Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's those uppity Indie authors again...

It seems the internet lately is a flurry of sage advice for Indie writers. I can't fire up my browser without tripping over posts by agents, bloggers, and hundreds of other people I've never met telling me exactly how I should behave. This phenomenon has grown so pervasive that instead of reading and commenting, I've mostly had to ignore them completely rather than speaking my mind and exposing myself as another "snarky, arrogant Indie with a chip on his shoulder." 

Honestly, I've never seen so many self-entitled critics with delusions of grandeur. They're crawling out of the woodwork. I'm having flashbacks to the blogs and websites I used to read that constantly chastised me about proper etiquette in dealing with agents and publishers. "Never say this, Never do that. Never submit to a publisher, Never speak to an agent in public, blah blah blah..." I'm taken back to the days when agents would insist that writers not only READ their blogs but remember to PRAISE them when submitting a novel for consideration. After all, how else could the agent know that we lowly authors had done our homework? Not by writing a great novel mind you, but by studying and researching the AGENT. Because it's the perfection of ass-kissing skills that makes a truly great writer.

"But what's wrong with all of this advice?" you say. "Isn't it good to know how one should behave in polite society?"

Sure. Maybe. In fact, I'm open to the idea that many or even most of these people honestly mean all of this from the goodness of their hearts. (Thought it's worth mentioning that before you ever take advice from a stranger you should investigate that person and his/her motives). Anyway, I think most of us know enough about acceptable behavior that we already know if we're being rude, snarky, or unethical. Just because one Indie gets on the Amazon forum and makes a jerk out of  himself and ends up banned, that act does not reflect on me in any way, nor does it reflect on the thousands of other Indie writers out there. And those who are saying that the action of one or two writers has turned them off to the whole movement are either being hypocrites or they've already quit reading traditionally published authors as well because I'm sure we can all name a few traditionally published authors who didn't behave that well in their public lives, either.

I've yet to find the letter from Hemingway's publisher or his agent telling him to stop drinking all the time, stop being a loudmouth, and wise up. That certainly would make an interesting story, though I imagine the career of said "expert" would have ended immediately. As far as I can tell, highly successful artists do not get publicly chastised in this way. Apparently, these lectures are reserved for the rest of us who are too timid and unsuccessful to stand up for ourselves.*

So now it's my turn. This is my advice to Indie writers out there everywhere (not that my opinion should mean that much to you, unless you already know me and have found good reason to respect it): 

Be yourself. Speak your opinions. If you turn out to be a jerk or a con artist everyone will know soon enough. If you want to ruin your career like that it doesn't affect me in any way whatsoever, so go ahead and do it. The sooner you're banned, the better. It'll leave a vacuum for the rest of us. And  for those of you who are not jerks and con artists, it's still better to voice your opinion and be thought of as a jerk than it is to sit back and take abuse from a tiny but vocal minority who just want to keep you in your place. You went Indie for a reason. Remember that and respect it.

*Hemingway is used as an example only and should not be interpreted as this author's opinion.In fact, it has recently been shown that Hemingway suffered not only from alcoholism but a chemical disorder known as hemochromatosis which may have greatly affected his behavior.