Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On Rudeness and Indie Publishing

So this post might take me close to involving myself in the big, artificial indie versus traditional publishing dispute, something that I have previously taken great pains to avoid. I have no problems with either route in publishing, and would gladly accept benefits and opportunities from both sides of the debate (my main reasoning for my current course has more to do with economics and time limits than it does with team spirit, let's say), and so I hope you readers will not mind if I approach the topic carefully.

I was browsing the Amazon forums the other day, mostly because I saw a thread asking for good sci fi titles to read for a beginning reader. I was planning on contributing and mentioning some of my favorite authors in sci fi--Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, Jack Campbell, even David Weber if they wanted to risk some of the "harder" sci fi out there. I was also, truth be told, hoping to mention my own novel as a sidenote, since while Wolfhound is doing well, it never hurts to get your work out in front of more people.

To my dismay, the thread was repeatedly marked by people outraged that indie authors were recommmending their own work. Their condescending treatment of those authors was only matched by the smug sense of satisfaction that Amazon had decided to create a self promotion thread for indie authors and limit all self promotion posts to that thread alone. Anything outside the thread will be deleted by Amazon moderators. One commentor took great pains to say that it was "rude" for indie authors to promote their work, and that he was excused for taking them to task for it.

I have to admit that comment irked me, and not only because it betrayed a critical ignorance in how publishing of any stripe--or, well, any kind of business at all--works. Any author has to self promote, be they traditionally published authors doing book signings in stores or an indie author putting ads up on websites. It's a part of the business, and one that you need to be willing to do in order to live off of your work. If you love writing, and if you want people to love your work too, you will need to stand up for it.

In fact that's true of any business, which is something that Amazon well understands. I know they do because after reading the thread I had to delete yet another spam email that they had sent me promoting their products. They send me one every other day or so, and you know what? I don't mind. Because while most of the stuff doesn't appeal to me, sometimes I want their stuff! I like buying from Amazon, and I don't object to sifting through the rest to find what I like. For Amazon to deny indie authors the same opportunity to promote themselves seems to be the type of special hypocrisy that only a large bureacracy can produce, usually to their detriment. Especially in this case.

Aside from the sheer lack of understanding those commments had protrayed, I was disturbed by the attitude that indie authors were somehow being rude. That they had somehow interrupted the delicate waltz of society with their boorish attempts to produce and sell work on their own. It was as if the commentor thought he had somehow been wronged by the intrusion, when he likely tolerates self promotion in many other forms as a matter of course. I doubt he would be so inflamed by commercials on television or the ads before a movie. I doubt that he would even mind the occasional email from an author he likes advertising a book comming out in a few months. After all, those little communications between sellers and buyers are the key to civilization. Without communication, civilization doesn't exist and nobody would argue that listening is just as important as talking in a polite society. Yet somehow indie authors are treated like scum simply by trying to copy the model everyone else uses to survive. I dislike that attitude, and would even if I wasn't an indie author myself.

Of course, life provides a way to test us in our little principles. Not two minutes after I had finished working myself into an incandescent rage over the subject, a company spam posted on my blog. I believe that they would like me to publish my books through them, or at least print some hard copies through their business. My first reaction would normally have been annoyance, followed by a deletion of their post. After all, self promotion doesn't necessarily mean clumsy, spam promotion, and nobody likes spammers.

But then again, who knows? Maybe they are still learning how to do it right. So I'll leave it up and see. Because honestly I'd like to have a little "rudeness" now and then if it means coming across the occasional diamond in the rough. And nobody deserves to be looked down on without being given a chance.

And so ends the eternal rant. We'll be back to normal on Friday, I hope. See you then!

1 comment:

  1. It appears that there were a few indie publishers that ruined it for the rest of you. If all promotion was done in light of contributing to the conversation such as the example you gave where after the list of established sci-fi you mention you also wrote one, then I don't think it would be a problem. But when comments are generic and don't contribute anything other than "buy my book" then it's spam, and becomes annoying.

    It's hard to find the line at times between letting people know about your book (or blog) and being annoying. You have to take it on a case by case basis lots of times. At least in the Kindle boards, you can have your book in your footer message, and then just make comments as usual, and that can get people's notice.