Perfect Skin: A Novel by Nick Earls
A finalist in the 2003 Australian Comedy Awards and adapted into a feature film in Italy (Solo un Padre, Warner Brothers/Cattleya)
“Readers should enjoy this amiable, well-crafted and genuinely romantic book.”
By Porter Anderson | @Porter_Anderson
From May 31, 2012
Part of my series of columns on publishing, Writing on the Ether, appearing Thursdays at the invitation of Jane Friedman at JaneFriedman.com
Last week I wrote a…post about the bad apples bobbing around the self-publishing bucket…
That’s funny. So did I.
…and that post got a little attention as it pinballed around Ye Olde Webnet, and as such, it received a number of interesting responses here and there and everywhere.
As did mine.
And Chuck Wendig has done us all a favor by following up at his Terribleminds site. His first post (he graciously now terms it “probably-too-cranky,” but I disagree) is Revisiting the Fevered Egos of Self-Publishing.
His newly reasoned piece is Self-Publishing and the Burden of Proof.
My own effort at Writer Unboxed, ‘Social’ Mediation: A Weekend Hunker, fell between Wendig’s posts. Mine was an effort to get everybody into “a willing suspension of emotional response” to get past the raw defensiveness of some self-publishing folks. I contend that we have a bigger problem with such hostility inside the self-publishing group — what Wendig termed in his first post “indie versus indie” — than we have between traditionally publishing authors and self-publishers.
For the most part we succeeded at Writer Unboxed, “we” being me and the thoughtful, vivacious comment contributors who carried on a dialog about the problem together. Good apples are out there, loads of them.
There was one of the other kind, a dogged, determinedly negative respondent (not in comments) who pursued me for days about the article, claiming that I’d lost all credibility, that I’d betrayed journalistic principle, and that I was intent on mocking people. This reaction was so overheated, so uncomprehending of what the rest of us were doing, that it was impossible even to engage. When enraged, these folks frequently can’t even read what you’ve written. They’ll swear your article says so-and-so. In fact, so-and-so is strictly not there at all.
As Bill Tell Jr. might say, your best bet is to just be still.
Now, Wendig’s answer to that sort of fruit is helpful to me:
The more good apples we have, the harder it is to see the bad ones.
A positive and constructive way forward.
What’s great about this post from Wendig, aside from its right-headedness, is that it carries the argument forward without invective. Instead, Wendig patiently positions his groundwork:
The “indie” community does not represent the status quo, and those outside the status quo are the ones with the regrettable and unfortunate (and, yes, unfair) burden of proving their mettle.
The problem, he goes on to write, however:
…is that self-publishing has a number of standard-bearers who are not, frankly, all that healthy for the overall community (such as it is). And so we return to the “fevered egos” post in question, which calls out bad apples who do bad-apple-things (can’t write, use sales numbers as a bludgeon, publish a shit-ton of crappy books, act like jerkoffs, and so on and so forth).
Remember how bad both major political parties looked on the Hill during the debt-ceiling crisis? Here is where Wendig gets especially good:
Whether we’re talking meltdowns on blogs or ugly books with bad editing, readers know. Readers see. Readers are a lot fucking smarter than you realize…The burden of proof lies in the hands of self-publishers. And every poison pill and bad apple who has a public shit-fit or puts his worst foot forward might as well be urinating in the public drinking water.
This is simply the case. Like it or not, Wendig is right. And on this go-’round, he refines his call to action.
Initially, he suggested we needed “fewer cheerleaders and more police” to speak out against the obstreperous self-publishing evangelists whose tone and behavior damage everyone else’s reputation.
Now, Wendig asks simply that you join the conversation. Don’t hide from the unpleasantness or expect it to evaporate on its own. “I feel this is a worthy conversation to have.”
I agree with Wendig, and I want to do my part to press this conversation forward. Hence my piece at Writer Unboxed. Hence this section of the Ether today.
Because there are untold hurdles ahead in this vast, digitally enabled terra nova of self-publishing at our feet. When new writers ask me what to do, these days I suggest they wait, whether they’re looking for a DIY or traditional approach. Work on new material, take extra time to refine and edit existing work. In six months to a year, we’ll know more about what’s doable and what isn’t.
And listen to Wendig:
Just don’t be that guy. Don’t be the crazy person. Write well. Be cool.