I don’t generally like to respond to tripe, but this time around I had to join the rank and file of other loud mouth writers (like myself) and chime in on the train wreck of an article written by Wall Street Journal reporter Erik Felton. The article was titled “Cherish the Book Publishers—You’ll Miss Them When They’re Gone“.
I should preface this by saying other writers, such as JA Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and David Gaughran have already taken their shots at this ridiculous pile of steaming poo. And now, it’s my turn.
Felton begins with this beauty:
The Klondikers of digital publishing are rushing to stake their claims, inspired by tales of the gold to be found in the Kindle hills. A few pioneering prospectors have indeed struck it rich with light entertainments, most famously Amanda Hocking, who is a sort of Tolkien for our times (if Tolkien had been an avid fan of “Star Wars” instead of an eminent scholar of “Beowulf”). Her self-published e-books racked up so many sales over the past year that St. Martin’s Press recently signed her for some $2 million.
So, he starts his argument by basically claiming we’re all a bunch of simplistic opportunists who are absolutely incapable of penning anything worthy of being placed on a library bookshelf. Amanda Hocking is a star wars fan whereas Tolkien was a Beowulf scholar. Fan vs. Scholar. Nice call considering he most likely knows nothing about Amanda Hocking.
But to this I want to make a simple claim: Today’s reading audience (as a whole) want Star Wars and not Beowulf (I’m not talking theme here).
Look: Today’s readers are not the readers of yore who dressed to the nines to dine and watch and read Shakespeare, talk Twain, and debate Proust. Oh sure, there are plenty out there who would rather have a shelf full of the headier written works over the lighter fare — but are those the books that sell today? No. What sells today is the likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, and other fun romps.
But that doesn’t really address the meat of the issue that Felton brings up. Mr. Felton assumes that because one is published through the traditional paths, one’s work is worth reading. Au contraire mon ami. Dare I list all of the dreck I have dropped full freight on and then felt like I had to force down my brain just to get my money’s worth? For Mr. Felton I have but one glrious title to list out:
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.
I was a fan of the Davinci Code and a few select other books by Mr. Brown. So when I got my Kindle, one of the first books I purchased and began with excitement. But then, the realization quickly hit me that what I was reading was nothing but crap. I had paid full price for a work that had next to nothing to offer. I was angry, but I paid the price and I persisted on. Reading that book of shame took forever, but I finally finished. When I was done, the book immediately was shipped off to Goodwill (against my better judgement).
I could list out more books, but that one book speaks volumes against the idea that because something is traditionally published, it will be good. And the opposite holds true as well. Just because something is “indie published’ doesn’t mean it will not be good. In fact, since the indie boom hit big planet Earth, I have done nothing but read works by my fellow indie authors and the ratio of good to bad (much to the chagrin of Felton) falls in the favor of indie authors.
Felton continues on with this beauty:
How many instant novelists are as deluded as the singers who make with the strangled-cat noises believing they have Arethaen pipes?
To that I would answer, the same damn amount of novelists who were deluded that the traditional publishers were going to care for them, help promote them, and make them famous. Yeah, those same numbers and those same people. Well, the traditional publishers went back on their collective word for many an author and now those same authors are paving their own ways.
To me, this article was written by someone refusing to join the now. Instead he wanted to hold on to out-dated modalities of reading, writing, and publishing. Just like the music industry (and many other industries), the game has evolved and those refusing to play along will be left behind.
There is a lot of poo out there to be read…just like steaming pile Mr. Felton penned for the Wall Street Journal…and the readers are certainly capable of discerning what they like for themselves. Readers are intelligent people, not sniveling children that need to have every decision made for them. Now, thanks to indie publishing, the readership across the globe has far more choices to enjoy.
How in the hell is that a bad thing Mr. Felton?