It occurred to me that I should write about this when I was talking to another author about it the other day. I have tried to speak to the positive wonderfulness of the possibilities that self-publishing offers to the world before, but I haven’t gone right into what a big load of crap the machine that is the publishing industry has become. I shouldn’t really even say become, because we can go back and look at Pulitzer and Hearst, and we already know that they were big assholes who had no real interest in the selfless distribution of information, much less the cultivation of the creative written word. We can go back even further and…well needless to say, it is no wonder that we are in the state that we are in. We are however, finally in a really good place to take the power back, and that absolutely fucking thrills me!
This shit runs all through every type of artistic expression. From the fine arts all of the way down the line, there is no better place in the world to find opinionated, snobbish, judgment…you can see how inspiring that is to us creative types. It gets especially exaggerated when it comes to publishing because the whole game of kissing ass to get your work out there gets an extra level of nit-picky bullshit added to it, and every bit of it is totally acceptable in the industry today. In researching how to submit fictional queries to literary agents I went through lists that read like the fucking dictionary on how to pay the agents proper homage and not do anything to piss them off. Authors are taught that after the job of writing an entire fucking novel they are going to be given a bigger job of selling themselves to the wolves of the publishing industry and await the wonderful game of getting taken apart piece by piece…and this is before we even get thrown to the damn critics!
I have learned how absolutely vital it is to follow every single fucking nit picky rule that these guards-at-the-gate employ to filter the work that they choose worthy of judgment…all of the way down to print size and spacing and choice of font. A few of the specifications are reasonable, and most don’t even fucking matter. One that stood out to me was an older book agent out in Hollywood whose website for submissions read like she thought of herself as the queen of bloody England. She had so damn many specifications to meet that I spent longer on that submission than any other one that I made. I was actually rather proud of myself after getting through all of those submissions, and jumping through all of those hoops, and I actually received some solidly positive feedback and a couple of further inquiries, but to be quite honest, I probably could have done that dance for years without my novel ever making it to a publisher.
The more aggressive way to play the game is to attend all of the writing conferences, pay all of the blood money to the machine for the price of admission, and spend days on end kissing the asses of people who know people to try and find someone to convince to actually listen to you so that you can convince them to actually take a look at your work; and even doing it this way, it can still take years. Ask any published author, and they can tell you that it is the truth. So in the end, when you have a book in your hand, consider this: The person who wrote that book was not only desperate enough to get their work out there to jump through all of those hoops, they were also extremely good at submitting to the scholastic tedium required of them by the literary agents, and very good at putting on the salesman hat and selling their own work. How many brilliantly creative people do you know who are good at following rules, in addition to being fantastic salesmen? For me the answer is very fucking few! What this is telling us is that if we continue to allow this system to exist as it does, we are preventing really amazing creative thinkers from ever getting their work out there for the world to see. I actually happen to be fairly balanced in my strengths and I am capable of producing a creative work as well as submitting to the powers that be in the required fucking format. However, getting to the kissing hands and shaking babies part; I am not good at sales to begin with, let alone selling my own awesome amazingness…give me a break!
This should make everyone really angry. It should piss us off because it means that we are not getting the best of the best of art. This is why books like Twilight become best sellers, and do not get me wrong, I truly did enjoy those books, but I want to read books because they are fucking amazing, not because the author is brilliant at kowtowing to the publishing gods that be. It runs all through the arts, just like I said. We are missing out on billions of talented works, performances, and pieces because the people that they are coming from don’t fit in perfect goddamn packages or aren’t gifted at jumping through hoops. So I urge you strongly to get out there and give the world what you have to give through whatever means possible. I have explained before why this makes the world of technology and self-publishing so absolutely amazing. I have read heartwarming and stimulating novels that would never had a chance of even making it to the desk of a publisher because they were full of fucking typos and I loved reading every single word! Get your stuff out there people. The system denies the public brilliant work. Keep fighting the machine!