This shitstorm of a year has finally come to a close. Now is the time to look back and reflect on what we've lost...
and what we've gained...
That's a depressing way to end the year. But as luck would have it, some fresh meat just fell into the grinder, and I can bring this year to an end doing what I do best... making fun of stupid shitty people.
Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post in response to an article in the Guardian in which Ros Barber had some interesting things to say about self-publishing.
Wait, what's that? What do you mean, "Who the fuck is Ros Barber?" How do you not know her? She's a traditionally published author! One of her books has twenty-seven reviews!
All right, fine. Go read my blog post, then come back when you've caught up with the rest of the world.
Fast forward to an article I saw linked on Facebook this morning, in which another literary genius has taken up her quill and ink against the evil forces of self-publishing.
The Huffington Post has seen fit, in their journalistic wisdom, to publish the rantings of none other than world-renowned Master of Literature, Laurie Gough, in what is certainly her most well-known publication to date (by leaps and bounds, judging by her books' Amazon rankings), Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word.
Ms Gough begins the article with the boldly dubious claim that other people often talk to her. We'll have to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one. From there, she goes on to say this:
"I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish."
What I believe she was going for there is an attempt at hyperbole.
Her aim, as I understand it, was to demonstrate just how very little she would like to self-publish. Personally, I found the effort lacking for someone who claims to care so much about the craft.
The Donald Trump part works well enough, because the article is made up of written words, which Trump supporters generally shy away from, as they tend to view them as a form of 'liberal sorcery'.
But what of the reference to a Disney cruise? That doesn't sound so bad. For the hyperbole to work, the entire statement should be unpleasant. Perhaps she might have said, “I'd rather be trapped in an elevator to hell with Donald Trump than self-publish.” That's all pretty grim.
Even then, Donald Trump is kind of low-hanging fruit. If you want to make a hyperbolic statement involving Trump, I feel it's best to kick it up a notch.
“I'd rather be a louse living in Donald Trump's fake pubes than self-publish.”
The article predictably goes on from there on some rambling about apprenticeships and gatekeepers, and how you're only worth as much as some random dudes in suits say you are.
And that's fine for someone with crippling self-esteem issues, but anyone considering writing for a living might weigh Laurie Gough's advice against the fact that her books don't sell for shit.
After a few more paragraphs of mindless blathering about brain surgery and her own terrible singing voice, Laurie Gough shares her thoughts on when self-publishing can be a good thing.
"I have noting against people who want to self-publish, especially if they're elderly."
Wow. Is it just me, or does that sound like some fucked up shit to say? Any thoughts from the elderly on that?
Laurie then once again measures her own value by the opinions of people whose thoughts she respects more than her own, quoting a couple of actually successful writers who also look down on self-publishing. Strangely enough, she fails to mention the masses of traditionally published writers who are going hybrid or full-on indie.
But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what Laurie Gough and Ros Barber, or even Brad Thor and Sue Grafton think. The following two statements remain true.
1. Gatekeepers have never been, nor will they ever be, purely interested in the quality of art.
Traditional or indie, publishing is a business, and you're a fool if you believe that the big publishers are more interested in the sanctity of the written word than they are about their bottom line. Twilight wasn't picked up for its literary merit. It was picked up because someone thought there were enough brain-dead girls in the world who would empty their wallets to imagine themselves being creepily stalked by a sparkly vampire. It's the McDonald's of literature.
And that's a traditional publishing success story. They're not always so good about picking out winners, as the careers of Laurie Gough and Ros Barber demonstrate.
2. Self-publishing isn't going anywhere.
The genie is out of the bottle, and nothing could be better for the art of writing. Sure, there's a lot of shit out there, but who gives a fuck? There are so many great books out there as well, many of which would never have been published traditionally.
Indie publishing means that art can be put out for art's sake. Bigger risks can be taken because self-published authors aren't beholden to shareholders. Weirdly specific niches are being filled. New genres are sprouting up and thriving. Millions of readers are devouring books that they never would have had the opportunities to read under the thumb of traditional publishing, and thousands of authors are making a full-time living by writing the stories they want to write without having to surrender their creative integrity, or the lion's share of their money, to middlemen. These are undeniably wonderful things, and anyone who says otherwise can eat a dick.
As I piss on the ashes of the dumpster fire that was 2016, I look forward to continuing to self-publish like a motherfucker in 2017. In fact, after releasing Critical Failures V, I just might write a book called “Self-Publishing Like A Motherfucker”, because being a self-published author means I can write and publish whatever the fuck I want.