Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to write a book? I mean getting from Once upon a time to They rode off into the sunset is not only a difficult process … doing it well takes a lot of brain energy! (Well, for me anyway.)

There are all kinds of people who believe they have a book in them. Very few sit down to actually give it a try. A smaller number of those who try ever get to the end. A small portion of those that finish actually edit their story and send it out or publish it themselves. That’s an itty bitty bit of the population who actually have books available to readers.

And there are hundreds of thousands of readers out there looking for their next book to read. When they’re surfing Amazon or B&N do you think they care if it was published through a big NY publisher, a small press or if it was self-published? Okay, yeah so some of them do, but there’s a huge majority of readers with kindles and nooks and iPhones (and a whole bunch of devices I know nothing about) who are downloading books onto these devices and all they really want is to be entertained for a few hours.

And if the readers don’t care how the book they’re reading got to be published … why would another author?

I’ve only been in this publishing world for 7 years. In the grand scheme of things I’m just a toddler. I’ve never written a manuscript long hand. I’ve never typed my manuscript on a typewriter and piled the accumulated pages. I’ve never worried if the print on my computer was set so there was exactly 250 words a page (because a publisher wanted to know how many pages a book would be in the print version). I’ve never gotten my edits through the mail with red editing marks on my printed manuscript. My “call” came in the form of an email. I even signed my first contract electronically.

But even in the short time period since I began this journey, publishing has changed.

When I published my first full novel with a digital only publisher, many writers (and Romance Writers of America) felt I wasn’t really published. I can’t tell you how many people looked down their nose at me even as I cranked out eight books in two years. It took years for many people to realize e-books were here to stay. I think it began right about the day that Oprah announced on her television show that she’d discovered a Kindle. Oh, well if Oprah said …

Yeeeeah, I’ve already been through an “us vs them” attitude.

And you know what? It’s starting all over again. Only this time it’s “traditional” publishing (meaning NY authors who have chosen to sign a contract with an advance and a print book) throwing stones at the self-published (also called indie-published) faction. Oh, and don’t get me wrong, the name calling, hair pulling and clawing is going both ways. There are some big name authors who have blog posts claiming all self-published authors put out unedited drivel with no entertainment value. There are indie authors claiming all traditionally published authors are literary snobs.

Really? All?

Let’s face it, with so many people reading, everyone feels there is crap on both sides of the publishing aisle. And the fact is … what one person sees as crap another sends to the top seller list. (50 Shades? Twilight? Hunger Games? Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?) There are authors that are auto-buys for me, but a friend would never pick up.

This whole thing is really dividing the author community and I just want to scream WHY? On the one hand authors are some of the most giving people I know. There have been many who have helped me when I didn’t understand the publishing process. Many who critiqued and taught and took time to point me in the right direction. But they can also be some of the most stubborn, judgmental people I know.

Just this week I put out a long post about all the roads to publishing a book. Do I care how someone gets their book published? No. Do I feel they’re only valid if their agent got them a six figure advance? No. (Though I will be just a taaaad envious for a little while.) Do I care if an author’s success came from books they self-published? No.(Though again with a short pause to entertain my envy that they just bought a new BMW with their last royalties.)

I’m really sick of people pointing fingers and being angry and screaming that one way is more right than another and saying mean things about other authors. Really? What right does someone have to tell another author what’s right for their writing career. They don’t. And I’m not even sure why they would want to spend the time trying.

I’m a scientist in my soul and a teacher at heart. I research and I share. I don’t judge. I answer questions when asked and support when needed. I’m not interested in taking sides. And I’m getting really tired of people who do.

***NOTE I guess I’m not alone. Check out this post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and this post by Dean Wesley Smith and an open letter by Anna Elliot. Guess LOTS of authors are tired of this finger pointing and name calling.

28 Responses to Publishing Shouldn’t be a Battlefield

  • Great post, Nina. If you’re a toddler, I’m an infant. I’d like to say I’ve had nothing but support from other Indie authors since I published my debut novel two years ago. I’ve found the support from the Indie community awesome, inspiring, and humbling.

    • JP – Really, authors all the way around are some of the most caring and supportive professionals I’ve encountered. It’s just that sometimes, I don’t know … things get sticky and people point fingers and … *sigh* It’ll settle down again I’m sure. In the meantime, here’s wishing you continued success.

  • Great post, Nina
    Personally, I think a lot of the us vs. them started with RWA when they first accepted e-book published authors into PAN, then decided they weren’t REALLy published and kicked them out. Yep. Right to the curb. Happened to a friend of mine.
    From then on, small press and indie pubbed authors were the red-headed stepchild. They’d take our dues but do nothing for us.
    That’s beginning to change, but an organization that supports authors should blaze the trails not try to play catch-up.
    I think that’s where all the dissing started. Sort of like watching Survivor for Authors. And it hurts. Hurts feelings, hurts the sisterhood and hurts the business of writing.
    Anyway, sorry for my own rant, but like you said, this is a tough enough business with rejections coming at us from all sides. We don’t need back-stabbing sisters.

    • Judi – Yep, I definitely think RWA has had quite a bit to do with this. They move very sloooow as changes are taking place in the publishing world and though I understand their caution as they don’t want to misstep, their inability to recognize a growing trend among professionals is frustrating.

      I really just wish everyone would play nice.

  • Well said, it’s hard enough to gather up the courage to put your work out there, but to have your confidence stripped away by other authors with elitist attitudes is just wrong. We all start in the same place… with a blank page, screen, etc. I don’t get the “tear em down to make yourself feel better” idea. Karma will only come back to kick them in the butt eventually.

    • Teagan – Well said. It takes so much courage to put a book out there. To have another author carte blanche claim it’s crap because of how you distributed it, is crazy. And yeah, I’m with you, when karma comes back around that bite can certainly hurt!

  • All I can add is that smart indie authors hire editors, and that is plural for a reason. I’m believing that if I treated my manuscripts to editors before submitting to traditional publishers, I might have a chance in that dwindling market.

    But now that I’ve tried self-publishing, I enjoy being the ‘publisher’…I have the cover I love. I can see my sales and not wonder or stress about figures I might never get. My success or failure is in my own hands, not someone else’s.

    Lovely post, thank you for bringing this subject up. However, it is a shame that there are people who can’t play nice.

    • Pepper – As I mentioned in the begining of the week the path to self-publishing is a great option, but being a publisher isn’t without it’s downside. However, like you, I love the idea of having so much control over covers and pricing.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Pepper.

  • It’s so weird how you and I post sorta similar themes on the same day. It’s not as if we check in with each other!
    Books are books are books. I just want to read good stories.

  • Bravo!!! Excellent post and very much on point! People in this day and age need to concentrate on their own business and worry less about others. Personally, I think anyone who is worried about what you (or someone else) is doing is only showing their envious side!

  • Nice post, Nina. When I self-published my first novel in 2008, you can’t imagine (or maybe you can) the snubbing I got from RWA. I was lower than pond scum. When I was published by an e-publisher in 2009, that was even worse. At the time, our chapter allowed anyone who published (regardless of genre and type) to be a member of the local published-author’s group. And so I was accepted into it (although ineligible for PAN or entering the RITAs). I was told by another “published author” that they only accepted me because they had to, and then immediately the Board changed the by-laws to allow only PAN-eligible authors to be a members (the reason being because National RWA required it, which wasn’t the case at all).
    Now, in 2012, look who is falling all over themselves to e-publish and self-publish? Gee, how’d you guess?

    • Ann – I understand to a certain extent why local RWA chapters worry about what the mother ship is doing … but only to a certain extent. If changes are ever going to happen in the larger organization I think they need to start in the smaller local chapters.

      It’s still hard for some of the “old guard” to admit that the face of publishing is changing and the definitions of “published” and “successful” need to continually be evalutated. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • I have to say that I’m never bored by your blog posts, Nina. “)

    I’m president of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’m also a PAN member of the organization. Since I’ve also been e-published for six years and recently indie re-issued two books whose copyrights had expired, I guess that puts me all over the publishing map. Our local RWA chapter is a supportive group and we’re published by all available methods. It’s sad to hear that other authors are one-upping one another and I’m glad that doesn’t happen in our chapter.

    Keep writing those good books, my friend!


    • Adele – Thank you. Some would say I never know when to keep my mouth shut … LOL!

      It’s people like you who are leading local chapters that will continue to keep the local levels current with writer needs and the changes in the publishing world. Hopefully that will filter up to the national level. Keep up the good work!

  • It just feels like a divisive time in history, period. Maybe it’s something in the way the stars are aligned.

    • Diana – You’re not the first one to point out that this sort of negativity seems to be pervasive throughout our world. Does make one wonder doesn’t it?

  • Hear, hear!

    Let all just get along.


  • Nina, fantastic post and I made sure to place on my Timeline and encourage all to read and pass it on. As someone who is in the category of wanting to write the books that have been in my head for years, I am a coward and have been procrastinating for years. My fear, failure, of course. But every night that I close my eyes, my characters are waiting to continue their journies. I think I am finally getting to the point of putting my imagination to paper (or WORD, really) and committing to it. And it is a Committment….My road will be as an Indie publisher I am sure, and I will be most thankful for that. Different strokes for differrent folks, and there is always more than one way to reach a goal, all of them right in the eyes of that person. It amazes me that there is such dissension among authors when, in the end, all are just that, authors. Who carres how you get there. You did. Be happy for everyone who makes it in this difficult industry!!!

    • Phyllis – Thanks so much for taking time to stop over and share. Fear can be the hardest obstacle to overcome when it comes to writing …Will it be interesting/funny/supenseful? Will readers like my characters? Will I be able to weave a wonderful tale? … yeah, it gets daunting.

      But just jump in and go for it! If you’ve got characters in your head, no doubt you’ve got a story in your heart! Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Self -publishing is not only a viable and lucrative (for some) option, it’s made it easier for writers to make their dreams come true.

      Best of luck.

  • Wonderful blog post, Nina. Well said! I don’t know why folks just can’t live and let live.

  • Nina, I’m not published and haven’t been at this very long, so I haven’t yet met anyone with this attitude (thank goodness!). I always thought authors were a tight, big-hearted bunch who supported and helped each other. Your post totally burst my bubble. It’s a very small person who would trash another author’s path to publication. But I suppose there are small people everywhere.

    • Meg – Oh, don’t let your bubble be burst. No. No. No. Authors by and large are waaaaay awesome and bend-over-backwards helpful. But we’re a big family so squabbles now and again aren’t unexpected. Sometimes you’re in the middle of them, sometimes on the periphery and sometimes not even aware it’s going on.

      I’m a middle child. I HATE it when people in my family are unhappy even if I’m not involved. I just don’t see any reason to point fingers and call people names over inconsequential things.

  • Nina- your blogs are always SO current and dead on…….
    Every industry has its share of friendly fire – its not pleasant and most won’t enter into it, we just watch and shake our heads at the foolishness and preoccupation in one-up-manship. Because we are writers- well – some people are putting their fingers to the keyboard and making comments STICK to the proverbial wall.
    I choose not to pay attention to it – there are too many great talents that have shared their wisdom and have lent a hand to lift me and others up. I love the craft, it centers me and brings me nourishment. And it has brought great friendships and motivators to my life!! Keep your smile on, Nina – and your generous spirit out here on the web for all of us!! hugs – MEB

    • Mary Ellen – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I appreciate the support. I really believe there are more authors who want only to support others on their journey than those who are talking smack. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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