It doesn’t matter what you call me

My clown selfie

My clown selfie

Every six months or so someone on the traditional side of the publishing fence feels the need to blast the internet with their opinion on the unsettling trend of self-published authors flooding the marketplace with material that hasn’t been vetted by the increasingly irrelevant gatekeepers of the industry.  The fact that anyone with a computer can publish a book sickens them, and they bark out their dismay until their throats get sore, and they annoy the holy hell out of everybody in the process. We get it.  You’re upset.  Move on.  There is nothing new you can say.  Your point has been made… repeatedly, and uttering another word about it is completely unnecessary.

The latest grumbler is Michael Kozlowski, Editor in Chief of Good E-Reader.  He is so miffed that he is even offended self-published authors are allowed to call themselves authors.  I’m guessing he wants self-published authors to wear a scarlet letter… only not an “A”.  He suggests that self-published works should be segregated from those published by what he calls “professional” authors.   His logic here is that it’s unfair to consumers to subject them to a plethora of inferior works on an e-tailer’s website. They should be given a clear path to the deserving works of traditionally published authors.

Kozlowski’s argument would be valid if not for the fact that by his own definition Snooki is a “professional” author, along with Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, John Travolta, and the list goes on. Bad writing abounds amongst the offerings of traditional publishers and self-publishers.  To suggest that a bad writer deserves to be called an author because he or she has a contract with a traditional publishing house while another one doesn’t because he or she self-published is more than a bit shortsighted.  It’s an elitist-laden load of pap.

Here’s the good news.  Good writing can be found in the indie world just as plentifully as it can be found in the traditional world, maybe even more so.  Self-published authors are more apt to take risks and bring readers something new, while “professional” authors often play it safe and follow formulaic writing not because they want to, but because they’re being paid to.  I ask you which has the potential to bring more value to the literary world.

I’m a writer first and foremost.  I’m devoted to the art of fiction.  Whether or not you call me an author matters not to me.  Call me a hack or Bobo the typing clown for all I care.

Writer out.

Why I need another author to sell a lot of books

Buy Wool because it's good for Oz.

Buy Wool because it’s good for Oz.

I am hoping that Hugh Howey sells millions of copies of his book Wool. In fact, millions may not be enough.  I’d like to see him get into the Harry Potter-sphere of selling books.  I say all this having only read three chapters of the book.  I can happily report that so far he demonstrates a lot of talent, and I’m enjoying the story.  But, that’s not why I want him to succeed.  I want him to succeed because it will be good for me.  It will be good for every indie author out there.

Howey first self-published Wool as a short story on Kindle in 2011.  Very quickly his fan base grew, and people started demanding more.  He complied and turned the short story into a full length post-apocalyptic novel.  In two years, he’s made foreign rights deals, sold the film rights, and signed an unprecedented publishing partnership with Simon & Schuster.

Other indie authors have come close to this type of success, but unlike the others, Howey has chosen to merge the world of the indie author with that of the traditional publishing industry.  He will hold onto his digital rights, both foreign and domestic, and Simon & Schuster will share in the domestic print rights. In other words, he’s changed the way a traditional publisher does business, and they did it to accommodate a self-published author with an established brand.

I may be rooting for this particular book because like my Oz Chronicles it is a post-apocalyptic story, but there is more to it, as well.  Unlike those other authors who have gotten huge deals, Howey’s appeal appears to be centered on his writing talent.  Without naming those other titles that have reached pop culture status, I can comfortably say they were poorly written.  Fans of those books have even told me the writing was abhorrent.  When pressed on why they enjoyed the books, they didn’t really know why.  They just did.  These books seemed to become popular because someone decided they should be popular.  Still, their success was important to me, too.  It’s just that I’m of the mind that eventually someone will notice that the emperor is naked, and time will not be kind to these books.  Howey fans, on the other hand, readily say they enjoy Wool because the writing is exceptional.  In fact, they may get angry if anyone would suggest otherwise.  Good writing is a formula for lasting success, and that is truly the kind of success we indie authors should be supporting.

I’d be lying if I denied being just a wee-bit jealous of Howey’s success.  He went from my ranks to Stephen King’s contemporary in two years (contract-wise).  My lead balloon rise is now eight years in the making.  Not only have I been turned down by dozens of publishers via my agent, I believe I’ve been turned down by Simon & Schuster three times (It all becomes a blur of ego-stomping rejection at some point, so it may have been another publisher of equal status).   It seems every time a new editor spots my manuscript in a trashcan they give us a call.  It’s exciting every time we get a request for information and feedback, and it sucks even more when they pass.  I feel worse for my agent than me.  The poor guy has never made a dime off of me, yet he’s still hanging in there.

But, my sad story is exactly why I need Hugh Howey to succeed in a big, big way.  If he does well enough, the next time Simon & Schuster calls they may do so with a greater willingness to take a chance on the Oz Chronicles.  And if not Simon & Schuster, one of the other publishing houses may rethink their risk assessment and take a chance on Oz.

So, for the most selfish of reasons, I’m asking you to support Hugh Howey.  Buy Wool.  Read it.  Spread the word.  You’re more than welcome to throw in a word or two about the Oz Chronicles as well.  After all, my agent needs to eat.

Guest Blogger: Paige Dearth on her new book, Believe Like a Child

A new novel by Paige Dearth

I’m turning the blog over today to fellow indie author Paige Dearth.  I asked her to write a post on what she hopes people will take away from her new novel, Believe Like a Child.

Believe Like A Child was written as a compelling dramatic thriller to entertain my readers. However, there is a point to this work of fiction that is worth mentioning. The narrative describes the real horrors of child abuse and how one act of abuse can, and often does, continue throughout a person’s life. A young victim becomes vulnerable because of their need to validate themselves as a normal person. It is so easy for the abused to go from one horrible situation into another.

After reading my book, my hope is that readers will better understand that exercising simple kindness, to those in need, can be impactful.  Kindness doesn’t have to cost money rather it’s an emotional investment.

I remember one day, when I was a teenager, I was feeling especially down about myself because I had just received bad news (which seemed to follow me everywhere in my younger years). I was in a department store sitting in a chair at the jewelry counter while my friend was trying on clothes. The man who worked the counter was busy with his “paying” customers; I mean he was all over the place trying to please everyone. Somehow my sadness penetrated him, he stopped what he was doing and he walked over to where I was sitting. He rested his elbows on the counter to make eye contact with me, then he said, “How are you doing today, you alright? You hang in there, things will get better.”

All of my tension started to slip away. I never uttered a word back to this man. He never waited for my response. He knew from the visible change in my body language that he had just helped me. This small, but kind gesture enabled me to push through my gloom and made me feel better about myself, I felt like I mattered.

Alessa, the protagonist of Believe Like A Child craves these moments, the simple acts of kindness. They are integral to the story and how she manages to survive on her own. Like Alessa, we all need and want people to care about us. It takes little effort to reach people in a way that matters. I hope Believe Like A Child leaves my readers with an acute awareness of the power you hold. The next time you are in a store, at work, standing in line at the bank or wherever, and you see someone with that look, and we all know that look, just reach out with a pleasant smile or a nice compliment. It’s in those moments that we can help people instead of pretending that we don’t see them. Remember, that person could easily, so easily be you.

About the Author:  Born and raised in Plymouth Meeting, a small town west of Philadelphia, Paige Dearth was a victim of child rape and spent her early years yearning for a better life. To escape the unwanted attentions of her molester, a pedophile uncle who lived with the family, she married at the age of nineteen and moved with her new husband to Chula Vista, California. After two years of marriage during which she struggled to make ends meet, she became pregnant, only to discover that her husband was a heroin addict. Paige waited for the birth of her daughter and when the baby was just eight months old, moved back to Pennsylvania. With no formal education or money to fall back on, she
courageously set out to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and make it whole once more.

 Living through the fear and isolation of her youth, Paige developed the ability to create stories that would help her cope and finally put them to use by embarking on a series of novels. Believe Like A Child, the author’s debut offering, is the darkest version of who she could have become,
had fate not intervened in the nick of time. It presents a fine balance between what lives on in her imagination and the evil that lurks in the real world.