So you can read my books

Monday, December 17, 2012


{Image of Victor's Mother courtesy of the talented Leonora Roy}

If you are a self-published author, you are!  At least in some quarters:

Our weapons:

1.)  99-cent price point for ebooks.

2.)  Free ebooks via KDP Select program.

3.) Unedited work.

4.) Kindle giveaways to get attention and bulk up sales. And lastly ...

5.) Nasty reviews from other authors with the sole purpose of driving down customer ratings.


Amazon believed it and re-worked their system to destroy the value of 99 cent books and made it impossible for authors to review other author's works.


Listen to the 32-time bestselling author Sue Grafton (as interviewed by Leslea Tash for
"To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research.  
Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts.
           I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano
       and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall."

     Gee, I feel like taking a bath in Listerine.

     Of course, Indie authors like John Locke, who was outed by THE NEW YORK TIMES for buying 50 reviews at a time and pumping up the sales of his books, haven't helped either.

     (You see, those bought reviewers purchased 50 books within a single day to write those reviews, sending his book up the rankings over-night.)

     Are our critics in publishing and in the ranks of print authors right?

      Bestselling authors who are talented and hard working – like Grafton – are inclined to believe that publishing is a "meritocracy" where the best work by the most diligent writers gets represented, acquired, published and sold.

       The most famous counter example is that of John Kennedy Toole.

       Many people know that Toole had his great American novel, “A Confederacy of Dunces” rejected by publishers and that he committed suicide at 31.

        They may not realize that Robert Gottleib at Simon & Schuster recognized Toole’s talent but believed Confederacy to be structurally flawed. Gottlieb did not think there was an audience for The Confederacy of Dunces without major revisions –

revisions that would have changed the character of the novel. Toole refused to comply and eventually committed suicide.

     One of the newer Indie stars is Hugh Howey, the science fiction author whose brilliant, dystopian novella Wool has sold more than 200,000 copies in the U.S. alone, sold overseas rights in fifteen countries and was recently optioned by Ridley Scott for a movie.

     Howey in his response to Grafton says:

"Tell me this:  
why is self-publishing antithetical to “honing one’s craft?”  
Who ever received writing advice in a rejection letter as sound as the worst 1-star review out there?  
There’s far more to learn from engaging the market with your product than there is in form letters that tell you not-a-single-frickin’-thing. What’s wrong with testing the waters? Instead of wasting one’s time writing query letters, why not work on that next manuscript instead?"
What do you think out there?
{For more on this subject see: }


  1. Sue Grafton's comments remind me of what people have said before about people who participate in NaNoWriMo. Let's just say I disagree with them, and they actually offend me a little. Not that I am self-published yet, but I intend to be at some point in the near future. I would never publish anything that hasn't yet been thoroughly edited though.

  2. I think there is a legitimate argument on both sides. Ninety-nine cents is pretty cheap but I've yet to receive any real advice in a rejection letter. With rare exception they are as canned as bad peas. I think the self-publishing industry is getting a bad reputation because of the lazy authors who don't properly edit their work or who don't want to pay a professional to do it for them. And paying for reviews? Well, that's just despicable.

  3. As far as I am concerned, if you are proud of your work then you should get it out there however you can. BTW, Beautiful song. I love Josh Groban.

  4. Grafton's words are harsh!
    The books on my iPad are half self-published and half traditionally published. And only if I know the author can I tell the difference.
    Keep writing, Roland!

  5. Trisha:
    I am not a fan of NaNoWriMo, hasty writing is not condusive to quality. But that is not a pronouncement from on-high -- just a view from a former creative writing teacher.

    Sue's statements strike me as coming from someone no longer up to date on today's technology or overflowing with compassion.

    Good luck in your future writing!

    Yes, paying for reviews and for people to buy your books is somewhat shabby.

    People value what cost them to obtain. Sad facet of human nature. How many free books downloaded are actually read?

    I'm with you. A beautiful book never read might as well never have been written!

    Wasn't that song beautiful?

    Ms. Grafton is blind to the world of publishing that exists now. And her words were indeed harsh which makes me sad for those in her world who are at her mercy in some fashion. :-(

  6. I'll probably delete this post once I've thought about it, but for now I'm not going to edit myself. Grafton is out of touch and the IndieReader article is one of the most irresponsible pieces I've ever read on self-publishing.

    "Many self-published authors hear about the outliers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they’ll do anything to try and reach that pinnacle. The plain fact is that most of them never will."
    Isn't this also true for traditionally published authors? What? You're telling me that no one aspires to be the next Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling, or Charlaine Harris?

    "…the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000."
    This is meaningless unless compared to a similar figure for traditionally published authors, and by rights that figure should include all writers with completed manuscripts who are struggling to be published but opt not to self-pub.

    "They’re giving away Kindles and iPads in exchange for reviews and as raffles during sales promotions. Traditionally published authors aren’t stooping to these tactics."
    This is bull. Not a week goes buy I don't get a Facebook invitation, a newsletter notice, or an email from a trad-pub author asking me to enter this or that giveaway by posting a review.

    "Does this mean that self-published authors are killing the publishing industry? Yes, in a sense it does. What can be done about this devaluing of the written word?"
    Stop pointing the finger at self-published authors and put the blame where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of traditional publishers who insist on the status quo despite changing technology. These "gatekeepers" publish the same old crap over and over, forcing anyone with a unique idea to either self-publish or beat their head against a wall until they've lost the will to write. Add to that: no advances, low royalties, and exploitative contracts which are little more than a legal way to steal a writer's intellectual property. Traditional publishing was already in its death throes when self-publishing took off.

    I no long read nor write Amazon reviews, and I've gone in and deleted all my existing reviews. Amazon has Harriet Klausner, what do they need me for?

  7. V.R.:
    Sadly, I believe that many in Publishing higher ranks believe the same as Ms. Grafton and the IndieReader.

    Of course I wanted to be the next JK Rowling or Dean Koontz. If you enter an endeavor, you aim for the heights. You may not make it, but you will attain more than if you aim low.

    Do we gauge Van Gogh on what he made himself on his paintings? Monet?

    Prizes and premiums are the life's blood of marketing. It's a tough world out there whether you self-publish or pubbed by the Big 6.

    Like you, V.R., the IndieReader article irritated me. People so out of touch with logic and the real world de-value the written word.

    I hope you come back even though I was the catalyst for such upset. I look forward to your words as always.

    My next post is more tongue-in-cheek: the ghost of Mark Twain musing on 12/21/12.

  8. Sorry, Roland. You'd think the article wouldn't bother me since I'm not self-published, but I have serious issues with scapegoating and refusing to accept responsibility for one's actions. This is a classic case of blaming the victim. It's writers who are devaluing the written word???? Holy moly!