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Author Topic: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.  (Read 31920 times)  

Offline Alessandra Kelley

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #150 on: January 28, 2014, 09:24:00 AM »
I think Wendig's focus on readers is an important one.

Being able to self-publish whatever you like is all well and good.  But I think there should be some serious concern for the quality of the writing and production.

Readers are people with memories and opinions, and readers talk to each other.  Wherever readers congregate and swap notes and recommendations there have been horror stories of poorly written and produced books, even from long before self publishing existed.

You can't stop readers from talking to each other.  And readers are your audience.  It's a mutual concern.

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #151 on: January 28, 2014, 09:24:07 AM »
I get what Chuck is saying. Anyone who visits forums, is on groups or Facebook has seen posts to the extent of "I can't afford an editor" "I don't let anyone else read my work" "I've never taken a class or read a book on technique" "Readers are my betas" "I don't think grammar matters" etc.

When I read that sort of thing, the artist in me that has spent over a decade studying craft is momentarily horrified, mainly because I see it as a disrespect to the art of writing. But then the OMG moment passes and I remind myself that so many people are looking for a shortcut to wealth and think the path to self-publishing is paved with gold. They'll find out soon enough that it isn't unless you're writing books that resonate with readers. And that takes a certain level of study and talent.

But to play devil's advocate, rather than saying poorly written/produced/whatever books make all indies look bad, one could argue that those books make well written/produced/whatever indie books look better.

Readers have long memories. Insult them with a poor product, and you've probably lost them forever. Ultimately, lack of professionalism takes care of itself.
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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #152 on: January 28, 2014, 09:27:09 AM »
I was told on another forum, where the members are probably agreeing with Chuck's posts, that if publishers weren't accepting my novels, it meant I wasn't good enough. I was told I should "work on my craft" more and be patient. I was told that self-publishing would destroy any chance I had of being a "real author."

It was poison. It was dead-wrong. It's why I won't be quiet when I see people saying that others should think twice before publishing. If you think your work is good enough, if you believe in it, get it out there. Don't let others beat you down or fill you with dread or hesitation. Search your soul and no one else's.

Those people on that forum were dead wrong about my writing. They gave me awful advice. My life changed because I ignored that advice, and I was only able to do so because I had friends and family reading my work and egging me along. Who are we going to listen to? The cheerleaders in our lives? Or the doubters and cynics?

Choose wisely, people.

I'll just say, me too, and beautifully said. Thank you, wonderful friends who read my first book and told me to go for it. Thank you, wonderful husband who told me to quit my job and write.

I self-published because I got a diagnosis that said I didn't have time to wait, and my priorities were suddenly crystal-clear. I did (have time), as it turned out, but that diagnosis turned out to be another one of those blessings in disguise--just like all the agents and publishers who said "no."

This is my one and only life. I'm going to spend it doing what I love, and doing it to the absolute, screaming, very best of my ability.

P.S. Jana, I've never taken a class or read a book on technique. Sorry. But I'm OK! I promise!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 09:32:24 AM by Rosalind James »

Offline Key

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #153 on: January 28, 2014, 09:27:41 AM »
There are so many good replies here, and I can see that some opinions will always vary.  Thank you everyone for saying what you mean with so much coherence.  :)  It's helpful. 

I just wanted to reply here to one thing from the second post:

Quote
It tells me that you’re comfortable asking readers to pay you so that you can get better.

I am comfortable asking readers to pay to be entertained.  The same way that I pay to be entertained.  (I'm also a reader.)  If they find my stories entertaining, I hope they will pay for them (rather than pirate them).  If they don't, I certainly don't want anyone to spend money for something they don't want to read.  I hope they even use the return function on Amazon if my stories really aren't good enough for them. 

As for getting better?  No, I'm doing that on my own.  I've been doing that for a very long time now with thousands of hours of practice and learning.  I will continue to try to improve.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 11:47:02 AM by Key »

Offline GMSkarka

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #154 on: January 28, 2014, 09:37:17 AM »
Who are we going to listen to? The cheerleaders in our lives? Or the doubters and cynics?

Choose wisely, people.

The wise choice isn't either/or.   The wise choice is to listen to BOTH.   Not all cheerleaders are right, and not all doubters are wrong.   Listen to all of them, and I'd bet that you'll find something worth taking from both sides.   Listen to the cheerleaders when they tell you to take the plunge and publish.   Listen to the doubters when they tell you that maybe your cover needs work, or that you really should hire an editor.   

To quote one of the seminal works of the last half-century, Spider-Man ( :D ) - "With great power comes great responsibility."   The ability to direct reach our audience is, without a doubt, great power.  Use it responsibly.

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Offline jackz4000

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #155 on: January 28, 2014, 09:44:43 AM »
I was told on another forum, where the members are probably agreeing with Chuck's posts, that if publishers weren't accepting my novels, it meant I wasn't good enough. I was told I should "work on my craft" more and be patient. I was told that self-publishing would destroy any chance I had of being a "real author."

It was poison. It was dead-wrong. It's why I won't be quiet when I see people saying that others should think twice before publishing. If you think your work is good enough, if you believe in it, get it out there. Don't let others beat you down or fill you with dread or hesitation. Search your soul and no one else's.


Choose wisely, people.


I'm sure they are over there.   ;D  So much bad advice and opinions. There are so many different types of readers out there and so many nooks and crannies which publishers ignored because they thought they couldn't make enough money in a sub-genre. They had X amount of dollars and Y number of slots in which to place their bets, bets which they didn't always win. So the old wisdom was for one to keep honing their craft until a publisher decided to bet on your book and grace you into the club.

The world has changed, but some are back in the dark ages. Any book that gets people to read is fine with me.  ;)

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #156 on: January 28, 2014, 09:51:19 AM »
P.S. Jana, I've never taken a class or read a book on technique. Sorry. But I'm OK! I promise!

That statement is a bit disingenuous, isn't it? Weren't you a professional copywriter?

My point is, you've had writing education, either through a formal education system or on the job. And my guess is that in your marketing position, you do a lot of writing as well.  :)
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Offline cinisajoy

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #157 on: January 28, 2014, 09:58:41 AM »
Hi all.  Reader checking in.   Or the official gatekeeper or critic or whatever you want to call me today.
Here is the thing, I do not need Chuck or Oprah or anyone else telling me what I need to read.    Well now having said that I do appreciate Oprah and most of the other paid critics.   If they love a book, I know to avoid it.   Same idea with most movies.

Now on the gatekeepers, I have discovered at Amazon, the "writers" that think this is a get rich quick scheme tend to disappear.    Last month I decided I was going to review all the books I am now reading.   I started with my tablet which is mostly shorter stories.   I got them at Amazon.   When I went to review them, the really bad ones were no longer there.   Not the author or the books.
So this tells me that some people are pulling their books because they are making no money.    I am not talking just one or two but about 50 so far or about 1% of the kindle books I own.
What this means I have no idea but I found it interesting.

Now in the last year or so, I have gotten much more picky about the books I get.   Though I am reading more too.
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Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #158 on: January 28, 2014, 10:09:57 AM »
When I went to review them, the really bad ones were no longer there.   Not the author or the books.
So this tells me that some people are pulling their books because they are making no money.    I am not talking just one or two but about 50 so far or about 1% of the kindle books I own.
What this means I have no idea but I found it interesting.
That is very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
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Offline Terrence OBrien

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #159 on: January 28, 2014, 10:15:30 AM »
The independent market share keeps increasing. That is because people are buying more independent books. They have been buying more independent books at the same time the conditions and attitudes identified by Wendig and others have persisted.

Consumers are deciding for themselves, and the number who like independent books is sufficient to capture more and more of the market. Consumers have figured out how to deal with the market.

We don't have to reason to what consumers will do. We can just watch what they do.
 
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Offline P.T. Michelle

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #160 on: January 28, 2014, 10:30:30 AM »
I recently had a conversation with a guy who used to be with a small press publisher. So when I talked about how much I'm enjoying self-publishing, he made the comment about gatekeepers. I told him I understood his concern, ie that books will just be uploaded to the online stores without thought to craft, etc, then I said, "Here's the thing...I understand and care about craft. Even though I've been writing for ten years, every new book I write I learn something new about myself as a writer and my skills continue to morph and improve. I have several published authors read my work, and they all find different things to fix and smooth over from world building to continuity to pacing to characterization. I work on all those things for several rounds of edits before a book ever gets published. In the end, the readers become the gatekeepers. They will let me know if my books resonate by buying the next book...or not."

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Offline vrabinec

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #161 on: January 28, 2014, 10:35:17 AM »
That statement is a bit disingenuous, isn't it? Weren't you a professional copywriter?

My point is, you've had writing education, either through a formal education system or on the job. And my guess is that in your marketing position, you do a lot of writing as well.  :)


I haven't been a copywriter.  I haven't had a writing class since I was a sophomore at Pitt more than 30 years ago. I'm a numbers cruncher at work and write almost nothing in my sales duties. But I think I've got a good story going with my current WIP. It ain't Wool, but I think there will be some people who will think they got their money's worth. Who should I go to for clearance to publish? Who's gonna judge if my book is worthy? I wanna meet them and talk shop.

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Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #162 on: January 28, 2014, 10:49:58 AM »
I haven't been a copywriter.  I haven't had a writing class since I was a sophomore at Pitt more than 30 years ago. I'm a numbers cruncher at work and write almost nothing in my sales duties. But I think I've got a good story going with my current WIP. It ain't Wool, but I think there will be some people who will think they got their money's worth. Who should I go to for clearance to publish? Who's gonna judge if my book is worthy? I wanna meet them and talk shop.

I never said you should get clearance from anyone. I completely support everyone's ability to publish whatever they want. But those that give no thought to plot or characterization or grammar shouldn't EXPECT that people will love their work.
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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #163 on: January 28, 2014, 10:54:41 AM »
...Last month I decided I was going to review all the books I am now reading.   I started with my tablet which is mostly shorter stories.   I got them at Amazon.   When I went to review them, the really bad ones were no longer there.   Not the author or the books.
So this tells me that some people are pulling their books because they are making no money.    I am not talking just one or two but about 50 so far or about 1% of the kindle books I own.
What this means I have no idea but I found it interesting.


This is interesting! Thanks, Cindy.

As to Chuck, I've read his blog off and on for years. Lots of great writing stuff there. I think he supports writers overall--especially those who work on their craft. I don't think he meant we should all be peering over each other's shoulders and vetting the ms before a writer clicks publish. I read it as a rallying call for self-publishing writers to strive to get better and better and...  I'm good with that.  Obviously, we all read into Chuck's words what we wanted to read. Me? I'd give the post 4 stars.  :D


Offline vrabinec

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #164 on: January 28, 2014, 11:18:47 AM »
I never said you should get clearance from anyone. I completely support everyone's ability to publish whatever they want. But those that give no thought to plot or characterization or grammar shouldn't EXPECT that people will love their work.

Of course not, but that not what we're talking about here. We're talking about the artist in you that has spent over a decade studying the craft who cringes at "I can't afford an editor" "I don't let anyone else read my work" "I've never taken a class or read a book on technique" "Readers are my betas" "I don't think grammar matters" etc.
as though everyone has to be able to afford an editor (see Elle Casey), as though everyone has to let someone see their work before they publish (what if they're a recluse with social anxiety?), as though everyone has to have taken a class or read a book on technique. That's a form of gatekeeping. If their stuff is that bad, they will have spent hours and hours on a book that will COST them money to publish. People like that either get better or give up.

Sure, we'd all love for there to be some set of learning for everyone who publishes to have achieved, but there is no way to come up with one, there is no way to enforce it, so we may as well embrace the system that's out there. Let everyone hit the streets running whenever they're comfortable doing so. And anyone who claims that indie authors are out there saying that it's okay to say "I don't think grammar matters" hasn't read the threads on here, on AW, on critique circle, or Scribophile, etc..We all chant the same mantra. We give newbies the warnings. Go through any newbie thread here. But once someone makes the decision to publish, that's their choice. There's nothing left for us to say. So why come down on indies for cheerleading? It's not like we're silent on these things.


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Offline Cherise

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #165 on: January 28, 2014, 11:19:21 AM »
Chuck,

Everything you said in your follow-up post about readers not making good gatekeepers is addressed by the various vendors (Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sonyreader...). They want to keep their customers happy, so they allow returns. They show 10% of books as free samples. They allow Customers to post reviews.


Offline vrabinec

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #166 on: January 28, 2014, 11:35:48 AM »
Chuck,

Everything you said in your follow-up post about readers not making good gatekeepers is addressed by the various vendors (Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sonyreader...). They want to keep their customers happy, so they allow returns. They show 10% of books as free samples. They allow Customers to post reviews.



Yeah, money should play no part of this discussion.

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Offline dianasg

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #167 on: January 28, 2014, 11:37:48 AM »
Yep. Still not seeing where this point of view comes from. I really do wish someone had pointed at any post or comment that said people should be scared away or stopped from publishing anything. What was said is that people should not be seeing the fact there isn't anyone stopping them as a reason to publish less than polished work.

So, the point of the post was "put your best foot forward"? Then I guess what everyone is saying here is that, WE ARE. And we encourage others to do the same. If that's true - and it is, which anyone who spends time here will know - what's wrong with ALSO being positive and encouraging? And who is harmed when someone hones their craft as they self-publish, each time still working to put their best out there?

Is it the reader? The reader is smart and can avoid a dud. There are resources (by readers, for readers) to help them do this. That's the reality of the market right now. There's nothing to argue here.

Other self-publishers? That's not happening. It's just not. If some readers refuse to read self-published books, they are far outnumbered by the readers who will give anything a shot, and whose needs are being met by self-publishers in a way they are neglected by trad-pub (I'm thinking niche genres, lovers of serial/short fiction, etc).

When Chuck says, "Be more self-critical," my response is, do you think we don't know that?

Writing is hard. We wouldn't do it if we didn't love it, didn't care about writing good books that entertain, that connect with readers. It's not an endeavor that you take on half-a**ed. And MOST of us who look at self-pub as a career path are self-critical. I guess that's what bugs me most about Chuck's post: the assumption that self-publishers don't care enough -- about their work or their readers. There are people who work very hard, and who aren't terribly great writers, but who care very much about their stories and are very self-critical. Who's to say they shouldn't find their readers, or at least have a shot at it?

The writers who treat self-pub the way he implies (not putting their best efforts forward) don't make it. They just don't.

I just want to point out (and I'm sure you all realize this) that not posting does not mean that someone isn't reading or forming their own opinions about a community.

Well, yeah. But the point of my post stands: I'm not going to go to a gun enthusiast forum, argue/defend my belief that people should buy less guns, and then call the place unwelcoming. By and large, KB is a civilized place that encourages lively debate. But telling people they need to better police themselves is pretty patronizing, so I'm not surprised by the response this thread has received.

Offline RichardWolanski

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #168 on: January 28, 2014, 11:43:52 AM »
I 100% agree with this ^^^

Doing what I love to the best of my ability, striving to get better as I go, flipping birdies to anyone who tells me I can't do what I love doing.  :P

Love this.

I liked that insight into a reader's brain cinisajoy.

Offline heidi_g

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #169 on: January 28, 2014, 11:48:49 AM »

Here's the problem -- every one of the people who uses the return system, every one of the people who get irritated when we "fix" something that that should've been right before we asked for money for it, every one of the people who buy something that they were enthusiastic about before realizing that it wasn't of good quality -- those aren't just lost customers.  They have friends, family and colleagues, whom they talk to.   They're the ones who say "you've got to be careful with self-published stuff, because let me tell you what happened to me..."

The word spreads... not just about you, personally, but about self-published work as a category -- because (and here's the kicker) we're already fighting an uphill battle against the old biases against self-publishing.   So we owe it to our customers, ourselves, and our fellow self-publishers to release the highest-quality stuff that we possibly can.



I was quite the avid reader from the time that I learned how to read. My consumption of fiction books persisted through high school. It was't uncommon for me to read a book a night, when I had the chance. When I got to college, that had to be set aside. I just didn't have time. I tried to pick up fiction after college graduation.  Most of the books bored me to tears, and basically I just stopped reading fiction for, gosh a good 15 or 20 years. (yes, I'm that old, lol.) However, as one thing led to another mostly falling in love with Peter Jackson's interpretation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy I was like, OMG, I need to start reading again! So I started the quest to find good books that I really enjoyed. This was before ereaders came out, etc. and my quest had a pretty jerky and unsatisfying start. My most common inner response to the fiction books I picked up were, "How did this get published?" You know, it would be like a total snooze fest. ANYWAY along the way we moved cross country. I didn't think I had very many books, because I'm a book recycler. However, a gazillion boxes later, I trotted down to B&N (I was a loyal customer!) and decided to check out one of those Nook thingies. I got one and started downloading some books. They had free books on Friday and I began to discover self-published authors. Then I started going to Amazon and checking the reviews, because, of course, they had more. Then I discovered Amazon didn't just have more reviews, they had more self-published authors. And these were the books I was really enjoying reading. Not every single one, but the percentage was higher than for traditionally published books. Because the original Nook I got was pricey, and I'd also invested in an awesome leather cover, I waited to get a Kindle. You know. But I did get a Kindle, now I have two. Now I read a mix of indie and traditionally published books. Grammar and punctuation and other things, if they're imperfect don't kill me as a reader. That being said, I can't think of a traditionally published book that I've read that doesn't have a single typo, but anyway and every single cover from a traditionally published book hasn't amazed me or necessarily intrigued me so ...

Traditionally published books stopped me from reading fiction for over a decade.
Independently published books returned me to a passion that I had as a child.

Yes, some people will be turned off of by what they perceive and what actually are the flaws of independently published books, just like I was turned off by what I perceived were the flaws and were actually the flaws of traditionally published books. I think that's just life. I mean that's the thing. Our culture's at a point that we want to over-control everyone and make decisions for everyone. I personally think the world would be a better place if we were more curious ;)
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 11:52:28 AM by heidi_g »

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Offline Cherise

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #170 on: January 28, 2014, 12:02:20 PM »
I was quite the avid reader from the time that I learned how to read. My consumption of fiction books persisted through high school. It was't uncommon for me to read a book a night, when I had the chance. When I got to college, that had to be set aside. I just didn't have time. I tried to pick up fiction after college graduation.  Most of the books bored me to tears, and basically I just stopped reading fiction for, gosh a good 15 or 20 years. (yes, I'm that old, lol.) However, as one thing led to another mostly falling in love with Peter Jackson's interpretation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy I was like, OMG, I need to start reading again! So I started the quest to find good books that I really enjoyed.

Heidi,

The exact same thing happened to me! Except that I never bought a Nook, thank God, LOL!



GMSharka,

Yes, each of us does benefit from doing the best job we possibly can as we publish. Absolutely. I support anyone who posits that position.

But policing indies in general? That is the vendors' decision, what they want to allow us to sell to their customers. Amazon and Apple are not stupid. If they think we're losing them money, then they will police us. We don't need to worry about that. We do need to worry about Barnes and Noble (and Kobo), but there are plenty of threads about that already.

Offline GMSkarka

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #171 on: January 28, 2014, 12:05:57 PM »
Yeah, money should play no part of this discussion.

Um... what?

We're talking about PUBLISHING.  Money is pretty much by definition a part of that discussion.

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Offline heidi_g

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #172 on: January 28, 2014, 12:09:22 PM »

"You have permission to suck.

For free.

Free, there, is key.

Because the moment you go somewhere Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, wherever and you start charging money, that changes the equation. By a strict reading, thats no longer Hobbytown, Jake. Youve entered pro grade territory. Youre asking readers to take a chance on your work for one buck, three bucks, five bucks, etc. Youre not hosting a party. Youre running a lemonade stand.

So stop  p*ss ing in the lemonade and asking people to give you cash to drink it." Quoted from Mr. Wendig's follow-up blog post.

Haha! who wants to move this along to the permafree debate, lol. Sorry! Couldn't resist :P

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Offline GMSkarka

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #173 on: January 28, 2014, 12:09:30 PM »
But policing indies in general?

Again, who is talking about policing anybody?

Why does it keep coming back to this point, despite constant statements from me (and Chuck, and others) that nobody is saying that?    

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #174 on: January 28, 2014, 12:11:46 PM »
Um... what?

We're talking about PUBLISHING.  Money is pretty much by definition a part of that discussion.


Not if the customer can get his money back with the push of a button if he thinks the writing sucks.

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