Open Letter to Self-Published Authors, by All Hail Grimlock

(E. here. The following is a post from a Booklikes member that goes by the handle All Hail Grimlock. I keep hearing about how the “Sea of Crap” isn’t affecting indie authors and their sales. Some even say their sales are getting better. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been watching the tides change, mainly because I’m an active member of book sites like Goodreads and Booklikes. For fuck’s sake, who’re you going to listen to? Other authors? Or the people who actually buy your books? It might not be bad now, but it’s coming. Get a clue.)

The following post can be read HERE or below.

I’ve been reading about Chuck Wendig and how he’s a gatekeeper on the kboards, or how he’s chastising and saying awful things, and why should you care if anyone else produces dreck?

So I’ll say what I’ve said from the start, which is if you don’t care, neither do I. I see many authors, self-published authors, who will not care about editing and say they can’t afford editing, and also complain that people – people like me – don’t give self-publishing authors much of a chance, if they give them a chance at all.

I hear, ‘just read the samples’, ‘what do you expect for ninety-nine cents or even three dollars’, or some form of argument that amounts to me going through a slushpile that wouldn’t make it past editors at publishing companies. I’m not interested; I have better ways to spend my time, in fact, than reading hundreds of samples to find a well-edited, professional book when I can find that elsewhere.

Or in other words, you can’t have it both ways. If you want me to consider self-publishing seriously, take your profession seriously. The fact that so many authors are cheerleading mediocre, half-assed efforts only encourages me not to turn to self-published books for my reading needs.

I’ve found some self-publishers who are amazing. Talented, edited, professional, and even courteous. But the majority do not fall into that category, and I am unwilling to put up with sifting through unedited manuscripts. If you, as you claim, want more people to read self-edited books, then stop putting the onus on the readers. Stop telling us it’s our responsibility to make our way through the labyrinths of poorly edited, and unedited books, to find those. Stop trying to shame us because we have books we know we like, published by a company that has minimum standards; you try to shame us by pointing at us and telling us we’re not putting in the effort. And therein lies your problem: for some of us, it’s just so much of an effort to find anything that does meet those minimum standards in the self-publishing community. Stop telling us that only the good books will survive, as clearly that is not the case because unedited manuscripts that read like the author knows english as a second or third language – to be generous – wrote it become bestsellers.

If other people want to read that, want to waste their time searching for the diamonds in the rough, so be it. I do not. And I refuse to do it. Not only that, horror of horrors, I refuse to be shamed for using my time wisely and sticking to what I like – from brilliant traditionally published books, to self-published books my friends with great taste recommend, to horrible monster-porn that makes me laugh it’s so bad.

I’m certainly not going to see the light of sampling all day long just because one more author who doesn’t care about their product, and doesn’t want to spend time or money editing their books, tells me that the samples exist. I know. I’m still not even sampling your books for a reason.

(E. again. For those of you saying to yourself that this is just one person’s thoughts, you’re mistaken. It’s already much harder to get reviews for self-published books and it will continue to get more difficult. The simple truth is that most readers aren’t as vocal as this, but they feel the same way. What you will see is a gradual decrease in sales for indies, or no sales whatsoever. Of course authors like Konrath and Howey and Wendig are projecting a massive increase in sales, they’ve already grown and cultivated a fan base. If you’re not worried about this recent shift in reviewers’ attitude, you’re a damn fool.)


2 thoughts on “Open Letter to Self-Published Authors, by All Hail Grimlock

  1. Only within the last several months have I turned to consider the indie publishing market. I’ve been attempting (unsuccessfully) to secure traditional agency publication for my novel for a while now and so have decided to find out whether there is less or more nonsense in the indie publishing market.

    So far, I’ve started by reading a bunch of independently published stories. Most sucked; not all but most. I did just happen to start a young adult story not because I read this genre regularly but because the author helped me with a cover design issue I had. Her story is very good and I would recommend it alongside a number of traditionally published novels.

    But All Hail’s point is a good one; no one is going to take time to sift through a sea of crap to find a good story. Life is too short. I don’t exactly have a lot of expendable cash to hire an editor but it’s even more expensive to self-publish low-quality fiction, since it will end up reflecting not just on you but on the independent publishing world in a broader way. And if you are going to self-publish, you do have a responsibility and and obligation to the rest of your community.

    I appreciated the directness of this post, in other words.

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