Author Topic: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.  (Read 31953 times)  

Offline Terrence OBrien

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2014, 01:46:53 PM »
Its none of my business what people upload to Amazon. I don't care what they upload. That is the business of Amazon and the author.

I suspect we will be seeing a lot more calls for other people to do something. Nothing will happen. The market will continue to roll along just fine.


« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 01:49:58 PM by Terrence OBrien »
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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2014, 01:49:29 PM »
Hey, if you want me to write like you, you better fix your hyphens. They're...irregular.
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Offline Fishbowl Helmet

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2014, 01:53:37 PM »
Until the stigma is completely gone and the critics start criticizing equally, I'm going to continue being a cheerleader.

Utter garbage is published in all sorts of ways. Traditional and self. Who cares? Seriously. Who?

How can the stigma ever leave if sub-par efforts are hoisted into the air with cheers?

Who cares? We all should.

Quote
This is just more gatekeeping. It's more cheerleading for gatekeeping. I think everyone and anyone should be able to publish whatever they like. They just aren't allowed to expect people to love it.

Of course we should all publish our best work, but who gets to decide if it's good enough? I'm not going to be that person. I'll leave that to others.

I disagree. Completely. It's not gatekeeping at all. Why? Because there's no one stopping a self-pubbed author from publishing. Criticizing a clearly sub-par cover isn't gatekeeping. It's pushing others to make a better effort. Gatekeeping is someone standing between the author and readers claiming special privilege and power to prevent the author from reaching readers. Keeping the gate. Guarding the door. Not allowing the hoi polloi inside. Calling out bad or no editing for what it is is clearly not gatekeeping. Telling a writer-publisher their cover is bad isn't gatekeeping. None of these prevent the writer-publisher from actually publishing. What they do, hopefully, is help to create a constructively critical environment which will help to push writer-publishers into making a better effort rather than a minimal effort.

As said, it's not about trying to be just as good as the worst of trad-publishing, but being better, doing better. Showing that self-publishing is just as good, if not better in some areas, than trad-publishing, not countering every argument with, "Well, trad-publishing does it too." What a whiny non-rebuttal that is.

Offline Ty Johnston

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2014, 01:53:59 PM »
If you want to be treated like less-than writers and publishers, act like and produce less-than works and covers.

Who is to be the judge of these less-than works? Who is to say a certain work should not be presented for public viewing and potential purchase?

Also, this precludes that every single self publisher has exactly the same goals in mind, which is far from the truth. Not everyone has a goal of being a professional author, or of having writing as a career, or of how such a career should unfold.

I try to present myself as a professional, and I deal with other writers and editors and publishers as professionals, but that's because this is my day job. When I deem it necessary, I'll call someone out on spouting BS or the like, but it's not my place, nor should it be anyone else's, to go around policing indie writers. That's why they're "indie," so as not to answer to anyone else.

Would I like every single indie publication to be presented in its most polished, most professional manner? Sure. But that's not realistic. You can't have it both ways, indies and gatekeepers at the same time and in the same place. Sorry, folks. It doesn't work that way.

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Offline Ty Johnston

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2014, 01:56:54 PM »
How can the stigma ever leave if sub-par efforts are hoisted into the air with cheers?

And where exactly is this happening?

I see the occasional "congrats" posting for a new novel and the like, but I'm not seeing blogs and kboard posts and Amazon posts or Facebook posts or anyplace where sub-par works are being cheered on.

If anything, the blog posts and such I see which do champion self publishing almost always include a point of telling writers to publish only their best works.

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Offline sarahdalton

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2014, 02:05:02 PM »
There's already an air of critiquing, especially on this board. We often share book covers and blurbs, find beta readers, give advice on where we might be going wrong.

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Offline SLGray

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2014, 02:15:39 PM »
There's already an air of critiquing, especially on this board. We often share book covers and blurbs, find beta readers, give advice on where we might be going wrong.

Which is why it seems a little weird to me that there'd be objection to a post that's suggesting we ... do exactly what's happening on these boards.

If people really didn't care about what other people were putting out, then no one would answer requests for feedback, would they? They'd just say, eh, it's your book, if you think it's good enough, then it is.

I understand not volunteering criticism if it isn't asked for or specifically not asked for. I get that. I don't get why suggesting that criticism is a good thing gets up people's noses though.


Offline Hugh Howey

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2014, 02:24:17 PM »
How can the stigma ever leave if sub-par efforts are hoisted into the air with cheers?

Does anyone do that? I cheer for the path and the freedom for anyone to publish whatever they want. The works I recommend to others are the works I find sublime. Everything else goes unmentioned.

But maybe what I pass over, someone else thinks is superb. And maybe what is unpopular today will be heralded twenty years from now.

You'll never find me encouraging people to throw a rough draft up on Amazon. But you'll never find me castigating those that do. Why do I care? Who are they harming? Is self-publishing really going to be defined by those who expend the least amount of energy? If so, are we going to define traditional publishing by Snooki and 50 Shades of Grey?

There are too many great books out there that need reading. Worrying about the poorly written and poorly edited books seems like a waste of time.
 
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Offline Rob Lopez

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #33 on: January 27, 2014, 02:24:52 PM »


I understand not volunteering criticism if it isn't asked for or specifically not asked for. I get that. I don't get why suggesting that criticism is a good thing gets up people's noses though.



Because it just seems so redundant. It's happening already. The only change would be if someone were calling for unsolicited criticism, and since nobody's calling for that, then what's the point of the message?

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Offline JRTomlin

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #34 on: January 27, 2014, 02:42:01 PM »
Which is why it seems a little weird to me that there'd be objection to a post that's suggesting we ... do exactly what's happening on these boards.

If people really didn't care about what other people were putting out, then no one would answer requests for feedback, would they? They'd just say, eh, it's your book, if you think it's good enough, then it is.

I understand not volunteering criticism if it isn't asked for or specifically not asked for. I get that. I don't get why suggesting that criticism is a good thing gets up people's noses though.


No, the post suggests that we go out and force our opinion on other people whether they want it or not. That is quite a different thing.

How can the stigma ever leave if sub-par efforts are hoisted into the air with cheers?

Who cares? We all should.


My cheers, or lack of them, make no difference whatsoever. Have you seen posts by people asking permission to hit 'publish'? I haven't. There will be great books and sub-par ones whether I like it or not.

I don't care because my opinion plain and simple doesn't matter. I won't waste either time or effort and I have better things to put my angst into than what someone else publishes.
 
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 02:47:24 PM by JRTomlin »

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Offline SLGray

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #35 on: January 27, 2014, 02:53:33 PM »
No, the post suggests that we go out and force our opinion on other people whether they want it or not. That is quite a different thing.

I don't see that call to action in the post, but we all read things differently, so, fair enough.

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #36 on: January 27, 2014, 02:58:37 PM »
You'll never find me encouraging people to throw a rough draft up on Amazon. But you'll never find me castigating those that do. Why do I care? Who are they harming?

Themselves only, and that's not mine or any else's problem.

I've never felt a stigma associated with self-publishing, but then maybe that's because I don't spend a lot of time listening to people with narrow minds.
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Offline JRTomlin

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #37 on: January 27, 2014, 03:04:16 PM »
I don't see that call to action in the post, but we all read things differently, so, fair enough.
To be specific, I'm talking about sections like this which I agree you may interpret differently, but I do see a call to action, but what I don't see is an implication that you should wait until someone asks:

Quote
Dont celebrate mediocrity. Dont encourage half-assing this thing for a couple of bucks. This is scrutiny time.

That sounds to me like a call to action.

And

Quote
Its time to play hard or get off the field.

This post has a tone of both self-righteousness and entitlement that I just plain don't like and don't agree with, but as you say, people read things in different ways.

Edit to fix an oops. :)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 03:33:01 PM by JRTomlin »

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Offline Ty Johnston

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #38 on: January 27, 2014, 03:05:04 PM »
I don't get why suggesting that criticism is a good thing gets up people's noses though.

I don't believe anyone has suggested criticism isn't a good thing, or that it can't be a good thing. What people are frustrated with, or at least what I'm frustrated with, is being reprimanded for not doing something that in all actuality is being done already. And yes, Wendig and others aren't calling me out personally by name, but when they lump all indie authors underneath some kind of giant, fictitious umbrella, yeah, that includes me.

Besides, I've already got someone to tell me to do things I've already done. She's my wife. :-)

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Offline syrimne13

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #39 on: January 27, 2014, 03:06:12 PM »
Honestly, it strikes me as pretty bizarre that he would want the indie community to police itself, for a number of reasons, most of which have already been stated here, and better, by others, so I won't repeat them.

The only reason I would add to those that have already been listed, is that in addition to the subjectiveness of "good" and "bad," what makes him think any of us are qualified to critique the work of others? Like politics and sex, everyone thinks they're an expert on this stuff, but most of us don't know as much as we think we do. I've had people tell others to make their fiction books Chicago Manual of Style-compliant and all kinds of nonsense that demonstrates more ignorance than knowledge of fiction writing...and they think they're "helping."

So if we're going to police each other's work, should we also set up yet more police to police the gatekeepers?

It's all so ridiculous. I'm a fiction writer. If I wanted to be a book critic, I would do that. I don't pretend for a minute that I'm qualified to judge other people's work, using any criteria other than my own taste, which is pretty much worthless to that writer. Even "crappy" cover art...if that writer loves it, who am I to dissuade them? It might make my teeth grind from an aesthetic standpoint, but I've seen a lot of so-called "crappy" covers sell a hell of a lot of books.

I think this is a black hole that I don't want to spiral around...I'm having too much fun writing books. :)

Offline dkgould

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #40 on: January 27, 2014, 03:22:42 PM »
Maybe I'm reading this article differently than everyone else, or maybe it's because my personality tends to focus criticism inward rather than out, I don't know.  But what I got was not that we should be judging each other's work or preventing others from publishing, but being honest about our own.  Sure, quality varies.  Goals vary.  And yeah, the "indie culture" is a mish mash of conflicting advice.  But that's because it's a big umbrella.  There aren't any hierarchies yet.  For better or worse, those are probably coming.  Right now it's chaos, a land rush, with someone's lone memoir that was written for their children up in the same spot as someone else's 10th best seller that was written primarily as part of a business.  I don't think the article writer was saying don't congratulate Grandma on finishing her biography.  He was saying that if we're really serious about being professionals, we shouldn't accept simply finishing the manuscript and pushing the button as enough from ourselves.

This is probably going to sound extremely old fashioned (I swear, I'm not my grandparents.).  I've had a lot of jobs.  Some really important.  Like human life important.  Some not so important.  Like pouring drinks and joking with incoherent patrons not-important.  And everything between.  I could have been cruddy at several of them.  Could have let things slide.  Not finished a few duties.  Not taken out the trash at the end of a shift.  Not cared about the people I was working with.  Not sent court documents on time or taken collect calls.  I still would have gotten by.  Most people would.  I wouldn't have been fired.  Maybe not even disciplined.  But the thing is, I grew up believing that any job worth doing is worth doing well.  Including this one.

Sure, I could look at some other books (regardless of how they were published by the way) and then look at mine and say, "eh, it's better than those." and publish it.  Probably make some money too.  Get some mixed reviews, but who cares if it's selling right?  It melts into what's already out there.

But the thing the article writer is saying is that's not good enough any more.  He's not saying dun those other books because you don't like them (although if someone asks for criticism you should be honest.  There are lots of ways to be honest and forthright without being cruel by the way), he's saying you should hold your own work to another standard.  He even says traditionally published books shouldn't be your standard either.  That the way to be a professional, at anything, is to strive for the vision in your own head.  For each book to be the best that it can be.  Not okay.  Not passable.  Not even good enough.  But your best.  If I hold my book up to what I intended to say in the first place, if that book is the honest-to-goodness best that I can translate that vision, then it's ready and I can sleep easy at night.  Is it going to be perfect?  Of course not.  But at least I can honestly say that I'm not "testing stuff out" on the reader or just publishing it because "it's better than X book and that one made a ton!"

Maybe my best is grammar school English level.  Maybe it's Shakespeare.  I hope that my beta readers and editor would let me know if it's the prior, but I don't think that was the point of the article.  The key is that I'm not treating the reader like a chump.  I'm not phoning it in.  I'm being honest about where that book falls in the gamut of published books (all of them).  If I'm writing for larks or my family, then this article isn't really about or for me, and that's okay.  But if it's my job, if it's the thing I'm going to spend the better part of my life doing, day in and day out, the thing that says "Deirdre was here" long after I'm gone, shouldn't I hold myself to a higher standard than good-enough-to-get-by? The land rush is settling.  Sure, it's not over yet, but the Law is coming.  Sadly, whether we like it or not, there will be "gatekeepers".  Hopefully of our own making rather than imposed upon us.  Reviewers or advertisers like Bookbub or successful author-turned-publisher or Consumer Reports or whatever they turn out to be.  But they are coming.  As long as we can produce more high quality stories than poor ones, we can keep them at bay.  The better this whole thing works in "anarchy", the farther away the arrival of those "gatekeepers".  Every time I produce a disappointed reader rather than a happy one, the closer those gatekeepers get.  And that's the ONLY thing we can control.  Whether we, ourselves as individuals, produce happy readers or bitter ones.

Offline a_g

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #41 on: January 27, 2014, 03:27:43 PM »
Imagine my relief when I read the majority of these responses and breathe a sigh of relief.

It's terribly painful to be painted with the same paintbrush, thinking my fellow writers are going to start jumping all over me if my covers suck (I know they do) or if my writing could use more editing (I know it does) or that my storytelling needs some work (I know it does) according to some standard that I am not convinced is objective at all.

I do the best with what I have, I improve every day, make strides forward every day. When I can step to the next level I will and honestly, who am I hurting by pursuing my little publishing adventure?

The thing? I really like and respect Chuck Wendig and feel like he has a lot of good things to say. I didn't agree with him this time. And my not agreeing was actually making me feel like I wasn't doing my very best when I know I am. Glad to see I wasn't alone or wrong in my thinking.
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Offline Hugh Howey

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2014, 03:30:09 PM »
And my answer is: I celebrate mediocrity. I celebrate half-assing things. I celebrate someone writing a book that objectively is terrible and going through the steps to make a terrible cover and a terrible blurb and publishing it and then they keep on going and write something a little better, with a better cover and a better blurb and then they keep going some more.

I celebrate the massive tsunami of creativity that has been unleashed and unlike Chuck, I recognize there are entrants at every level. There are terrible books being put out there but those authors will iterate and get better and one day will be making a lot of money.

This. I think I'm part of the problem Chuck is talking about. I celebrate hobbyist writers and have blogged extensively about this. I celebrate the 12-year-old who completed NaNoWriMo this year and wants to see her book on Amazon. She's not hurting anyone. Let her publish. I'll be her cheerleader.
 
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Offline Darren Wearmouth

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2014, 03:34:51 PM »
It seems like a bit of an odd thing to say, 'strive to do your best'. Who doesn't? We might all operate at slightly different levels, have different budgets, time, areas of expertise etc. What skin is that off his nose?

If he personally thinks his 'striving' puts him ahead of the pack, why is he bothered? Personally I think he's pointing to some of the strengths and claiming they are weaknesses.

Offline Fferyllt

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2014, 03:35:09 PM »
Oh, puh-leeze. More importuning the glorious gods of gatekeeping. Don't think so. I don't find any "eggy stink" around the work of writers who are building a readership and making a go of self-publishing. Their work is often multiple incarnations better than the trad novels out there. I've read scores of critically acclaimed, traditionally-published novels that are absolute cr*p, in my opinion. Lots of them are bestsellers. Some indie work is cr*p, too. And some of it sells boatloads. You can find less-than-stellar covers and suspect editing in both indie- and trad-pubbed books.

Indie pubbing is really a return to our roots as storytellers. The bard stood before his audience and told his tale. If it was good, he could count on a tankard of ale and some bread, and a warm bed for the night. If the audience was not impressed, his arse was kicked outside the ring around the campfire and he went hungry. Immediate feedback. No middleman. Better system. Nice to have it back.


Offline jvin248

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2014, 03:40:15 PM »
Smacks of gatekeeping, like "Quick, pull up the draw bridge because *I'm* already inside".

I bet the gatekeepers that turned down Stephen King's "Carrie" or J K Rowling's "Harry Potter" series are kicking themselves for policing their slush piles into Quality (both authors were rejected by close to fifty publishers). "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" were thrown down by critics in their time; none of the critics seem to hold mind-share for protecting the reading public from those now-classic works.

Wendig does a great job of link-baiting. And spending his time feeding Twitter.
I do enjoy his metaphors though.

       

Offline thevoiceofone

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #46 on: January 27, 2014, 03:44:14 PM »
ROFL

I like the bit where he says...


"Defeat naysayers with quality and effort and awesomeness so blinding they cannot see past you."



My reply to that...

Back to getting feedback on my crappy cover that looks like a 3rd grader scratched it on paper with crayons, here on the kindle forum LOL

Offline cinisajoy

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #47 on: January 27, 2014, 03:48:04 PM »
ROFL

I like the bit where he says...


"Defeat naysayers with quality and effort and awesomeness so blinding they cannot see past you."



My reply to that...

Back to getting feedback on my crappy cover that looks like a 3rd grader scratched it on paper with crayons, here on the kindle forum LOL
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Offline Ty Johnston

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #48 on: January 27, 2014, 03:53:55 PM »
I celebrate someone writing a book that objectively is terrible and going through the steps to make a terrible cover and a terrible blurb and publishing it and then they keep on going and write something a little better, with a better cover and a better blurb and then they keep going some more.

That's also a solid point in favor of indies and hybrids, one I don't see touted often. There was a time when traditional publishers groomed writers, when there wasn't an expectation of every single book being published having to be a bestseller, when writers were allowed to improve with each book, to gradually build a career upon an increasing level of craftsmanship. The major traditional publishers haven't worked that way, for the most part, in at least a couple of decades, maybe longer. Indies can slowly build an audience, can slowly work on their craft, without worrying about their contract being slashed and burned and their career screeching to a halt because they didn't meet some bean counters expectations. This doesn't mean an indie should publish any old piece of garbage, but it does give them breathing room to continue working on their craft without the weight of the world being put upon their shoulders by an immediate outside source than could make or break their career for the flimsiest of reasons.

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Offline terribleminds

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Re: More Chuck Wendig: Self-publishing is not the minor leagues.
« Reply #49 on: January 27, 2014, 03:56:56 PM »
This. I think I'm part of the problem Chuck is talking about. I celebrate hobbyist writers and have blogged extensively about this. I celebrate the 12-year-old who completed NaNoWriMo this year and wants to see her book on Amazon. She's not hurting anyone. Let her publish. I'll be her cheerleader.

See, but again, you're conflating "writing" with "publishing."

I celebrate writers of all levels at their careers or non-careers.

Publishing, though, I think you have to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about readers. And at that point, that means being your own critic, your own gatekeeper. Just my opinion, of course. I respect your point and I'm not out to inhibit anybody's freedom here -- just out to ask that they think about what they're putting out in terms of the work.

Hopefully folks found something to value in the post. This is all, as with everything I write, very much a Your Mileage May Vary situation. But I can already speak to some experience that it's reaching folks in the way I've intended. Got a bunch of emails and seen some conversations on FB from authors who self-published who are saying, "You know, I didn't really take this seriously, maybe I'm not selling as well as I could have."

At the very least, it's stirred some conversation. And at the end of the day if you're (the Royal You, not the Hugh You) are going to criticize traditional publishing for all that it does wrong, it's at least worth considering what self-publishing can do differently and do better in an ongoing conversation.

Good luck, all! Glad the post worked for some folks. Er, for the record, it's not "link-bait." It's me saying stuff that's on my mind and stuff that's on my mind. I don't have advertising on my site outside my own books, and readers at the blog are not immediately and instantaneously readers of my work. Also, Hugh, I don't consider you part of any problem -- though I don't always agree with you (what fun would that be?), you're obviously an example to hold up as a paragon of Doing It Right. *shrug*

-- Chuck