Friday, June 20, 2014

The Hostile Publishing War, Cats and Cookies

So, I’ve written this blog post most likely two-dozen times in the last month or so and each time I find myself lamenting over whether it’s too harsh or the total opposite—too nice.  So I have decided to just post it in its latest revision and if it hurts feelings or pisses people off, so be it. All of you should know me well enough by now to know I don’t pull punches but always do try to throw them with some level of respect and honor. But they are punches nonetheless.
The past few months we have been in some sort of weird war in the literary world. A once (in my mind anyway) giving, caring and supportive indie world has become just the opposite. I have sat by and watched in dismay and disgust as more and more talented authors, no matter the level or reputation, rip each other apart. Who is one author over another to put down, malign or judge another author? It’s sickening to see some do negative, harmful and shattering reviews in order to taint the readership of another author. Are we, as a community, honestly fighting over a $.99 - $9.99 sale? Are we really scared that a reader may buy this book over that book because we, under a guise of reader or a profile created just to harm, posted negativity about a work or an author?

Hate to tell you this kiddies, but readers are starting to put little to no value in reviews. And that is truly the sad part in all this. The ones who are the true victims in this “hostile” environment are the readers.  And even more disheartening?

Our books.
ASSHOLE DISCLAIMER HERE: I don’t care if you write a novella, a short, an erotica or a heartfelt tell-all. I could give one breath of air if you wrote smut, or humor, paranormal or sci-fi. The only thing I have EVER stated (and I dare anyone to present evidence to the contrary) is that WHATEVER it is—make sure it’s well-written (edited and done the best it can be). Don’t toss anything out there that isn’t worthy of a reader to buy or spend the time reading. Be it for free or a million dollars. The READERS and our BOOKS deserve the best we have to offer. There—let’s stop with the mentality of I am against indies. I’m not. Never have been.

I’m just against someone not doing their best. AND NO ONE can judge someone’s best effort other than the person who has attempted it or a reader (guess what? I’m a reader too—SURPRISE!!).  I personally foresee in the very near future Amazon and Goodreads as well as other review text-field retailers changing their system to a STAR system only—Amazon is already heading that way with removing gift-card exchange reviews and non-verified purchase reviews being discussed.  As for those who wish to use the venue in a mean, spiteful manner until it all changes….
Shut up. Seriously. Talking trash makes you the same (sorry, my southern came out—tucks it away).
I am SO tired of seeing good people reduce themselves to being venomous and low. I am also sick of getting told about Authors who scream for attention by saying they were threatened, by crying wolf of viciousness and sobbing when someone was mean to them. Trust me, there’s enough meanness in life without creating it for attention. I am also just as weary of those that pimp out their books so desperately as if they are begging.  

Don’t beg. Boast. Crow. Sing and cheer about your book. But fellow authors—do so in a proud way. I know it’s called pimping—but even hookers have pride on which corner they stand. I admire them for that (they will CUT YOU J). But just like we become jaded to those we see on the street where we don’t even see them, readers become jaded to your pimping when it become spam.
And gratitude and thanks to all the good, honorable and gracious authors out there. You can stop reading here, but hey, why not read all the way?…Totally up to you. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I got your  back. See you at the cookies (Trust me, their coming).

But back to the current state of affairs (what can I say—I tripped over a soap box on the way back to the topic. Those pesky things are sneaky)-
I really wish the mission of the indie world would go back to being a helpful, encouraging, pure one.  I do my best to be respectful and honorable. I purposely, albeit with remorse, avoid my newsfeed. Which means I also miss the good news—new book releases, a new contract, someone getting a fabulous review. It’s a shame, but I see more negative than good and my personal world is just hard enough to deal with in reality than to allow all that negativity in.

I have SO much respect for the authors out there. The ones that are brave enough to present the reading world with something they have created. If you have never published a book or story—indie or traditional—it is the HARDEST thing for a creative person to do. It involves fear, excitement, stress and jubilation. Even if just one person read your work—it’s validation that someone read…
And that? Is so worth it. It really is. And if more than one read it? And liked it? 100x fold in joy. It’s a endorphin, adrenalin fueled thrill like none other.
SIMPLE FACT: A reader is a reader. Say it with me people-
And with that being the basic fact of it, there is more than enough room for them to read all of our works. They may only put it in the ever growing TBR pile (thanks e-readers for making that the norm….insert some sideways sarcasm here) but regardless—something about your book intrigued them. The blurb, the cover, the character. SOMETHING…

So since readers are just that…readers, don’t we all think it’s time to STOP trying to make them read one title over someone else’s through malicious ways?  To put a halt in trying to harm another author via social media and reviews so we can somehow restore some pride and respect in the indie world? So that readers can get some much deserved relief from the petty war that has blown out of proportion by bitterness, jealously and greed? Trust me—they are just as tired, if not more, than we are. They just want to read. Let them decide what. It’s up to us to just offer for them to choose. Simple…
If you are REALLY that desperate to prevent another author from making their sale, no matter what YOU might think of the work, we’ll just start a “Desperate I’ve Lost My Self-Respect Author” fund and dish out some money so that everyone reaps the reward. The sale is made and you have an extra $.99 in your “learn to be nice to others” fund. We’ll use Google forms for sign ups (I just love those things...don’t you?).
SOME WISDOM: Look—I’ve been in the writing world for YEARS…longer than some of you have been alive (shut up, I am not that old) and I can tell you it has always been a tough world. One full of negative reviews.

 Some people just don’t drink THAT cup of tea AT ALL and others just can’t be made happy. It’s why some have cats. Cat’s don’t care, dogs do (Dog person myself…shrugs). Little to no sales beyond grandmom and family as well as just not understanding why your book is not on the very top of the New York Times or USA Today or the Wall Street Journal best sellers list (I’m sorry,  but I find that last one rather amusing…). All of those things are just the nature of the business.
But once again—back to the topic at hand.
Social media has given so many weapons to those who never went through safety with sharp, pointy things class or even watched a cheesy video on how not to do harm. It’s dissipated moral and ethic filters that once used to be hard-wired into our social consciousness. Funny how it took social media to destroy that.  And quite tragic.

I have been most fortunate thus far. I have the greatest fan-base, the most supportive family and friends as well as support at DBP and its contractors that I’ve never been a focus of these attacks (now, now, that IS NOT an invite…read back up if you thought it was. There might be a pop-quiz later).
But in all honesty? I’ve tried my best to be helpful to all. Every day I get a dozen inboxes or more from fellow writers, students and other asking for advice. Do I know why? Not a single damn clue. Have I ignored a single one of them? Nope.  

Maybe it’s because they see I try and don’t rant, vent or spew. I don’t try to get pity nor do I try to beg for someone to please read my book. (It’s like the best ever!! I promise….pppfpppt) Or maybe it’s because I try to give them whatever advice I can. None of it is life-changing, but every bit of it is sincere and honest.  I also usually don’t review. Very rarely do I (face it; I write big, meaty books… I just don’t have the time) but if I do get asked to do a review or get sent a sneak, I am honest with what they took the time out to send me. If it’s bad? I’m honest—but do I toss it out there to try to harm that writer? No. I do so privately and even offer advice. And always, always, always—respect.
THE POINT:  Perhaps that is what’s missing. Too many have forgotten what respect is. It is not gained in the sales you have. It’s not merited in the way you walk the walk or talk the talk. It’s not measured in how important you or even others think you are.
It’s in how you TREAT others. It’s earned by making a positive and productive example for others to see.  It’s how when you go to bed at night or in the early glimmers of dawn after writing or (that evil word) editing—you lay your head down and know you did something good and right today. You made it through a whole day without ripping into someone—whether you thought they deserved it or not. That you made a positive difference in those last span of hours of life you were blessed to have—to yourself or to someone else.

When you think about it? Respect is the key to pretty much any social issue—if bullies respected more they would bully less. If haters respected love—they would hate less. If authors respected other authors—
This blog post wouldn’t even be needed.

Just more cats and tea. And cookies. We could all share them because we can all be friends. I like chocolate-chip myself.  

Take care of yourself and others.