Monday, July 29, 2013

One Indie Author's Response to John Green's Self-publishing Rant

As I near the end of this my journey with Left (Still Standing #1) - release scheduled for 9/1/13 - & Underground (Secrets #2) - release scheduled for 10/1/13 - I have to once again reflect on John Green's recent arrogant and ignorant rant. It's the one where he - not so eloquently and very vulgarly - said, "We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul labouring in isolation. We must strike it down because it threatens the overall quality and breadth of American literature." 

According to the article, he was referring to self-published (or indie) authors. As an indie author, I am the face of the insidious lie that is threatening the overall quality and breadth of American literature, and his impassioned plea to strike me - or my work - down is as offensive as anything anyone has ever said to me or about me. 

Having John Green paint every indie author with the same brushstroke does everyone a real disservice, and hearing him speak on a topic about which he knows nothing makes him look (sorry, but I just I have to say it one more time) ignorant. I've never traditionally published a book; therefore, I would never go out and say self-publishing is the best path for everyone and/or disparage traditionally published authors in any way, form, or fashion. The biggest reason I would do this is because I'm not a total ass, but I would also refrain because I absolutely respect any human being - including 
John Green - who is brave enough to write a book - pouring their heart and soul into the story, its characters, and their honest interactions - and release it for others to read... and periodically criticize. Unless you've experienced a release, you have no idea how very hard it is or how incredibly brave an author (both indie and traditionally published) is.

I would also like to point out that indie authors do not labour in isolation. Contrary to what John Green assumes to know about me and my book publishing process, I work with an entire team of experts in order to get my books published. Without them (and some very vocal fans/friends/beta-readers), my books would not be all that they could be. In fact, I can absolutely assure you that Mr. Green's views are nothing more than propaganda... lies spread in order to protect the only way of life he knows. 

According to his prejudices, if you can't get or you chose not to be traditionally published, you should not self-publish. In my opinion that is comparable to a Harvard professor saying if you can't get an ivy league education, you should not be educated at all... or Wal-Mart/McDonald's saying that small businesses/restaurants should fold up and let big businesses supply every consumer need... or John Green or his publisher demanding that very talented women/men give up their hopes and dreams of writing and releasing a timeless novel because traditionally published authors are the only ones who can achieve this type of greatness. Anyone with good common sense can tell you that none of the blanket statements above are good for our young people who are graduating from high school or the small businesses fueling our economy or our indie authors who are bringing books to the marketplace that would never have been released under the gate-keeping eyes of traditional publishers.

I can use Left as the perfect book release example to prove to Mr. Green that self-publishing requires as much collaboration as traditional publishing. When I write books, I envision the story, invent the characters, create the settings, and embed the emotions. I write books (just like every traditionally published author writes theirs).

I have an amazing editor (editor/copy editor/proofreader) who will spend long hours pouring over every word, punctuation, sentence structure, and plot weakness before providing objective and professional feedback to me. I'll review her recommendations and work with her to make the book and its message as strong as it can be. She edits my books (just like traditional publishing company editors edit books).

I have a phenomenal book designer, Claudia McKinney (Phatpuppy Creations), who as soon as I contacted her, went to work bringing to life my vision for Left's book cover. In order to make the cover intriguing... in order to draw people into this story through a single picture, Claudia enlisted the help of Teresa Yeh who did a photo shoot - after recruiting two models, Shana Leah O'Rourke and Calen Burr - specifically for my cover. This cover designer... this photographer... these models worked together to create Left's book cover (just like the book cover designers/photographers/models working for traditional publishing companies).

I've worked with a few book tour companies (AToMR Tours CBL Tours) who have assisted me in the marketing of my books. I intend to contact them for LeftThey market more than just indie author's books. They market traditionally published books/authors, also. 

When it comes to formatting, I've recently taken on a partner, ebook launchebook launch has taken my files and made sure they met Smashword's Premium Catalog Distribution requirements, making them available to anyone with an ereader/IPAD and putting my book on equal footing with traditionally published books.  

As an indie author, I will upload my books myself. Even then, that does not mean that I'm an individual soul labouring in isolation... as evidenced by all of the help I must have in order to release my books. It simply means that there are things that I still do myself. Honestly, once ebook launch formats my books, the uploading only takes a few keystrokes and a couple of minutes.

After my books are uploaded, they will be sold by distributors, booksellers, and librarians. Again, these are the very same people selling traditionally published books. The biggest difference here is the availability of paperback books. Most traditionally published books will be available within brick-and-mortar stores. That is not the case for my paperback books. They will only be available to buy on-line at Amazon and B&N. For Now.

Where some see this paradigm shift as something to be feared... something to be rallied against... something to be demeaned and demoralized, I see it as something powerful and futuristic because of the way it has already (and in significant ways) changed the way books are bought, the types of books that are being bought, and the authors that are being revered. If I were a traditional publishing house and/or an author represented by them, I, too, would wonder about my place within this world of fast-coming and unavoidable changes. Especially if I were unwilling or unable to make the changes necessary to keep pace.