First off, a grateful tip of the hat to Louise for inviting me to post a guest blog here. As a newly-minted Indie author, I appreciate every opportunity to market myself and build an audience. Second: my personality lends itself very well to standing on a soapbox and pushing my views and opinions on that audience. Just ask my friends and family. I’m not shy; everyone is entitled to my opinion.
I headed over to these parts to introduce myself, my works, let you to get to know me, promote my stuff, you know? But then I changed my mind.
I decided to do you all a favor and spank you.
If you’re a struggling writer, a pre-published author, or a recent self-published / Indie author, what I’m about to tell you should strike a chord. A deep one. It should leave a deep red handprint on your buttocks, Lieutenant Dan.
Tell me you haven’t said this to yourself: “I really don’t feel like writing today; what’s the point anyway? I’ll hammer away at something for days / weeks / months / years / decades on my lunch hour / train ride / midnight oil-burning session, polish the crap out of it, throw an agonized-over query letter over it, and submit it to an agent / editor / publishing house / magazine, and six months later I’ll get a polite letter thanking me for my submission, the story had promise, but it wasn’t a good fit for (whatever), blah-blah effing blah.”
Your self-imposed word-count for the day just went from one-thousand down to five-hundred, or five-hundred to two-hundred, or to . . . zero; you cracked open a beer, plopped on the couch, and dialed up last night’s episode of Jersey Shore.
I know you do this. I did it for years. For decades. I didn’t work as hard as I could at my craft, and got absolutely nowhere. What was the point? Deep inside, I thought it was hopeless. I thought I had no control over a writing career, that I was playing a literary lottery. (Oooh. I like that!)
I’m here to tell you, peeps, that those days are over. It’s a Brave New World. Nuclear winter is over—open the door and take a look. See the sun? I’m not yanking your chain. There are absolutely no excuses for the above excuses. None. There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Jeff. Jeff Bezos. (I’ll give you a minute to Google him.)
In Ancient Times, the Gatekeepers guarded the, well, Gates. The Big Six publishing houses, (hereafter BS) , stood between you and your customers—the readers. BS decided what was good. They decided who would get the shelf space in bookstores. BS paid authors a tiny royalty and don’t-spend-it-all-in-one-place advances. They kept rights to works even when the print runs were over. BS kept over 50% of the price the reader forked over for your sweat, blood and tears–if you were lucky enough to win the lottery, and your chances are about the same—and be published, you got to keep maybe 15% after you paid your agent and traveled the universe signing and promoting your book on your dime
What they really did, dear colleagues, was decide what they could sell. Not what was good, not what had literary merit or what they thought readers wanted or would enjoy reading, but what BS could sell. What could make BS money. They had absolutely no interest in you, or helping you grow as a writer. You were meat to them. If you weren’t marbled just right, well . . . the metaphor breaks down here, but you get the idea.
And somewhere deep in your brainstem, you knew this. (This is why, by the way, Jersey Shore has such high ratings.)
Amazon, and the explosion of self-publishing options like Kindle Direct (KDP) and Createspace and Smashwords has changed all that. You can publish yourself. With one terrifying click of the mouse, the barriers between you and your potential readers, between anonymity and notice, vanish. Poof.
Repeat after me: There are no more gatekeepers. Readers are free to judge your work on its own merits. If you work hard at learning your craft, if tell a good story, if you edit the hell out of your stuff and edit it some more, if you learn eBook formatting and cover design (or pay someone to do it for you), write a good blurb, and upload the effer to cyberspace and market yourself, people will read your stuff.
If they like it, they’ll buy it. If readers like your product, you’ll not only be a published author, you’ll be an author with sales. (If you care about those sorts of things, that is. I do. That’s partly why I’m here. The other reason is the spanking.) You can write more works and publish them and build an audience and make some money.
So use that train ride, that lunch hour, that rainy Saturday, that restless night. Buy a case of Red Bull and a book on editing (better yet, spring for a good editor; it’s an investment) and a book on eBook publishing and learn Photoshop or marry a girl who owns Photoshop and bang out some great covers (which you by the way, have complete control over), and publish your work. Be a writer. Be an author. No one is holding you back any longer.
No BS stands between you and your potential readers. Stop reading books on writing and blogs on writing (except for this one, and mine, and maybe Joe Konrath; he’s good and I want to be like him), and write, damn it.
Luke Skywalker: Whine, whine.
Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Oh, I almost forgot, my novella, “A Fairy for Bin Laden,” about a foot-high pixie named Tinkerbelle who helps the CIA and Army track down Osama Bin Laden, is available on Amazon.com. (http://amzn.com/B0088IBE3I) Please buy it. And my other novella, “O’Reilly’s Sacrifice,” if you like baseball fantasy stories like Field of Dreams. And my epic fantasy novel coming out in December.
I missed a dozen episodes of Jersey Shore writing this, and feel the Universe owes me some compensation.
*If you want to discuss this guest post on Twitter the hashtag is #wwbb
“Osama Bin Laden is dead, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the story: the long search, the discovery of his hideout in Pakistan, the helicopter assault on the compound, the headshot, the quick burial at sea.