks you’d like to follow you throughout your career, regardless of what shape it takes.
Respect for your readers is so much more vital when you’re one of us – because that’s the ruler everyone else is holding up, or in many cases not even bothering to, in order to judge you by. This is the ruler they use when they declare that 99.9% of all self published fiction is crap. Again, anyone making that claim deserves kudos – imagine having the time and wherewithal to read 100% of everything ever self published! And keeping up with it, in this growing POD world. Bravo, I say.
But those who haven’t read 100%, and just like to whisper that number among their equally puffed-up peers who nod in agreement – they’re using that same ruler. Making every assumption they can without actually having to READ what you wrote. How do you fight that, you ask? By respecting your readers enough to first write a fantastic novel, then editing it. Preferably having someone ELSE edit it. Let your writing group have at it with their red pens, let your Beta reader or that guy in the next cubicle who reads the dictionary in his spare time. Make sure you’re telling an entertaining story, with a beginning, middle and end. Then make damn sure you didn’t change someone’s name halfway through, accidentally write time in reverse, completely forget to resolve the plot, or let spell check be your final say.
Respect the reader. Give them a compelling story, rich characters and satisfactory conclusion. Don’t loose them at page one. (I’m gonna trust you to get that pun!)
Respect for yourself follows the same lines. It used to rankle me, how those of us who take this route are so seriously disrespected by the rest of them. We can’t get regular channels to review our work – many of us are too ashamed to call ourselves writers in public – and often we feel the need to either apologize or explain why we’re not sitting on the shelf at B&N with ACE or Tor typed on our spines. (well, our books, anyway. Any tattoos you may have are your own business)
It doesn’t rankle me so much any more. Sure, it’s irritating, I admit. But you can’t control how other people think, you can only control yourself. And consequently, the only person’s opinion that matters is your own, and following your own, the opinion of your readers.
Respect yourself – and your decision to go it alone. Respect your readers enough to make sure you’re putting out quality deserving of your name and their time/money. And respect your fellow writers.
If you hang out at writing forums, or places where the ‘traditionally’ published mix with the hopefuls, the learners and the unwashed masses, you’ll quickly learn any and all talk of Indie or POD is met with harsh criticism and open mockery. It’s a hostile world out there, but the most hostility you’ll find comes from other writers who feel you’re deluding yourself, you’ve failed — or failed to try hard enough — and either took the easy way out or really have no clue what you’re doing. Spend some time in a large group and watch for the subject to pop up. Read the responses. When you happen upon one you believe is at least slightly positive or accepting, take a better look at the sentence structure of their reply.
Did they start out suggesting that they don’t recommend you take that road, then ease into a few considerations if you do intend to go that way regardless of their advice, assure you that in very very few instances there could perhaps maybe be a niche market for you, offer up a smidgen of politeness, then make a point of seeing to it you and anyone else reading their post understands this is something that they would never, ever consider for themselves?
If a compliment contains a caveat, it’s an insult. Pure and simple, from the eight dimension! (ten points if you got that reference)
The only real response to disrespect is to take the high road. Respect yourself, respect your readers, everything else will either fall in place, or fall away. And get out of those forums, they’re rotting your brain! Or is it just me?
Anyway . . .
I’m tired of hearing writers complain about the quality of work being purchased by publishing houses, or the hoards of readers lining up to purchase what they feel is inferior, sub-par writing. I’m tired of writers moaning about the next Dan Brown selling millions, or the plethora of vampire romance hitting the shelves. If you’re a traditionally published writer – or completely determined to be one – you should know that what you’re in is a business. Businesses exist to make money, and will cater to whatever the customer is buying. You may argue that the customer is only buying what’s shoved in their faces but that’s not entirely true. They’re buying whatever strikes their fancy, whatever is being heavily advertised, talked about, displayed on big posters in the store windows – but if they didn’t like it, they’d stop. If they hated those books, they’d all be returned, not devoured in one weekend and passed along to friends or turned into major motion pictures. You’ll have to respect that if you hope to make it in the world.
Me – I just have to respect myself, and my readers.
Power to the People!
Make Love, not War!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me . . .