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March 12th, 2014

8:10 AM

Gee, another indie author pointing out why traditional publishing sucks


Now, I have no issues with the content of HM Ward's blog post. But it's nothing new, the same things that have been said a million times before, and at this point, I am starting to wonder why indie authors keep saying these same things. I understand if they want to warn people off some kind of shady operation. But this topic keeps coming up on a near daily basis in the indie scene. Why? Does it keep them from sleeping well at night that some people choose to publish traditionally? Link baiting?

Perhaps it is some kind of emotional release. But what makes me cringe is how such blog entries always attract comments that reveal the disappointing "us against them" mentality of way too many indie authors. They would chime in with gleeful hyperbole about the evil of traditional publishing. They would brand traditionally published authors as suckers, even if the blog post author was careful not to do this, thus tainting the blog post with the very thing the author tried so hard to avoid.

But what really annoys me in such a situation - and one that I haven't seen occur in the comment section of the link above yet - is indie authors showing up to talk on behalf of "all" readers. You know, how all readers love indie, how all readers are celebrating the demise of print, blah blah blah, and - most obnoxious of all - how going indie would make the reading experience better for readers, and they just know that readers of course agree with these authors.

Rubbish. Firstly, most of these authors publish exclusively with KDP, which means most people in the world are locked out from buying them by the charming entity known as Amazon. I've actually had indie authors defending this decision by telling me that I can still read their books using online Kindle programs. Yes, sure, but I can't buy them, Amazon doesn't let me, that's the problem. These authors are practically telling me to pirate their works, but I don't think that is their intention. They just can't stop thinking that Amazon is their best friend in the world because it allows them to self publish easily.

For most readers of the world, therefore, readers that these indie authors never consider when they talk on behalf of "all" readers, print is still the only way to enjoy reading. Some are too poor to buy mobile devices or even desktops to read those wonderful digital books. Others, like me, can read those books but are barred from buying them for reasons only the benevolent Amazon would know. I'd say the reason is "monopoly plus stupidity", but those indie authors would just yell me down that Amazon is not a monopoly, just the best friend of all authors.

So, what should I feel when these idiots start thumping on the pulpit that print is dead and that's a great thing because ebooks are the future? They are telling me, "We are the future, and we are so fabulous because of that, but you know what, we want to make money so we deliberately exclude you from getting your hands on our book, and THAT IS A GOOD THING BECAUSE WE SAY SO AND YOU AGREE WITH US."

I mean, even now, there is a comment in the link above where someone brags about HM Ward's books being available in bookstores and libraries, linking to Worldcat. Gee, the link shows that the author's books are available in American libraries. Good for her. The rest of the world would have to pay $8 for a 130-paged print book, not counting Amazon's exorbitant shipping charge, but THAT IS A GOOD THING BECAUSE INDIE IS FABULOUS. Stop buying the $8 traditionally-published full length novel from Avon or Berkley, because traditional publishers are the sucking asses of pure evil, go buy overpriced indie books instead because indie is the new wave!

Here's the thing. I would wager that 99% of these "indie advocates" just think that indie is fabulous because it's how they make a living out of writing at the moment. There's nothing wrong with this, but come on, let's not pretend to be speaking for the greater good of all when these authors clearly do not see or think beyond how to collect reviews to be on Bookbub or to market their books to get visibility or whether $2.99 is the new free. This is like college-level "serious activism", the type displayed by rich kids that do one hour of charity work and then spend three hours patting their own backs in Starbucks for being so awesome people while tweeting and Instagram'ing about their "kindness" in their free time.

So, the less these indie authors try to speak on behalf of all readers, the better. The less they celebrate the demise of print or traditional publishing, even better. The less they mock Smashwords, ignoring the fact that Smashwords is the only reliable source of legitimate purchases of indie books for people outside the Kindle bubble, oh yes, please. Because the current practices of KDP-only authors (who are also some of the biggest loudmouths - there must be some kind of link here) would not improve the reader experience of people that are excluded from the Kindle utopia - they only enforce a discriminatory practice that limits reading only to people from select few privileged countries. Hardly a situation comparable to Gutenberg creating the printing press and making books accessible to people outside the upper class, as I've actually seen some truly deluded indie authors claim.

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