“Anyone can do this … Nothing good comes from discouraging an artist.”
WARNING: This blog is a bit ranty (yea it’s so bad I’m making up words so THERE) and I’m including emphasis words (swear words for those of you who missed my tweet on the matter) … if you hate those things, you might want to stop reading here. You have been warned. 😉
SO…You’re a good man Kevin Smith. I doubt you’ll stop by my blog (though hell, I’m gonna tag you just because you fucking ROCK and wouldn’t it be cool if you did stop by) but if you do I want you to know that I think what you do is important. Please keep on encouraging artists because there are a shit-ton of negative-nancies out there and what’s worst of all, many of them are the very people who should be encouraging us most. Other artists and people in the industry.
Tonight’s topic is about Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, but it’s also about how we treat each other. It’s about art. It’s about movies. It’s about you and me and the future of how we create and share our work. So… watch the clip below if you like (Kevin talking about creating stuff!) and then follow the rabbit down the hole and click that “continue reading” link!
Okay so – tonight I read a friend’s author page and he had a link to an article in the Washington Post titled: “No I don’t want to read your self-published book” by Ron Charles. And before I go further let me put my cards on the table and be real blunt. I seriously would LOVE to be traditionally published.
I mean, I hate to admit it but it is a validation of sorts, isn’t it? The literary powers that be are essentially telling you, “YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.” That what you create isn’t shit. That your blood, sweat, and tears amount to some hill of beans in this damn world and by God, they will pay you for it.
Wow, who wouldn’t like that?!? These people represent some of the greats. They are the companies who published the books I was forced to read in school, the companies who published most (if not all) of the books I CHOSE to read as a kid and many of those which I buy as an adult. To be among the number of those who I respect and uphold as true artists… nothing would be more amazing and so YES. I have a touch of the elitist streak in me. I kinda want that experience.
Have you been to any of the big publisher’s websites where they host communities of aspiring authors talking about their dreams of (and some their experience of) “The Call.” I hadn’t given it much thought until tonight because, like so many, I read the stories and smile. I’m happy for those who got them, jealous too I suppose, but I dream of being that person… and why? I mean, all that shit I said above aside… WHY?
I’ve always thought I was the one stuck on myself with my desire to get “The Call” but really I wonder if it isn’t the publishing houses who have come to make a VERY big deal about that event because they NEED people to stare at those stories of “The Call” with arrogant desire – a yearning for the publishing houses to call me up and say, “YES, you are an artist and you’re creations are worth something.”
If you’re laughing right now – if you’re wondering what could those publishing houses possibly need with my continued desire for their validation… for my constant yearning to be put above my peers and fellow artists by their kind words (as if they were God himself to deem what is truly art or not)… I want you to stop a moment and REALLY give some thought to this. And no, I’m not going to talk about how Amazon is hurting traditional publishing or how self-published authors get better royalties and how maybe the traditional publishing houses NEED our desire for their approve to stay alive in the future. That’s bunk. They will evolve. They will grow and I’m pretty sure in the generations to come, there will still be authors waiting for “The Call” though it may be a bit different than it is now.
What I want you to consider is something that Kevin Smith made me think of tonight.
We have channels dedicated to them. We have websites galore. We have festivals and any idiot with a camera can go out and make a stinking pile of dog poo and call it a movie and POSSIBLY be reviewed by his peers and crits and be taken seriously as an artist because… yes, even dog poo could be art.
No one tells an up and coming Indie Film Maker … you’re only doing this because no real movie studio would hire you.
No one tells the Indie Film Maker … you’re making vanity films.
No one tells the Indie Film Maker … oh, so you’re not really a film maker, it’s just a hobby then?
Hell no. Why? Because we have been allowed to see films as art. And why, you ask, is that and what the HELL does it have to do with Self-Publishing? Well, I doubt major film studios, who have MILLIONS to sink into a single film’s tech, director, script, cast, etc etc etc … lose much sleep over the young Kevin Smiths of the world. They can afford to support them and look altruistic and “in support of the arts” (while also using indie films they support as a source to find new talent for their movie studios) These studios know that no matter how amazing Clerks really is… it’s not going to outdo the Avengers on a box office weekend and so, because they lose little money over it, they can afford to support the arts.
However… major publishers can’t afford that.
Unlike Indie Film Makers, the Self-Published author CAN afford to hire freelancing editors, cover artists, promo teams etc etc etc… thanks to social media you can reach your potential customers *gasp* JUST AS TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AUTHORS CAN! And so now the average self-published person, one who treats their craft as a professional, is now COMPETITION.
Sure, you and your one book aren’t going to make them go broke BUT here’s the truth… it’s economics. There are so many readers in the USA. Each year they are willing to spend only so much on books. And now, where there was once only so many books a year available for purchase – the internet is flooded with them. Supply and demand kids. When there are more books than anyone can read, why would YOU pay top dollar for books to read anymore? That’s to say nothing of going to a library or any number of illegal ways you might get the book for free.
Publishing companies MIGHT want to help the artists out there and find new writing talent among the self-publishing masses, but I suppose it’s pretty terrifying. The logistics of it (as Mr. Ron Charles so aptly points out) as well as the resulting backlash from it could be immeasurable and impossible.
So… feeding the hate machine is a good alternative. Provide support on your websites to authors who aspire to be traditionally published while also feeding them the subtle messages you’ve been saying since publishing began: You want the call. You want to be one of our writers. Don’t “give up” on your dream of being published (which could also read: being self-published = giving up on being REALLY published.)
And you have to wonder, do they do that for the obvious reason that any money making business would? Do they do it because they NEED for us to hate on each other. For new authors to fear going self-published (for the judgement their peers, friends and family will make of them) so they don’t become competition for the limited dollars people will spend on books each year. For existing traditionally published Authors to feel like they are somehow above those who get their stories out to the world in another way… so they also don’t become competition. For Self-Published Authors to scream and rant about all the wrong things and to secretly question themselves … “Did I really give up? Am I really good enough?”
Will I still work on being traditionally published. Sure. However, if I have a chance at being self-published, I won’t turn my nose at it or count that out either.
The important take away here is this: WRITE. Right now. Write. Create something. Tell me a story. Do it not because of the money or because of the machine. Don’t think about how you’re going to market it right now or whether or not the type of topic is trending with readers… just write that fucking thing inside you that most needs to be said because if you don’t… well, at the end of the day you only have to answer to yourself.
But let’s face it. We both know you’re damn good at tearing yourself apart… aren’t you? Yea. That’s the shit they’re counting on. So write it. Write it and take the next step as it comes and while you’re on your journey, don’t look down on others. Encourage them, because it costs you nothing and the rewards are amazing.
PS: I still ♥ Kevin Smith. 😉