Be prepared, this is a ramble/rant/whine/meandering thought process. I've been lurking a lot this past week or two and as so often happens, I've come across a lot of the same arguments and discussions. I'm not going to link to anything but there is something in the air this month that has almost everyone ready to offend and be offended. Lets just say the Internetz has made Claire sad.
Spite and vitriol abound. I've lost count of how many replies I've written and then deleted without pressing send. Life's too short to get dragged into debates that are going nowhere, particularly ones arguing over who is better/smarter/more successful/funnier/etc. Greatness is subjective and to follow Darwin's thinking, ignorance can boost confidence more than knowledge or true skill will. Maybe, maybe not (it's something to think about but apparently the less talented are more confident than the most talented. X-Factor/Idol type singing contests are an excellent example of this, I wonder how well this applies to creative writing). But what makes a good book is subjective - I stand by that.
It's bad enough constantly seeing traditionally published writers (or those aspiring to this) slamming indies/self publishers/whatever label you want to use this week. It's bad enough when indies mock trads (I need better labels when I pigeon hole people) for their choices. (I'm pointing out here that the ebook thing might be working in our favour but we're riding a wave, all good things come to an end and it's plain rude to mock those left on the shore in the meantime.) It's bad enough when talent (of whatever degree) is insulted by people who have not even given said talent a chance. (You can't say a writer is crap if you haven't read their work. Just . . . no.) It's bad enough when spiteful reviews are left solely to harm a person's career (and it's equally bad when false flattering reviews are left too).
But I'm starting to think the people who are hurting indies the most are indies themselves. Some of the spiteful reviews are left by indies who see everyone else as a threat. Yes, this and more can exist in traditional publishing - the elitism that exists there seems to be extending to indie publishing too. There's the typical genre bashing but worse is the attitude of many indies. This notion that there is plenty of crap in self publishing but not me. And if anyone doesn't agree with me then I don't give a shit about their opinion.
I'm better than them, ask my beta readers/critique partners/reviewers is the new ask my mother/father/brother/sister. It isn't any more professional, it just sounds better. My new pet peeve is arrogance in the ranks. I'm guilty of it myself sometimes (feel free to slap some sense into me if I am). The thing is, we can be confident and humble at the same time. We can accept that we have lots to learn while still being proud of what we already know.
Just because someone doesn't like your work doesn't mean you are bad at what you do. On the other hand, just because someone does like your work doesn't mean you are great at what you do. Don't get cocky and assume you're better than someone else because you didn't enjoy their work. (Guilty.) Definitely don't do it if you haven't even read their work. We can't complain about the way most people perceive and judge self publishers if we, the self publishers are guilty of doing the exact same things. (This happens so often, it's almost funny. But not quite.)
Let your story do the talking, you don't need to prove yourself by boasting how much money you paid for editing/cover art or how long you worked. And you absolutely don't need to put anyone else down to look better. (And remember how offputting a bad attitude is, be bloody grateful when someone at least gives you a chance.) All this arguing and insulting and bragging only serves to make us all look bad, don't blame it on the "crap" self publishers. Maybe someone else out there is doing the same to you.
*Steps off soapbox and leaves, forgetting to edit the million and one uses of the word just (and brackets).*