At the end of this post, we’re going to find the happy. You’ll feel the height and breadth of the contrast to the rest of the article when we bring this post in for a landing. Also, at the bottom, you’ll get some excellent Mother’s Day advice. Now, here’s ten things that suck:
1. Relentless Facebook group “marketing.”
How can I miss you if you don’t go away? Spread that stuff out! Give me some space instead of pummeling me with spam. I am begging you.
2. Publishing gurus saying (smugly) that ebook sales are slowing down.
Slowing down from a rocket launch still gets us to high orbit. Nobody said we’d grow 800% every year. Slow down from that a bit and the growth curve still exceeds any reasonable expectations. E-publishing is a young industry and it’s doing great.
3. Certain players in traditional publishing complaining about Amazon’s “monopoly.”
It is not, by any definition, a monopoly. Amazon dominates the market because in most areas of marketing and innovation, they’re ahead of their competitors. I want Amazon to have healthy competition. If other platforms happen to suck, that’s not Amazon’s fault. Attention other platforms: up your game. Complaining about Amazon is not solving your problems. Consider emulating best practices instead of bitching about them.
4. Bagging on box sets.
I’m in on a box set with seven other awesome horror authors. Together, we’re amping up our discoverability and finding new readers with what Joanna Penn calls “coopetition.” It doesn’t devalue my books to charge 99 cents. It’s a valuable investment in new readers. It’s one strategy that says, “I value readers.” Generosity is one worthwhile strategy for any author who isn’t out to make a quick buck. We’re in this for the long game and we stand proud.
5. Libel in book reviews.
A friend of mine, whom I shall not name so she draws no further ire, has been insulted personally, maligned and called a fraud on Amazon. Her bio has been questioned. Go ahead and hit the “Report abuse” button. Many people have done so and pointed out to Amazon that this is libel. The review remains. Still! That sucks.
6. Spoilers in reviews.
Please don’t tell the whole story in a review. That’s what reading the book is for. I was further outraged recently to find that a review of a new author’s book (which is great) contained a spoiler. Worse, that three-star spoiler was ranked “most helpful.”
7. The fun police.
Popularity, and pendulums, swing back and forth. Today’s fans can have a strange propensity to turn into tomorrow’s haters if an artist dares to change. It’s not selling out, dude. It’s growing. If you now hate a superstar author you used to love, please examine why you’d venture into “hate” territory over a piece of entertainment. Maybe this book isn’t you. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means it’s not to your taste. Everybody’s had food poisoning a few times but we all keep eating. Chill.
8. All or nothing.
Don’t quit after one book because that book didn’t win the sales lottery. We focus too much on rare outliers and not enough on the people who are merely doing well. As if good isn’t good enough. This life is about the journey, not the dead stop at the end. It’s about the writing and the joy of creation. If someone else finds joy in your creation, fantastic! (Be assured, no matter how bad your early attempts are, someone will love it.) Relax.
People ask why billionaires keep trying to make money after so many millions or billions are already in the bank. How many homes do you need? But I think it’s more than just smelly greed. There’s a clue in the mentality of the writer: this is simply what we do. That’s where the fun is. We would do this for free. Many of us already write for free or are in debt because of our obsession for the written word. Enjoy the process and stop thinking in terms of winning and losing.
Think in terms of doing.
9. Fake outrage.
Despite the tone of this post, I’m a nice guy. But when one writer calls another a “hack” on the Internet, I have to ask a question or two: You do realize the object of your casual derision is a human being doing the best they can, right? Do you think you’d walk away unbloodied if you treated people in person the way you do when you’re safe behind a keyboard? Right.
So don’t be a troll. And if you’re trying to sabotage another author to make yourself look or feel good, you know that won’t work, right? We know the truth and you know trashing other authors with fake reviews doesn’t advance your books, right? You want fan love? Earn it. You aren’t climbing over anybody’s body any other way. And what if those nasty tactics actually did work? You’d always know you earned nothing. That angry, fake review from a fake account just makes you look angry and dumb and we all know it’s not real. Be real.
10. “It’s been done.”
Everything has been done. However, not everything has been explored in quite the unique way only you, Mr./Ms./Mrs./Dr./Whatever Author, can write it.
“It’s been done,” is a lazy agent’s way of saying no. “It’s been done,” is the dismissive wave of a critic who doesn’t bother to look deeper. “It’s been done,” is the casual cruelty of a dream crusher. These people aren’t your readers. They’re incurious, boring people. Don’t believe them. You can make anything fresh. Some will say there are only twelve plots, or ten, or five. I say there are two: Good versus Evil (and variations thereof) and Boy gets Girl (and variations thereof.)
Maybe the next trend will be westerns. These things go in cycles and westerns haven’t been hot for a while. Maybe you will be the pioneer to break new ground in the genre and spawn a thousand vacuous imitators who will spur critics to, once again, proclaim the genre dead. All genres are proclaimed dead at some point and every critic who says so is (almost) always proven wrong. Genres get resurrected and everything runs how and cold. Don’t chase these trends. Heat them up again in new ways.
You be you. Have a blast. We’ve stepped through the darkness with this post. Now let’s go be lights. Blow them away with what you can do. Let’s flounce out on to the field, put ourselves out there, karma-positive and ready to write amazing fiction so hot we melt fans’ faces.
I already love you. Know why? Because you aren’t done. You’re a writer. You’ll always be a writer and nobody’s pulling down your flag.
~ To find out more about my books, go to AllThatChazz.com. To see Spiderman 2, go to a theater. For a nice, cool drink, squeeze some limes into some cold water from the fridge. To hear cool interviews with cool people, try CoolPeoplePodcast.com. To stay in the will, call you Mom on Sunday. It’s Mother’s Day. Forgive her for what she said about your boobs in front of your friends that time in grade 9.