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Hey, Writers, Guess What? No More Excuses!

So, as most of you know, I’ve been pretty vocal on the whole self-pub/indie publishing wave that is occurring right now. See! There goes another twelve thousand digital books!

I have also made sure I’m not picking sides while the war between the “traditional” publishers and “indie” publishers wages on. It’s not my war and I have zero stake in it. Think of me as Switzerland, but without the Nazi gold.

That’s not to say I won’t take a stand where I think I need to. Now, I’m just as clueless as everyone else when it comes to where publishing is heading. What I’m not clueless about is where writing is heading if folks keep tossing their should-be-rejected-by-God-and-all-that-is-holy digital novels into the marketplace.  That’s a no-brainer.

Which brings me to my point: the no-brainers. The novels written and published without a thought. I’m not going to site specific examples, because I find that tacky. I don’t need to call people out to make my point. I have class. Well, I have the illusion of class, at least.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that if you’re going to publish your novel yourself then, as a writer, you have a duty to make sure it is professionally edited, has a professional looking cover and that you handle yourself in a professional manner. Writers, just like teachers, journalists, lawyers, doctors, architects, etc are professionals. If you want to be a writer, then you must want to be a professional also. No separation between the two exists.

Let me put it this way: would you continue to see a doctor that walks into his office with a lit Pall Mall dangling from her lips? Would you use a lawyer that has nothing but file folders stacked on his desk and not a computer in sight? Would you continue to read a journalist’s work that sites Perez Hilton as a reliable source? No, you wouldn’t. So why, as a writer, would you expect readers to tolerate your typos, your bad photoshopped cover and your author bio that was obviously written by your mother?

There’s no excuse for any of those things!

“But, Jake, I can’t afford to have all those things done professionally!”

That’s not an excuse, that’s a delay. Understand? Wait until you can afford those things. Or figure out how to beg, borrow or steal (don’t steal because that’s wrong) the services you need. There are ways to get what you need done at the price you can afford. You are not ready to be a professional if you aren’t ready to hire professional services.

“But, Jake, I see lot’s of writers publishing novels that have bad covers, tons of typos and their website looks like they developed it on 1997!”

Really? Monkey see, monkey do is your argument? There are some lemmings heading for the cliff over there. Get in line and leave me alone.

“But, Jake, if I don’t get my work out there now while ebook publishing is still new then I’ll be lost in the glut that’s about to happen?”

You do realize there have been MILLIONS of print books released before you were even born, right? Are you whining about getting lost in the glut of all of those? Please, ebooks are a format, that’s all. You were never going to be a single star in the sky before, don’t think you will now.

“But, Jake, I learn better by doing. I’ll fix the mistakes later.”

Uh-huh, right… That’s a good argument actually. After all, Doctors call their businesses “practices” because they must keep learning their entire careers. Of course, they have to go to eight years of college, years of residency, deal with state boards and licenses, keep up their CEUs for re-certification/licensure and literally have their patients lives in their hands. Once again, they are professionals. Teachers have to go through all of this too, as well as lawyers. Sure, you learn as you progress in your career, but you certainly don’t just hang out a shingle stating: “I am a Writer because I say so!” You put the time in to hone your craft to a point where someone says, “Hey, I liked that. You should publish this.” Trust me, your own word is not good enough.

“But, Jake, I’ll lose thousands of dollars if I don’t publish NOW!”

No, you won’t. That’s just stupid. There’s no gold rush, people. The vein isn’t going to disappear. There have been writers since the dawn of written language and there will be writers until society destroys itself in a massive microwaved Peep apocalypse! You aren’t going to miss the ebook train, so calm the hell down!

“But, Jake, some ebook authors have sold hundreds of thousands of books and they did it all themselves!”

Yep, you are right. That’s called The Lottery. Let me spell that L-O-T-T-E-R-Y. Not the Shirley Jackson short story masterpiece, although I’ll gladly stone your excuse-laden ass. No, this is where you have a 1 in 1 quadrillion chance of hitting those kind of numbers out of the gate. Could it happen? Sure, because it has and possibilities are infinite. Will it happen? Well, you tell me. Has your piece of crap, typo-ridden, crayon-drawn covered novel sold a hundred thousand copies yet? Didn’t think so. And neither have the majority of perfectly professional novels released, whether print or digital. Success in publishing is dictated by one thing: luck. Right story, right place, right time. Get used to it.

“But, Jake, what about-?”

Oh, shut up! No more excuses! There are no excuses to do something wrong!

Will you make mistakes? Yes, everyone does. I have books on my shelf  put out by small presses that are like pieces of art and I have books put out by billion dollar companies that have more typos than my eight year old’s book report! Shit happens, folks. But, just because shit happens doesn’t mean you should step in it if you can avoid it! That’s just crazy talk. Why purposely step in a steaming pile of shit? Who does that?

So to sum up: No excuses will be tolerated. You don’t have to be perfect, no one is, but you do have to be professional. Do it right the first time. Don’t fling your poo out there like the other monkey-sees.


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