Back in 2005 I began researching the self-publishing industry. I spent more than 15 years trying to get some of my first books published through traditional publishing companies. I racked up more rejection letters than I can count, had more than my fair share of well-meaning editors tell me that I might want to rethink a career as a writer, and for good reason. The first three novels that I wrote were utter crap, and editors were not afraid to tell me as much. I’ve had my soul crushed on numerous occasions, but through it all I kept writing, because I knew that the only way that I was going to improve as a writer was to practice the skill.
And so I did practice. I not only wrote three novels before I turned 25, but I also wrote countless term papers, an endless chain of book reports and composition papers for high schoolers and college goers alike. I joined several RPGs back in 2004 and, after nearly a decade of only scribbling down a few notes and trying desperately to breathe life back into those first few horrendous books of mine, books that I finally realized there was absolutely no hope for, I once again found myself enjoying the art of writing. At the urging of several thousand readers on my social networking page, I began researching self-publishing, and after two years of reading everything that I could on the subject and weighing the pros and cons, in 2008 I decided that I would at least give it a try.
Back then there were only a very small number of self-published authors and only a handful of true self-publishing venues to choose from. Most people had never heard of the phrase “print-on-demand,” much less knew what it meant or how it worked to an author’s advantage. And self-publishing back then was not the easy “upload and click publish” walk-through-the-park that it is today. It was old-school publishing, where everything had to be formatted perfectly in order for your file to be accepted by the POD. You didn’t have a few dozen fonts to choose from, the POD companies only accepted about 3 fonts and you had to spend days reading through forums and self-help PDF files buried on their sites to figure out what those few acceptable fonts were and how to embed them into your file. You had to learn about the different sizes of books, what mirror margins were, what a gutter was, and what it meant for your cover art to “bleed” when creating the file. It could take you weeks of playing around with the formatting of the file before you finally got the company to accept the file, and then if there was anything wrong once the file was converted, you had to delete the file and start all over again. It was torture. These days all it means to be an author is that you figured out how to upload a WORD file and stock photo to Amazon. When I first started, you actually had to learn how to format the entire interior of the file before you could upload it.
So all the annoyances aside of those early days into the indie publishing realm aside, to boost sales I also posted excerpts of my stories and novels on an adult site. I did that for about six years, slowly building up a reader base of several million readers. Towards the end, around 2012 or so, the site was being trolled so badly that I simply could not stomach going to the site. All the little wannabe writers had learned to game the system, figured out how to create an unlimited number of accounts and up-vote their works to the point where any author who wasn’t willing to stoop to their levels was quickly buried beneath all the utter shit writings that polluted the story site. Needless to say, I was not one of the authors who was willing to stoop to their levels. So I left the site, disgusted that the owners of the site allowed such behavior to go unchecked.
I am a damn good writer because I have spent more than 3 DECADES honing my skill. I have been ripped apart by some of the best editors and publishing houses out there, been rejected by all the major players and hundreds of the minors as well. I took their harsh criticism with a smile on my face and a thank you on my lips, listened to their advice, and spent years honing my skills and writing style. I have EARNED my right as a legitimate author through decades of practice, which is why it pisses me to no end to see my facebook list filled with wannabe writers who cannot string a complex sentence together without leaving out the proper punctuation and misspelling half the words in the damn sentence. I am tired of these people whining and complaining about readers who leave them bad reviews. If you can’t handle the criticism, then don’t publish. It’s as simple as that. Don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t send your damn little facebook fuck-buddies to harass the reader because you would rather spend your time and energy trying to figure out a way to screw more unsuspecting readers out of their hard-earned money than improve your skills as a writer. That is not fair to the readers nor to the other writers who actually give a damn about their reputation as a writer and put forth a whole hell of a lot of effort to provide their readers with the absolute best product they can write.
I am fed up with “Amazon bestselling author” being a new catch-phrase that these idiot writers keep using to screw readers out of a few bucks. And I cannot even begin to tell you how revolting it is to be put into the same category as these people. I take pride in my work, I do dozens upon dozens of rewrites and edits, my work goes through as many as 6 professional editors before it goes up for publication, and about once a year I send items that have already been published BACK to editors to fine-tune them even more. I am a professional writer, I produce a professional piece of work, but these days, when you one-click that indie book, chances are you are getting little more than a pile of word-vomit from someone who slapped down the first thing that came to their minds and then uploaded it to Amazon.
But my unhappiness with FaceBook and the hordes of first-time writers isn’t my only gripe. Just like that site I used to post to, a huge chunk of the writers on my friends list have learned to game Amazon’s ranking system as well. They are creating multiple accounts to post fake reviews or having all their family and friends post fake reviews for them. I can name you more than a dozen websites where you can buy a scripted review for a few bucks. There are dozens of so-called ‘review’ groups on FB alone where people will sign up and post any review the author wants on Amazon in exchange for a free copy of said book. And if you don’t want to get blacklisted from the group, you had better NOT post anything less than the required minimum star rating that the authors demand. The sheer amount of groups and websites that have sprung up that allows authors to fake their way to a high-ranking on Amazon is utterly disgusting. And readers are falling for it, bad writing and all. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter HOW much spit and polish you put on a turd because, at the end of the day, it’s still a turd. And there are now so many turds floating around Amazon that the entire site has become nothing more than a giant sewer filled to the top with one piece of word-vomit novel after another.
I’ve also had my fill with so many writers having pity-parties every few days. I’ve had one hell of a difficult childhood filled with physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. But you don’t see me posting about it on FB to drum up a few sympathy sales. And just because I write steamy books and shorts doesn’t mean I have to cyber with half my friends list and then wonder why my significant other left me. I’ve seen some writers on FB act like bigger whores than prostitutes on the side of a New York street corner. Acting like a douche-bag and lying to get more readers isn’t the right way to get known as a writer. What it WILL do is cause you to lose the support of those decent writers who value their reputation as a quality writer who strives to only put forth their absolute best work.
So I decided to make a change. Just like I cut out that other writing site from my life, I am now cutting out all the negativity from my FB life as well. I simply cannot sit by and keep biting my tongue any time I see one of these truly horrific writers post a book teaser filled with mistakes. I am not going to keep suppressing my sheer disgust with writers who keep claiming to be BEST SELLERS when their ranking is lower than mine and their name has never ONCE hit the ‘Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store’ list on Amazon. I am no longer going to literally pull my hair out whenever I see one particularly bad writer whore it up on Amazon and see his little harem giggle themselves silly whenever he starts talking about doing a live naked chat with his readers. I have tried ignoring these sorry excuses for writers, I have managed to NOT tell their readers that if they seriously think these are good books than they are flaming morons because honestly, it isn’t the readers’ fault. They have been conditioned to think that if there are dozens of positive reviews sitting on a book and the same dozen fake FB accounts keeps posting stupid-ass comments like “Yesss! That was soooo hot!” to such utter shit as “My dick would like to say hello to her kitty” then this author and his work MUST be good and popular, right?
WRONG!! FUCKING WRONG!! It doesn’t make it the book good or the writer a good writer just because you have a few dozen “people” talking about it anymore than it made “50 Shades” or “Twilight” good books. It’s the complex social behavior behind it that made everyone flock to it, the ‘herd mentality’ if you will. When you are put into a group where everyone is saying the same thing, you don’t want to be that one person who doesn’t agree for fear of rejection by the group, so you go along with it. Same thing is happening with these wannabe writers, just like it did with “50 Shades” and ‘Twilight.” They have their little clique filled with who are more than willing to harass the fuck out of anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
As a writer, as much as I would LOVE to tell these idiots how fucking bad they are as writers and that they really should pull that shit down from Amazon before they embarrass themselves further, I simply can’t BECAUSE of the herd mentality. So I have done the next best thing. As of today, I have started removing a LOT of these so-called authors from my friends list. I figure if I cannot support them as a writer then there is no need to have them on my friends list. I do NOT want to stoop to their level to make sales. I refuse to buy, beg, or trade reviews, I will not start posting half-naked pics of myself online and cyber-sexing with my readers in the comments section of my Fb posts, and I will not claim to be a best-selling author just to try to convince readers that they should buy my books.
What I will say is that 30 years of writing has made me a decent author, that I pride myself on producing the absolute best story that I can. I won’t say that my writing style and storylines are for everyone, but there is a reason why I have less than a 1% return rate on my books, and it’s not because I slapped up some word porn onto Amazon and then lied to my FB friends about being a best-selling author. I’ve tried mentoring these young ‘writers’ and have basically had them spit in my face. If you cannot be bothered to at least try to learn and practice your craft and show respect for those of us who have been in the business way longer than you have, then I simply cannot support you any longer. And it’s not because I think I am such a better writer, it’s because I have come to expect so much more from myself and other professional authors.