There’s been a lot of buzz in the writing world in the last week or so about an interview author Sue Grafton gave to a Louisville, Kentucky website. In response to a question, she said, “Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.”
Want to make a group of normally peace-loving people angry? Tell them they’re lazy.
I am not a traditionally published writer, but I’m sure they work hard. When I say that indie authors are the most intense, driven and focused people, I’m not taking anything away from non-indie writers. But I work with indie authors, many of my friends are indies, and I can tell you that it’s true. Most indie writers work diligently at their craft. . .and most also have at least one other job and families, some with small children.
That, my friends, is hard work. That’s not laziness.
Indie writers do all their own promotion. They keep their social media sites up to date, interact with their fans, work on blog tours, write guest posts, do interviews and run contests. They have to maintain both a virtual and a local presence, so when they’re not working on-line, they’re at local bookstores or author events or other conventions and conferences.
And the indie community is a strong and supportive one, so when writers are not promoting their own books, they’re cheering on their fellow indie authors, posting for them, tweeting and reviewing.
All of that is in addition the aforementioned ‘regular’ job most indie writers maintain, and of course their family and/or personal lives.
Oh, yes. . and then there is the writing. The editing. The revising. Choosing a cover, formatting and publishing, both in electronic and hard copy.
When do we sleep? Well, not often. And not for long.
And yet some authors would refer to us as ‘lazy’.
As I’ve said before here and will say again, I agree that writing is a craft. Are there independently published books that are poorly written, unedited and embarrassing? Most assuredly. Are there traditionally published books that could also fall into that category? Oh, yes.
The idea that the agents and editors are the lofty gatekeepers to the rarefied air of true publishing is antiquated. The notion that only those whom they admit are true writers who have paid their dues and know the reality of hard work is ridiculous and wrong.
I’m sure Ms. Grafton has her reasons for her opinion, to which of course she is entitled. But she might want to talk to a few of us and read a wider variety of our work before she jumps to any conclusions.
I always thought getting signed by an agent would actually mean a little less work for the author, giving them more time to write their next book and connect with fans since the publicist hired by said agent would be doing a lot of the hustling and promoting. I’m with you, though. I don’t think either version of being a writer is lazy at all. It’s a lot of work whether you have help or not.
I am published via small press, and have not published independently. I have, however, read quite a few indie books that blow away the traditionally published competition. I tip my hat to those who can invest the time and energy into making their self-pubbed books successful.
I chose to stay on the small press track for several reasons. I want to maintain control over my story. I don’t need to make a million dollars to do what I do. I want to write on my own terms, and in my own time. I could go on.
The truth is, big publishing is a crap shoot. Now more than ever, it seems to be about what will score the big dollars, and not about the quality of the story. I have been told, when running on the agent-querying treadmill, that my stories were different, enjoyable, fresh, and interesting. Those were then followed with a variation of the mysterious, “As much as I enjoyed your work, I have to take a pass.” I’ve even been flat out told that they couldn’t give me a reason why they have to pass, because it had nothing to do with the submission.
My interpretation? It’s not a money-machine. It’s good, but it’s not a guarantee that I’ll get a hefty payday out of it.
Sometimes, that can bring just as much heartache as an endless stream of form rejections, in which you understand something isn’t up to par, but nobody will clue you in on the why.
So, laziness? Bad call on Ms. Grafton’s part, in my opinion. More accurately, it’s authors realizing they can bypass the middle man and choose their own path. Make the writing experience everything they want it to be.
When I think of all the great indie stories I’ve read in the past three years, I realize that if big publishing was the only option, I wouldn’t be able to consider myself a reader any longer. When in a bookstore, I pick up and flip to random pages to sample the writing. And I’m not going to drop seventeen dollars on weak writing. Believe me, I’ve put back a lot of books by big name authors for that very reason. Mastering the craft is something even the literary celebs really need to work on, rather than churning out an endless stream of the same old, same old, simply because it sells.
A big thank you to all the indie authors out there, who wear their writing hearts on their sleeves. Because it’s evident in their stories. Their love for what they do is contagious to those who take the time to read what they produce.
I agree with everything you’ve said here.
Besides all that, sometimes, such blanket statements/judgements, such as this one by Sue Grafton, come off as elitist and divisive to me. And that’s one of my pet peeves.