Okay at first I wasn’t going to say anything regarding the latest Let’s Bash Self-Publishing rant over at HuffPo, but (like all “real” writers) I am in the business of serving my audience—YOU—what you want to hear and after about the tenth person who sent me Laurie Gough’s Self-Publishing—An Insult to the Written Word, I figured y’all might want my take 😉 .
For another angle on this controversy, I strongly recommend Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing.
Consider the Source
First of all, am I the only one to see the laughable hypocrisy of anyone who writes for Huffington Post lecturing anyone about real writing? Huffington Post is a predatory business, a literary parasite that has made hundreds of millions of dollars by paying writers in “exposure dollars.” And, by doing so, has contributed to obliterating traditional journalism.
One doesn’t need credentials or to submit queries to editors and hope one day this “news” agency will publish said article for actual money. Nope. If a writer has demonstrated an ability to cultivate readers, then Huff has slots available. They truck in wagons of cash and the contributor is paid in clicks and feel-goods.
Additionally, Huffington is run by geniuses who say crap like this…
Did I mention that Huffington Post sold for over $300 MILLION?
Yeah, how about an article, Huffington Post—An Insult to the Written Word.
Wait, I did that already.
So apparently Gough believes real writing is only real when it has passed querying, editors, and a long list of “gatekeepers” but that apparently doesn’t apply to journalism which hasn’t been devalued at ALL.
One of the reasons that self-published authors continue to take a lot of flack is that they refuse to play by the rules and that always pisses off those who like rules and those whom the rules have served.
Many of us started out playing by the rules then decided the rules sucked and so we decided to make our own rules. We found ourselves in a no-win situation and decided we no longer liked that game and decided to do things differently.
That is what entrepreneurs do. Entrepreneurs look at the market and what has sold, what is likely to sell, what they as consumers might like but does not yet exist and they act.
When I was an author starting out, anyone with one eye and half sense knew that social media was the next evolutionary step in human communication. I wanted to learn from experts. I bought all kinds of fledgling social media books and none of it applied to me as an emerging writer. I didn’t want to be in high-pressure sales. I didn’t like spam, so why would I serve it? I didn’t want to fundamentally alter my personality to have success. There HAD to be a compromise.
But in the existing literature? There wasn’t. Every book available was great for a business, but lousy for a writer who still had to have time to write books, probably work a day job and take care of a family.
I didn’t see what I wanted (and what I believed other writers wanted as well) so I created it.
But according to Ms. Gough I am not a “real” writer and I should have patiently waited until my work was blessed by
Mount Olympus NYC Publishing instead of acting and filling a necessary and ignored need. Good thing I ignored that crap because Rise of the Machines has helped countless authors build platforms that have sold millions and millions of books.
The Long and Short of Publishing
The elites who love to bash self-publishing are (to me) shockingly uninformed about the history of their own industry.
For years, traditional (legacy) publishers were the sole gatekeepers and this had a lot of disadvantages for authors and readers.
Because traditional publishing was taking on a large financial risk and had to also maintain high overhead, they obviously had to be picky about what works to publish (and still do). These works had to bring in a certain amount of ROI (return on investment). This devastated the literary landscape and drove many works to the brink of extinction.
For instance, in the 70s and 80s long epic works were all the rage. Readers actually liked a book so long you could take out a burglar with it. I mean, Clan of the Cave Bear could have been registered as a deadly weapon. But the thing is, paper is heavy so it is expensive to ship. It costs a lot more to print a long book (Duh).
Additionally, big thick paperbacks? Only fitting a few of those suckers on a shelf. Why sell three books for $9.99 when you can sell ten books for $7.99?
So, the trend became to cut works off after a certain word count. Many agents would take one look at a query and if the work was over 110,000 words? Forget it. It didn’t matter that it was the next Lord of the Rings.
They weren’t being mean, they simply knew that publishers were wanting shorter works because they could sell more of them and enjoy a higher profit.
But what if a story needed to be that long?
The other side also suffered. Short works.
Pulp fiction got its start with the much-esteemed Charles Dickens and this form of storytelling really picked up traction in the early part of the 20th century. This type of fiction gave the general public access the larger-than-life stories with exotic and sexy characters. Pulp authors also made a really good living, some becoming among the richest people in the country.
We can thank pulp fiction for some of the greatest literary geniuses of our culture. Edgar Rice Burroughs almost single-handedly laid the foundation for today’s science fiction. Then we have Max Brand, H.P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Ray Bradbury.
With WWII we experienced paper rationing and the pulp magazine fell into decline as publishers opted for longer works with…a greater ROI.
Notice how these changes really don’t have much to do with the skill of the writer and have more to do with paper costs, shipping costs and ROI (PROFIT).
As publishing became bigger and bigger business, it had less to do with the story and the quality of the writing and more to do with, “Can we sell this?”
Oh, but maybe I am misguided and Snooki’s—It’s a Shore Thing is great literature I’ve overlooked. But hey, I am a troglodyte.
Again, this is simply wise business. A publisher might love a vampire book…but unfortunately they already had taken on three other vampire books and filled that quota for the year.
The beauty of the new publishing model is we are seeing a MAJOR resurgence of works that were all but lost. According to Ms. Gough traditional publishing is some great champion of literature, but I would challenge her to query a poetry book and see how far she gets.
Death by Elitism
Every time I run across one of these articles kicking self-published authors what stands out to me is the almost repugnant level of elitism. It’s like they all hang out in places with finger sandwiches to feed their own BS echo chamber.
Elitism is a big reason that legacy publishing is suffering. Instead of working with the changes in technology and what audiences want, they have spent an exorbitant amount of time propping up a dying business model (probably with pinkies extended 😉 ). They continue to do business in a way where authors are paid the last and the least and where only the 1%ers truly benefit.
And sure, if you want evidence to support a theory that all self-published authors are hacks, there is plenty to be found. But, to assert that all self-published authors are drunken monkeys banging on a typewriter is myopic and completely ignores that some of the greatest works of our time are NOT coming out of NY. This assertion ignores how business-minded authors have changed the rules and created a game that works in their favor.
Remember, traditional publishing didn’t consider erotica a real genre until 50 Shades sold a gazillion copies 😉 .
Author Animal Farm
Content creators hold no allegiance to any business that no longer serves their needs. But often what happens, is that these entities have created an idea that they have our best interests in mind, and to question that is some form of subversion. That if we don’t do things their way we lack talent, ability and legitimacy.
In the book Animal Farm the animals take the farm from the human owner by force believing they can run the farm in a way that serves the animals’ needs better, and at first? All is wonderful. The animals are quick to create a foundational ideology to support this move and the mantra, Four legs goooood, two legs baaaaaad is readily adopted.
A hierarchy soon emerges and the farm is eventually run by the pigs and, as the story progresses, conditions for the animals working the farm grow worse and worse and worse. The animals contributing all the labor fail to ever really look at the evidence and ask the hard questions, and all (but the pigs) pay dearly. The pigs have created a system that works really well for them and any animal that doesn’t toe the line is considered an enemy to all.
There is a similar ideology that has formed around legacy publishing.
Legacy books gooood. Self-published baaaaad.
Many emerging writers are afraid to really look and see for themselves if this is actually true, or whether they are afraid of exercising agency. Structure is comfortable, free will is not. And any writer who wants to strike out and do things differently is no more an enemy to other writers or publishing than animals who questioned the soundness of working seven days a week for almost no food were enemies of their fellow beasts.
In the End
All writers have to do business the exact same way, regardless of the publishing path. We need to:
- Create something people want to buy.
- Find those people.
So be careful buying into the mantra, especially when those chanting it don’t even buy their own BS. If Gough really believed what she’s preaching, then why publish this article on Huffington? Why didn’t she query a regular print magazine?
She is doing the exact same thing she is blasting countless other writers for doing. She created an article and believed she could get readers. She is using new technology and new ways of reaching readers and all in a nontraditional way that I am pretty sure pisses off more than a few old school journalists.
She is aware of her market—that more people are reading blogs than print resources. She acted accordingly. She didn’t wait to be printed on shiny copy, she acted and went around more than a few traditional gatekeepers. She met the audience where they were with the kind of content they wanted and in the format they desired.
Um, hypocrite much?
Sure, there is a lot of crap that gets self-published but the genie is out of the bottle. What are you going to do?
It isn’t like we have some UNDO button to make it go back to 1999.
Legacy publishing has a lot of advantages but they are not a One-Size-Fits-All. Same with self-pub. In both, if we write crap we get ignored. Plain and simple. We just get to choose where we are ignored, in some agent’s slush pile or at #300,745,321 on the Amazon list. So to the elitists? This is the hand that history has dealt us so get to work on your own stuff and stop worrying whether or not I am “real.”
Because my opinion….
WHO CARES? Just pick the path that works for you and what you are writing and I say, “GOD SPEED! And BE BLESSED!”
What are your thoughts?
I love hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
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#1 by D. D. Syrdal on January 3, 2017 - 2:54 pm
I started to read this the other day over on HuffPo, but after a couple paragraphs decided to consign it to the “click-bat” bin.
#2 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 3, 2017 - 2:58 pm
Me too and I hate giving HuffPo any attention but a lot of writers wrote me on it 🙂 . Thanks for stopping by (((HUGS))).
#3 by D. D. Syrdal on January 3, 2017 - 2:58 pm
Oh, and by “this” I meant Gough’s article. Just wanted to be clear about that 😉
#4 by karenannwirtz on January 3, 2017 - 2:59 pm
Hooray! Brilliant post. Thanks for writing this. That HuffPo article made me feel bad for about a day and then I remembered that I don’t want to be a write-by-numbers copy of someone else.
#5 by annaerishkigal on January 3, 2017 - 3:00 pm
Hah! I was hoping you’d weigh in on that. I pointed out the fact HuffPo doesn’t pay to a bunch of writer friends who had their knickers all knotted up after reading that blog piece. Whenever I get one of these literary snobs, I just ask them how their book sales are doing in X-country, and then tell them, ‘you poor thing, you’re locked into that contract. I guess you’ll have to just miss out.’
#6 by Lorraine Roe on January 3, 2017 - 3:02 pm
Bravo. I haven’t written for them in a long long time. For all those reasons. Lorraine
#7 by tony on January 3, 2017 - 3:02 pm
Would this time be better spent writing? For your posts, Kristen, no. For HuffPo, absolutely! Haven’t read it since before Adrianna made her money. Thank you for reading it for me so I don’t have to worry.
#8 by Simon on January 3, 2017 - 3:02 pm
I had never thought about the book business like this in my English innocence. But its a business which is exactly what every author is. Every writer needs to be thinking more like this.
#9 by Danny Murphy (@murphyatlaw) on January 3, 2017 - 3:09 pm
Another excellent post! HuffPo isn’t even a news organization. I just looked at their about page and and saw that their “photography department” has one director, three editors, and zero photographers. That’s a joke but not a funny one. Also, they appear to have more editors than they do writers and reporters.
#10 by Danny Murphy (@murphyatlaw) on January 3, 2017 - 3:23 pm
Lots and lots of names on that about page. I’m guessing that getting your name there is another form of HuffPo compensation. Getting on the about page is probably worth a thousand HuffPo bucks.
#11 by Dido's Desolate Domain on January 3, 2017 - 3:10 pm
Amen to this. I am heavily biased towards Self-publishing, but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer than someone who is looking to get accepted via the traditional route. More power to them! Does Gough think that Snooki, the Kardashians or Justin Bieber have ever taken a creative writing class in their lives? Yet they sold big via traditional publishing. The hypocrisy is overwhelming here. As long as I do the hard graft, sit down and WRITE, study the craft and read as much as is humanly possible, what the hell business is it of HuffPo or anyone else how I choose to publish? *angry sigh* So there is a lot of crap sold via self-publishing– honestly, I don’t care. Give me the name of ONE type of market where people don’t flood the scene with poor quality products. If there’s an opportunity to make money, some people will try it the cheap and easy way. We can’t stop them. But what does that have to do with self-publishing itself– does that guarantee all our work will be a steaming pile of crap? (By the way, didn’t the (abysmal, in my opinion) Fifty Shades Series start off as a self-published work, before traditional publishers wanted to cash in?) If you work hard and produce a decent product, then you are a valid writer in my view. With all due respect to Gough, please SHUT UP. *fake smile*
#12 by Valerie on January 3, 2017 - 3:10 pm
I’d stand on my chair and cheer, but it has wheels :D. Thank you for consistently reminding writers that opportunity doesn’t need to have a gate.
#13 by Dido's Desolate Domain on January 3, 2017 - 3:13 pm
Reblogged this on ichbinmeisterin and commented:
Snobbery towards self-published writers dismantled in this excellent post.
#14 by angelaackerman1 on January 3, 2017 - 3:22 pm
I find these articles laughable and sad at the same time. Laughable, because ugh, head-in-the-sand is so 2012. Sad because dang, her head is in the freaking SAND and despite the fact that she can’t breathe very well she’s convinced this is her only option.
But honestly? This whole thing is tiring, too. The businesswoman in me simply shrugs and says “one less serious writer to compete with” because while she’s telling everyone she’s the rightest right who ever righted by waiting in queue for permission to engage with her audience, I’m doing it. And so are you. And so many others. And it’s wonderful, because we feel validated by our readers instead of the Industry’s approval, and that’s how it should have been all along. 🙂
We’ve reached a point where is a ton of information out there regarding traditional and self publishing, and most see there are many routes for writers to choose that will lead to a fulfilling and successful career as an author. I self-publish (as you know), and I am always happy to help writers by sending them to trusted sources of information so they can make educated choices on their own path forward. But I don’t waste energy trying to convince people of anything, especially those who are determined to see only one route as valid. They can happily do their thing, and I’ll do mine. 🙂
#15 by Stephanie Scott on January 3, 2017 - 4:13 pm
Great thoughts! I was surprised to see anyone saying what the article author did in 2016/2017. Doesn’t she know??
#16 by Laura Kirwan on January 3, 2017 - 3:40 pm
Paradigms die hard, with a lots of wailing and crying. Writers are just better at articulating our angst, which results in a lot of boneheaded whining from people overwhelmed by technological change. It’s sad, really. The world is wide open for writers, but some still want a pat on the head and a gold star from teacher and assume they’ll get that from legacy. I really appreciate you shouting back at them, but sometimes I do worry about your blood pressure.
#17 by Jan M. Flynn on January 3, 2017 - 3:44 pm
Kudos to you for calling BS on Huff Post — and that whole line of self-serving, purist thinking — so eloquently. I know of a writer whose fancy, high-dollar NY editor has been, excuse me, dicking around with the writer’s precious MS for about 10 years now: just another symptom in the syndrome that besets traditional publishing, IMO. And I’m linking to your post on my blog, just sayin’ 🙂
#18 by martinbeks on January 3, 2017 - 3:50 pm
The comments on that HuffPo article are GOLD. Everyone basically giving her the finger. It’s awesome.
I’m with you. I’ve read some self-published books that are amazing and some that are terrible. The more I put myself into the indie and self-publishing world and learn, I realize how much harder self-pubs work because we have to do EVERYTHING ourselves. We have to invest in ourselves. We’re putting it all out there for the world to see, and hope that we see some kind of success that we’re told is only for the elite.
Also, HuffPo can afford to pay their writers, they just don’t. It’s crap.
#19 by Stephanie Scott on January 3, 2017 - 4:14 pm
The only reason to click that article is for the comments. I saw lots of familiar names, and my fave comment was from the writer who mentioned how she won an award over Nora Roberts. I watched her do it (live streaming online). Go figure!
#20 by Deborah Makarios on January 3, 2017 - 3:55 pm
As you so rightly say: WHO CARES? If you’re a writer, you write, and you work the job whichever way it works.
#21 by jefftbauer on January 3, 2017 - 3:57 pm
I just want to try that sheep experiment and see if it’s actual animal behavior. Analogous to attempting to query an agent in the hopes it’ll lead to a trad publisher. I’m not sure I want to be that sheep pressed against the invisible fence line, waiting for my turn which may never come…
#22 by Amy L Sauder on January 3, 2017 - 4:02 pm
I can’t believe she did that! *facepalm* I am so happy that Amazon has that new content error reporting. I feel that will help legitimize self-publishing a little more in the eyes of those who think it’s all the slush pile, when they can see all the books that in fact AREN’T slush.
#23 by Patricia Robertson on January 3, 2017 - 4:07 pm
Just pick the path that works for you and what you are writing and I say, “GOD SPEED! And BE BLESSED!” Thanks, Kristen!
#24 by Sarah Rosinski on January 3, 2017 - 4:25 pm
BOOM! *drops mic.
#25 by JA Andrews on January 3, 2017 - 4:30 pm
I had sort of ignored the Huff Post article until I saw your post. And once I saw there was a post fisking it too, I was in! Between you and Larry Correia I was highly entertained!
SO glad you didn’t wait for someone to “Approve” Rise of the Machines. Love that book!
#26 by Bryan Dawe on January 3, 2017 - 4:33 pm
I hadn’t seen the HuffPost article…elitist much. Thank you for your blog post Kristen.
#27 by Pauline on January 3, 2017 - 4:44 pm
You rock – as always. Thanks for the encouragement; again as always.
#28 by 1authorcygnetbrown on January 3, 2017 - 4:45 pm
I agree, the walls shouldn’t keep us from giving what we know is our calling in life. I have discovered that there are people out there who love what I write. I need to find more of them and since I have to do most of it on my own, I am getting the credit in the form of the $$.
Huffington post legit? This past year I read a book called Trust Me I’m Lying Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday which gives an eye-opening expose of that online magazine.
#29 by Linda Maye Adams on January 3, 2017 - 4:46 pm
I saw this when Passive Guy posted it. Really, it’s silliness of someone out of touch with what’s happening in the rest of the publishing industry. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of misinformation that gets passed around in writer’s circles as fact, and everyone repeats it like sheep, not questioning it. I think she was so out of touch that she expected she would have a bunch of cheerleaders and got overwhelmed by the number of people who disagreed with them (judging from the backpedaling, saying in Canada it was different).
#30 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 3, 2017 - 4:53 pm
Yeah I get more than a little ticked even having to take time to address this petty crap. But the thing is, I am at a professional level where I SEE it is petty crap. The new writer? Maybe not and it freaks them out so I talk about it so they know what this stuff is—PURE BULLSHIT. I really wish these “elitist” writers would just write books and stop contributing word count to kicking other writers but how else would HuffPo get clicks? They don’t have content they have click-bait.
#31 by Russell Loyola Sullivan on January 3, 2017 - 4:54 pm
Oh my! What a great read. I still carry some deep seated fear of being called a “self-pub.” I don’t know why, but it sure feels good to feel the warm blanket of your defense.
#32 by amyshojai on January 3, 2017 - 5:04 pm
At the risk of repeating what may have already been said here… the article is CLICK-BAIT. Don’t feed trolls. The HuffPo group get kudos the more eyeballs (advertising $$$) they get. Outrageous stuff gets attention and (as Kristen has said) is today’s new “journalism.”
#33 by matthewenordin on January 3, 2017 - 5:13 pm
Love this! I partnered with a micro-publisher because my marketing/business skills are (insert clever SEO word). I love the freedom of self-publishing and the opportunity it gives people to get their story out. We are authors. It is what we must do.
#34 by Ernesto San Giacomo on January 3, 2017 - 5:46 pm
Great assessment of the situation at hand.
So glad you spotted the hypocrisy. When I first saw the title of the article and then noticed the source, “The Huffington Compost,” I almost gagged.
“We just get to choose where we are ignored…” Wow! I’ve never compared the two publishing paths in that manner.
#35 by lalouziane on January 3, 2017 - 5:54 pm
I am so glad you blogged this! Nothing to add, you said it all!
#36 by lalouziane on January 3, 2017 - 5:55 pm
Reblogged this on Swamp Sass and commented:
And Kristen Lamb hits it out of the park with this blog post!
#37 by donnadmunro on January 3, 2017 - 6:01 pm
Kristen, thank you. I’m self-publishing this year and this post has empowered me further with my goal of publication by June 2017. I know I have the experience to succeed with the cover design, typesetting and marketing; I just hope readers like my writing. I submitted my manuscript enough times to know that Legacy Publishing just can’t fit my round work into their square box. I don’t want to wait for them any longer and by self-publishing I know I will have the full control to do the project my way. I live in Australia and as a younger writer dreamed of a New York contract, but that was because I had no idea (at the time) what the politics of publishing were. I’d be happy just to sell a few thousand over here. Believe it or not, that can make you a bestseller, unlike the USA market. There is no shame in self-publishing – in fact there’s a lot to be proud of.
#38 by Chris Saper on January 3, 2017 - 6:15 pm
Thanks for a refreshing and encouraging take on the industry!
#39 by Ontyre Passages on January 3, 2017 - 6:19 pm
Ha ha, loved this. We the people—demand the right to read what we want to read. If Writer-A produces crap we won’t read Writer-A. If we like Writer-B, we’ll read Writer-B. Or we could let some faceless person in an office somewhere decide what we should read. H’m…
Let’s allow creativity to flourish and see what rises to the top naturally.
#40 by foguth on January 3, 2017 - 6:21 pm
Kristen, this response has nothing to do with HuffPo.
I began following you because of your expertise with social media.However, recently, I realized you weren’t the only jedi-master of social media — Donald Trump’s mastery of Twitter amazes me, particularly when he doesn’t seem to ‘do e-mail’ and/or have a blog…..18.5 million followers and/ his tweets get included in the nightly news!
Are there correlations between what he does and what we, as authors, can/should do?
#41 by Cianaodh Óg - a.k.a. Troy Young on January 3, 2017 - 6:38 pm
Reblogged this on The Feed By Our Pantheons Way and commented:
That’s telling them!
#42 by Nancy Segovia on January 3, 2017 - 6:42 pm
Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:
Bottom line…it’s all a bunch of horse hockey
#43 by alicamckennajohnson on January 3, 2017 - 7:12 pm
For me the issue wasn’t her opinion- I mean I’ve never heard of her so who cares- the issues was her mocking her self-pubbing editing clients AND on her website stating that she does freelance editing for all authors, including self-pubbing. To me this is horribly unethical and dishonest, our money is good enough even if we aren’t. I posted the link on all writer groups to help protect my fellow authors from her.
#44 by Sarah Weaver Author on January 3, 2017 - 7:15 pm
This was a lot better way of putting it than that other article, that seemed to reek of “the whole world owes me a million bucks.”
I do wonder what advantage standard self-publishing would net over a Small Press? Then again the Brick And Mortar is kind of becoming a dinosaur, and increasingly becoming kind of a moot point.
Plus if I went the hybrid route, I’d probably do my genre stuff through a small press, and self-publish the more literary stuff.
Publishers don’t seem to like cross-genre, slipstream, experimental, magical realistic scifi hybrids very much.
#45 by American Writers Exposed on January 3, 2017 - 8:16 pm
My queen…reblogged on http://www.americanwritersexposed.wordpress.com
#46 by Elizabeth Rose on January 3, 2017 - 8:19 pm
I have yet to master how to find good self-published work, but I really do believe this is the future. We have gone from mass-marketed everything – remember when there were three kinds of toothpaste? When I was at Target yesterday, there had to be at least 50 – to a niche environment.
E-publishing allows for this.
Yes, there needs to be a way to move the slush pile off the reader’s Kindle and somewhere else, but we’re still early in this evolution. Whoever figures this out, stands to make a lot of money as we all start buying our niche books from them!
#47 by Angel Lawson on January 3, 2017 - 8:37 pm
I always assume articles like this, particularly on Huffpo are just click bait. They are always irrational and just reek of silliness. That being said, lately I am realizing that I think the Trad world is increasingly out of touch. Like, increasingly. I think we all thought they would get it together at some point but they just haven’t. Everything from marketing to covers to the actual books they pick seem to go against what is doing really well in self/indie publishing.
Every day I love this business a little more because I’m not in *that* part of it.
#48 by Melissa Snark on January 3, 2017 - 8:57 pm
Thanks so much! This was an informative read.
#49 by Sarah Brentyn on January 3, 2017 - 9:03 pm
“Consider the Source” ‘Nuff said. Adore the memes in this one (particularly the sheep and the thumb’s up “I’m better than you…” 70s shot). 😀 Perfect.
#50 by kimberlywenzler on January 3, 2017 - 9:04 pm
I love and appreciate your perspective (as usual). Thanks for this.☺️
#51 by lynnkelleyauthor on January 3, 2017 - 9:59 pm
Brilliant and right on as usual, Kristen.
#52 by Erick K French on January 3, 2017 - 10:13 pm
Thank you Kristen. I read the Gough rant over the weekend while on a poo break from completing some edits on a piece I’ve been working on for seven years. That shit was discouraging.
#53 by Chris Graham on January 4, 2017 - 12:21 am
I agree that there’s no reason why self published books should be worse than traditionally published works. But sadly so many of them are because of the authors’ lack of knowledge or self criticism.
I didn’t want to self publish because I wanted the assurance that my work was good enough for someone to take a gamble on. Just because I thought it was good enough for publication, didn’t mean that it was (it wasn’t at first.).
After it had been through a re-write or three, and a lot of rejections from agents, I went to submitting to smaller publishers who took unagented submissions… as a British writer, I wasn’t approaching New York, but UK based agents and publishers… but I wasn’t drawn into the ‘vanity’ trap. I couldn’t have afforded to pay to publish anyway, and I still needed the reassurance of someone being prepared to risk their own time and money; someone else thinking that my book, or by that point three books of a series, were worth publishing.
Eventually a general query e-mail, about whether my series matched a particular small publisher’s stated criteria, got a next morning phone call. After a long chat, I was asked to submit the whole first book (150k words crime novel.).
A couple of days later I got another call with a question about content which Amazon might be wary of. (underaged sex scenes which were necessary to the plot but possibly too descriptive for scenes depicting a fifteen year old). I agreed to have a look at them and was offered a contract. (In fact, the editing really improved the book. Sometimes the reader’s imagination can really complement the writing.)
I sent the amended MS after a couple of days and was ‘put in the queue’ (though the queue was shorter than the time many agents and publishers take to acknowledge a submission… if they bother at all). This queue was jumped after my suggestion of writing a short story prequel to be put out as a freebie e-book taster, as another writer I met had done successfully (A second novella length prequel was also written and released as e-book prior to the full length book.).
As well as the prequels, I now have three full length novels out in both e-book and paperback, with another three ready to go. My publisher has taken a gamble on my series because he sees some worth in it (though sales are still slow at present) He likes my characters and theme, and sees their potential. I now do some editing work for him, of other authors’ work, and know that my own books have been edited properly by one of his editors.
This is a major failing with many self published writers who, possibly due to the same financial restraints as myself, go straight to Amazon Kindle, or Smashwords, without the filter of proof readers, editors, and a publisher to kick the books into shape.
I’ve seen some of the e-books available from Amazon… and some of the MSS I’ve been passed for editing or simply proof reading… many of which have a good book in them, once they’ve been sorted out. Sadly, the good self published novels run the risk of getting lost among the mass of books that either weren’t ready for publication, or never should be.
Maybe it’s just the ‘big business’ publishing houses that only want mass market titles, as there are many enthusiastic independents out there who will nurture and guide new authors. OK, they don’t have the marketing budgets of Random House etc., but they can be more discerning for all the right reasons.
#54 by Cat Dubie on January 4, 2017 - 12:30 am
Great post, as usual. I read the HP article twice just to see if maybe it was a humor piece meant to convey the opposite. Didn’t find any evidence of that. So I took it as written by a condescending, arrogant writer who perhaps knows if she self-published no one would buy her books. I have heard similar words from those who have only “traditionally published” their work after wrestling their way through the all the gatekeepers. They state that ALL self-published books are dreck and not worth reading. I’ve always seen the statements as smacking of jealousy.
As a final note – I used to read Huffington Post until it was sold and the articles began sliding downhill. They’ve reached the bottom.
#55 by zerospace05 on January 4, 2017 - 12:41 am
I really like your content. You’re like the Liz Ryan of the writing/publishing world, and that’s a big compliment from where I stand…since that lady changed my perspective on life and business. A lot of this stuff is over my head, but I have a feeling I will learn a lot following your well-written content, with its insights into a world I know nothing about. I love the Animal Farm analogy. Yeah, and I never leave comments anywhere, but I’ve commented twice. This blog inspires engagement.
#56 by Daniel K. James on January 4, 2017 - 2:07 am
Such an insightful read. I’m so happy to be among the contrarians who gladly bypass the slush pile for the right to print regardless of the gatekeepers’ opinions.
#57 by charlaynedenney on January 4, 2017 - 4:00 am
SO much of what she said is laughable. First: the fact she’s writing for a “professional site” that thinks so little of their authors that they don’t pay them is laughable. Telling us that we need ‘gatekeepers’ when she’s bypassing them is rich as heck.
As for time in? I was a successful and well-paid technical writer prior to writing vampire novels. Before that I did most of a journalism degree, won some fairly prestigious collegiate awards (Texas Collegiate Press Association) and with a history degree, researched and wrote more papers on a variety of subjects that kept me in the top of my class.
But…those don’t count because it’s not fiction……….really? So all the experience of researching, writing, and editing you talked about is not counting if you don’t do it for fiction?
I’m just going to roll my eyes (take them out of my head, make like a 50’s delinquent with rolling the bones….just kidding) and go back to working on book 5 of my series while I wait for my editor to get back to me with book 4’s edits.
Some of us do the complaining, the rest of us do the work.
#58 by Barbara Barbex on January 4, 2017 - 5:01 am
Reblogged this on The 960 Writers and commented:
Brilliant take-down by Kristen Lamb.
I can’t believe I still have to read posts by bitter writers about how only traditional publishing is “real” publishing. Get with the times.
#59 by jiniellyne on January 4, 2017 - 5:49 am
Reblogged this on J. Ellyne's Blog and commented:
Yay! Right on sister, you tell ’em! I like you Kristen. I like the way you think.
#60 by jiniellyne on January 4, 2017 - 5:51 am
Yay! Right on sister! I like you Kristen, I like the way you think. Reblogged this to my blog – http://jellyneblog.wordpress.com
#61 by Barbara Forte Abate on January 4, 2017 - 8:19 am
SSSSSssssss….*releases steam…reattaches lid to top of skull. Sets down weapon.* Beautiful, Kristen.
#62 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 4, 2017 - 9:45 am
This made me laugh out loud. You know, I used to get upset over posts like this but now? Whatever. While she is busy bitching we are writing. It used to be a challenge taking on folks like her and now it is like kicking babies. It’s just sad.
But, alas, there are newer writers who might be discouraged so I am glad I could offer that shot in the arm (((HUGS))).
#63 by Katie Magnusson on January 4, 2017 - 9:27 am
This was great. I’ve just started self publishing, so it’s really encouraging to see elitist attitudes taken apart by intelligent people.
#64 by Steven Lyle Jordan on January 4, 2017 - 9:50 am
Kristen, it’s good to see someone point out the very significant point that it’s really not about art or quality; it’s money and profit that drives traditional publishers to block outsiders, as well as giving them the tools to do it. Economy is a weapon, and the sooner self-publishers figure out how to use it for their own ends, the better.
“1. Create something people want to buy.
2. Find those people.
After saying so much about the obstacles put in front of self-publishers… distilling the self-publisher’s essential challenge to these 3 lines is somewhat… less than helpful. As someone who’s spent over a decade creating books and seeking readers, I know that there’s more to it: Getting those readers to actually see you past the smoke-screens thrown up by traditional publishers… offering something they’ll want to pay for… getting them to tell others about you. If you can’t accomplish those things, you’ll get nowhere.
I discussed the article on my blog (http://stevenlylejordan.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/ny-goood-self-pub-baaaaaad/ ).
#65 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 4, 2017 - 10:45 am
LOL. Well trust me those two can get broken into countless component parts, I assure you 😀 .
#66 by CLByiers on January 4, 2017 - 9:51 am
Well said. Thank you for writing this, you have given me fresh hope.
#67 by Carson Buckingham on January 4, 2017 - 9:53 am
VERY well said. I must confess to trying to avoid self-publishing, but after reading your article, I think this may be the only way I can make any money with my writing. I have been compared to Poe and Bradbury…and got a $5 royalty check for the past quarter. Thank you so much.
#68 by ratherearnestpainter on January 4, 2017 - 10:45 am
This is an excellent article about the publishing industry and the options that exist, and it is an excellent example of how to construct a convincing argument. This is why I love reading your blog.
I also love that you used the word ‘agency’.
You are such an inspiration.
#69 by Lisa on January 4, 2017 - 11:05 am
Thanks for shutting up the inner critic who curled into a fetal position after hearing about the Huffington article. And for making the inner critic laugh while uncurling!
#70 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 4, 2017 - 12:19 pm
Don’t let anyone steal your sparkle 😉 .
#71 by Don Massenzio on January 4, 2017 - 11:55 am
Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
Here is a great post from Kristen Lamb
#72 by storytellergirlgrace on January 4, 2017 - 12:15 pm
I wish I could double-like this post. Thanks for keeping it real, Kristen!
#73 by Woebegone but Hopeful on January 4, 2017 - 12:43 pm
I am a self-published author. Look; I am hanging my head in shame at my selfish, egotistical, narcissistical and deluded attitude. See how I am rending in garment in anguish at my sinful behaviour. Oh woe, woe and yet one more woe upon me wretched peasant that I am………. !!!!!! (Sorry I was really trying to keep it all in, I mean some of these folk in their high towers really believe they are doing some sort of good writing that sort of….) !!!
#74 by Catherine Banks on January 4, 2017 - 1:56 pm
Thank you. This post is wonderful.
#75 by Lynne Marino on January 4, 2017 - 2:13 pm
Every once in a while there is a German word that says what a whole sentence of English cannot.
Backpfeifengesicht – a face in need of a slap.
#76 by K. L. Hallam on January 4, 2017 - 2:17 pm
But self-publishing is so expensive! I could never do it, living hand-to-mouth in New York City.
#77 by smspencerauthor on January 4, 2017 - 4:41 pm
Well said, as always
#78 by marymtf on January 4, 2017 - 5:39 pm
Even opinion writers have to (should have to) back up what they say. That’s why I have a soothing glass of milk next to me to tone down the ulcer I’m getting from reading articles on that blog. I’m even taken to giving a critique on the ones that leak through the milk barrier.
I’m all for the self published giving the establishment a run for its money.
#79 by altonyasblog on January 4, 2017 - 7:51 pm
Speaking Absolute Truth and I Love It!!!
#80 by Robyn Haynes on January 4, 2017 - 8:12 pm
I really like the way you see through the trees to the wood – or should that be the other way around? The point is I think you’re right on the money.
#81 by Monique Desir on January 4, 2017 - 8:28 pm
Reblogged this on adaratrosclair.
#82 by amjusticewrites on January 4, 2017 - 10:37 pm
Well said. I’m pretty agnostic about self-pubbing vs traditional publishing. Both have their benefits and limitations and the right choice for any given author is the wrong choice for someone else. But I couldn’t agree more that there’s crap on both sides and greatness on both sides. Getting one’s manuscript published by the Big 5 depends less on one’s skill as a writer and more on name recognition and, lacking that, the crapshoot of your manuscript landing on the right desk at the right time.
#83 by robakers on January 4, 2017 - 11:00 pm
#84 by Finley Hollister (@FinleyHollister) on January 5, 2017 - 12:04 am
I stopped reading HuffPo when I learned that they didn’t pay their writers. What BS.
Thank you for this article.
#85 by Lora D on January 5, 2017 - 12:20 am
I used to work as a computer programmer for years, but I gladly left to become a book editor. Several of my favorite authors were dropped by publishing companies, even though they had been very successful. They were such awesome writers–who were insecure from being burned badly–and I pushed and prodded and insisted relentlessly that they go the self-pubbing route. No publishing company can kill someone’s talent or self worth–not on my watch! Since going out on their own, they have written even better books (no restrictions), more books in less time, have huge fan bases, and are more popular and successful than they ever were before! They are also much happier. 🙂
I’m definitely jaded from working for decades in the cutthroat corporate world–I don’t trust any organizations who exist for profit. They don’t care who they crush to get what they want. I believe excellent writers should have full freedom to express their creativity without being controlled by others. Right now is the perfect time and opportunity for authors to have both freedom and success. Readers WILL find and support those with talent, and there are a zillion creative ways to utilize social media to gain fans and get book promotions and sales.
Personally, I buy very few books from publishing companies and nearly all my books from self-pubbers. I have discovered so many awesome, incredible writers who I recommend to all my friends. Of course, if I find a dud, I stop reading. No big deal–publishing companies put out duds all the time. But I have discovered so many fantastic freelance authors that I can’t even keep up with them all. I always encourage writers (who have learned the craft well) to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that exist in self publishing. If you’re talented, work hard, learn all you can, and don’t give up, you WILL succeed! 🙂
#86 by Gwynneth on January 5, 2017 - 2:08 am
I too read the first few paragraphs and then skimmed over the article; I thought it was outdated or written by someone with outdated information. I didn’t take it seriously. I’m enrolled in Amazon Unlimited. I still buy paper books if they are reference; usually after I buy the digital copy. I’m not sure how many Kindle ebooks (plus audible narration option); and magazines we have in our family, Kindle Library accessable by our different kindle readers. Not counting anything unsaved (an option), and the borrowed, kindle unlimited books, our family is close to 500 books in 2016. Would that choice been available in twenty years ago before e books and e-readers? Not for me and mine. I do miss the sharing of our loved, and worn paper books with friends. But now we can do that digitallymph. It’s adapting to the present and knowing we as consumers and writer’s have choices.
#87 by Autumn on January 5, 2017 - 6:03 am
Great post, as always. I’m wondering what you think of Medium Corporation https://medium.com/ and how you would compare it to the Huffington folks.
#88 by Ola on January 6, 2017 - 4:17 am
Interesting! I had never heard of Laurie Gough before reading this post. The name Kristen Lamb was however known to me. And I have also read several of her very good blog posts 🙂
#89 by Sharon Vander Meer on January 6, 2017 - 3:46 pm
My, my. You said it all and very well. The terror of being an indie author is that nobody will read what you write. The second terror is that they will and find it wanting. Love this post and the images you chose to run with it.
#90 by pjlazos on January 7, 2017 - 9:19 am
Feels like you’ve recaptured my path to publication here. Terrific article and I couldn’t agree more with the comments. Thanks for having the gumption to put it out there!
#91 by R.C. Thompson on January 7, 2017 - 9:30 am
Good one. I won’t read Huff and a whole lot of other lame stream stuff: it’s all propaganda all the time.
#92 by davidandersontheauthor on January 7, 2017 - 1:05 pm
This gave me a lot to think about. On Huff, I would like to get published there. I’m already not getting published for my blog posts. At least I would get name recognition if I published there. On the other hand I hate to see publications who have the money to pay writers but still don’t pay. On self-publishing, I’ve seen both sides. C. Hope Clark is the author of two mystery series set in coastal Carolina. She says Legacy Publishing made her a better writer because after 36 rejections, she looked over the manuscript again and realized it wasn’t ready. Having that measure of quality control made that first novel better and those lessons carried over to the others. If it makes my work better, I’m for it. However, I’m in a bind because my novel doesn’t fit neatly into one genre. I knew it would be a challenge for traditional publishers because of that. But I find myself having my manuscript rejected for ridiculous reasons.
I read about the multiple points of view approach from Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel, and I was encouraged because it applied to my novel. I followed his advice for using it effectively. Most agents and editors are telling me now that I have to stick to one point of view, two at most. WHY????? The lead agent of a highly respected agency wrote a book on how to write a commercial best-seller, said this is a legitimate way to do that, and now all the gatekeepers think it can’t possibly work? The Pendergast series from Preston and Child is one of my favorites and always a guaranteed bestseller. They always use multiple points of view. And what would Game of Thrones be if we could only experience the Seven Kingdoms through one POV character? And at the risk of sounding immodest, I know I have a good novel. In fact, it’s better than a lot that actually gets published through Legacy Publishing. I know that because I’ve read some of what’s out there. No one could read it all, but I’ve read enough to know mine compares favorably.
I also know because my first draft sucked. It took a lot of time, educating myself of the craft, blood, sweat, and tears, and critique groups who kicked my butt to teach me how to create tension, drama, and characters they would care about. So I know it wasn’t always worthy of being published, and self-publishing that first or second or seventh draft would have been a disaster. But now? I’ll give the “real” publishers some more chances, but if I have to go self-pub, it’s still a good novel and worthy of being published.
#93 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 7, 2017 - 1:34 pm
You need to find the path of publishing that works for you and your work. As far as Huffington? Don’t waste your time. They are undermining our ability to be paid first and foremost and that whole “exposure” sh&t is HIGHLY overrated. I did a handful of posts for them years ago and all I got was extra work and trolls in the comments. It did zip nada for hits on my blog or book sales. They will promise it does but that is the bait and switch. They are the lowest form of life so focus on your brand and your blog but that is just my advice.
Great to meet you!
#94 by davidandersontheauthor on January 7, 2017 - 1:44 pm
Thanks Kristen, and meant to say not getting PAID for blog posts rather than not getting published. Technically, posting to your blog is publishing even if you don’t get paid. But this was helpful in so many ways.
#95 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 7, 2017 - 1:51 pm
LOL. I mentally fill in the blanks so I knew what you meant 😀 .
#96 by davidandersontheauthor on January 8, 2017 - 3:56 pm
FYI, I’m giving you a recommendation on my blog
#97 by davidandersontheauthor on January 7, 2017 - 1:08 pm
Reblogged this on David Anderson.
#98 by jankeough11 on January 8, 2017 - 11:54 am
For me, the truth in this post is summed up by the image of sheep pouring through a gate although there is no fence!
#99 by Dawn Ross on January 10, 2017 - 9:48 am
Agree 100%. I went over and read Laurie’s article, just because I like to get both sides. And like most of the people who commented on her article, I did not agree with it. I admit that a decade ago when I tried the traditional publishing route and got denied, it was because my writing wasn’t good enough. But self-publishing those same books has taught me this same lesson. Those books weren’t bad, but they weren’t good enough either. Self publishing has taught me to keep writing and keep learning. I think by the time my sci-fi comes out (self published) it will kick ass. I’m not taking any shortcuts just because it will be self published.
#100 by Sarah Weaver Author on January 21, 2017 - 2:22 am
Sorry if the earlier comment seemed a little brash, I was going through a nasty break up with an abusive room mate.
My thing about self-publishing is how to navigate the genre menu on Amazon. I’m also torn between different outlets. I briefly considered making it part of an electronic newsletter I was home brewing in Ruby lang, then I realized I was publishing it in Github. (It’s a program rather than a traditional e newsletter.)
But like I’m not even sure where to put a “Historical Futurism”. Yes, I know the critical comments on Wattpad, mainly from the Sf and Fantasy community there. But when your work is a scifi equivalent to Magic Realism, it’s hard to put that anyway, and mix that with erotica and you have something that (may or may not) be good.
But now it’s like I’m kind of straddling the line between autobiographical fiction, near future Code Green party, and magical realism.
I’m trying to shake away my earlier Cyberpunk influence.
#101 by Sarah Weaver Author on January 21, 2017 - 2:23 am
And yes, Cyberpunk got me into programming.:3
#102 by Kizmat Lester Tention on January 23, 2017 - 11:54 am
I am new to the writing world and this article just gave me LIFE!!! I think I have found my people! There is so much information out there and it’s hard to see through all of the clutter. Thanks for a great post that no only keeps it real, but gives balance to both sides. I guess at the end of the day you have to do what works for you. That motto has always resonated with my rebellious nature!
#103 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 24, 2017 - 10:37 am
We are thrilled to have you!