Monday, March 30, 2015

A Final Thought

If you followed this site, you've probably noticed no one has posted in months.  Yeah, we at Indie Writers Monthly have all gone our separate ways, so first the magazine and then the blog were no more.  Well, they still technically exist, but they're just relics of another time.

I wanted to close my run on the blog with a final thought based on something happened recently.  What happened is one former IWM author gave another former IWM's book one-star.  He made sure to do this on Goodreads, and on Amazon (two stars there but still), and on his blog.  You know, in case anyone he knew might have missed that he really didn't like that book.  I've read the book and if I were in a bad mood I'd at worst give it three stars.  For me one star (or two) means more than "I didn't enjoy it" or "I didn't get it."  It means the book is so wretched that I would throw it in a fire if I could.  Did this book deserve that?  No.

But that's not the real point.  The real point, the thing I take umbrage to, is one indie author trashing another's book.  Not even some random author, but one he knew and had worked with on this blog and magazine for over a year.  That's just lowdown BS in my book.

His defense is "I'm just being honest."  And going on about "ethics" and "integrity" and so on and so forth like he's some great paragon of virtue.  You know what's a virtue to me:  loyalty.  I don't sell out my friends and I hope they won't sell me out in kind.

Can I tell you something you might not have realized?  Selling books is fucking hard.  It's hard for midlist authors with big publishers.  It's harder for those with small presses and it's harder still for those who are indie published.  When you indie publish you've got a whole mountain of obstacles to climb.  It's a real battle to get any kind of positive recognition.

That's why you need friends.  Or if not friends, then at least allies.  If you want any chance in Hell of being successful, you need help.  You need people to help you spread the gospel so maybe a few people will take note of it amongst the millions, nay billions of other books out there in "the Cloud."

When other people ask me to help them, I do it.  I don't hem and haw about doing a cover reveal because I haven't read the book in question.  I don't whine about "honesty" and "integrity."  I do it because I'd want them to help me should I ask for it.  I can't expect them to go to bat for me when I won't do it for them.  It's a two-way street.  There have been times when I've asked for help and people have come through for me.  Like say when someone made me an awesome book cover and didn't charge me.

Or when publisher of said book just dumped it out there without warning and I needed to throw together a spontaneous blog tour.  People let me announce my book on their blog and I don't think it compromised their "integrity" one iota.  And hey, if they ever ask me to spotlight something, my blog is theirs.  No questions asked.  No pissing and moaning about "ethics."  It's what you do.

Because maybe this guy doesn't get it, but we're a community here.  You can't build a community by throwing rocks at someone else just to make yourself feel more important.  But hey, isn't that what you're doing?  That's why I'm not using his name.  He'll know who he is and he won't be ashamed, though he should be for what he did.  As I said, there are so many obstacles we have to overcome in this business that we don't need allies turning on us too.

People on his side will say they respect his choice, freedom of speech, blah blah blah.  Here's my response:  you didn't like the book?  Why say anything at all?  Was there anyone chomping at the bit to read your opinion?  Did anyone solicit you for your review of said book?  I'm pretty sure that answer to that is no.  If you don't like the book and it violates your precious "ethics" to be merciful, then just do what your mom always said:  If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Am I advocating no one ever post any bad reviews of anything, ever?  No.  You want to give the latest James Patterson or Nicholas Sparks book 1-star, please do.  They have legions of fans.  Their books have thousands of reviews.  Just last week I gave 1-star to a book being published by Amazon.  And you know what, it won't fucking matter!  That book has hundreds of reviews already; mine is just crying out in the wilderness.  There's no harm to it.  There is harm when you do that to a book that has only a few reviews or no reviews.  Then your opinion can actually do some damage.

I complain all the time about people who frivolously give a book 1 or 2 stars.  They simply don't understand that for indie authors word-of-mouth is important.  Especially someone in my situation who needs all the sales I can get so I don't end up living under a fucking bridge with the other 18,000 or so homeless in Detroit.  I don't need your venom or your "integrity;" if you're not going to help then at least just stay out of my way.

Of course it wasn't my book that was trashed--yet.  I'm sure the person in question is even now sharpening his knives because I changed an overly generous 5-star review of his book to 1-star to let him have a taste of his own medicine.  He'll probably go give one or more of my books 1-star, all the while trying to crow about what a paragon of virtue he is.  LOL.

But anyway, the point is that as indie authors we're all in the same boat.  When rowing a boat everyone has to pull in the same direction or you're going nowhere.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, not yours.  It was fun writing on the blog and magazine for the last year and change.  The best moment was when I wrote about "Authors Anonymous" and the writer of the movie actually chimed in.  That was quite a shock.

You'll note I've turned reader comments off for this post.  I don't want to start a flame war in the comments.  Anything the guilty party wants to say he can do so in his own post.

Farewell.  Oh, and buy my books!