I promise you I’m generally non-violent. I admit that I have been known to throw things at the TV when someone tries to sound smart by saying “That’s between you and I.” I also freely admit to hollering loudly when someone talks about a governmental solution to a social problem. Pretty much anything about “the War On Drugs” will make me surly for awhile and I kind of had to stop watching House M.D. what with their “all people who take pain meds will become addicts” nonsense.
But it has been a LONG time–a very long time–since I have wanted to get into a car and drive to a person’s house and just smack them around. But now I find myself wanting to do that alot.
Because everyone is talking about Amanda Hocking. And talking about her like she’s the new standard for writers and publishing. Like everyone who puts an e-published novel on Amazon.com is going to need to by an armoured car to haul their money away. Like publishing houses, editors, book distributers and retail book buyers are now nothing more than vestigial pinkies on the hand that brings good reading to the public.
Any time I read (or hear) the name “Amanda Hocking” I feel my blood pressure begin to creep up. That same bp spikes and bursts the mercury whenever someone suggests that I “just” self-publish my books.
As though big, thick books about the history of pharmacology and the devolution of the role of the woman in the provision of health care* are going to fly off the shelves at the same rate as a trilogy of Young Adult novels about a girl who finds out she’s a troll.
I haven’t read her books beyond a free sample here and there, but I’ve been watching her slowly take over the Best-seller lists at Amazon. As best as I can tell they’re okay for what they are, but more successful for being in the right place at the right time. A lightning in a bottle phenomenon born of strategic list placement through ebook giveaways and ultra-low prices. (When every other book on the Bestseller list is $15, your $.99 book will sell like hotcakes to the folks who want to try out the new Kindle their daughter-in-law got them for Christmas.) That doesn’t mean that Hocking is the model for The Way We Do Things Now.
Truth be told, the vast majority of self-published stuff for the Kindle is completely, utterly vomit-inducing dreck of the first order. No, I’m not holding back. One such read actually had the characters’ names changing throughout. The author had apparently decided to change names, but not all the find-and-replaces seemed to work, so every few paragraphs Lisa inexplicably became Lori, and then was back to Lisa. That’s rough-draft level stuff which is insulting. And that is the bulk of what’s floating around out there passing for books. While I’ve got several friends and acquaintances who’ve self-pubbed some fine works, it’s still a numbers game. A person can find quality self-pubs; I’ve done so by scrounging blogs and fora looking for word of mouth.
The kinds of things that are a PUBLISHER’S JOB.
So while I find this whole idea of grow-your-own book charming in a sort of hippie commune way, I am in no sense eager to lose the freedom I used to enjoy of being able to see a book for sale in the store and know that it had at least been vetted by someone who likes to read and was probably also proofread. It’s the difference between bow-hunting and grocery shopping. Call me lazy, but shrink-wrapped fiction is still more appealing.
*yes, it sounds dull when I describe it that way. But the book IS a ripping yarn, if the people who are begging me to get more written so they can “see what happens next” are any sort of guide. I don’t dare describe it accurately until it’s finished, however. Because then I feel locked into a business model instead of feeling free to tell a story.