Monday, October 31, 2011

Self Pub Suicide

The Indie vs. Trad debate is starting to annoy me. Generally speaking, I really could care less. I mean, everyone is going to have their own opinion, and that is just fine. Really, it is just fine by me.

But there are some sneaky issues that seem to have made their way into this new self-pub world. And it has been infecting my Twitter feed with the diehards on either side.

I didn't need to say anything until someone I respect started to get a little carried away. Now, she is pretty tied up in the traditional way of things, and much like me, has standards. **Note I did not say "high" standards, which most seem to think means unachievable.

No, much like me, she thinks that sentences need to flow well and have some sense of structure. We believe in proper grammar and spelling, plausible plot lines, proper transitions, and of course, showing and not telling. Unlike me, she wants to go traditional. So, you'd think that I would be at her throat when she makes her comments about the idiocy of self-pubbers. Nope. Because most of the time, she's right.

Now, she was getting a slight bit negative to me, so I dropped her a line to mention it. In the conversation something dawned on me. There are people who are directly going at her jugular because she sounds just like trad pub. It was a "whoa" moment when I realized how their anger is misdirected...
Hear me out. Yeah, she sounds just like 'em. But she is not them. She does not represent the Big 6. So why are we even having this debate amongst ourselves?

Why are we tearing down other authors out there because they believe in another system? I know people are tearing her down because she sounds like trad pub. Why does she sound like trad pub? Simply because she has (completely normal) standards and doesn't pat anyone else on the back.

Dear Self Pubbers:

Face it. Your work probably sucks.

I'll give you a minute to contemplate that.

Your work is most likely unreadable and a waste of money... I don't care how low you sell it for. You are bordering on the edge of being a junk car salesman. (See my comment below before you get angry.)

I remind myself of these facts everyday when I sit down to my WIP. I haven't pubbed yet. But, I know I could pub right now, and it would be a lot better than a lot of the crap out there. But that's not saying much.

 So why are people doing it? See above picture... because they think it's the only way out. And it's career suicide. I like what Bill Maher said, "[Career] Suicide is man's way of telling God, 'You can't fire me- I quit.'" It's like all these new self-pubbers out there are trying to send traditional publishing some great message. I look at what Maher said, and I see a parallel quote there, something along the lines of, "Traditional publishing can't reject me, I'll self pub!" Yeah, but in reality, most of the time the big guys get the last laugh.

Granted, you can harass people's feeds and pay for ads, etc. That may get you some sales. But as of right now, there are probably only 3 self-pubbers that I would buy based on their name alone, and one of them is NOT Amanda Hocking. 

There are, however, at least 10 people I am waiting to see their book published, some are self-pubs and some are trad pubs. And  I will buy them as soon as they come out because I support them as writers. And trust me, if you alpha, beta, and edit the crap out of your work, it will eventually get there. It will get to the point where me and my fellow writer friends will not be wanting to scratch our eyes out.

This is a picture of Self-Pub Avenue

 In fact, I'm sure a lot of self pubbers have a case against this blog in some way or another. Instead of going off on a tirade, I'll host a challenge. If you have self-pubbed a book that you think is just ace, send me the title and your name. If it's in paperback, kudos to you for not just going ebook, but you'll need to send me a copy. I will do a free line crit. A free PUBLIC line crit. I'm not sure how long it would be, but generally I stop when my eyes are rolling every other line. I am not nice in my crits. As a matter of fact, I'll open it up to be critiqued by my little piece of the writer world, too. Just to be nice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Space Gives Perspective

Last week, things came crumbling in around me. No matter how hard I tried, the walls kept rushing towards me, trapping and holding me. My mind screamed at me, yelling, tormenting me... telling me to get away, far, far away from these walls. So I decided to run.
It seemed like the right thing to do.
I was down, dejected, and tired of complaining about the same things.
I also had a good excuse.

My family has been experiencing some personal problems that I have no right to share here. But, I had been promising to come up for a visit. So, it seemed like a good solution. Two birds, one stone sort of thing.

Here's where I teach my readers a lesson. Some may be familiar with this concept, others may not be. You are all familiar with the saying the grass is always greener on the other side. It's true. I knew this before I even left. There is a term I use with everyone who has similar issues: geographical baggage.

Geographical baggage refers to the baggage that travels with you no matter where you go. If you "just want to get out of this town" or "need to get away" in order to "solve" your problems, you are foolishly ignorant.

Distance will not solve any of your problems because the problems you have will travel along with you no matter where on earth you go.
I knew this before I left, but a change of scenery can help you hone into what issues follow you. That's what I wanted to know and see. I wanted to see what these walls (that were closing in on me) were made of. My lack of control of my situation, lack of enough income, and/or lack of happiness in my relationship. These were all potential issues.

It didn't take me 6 hours to realize that there wasn't another person in the world that I wanted there with me, my guy. So relationship was not it.

It took me less than 12 hours to realize that I had plenty of control in my life. This became apparent when my dad took my control away by toting me around in his truck running errands for six hours following my 11 hour train ride. I have plenty of control on my life, I only needed to be reminded of what it felt like to be out of control.

It took less than 24 hours to realize that I didn't need more money, I had everything I really  NEEDED. I also saw people who had plenty of money and were miserable. Money is only a problem if I let myself get caught up in it.  

The truth is, I kinda walked into a hornet's nest without much warning. If this was my dirty laundry to air, I would certainly share, but it's not. Spending time with the individuals in my family was great. I love... LOVE... my siblings, my dad and stepmom. Together, however, it's a bit of a constant power struggle and battle of wits.

And this tension forced me to analyze my own situation even more. If all the potential causes of my trapped feelings were not, in fact, the causes... then what was?

When the tension got to be a bit too much, I retreated into my Nook to read. I'd been reading a book by Andy Christofferson called Peace Corpse. I chose that book to read out of my many others because I knew it'd make me laugh.

He's honest, which is something I needed. The book is pretty much his take on life in the Peace Corps. But, it's filled with what really goes on there. As well as all his musings on life. Some of the things that he shares makes me feel really guilty, ya know, that guilty pleasure you get from sneaking into someone's personal thoughts. Kinda like reading a diary. But better. Much better.

Anyway, I read this book when the tension was getting too much, and I found myself asking all kinds of questions about my life that I don't think I would have had time to ask otherwise. The more I think about it, I felt like he had taken the much longer road I had wanted to. I wanted to get away and gain some ground on my own life. He'd taken two years in the Peace Corps in Africa. I only had a week in DC with my family. All I had to do was read along, and I felt I got all the experience I needed without having to live through them.

Which is a good thing. And I think Christofferson really summed up the idea for me. I didn't have to leave home to get my answers. I just needed perspective. And I did something that he couldn't. I came home early.

I felt a lack of control not because I actually lack the control. It's because I was not utilizing the control I had. I think a lot of people have this problem. The solution is to become more organized and focused. I need to TAKE control of the things I want to have control over.

Relationship problems are wherever you go with whomever you're with. But, when it came to it, there was no one else I wanted beside me on my journey. There was no one else I could think about sharing it with. Boredom and monotony are commonplace when you've been with someone as long as we've been together. And "spicing it up" is ridiculously cliche and really is, most times, forced and equally boring. But, sharing the daily moments is something I had forgotten. I thought about sharing the moments of traveling with him, and I'd forgotten about sharing the daily journey of our lives. And when I say journey, I do not mean the mundane tasks of our days. I mean the real journey.

And lastly, money. In our society, we have a "I want it now" mentality. Okay, I'll give in to that a little. But, as much as I realized there were some things I really wanted, I also realized there were less tangible things that had become more important. Instead of focusing on the material things, I began focusing on what I wanted them for. I want a new phone because I want to be more in touch with people (yes, that means you, the readers!). I want a new(er) car so that I can see more of my countryside and visit family more.

If I focus on those things, I am more determined to do what it takes to get them, while still being at peace with myself for not having them.

All in all, I feel enlightened. Those walls are still there, and I find myself eying them even now. But, I have a plan. I'm going to write down my goals, and I'm going to figure out how to make the changes I want in my life. And all those changes, I intend to share with you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zombie Walk 2011

I found out my city was having a Zombie Walk. In the spirit of Yes Man, I decided, "Sure, why not." So, it was sometime in the early AM when I stumbled across this news. But, seeing as I am a 3rd shifter, it was nearing my bedtime. This was my plan, catch a few hours of Zz's and then head to the Halloween store, stock up, and then harass my friends until they either join me or help me in my endeavor.

Don't worry, no friends were harmed in the making of Zombie AE. Though, they were rushed. Makeup was accomplished in less than 30 minutes. Complete with liquid latex scabs and mouth that had eaten brains.

Anyway, I got a friend to do my makeup and called a friend who I thought would be doing it, too. That's right, I have friends who do these things without my urging...

People brought canned food as a donation. No idea how much we raised. Hopefully something. I know we raised at least 5 cans cause that's how much I brought.

This is the result of a bunch of people getting together to celebrate stuff.... (Please, keep in my mind that this is all in good fun. It is sometimes a good idea to do something that is out of your norm. In this case, I had a lot of fun.)

Part of the queue. Only part of it.

Hey, you know you gotta have an Elvis Zombie in his PJ's

Bride Zombie. Only one of these actually.

Clown and her boyfriend zombie

Voodoo Zombie, which I thought was really clever

Flapper Zombie

This isn't a zombie. This is what you feel like when you get off from work.

Just kidding, he's definitely a zombie.

They killed him. Or so they thought...

...cause you can't kill Zombies. Forget that double tap rule.

Most colorful zombie

Yeah, we had zombie hunters and survivors. Of course.
Fresh flesh is how zombies live.
Zombie out.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Selling Out vs. Selling Out

I try to relate "what inspires me" (I hate that cliche) to write my blog posts. Sometimes, I just can't do them justice. And, I am afraid, this may be one of those times.

Today, I witnessed my landlady, a very kindly lady, getting verbally harassed by her husband for not putting air in her tire. She'd just gotten in a wreck on her moped. She wrecked due to this faulty moped tire, and he was yelling at her for it. Then the conversation turned to that of the house my guy and I rent. Perhaps you remember me saying we were going to buy it. We're not, at least not anytime soon. Our landlady's husband decided to revoke one of the "ideal" conditions she had given us. That, in and of itself, got me pretty emotional.

I can't really go into all the details, but the conversation left me want to save her. To help my landlady. To do something! But what could I do?

And this is not uncommon for me. I am frequently in a position where I cannot afford to help someone out. Sometimes the person I can't afford to help is myself. So, I bring you to the meat of this article: selling out.

I do not doubt my ability to write a fantastically literary piece. It may take 10 years or more, but I know I could do it. It. Would. Be. Great. But, what about in the meantime? I cannot sit and watch others around me go through life barely making it through because I'm too proud to write anything but "literature".

So, my choices are to sell out or... to sell out.

That's how I see it. I can either write divine literary fiction, complete trash (and then pimp it out like a spambot)or I can write the best fiction I can that will sell. I've ruled out the first option. Let's be honest with ourselves. Most of us have some "great" in our minds that we aspire to. Edgar Allen Poe, Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson. These are some of my favorites. But, I'm not them. So, either way, what are my other two options? It's selling out.

Some people say writing for money is garbage. I say that those people obviously must be selfish and blind (unless you are financially able to help everyone in your current state). I know too many people that I want to help. Some would argue that I am "not true to my craft" or that "it's not about money". Well, guess what, as a writer, I study people. I see their pain. I feel their pain. It is what makes my writing better. I refuse to see that pain and to use it strictly for literary gain. I see their pain and I'm not too self involved or blind to realize I can do something to change it.

On the other hand, I refuse to write complete and utter trash. Well, that's not true... most of my first drafts were complete and utter trash. Trust me, I'm not being modest. I could write trashy smut novels to earn my dime. (And no offense to erotica writers; there's no correlation here.) I'm talking about the writing that is strictly nothing but an inconsistent series of well-penned heightened emotional moments of swoons or gasps. Bad writing. Playing to the major plot points that sell, and then ignoring the quality of writing.

Ya know, Twilight caught a lot of crap for the content matter. I give it hell because she used the same repetitive adjectives (not to mention the adverbs galore). That is what I detest. If my content has to have swoon moments and gasps to sell, then I will make sure I do my absolute best to make the quality of writing between those moments worth reading. I will make sure that the characters are built in a way that swoon moments really are swoon moments... and not just because some chick and a hot guy are hooking up.

So, guess what. I'm a sellout. But, at least I'm not a sellout. The guys in my book are attractive, it sells. The girls in my book aren't bad either. There are quasi love triangles, that sells. Truth is, I enjoy what I'm writing. It's not putting all of my bleeding heart on my page (as the literary masterpiece would be), but it will sell. Selling results in being able to help out more people more affectively, and it is more important than my pride. If I'm gonna sell out, and if you're gonna sell out too, at least do it with some dignity.