The Blog Posting Wherein I Remove Myself from the Self-Publishing Debate


It all started with my smart phone, you see. It buzzed and then a little blue light came on telling me that I should pick up my phone, which I did. A quick swipe told me that Twitter wanted me so I swiped the app and learned that my blog posting entitled “Two Years since My Book Deal: What Have I Learned” was being featured on a blog about self-publishing entitled, The Passive Voice.

Cool, I thought. Someone actually noticed my blog! (I don’t get boatloads of comments because I’m still a relative unknown in the book world, but I try to blog regularly because I do have a few people that like to interact with me.) Exciting, right? Anyway, I clicked on the link and to my surprise, I found not my entire blog posting, just lifted portions and that’s about it. I should also add that nobody asked me if they could quote my blog in their blog post. Confused yet?

Fine, I thought. Let ’em quote my blog post. Then I scrolled down and read the comments. This led, of course, to me putting in my two cents and VOILA! Forty-some comments later and I learn that I’m basically a twat, I’m misinformed and apparently, living on another planet entirely.

I consider myself reasonably social media savvy. It’s pretty clear that I’m not and my mistake was in commenting and engaging the self-publishing folk.  Now, I’ve said on this blog many times that I don’t recommend self-publishing but that was based on my interactions with some authors who’ve met with little success self-publishing a book. I have said, and will continue to say, that many many many many (see … I didn’t say “most” this time) self-published books are atrocious because it’s true. In fairness, many many traditionally published books aren’t all that shit hot either, but at least they have better cover art.

Look, to all the people who think I’m an ill-informed twat because of my blog post and because of my comments on The Passive Voice, get a life. No, seriously … get a life. If you feel threatened by the observations from a tiny wee little blog written by a bald author who has had marginal success in traditional publishing, you really are barking up the wrong tree. I’m about as influential in the publishing world and in the blogosphere as Canada is at middle eastern diplomacy.

I have had a small measure of success in traditional publishing, but I’m no expert and I often express this point of view in my blog posts. I don’t take myself seriously nor should you or anyone because I write bubble gum. I write books about magic and slamming evil and I admit regularly that I suck at writing romance. I have been writing all my life and I’ve been trying to get published since my soon to be 24 year old son was in diapers and there was no Internet or LOLCats. The reason I wanted to try to get published? To see if I could do it. The reason I sought a literary agent? To see if I could land one.

I’m also the first person to point out that I consider myself to be pretty damned lucky, by the way. I’m my worst critic. I think that everything I write is worse than the worst dinosaur erotica novel currently available on Amazon. I am grateful to a lot of people, mostly my wife who thinks I have some talent and my literary agent who has gone to the freaking wall for me. I’m blessed to have met amazing, wonderful people during my publishing journey. My latest books took me to England two years running and I got to watch Chelsea play my beloved Norwich City FC (who are in a relegation battle right now).

I wasn’t asked if my blog post could be featured on another blog. (There’s a copyright notice at the bottom of this page. Scroll down and you will see it.) I didn’t ask for the attention of the Passive Voice. It’s clear that  I poked the beast with a stick once I decided to engage with you all. My bad. I’m 46 and I should know better.

I’ll take this time to apologize to the self-publishing tribe on The Passive Voice if my comments antagonized you.  If self-publishing is your writing journey of choice and you’re happy with it, then good on you! Make as much money as you can and enjoy your creative control as you become the next J.K. Rowling. I will say this much though: nobody is served well by vitriolic statements and baby, there’s a ton of vitriol in the comment section. I could take a bath in it.

And I contributed to it by engaging your tribe.

My experience with traditional publishing has been just that: my experience. Everything I write on my blog is from my own point of view. I’ve had ups, downs and in-betweens in the world of publishing. But do you want to know something? I’m not ready to become the next big self-publishing phenomenon because I’m not as good a writer as I’d like to be and I rely heavily on the insight of those so-called gatekeepers your tribe dislikes so much. I need my agent to kick my ass because it makes me a better author. I need an editor at a publishing house to do things like, oh, remind me that teenagers swear, for example. I suck at photoshop and I need a good cover artist. I need a lot of things, but what I don’t need is to be distracted from writing my next book.

So, I bid you adieu, self-publishing tribe. Good luck on your journey and you know, maybe tone down the rhetoric because it’s a total buzz kill.

Peace out, yo.


7 thoughts on “The Blog Posting Wherein I Remove Myself from the Self-Publishing Debate

  1. I wouldn’t worry. The Passive Voice is a place for Self-Publishing/E-book evangelism. I’ve read so many articles there that are factually inaccurate.
    In this case I think he just posted something someone found inflammatory, i.e. clickbait.

    I do find it interesting though that a guy claiming to be a contract lawyer looking into working with author contracts has so little respect for copyright. I am not a lawyer, but I am pretty sure that just reposting like that is breach of copyright. He could use Fair Use as a defence, but as I understand it he would at least have to comment on what he posts to do that.

  2. I steer clear of any radical thinkers no matter what side they are on. I hope they can be reasonable and let this go. It seems like the only ones allowed to have an opinion is them! But maybe something good will come of it, they say any press is good press 🙂 Let me know if the pitchfork mob arrives. I’m pretty good with a bow

  3. Yeah, The Passive Voice can be a bit of a zoo sometimes, but even though the people there can be pretty vitriolic toward big publishing and its apologists, I do think that they mean well when it comes to writers and authors, no matter how they’re published. Also, I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to call self-publishing a “tribe.” Within self-publishing, there is a multiplicity of different views, approaches, genres, norms, taboos, etc. As a self-published indie writer, some of the most vitriolic debates I’ve gotten into have been with other indie writers who subscribe to a different school of self-publishing.

    If it seems like a strange world where little makes sense or sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s an entirely different paradigm from the one that you’re used to. Within that paradigm, there’s a lot of different tribes and factions, but the thing they have in common is that their worldview of publishing–our worldview of publishing–is so different as to be almost incompatible. The thing about paradigms, though, is that they can shift, and sometimes in ways that are quite surprising. If you’d told me five years ago that today I’d be self-published, I would have laughed my head off at you. If you’d told me that I’d be making a living today without a publisher, I would have sobered up and made the transition a hell of a lot sooner.

    Honestly, I don’t find this distinction between “self-published” and “traditionally published” to be very useful. In fact, I find it distracting at best, and needlessly destructive at worst. However we’re published, we’re all still writers. Our goals and our paths may be different, but there’s nothing to be gained by dividing ourselves into “tribes” and pitting ourselves against each other. If some of us are more evangelical about one path than another, it’s often because we’ve found that path to work so much better than the others that we can’t help but encourage everyone to try it.

    That’s certainly the case with me, at least. The best thing I ever did for my career was self-publish. It was a huge paradigm shift, but it was totally worth it, because it helped me to accomplish my goal: to make a living telling stories that I love. So please don’t see us as an enemy tribe, even if some of us can be a bit tribal at times. Self-publishing is a very big tent, and there’s plenty of room beneath it for everyone.

    • I think that whatever floats your boat. I like the support one gets from a professional editor, etc. I also don’t have the time to pursue marketing efforts to the extent that a publisher might be able to.

      • You can self-publish and use a professional editor. There are some excellent free-lance ones. (This also applies to cover designers and copy editors and marketers. Yes, you pay for them, but you’re paying for them with a traditional publisher, too.) Just pointing that out.

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