Their Way, Or Not At All: Professionalism, Indie Writers And Differing Career Goals

Warning: some swearing.

Disclaimer: Also, this is a rant as disclaimed here. If I put this disclaimer and you get offended by what I say, that’s totally your fault for reading and being offended. It can’t possibly be my fault and I am then justified for mocking you and essentially calling you a crybaby in the article. Moreover, this behaviour of mine is extremely professional, as I claim I aspire to be.

If writing is your profession, act professional.

- Here’s What I Know by Joe Konrath

I’ve been reading blogs about self-publishing and the rise of ebooks for years now, since back before it was cool. In that time, I’ve witnessed a huge shift in the way self-publishing is talked about by those who practice it and one of those changes really gets my goat.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some authors are tasteful about it, the above quoted Joe being one of them, while he advocates acting professionally and publishing to a professional standard, he does so within the context of those who are – or are aspiring to be – professional full-time writers.

Others are less restrained and start frothing at the mouth and blaming other self-published authors for the perception that self-published books are the dregs of the industry and have the according quality. These authors argue that customers aren’t buying indie books because they think that their books are being buried under what they call ‘the crap’. They argue that their wonderful books aren’t being noticed because they’re drowned out by the books that aren’t up to their standard.

And, you know what? They’re probably right.

The problem is that they then don’t go and ask the next question: So. Freaking. What?

I am an indie author. I am a self-published author.

I am not a professional author, nor have I ever claimed to be.

Chuck Wendig says that indie publishing isn’t a hobby. Well, actually Chuck, for me it is. I have a job which I enjoy and which pays me very well. As much as I enjoy getting these stories out of my head, I wouldn’t want to give up that job at this time. When I publish, it’s for those people who might be interested in reading it. Another article took it even further, blaming other indie authors for such things as “poisoning entire price points” and sabotaging other indie authors.

This vitriol is inevitably accompanied by claims that we’re not being professional. The underlying assumption to everyone telling us that writing is a business is that we better fucking want to make a career out of it. Because writing quality is important, other indies have the right to do the blogging equivalent of ranting at us on the street. They all seem unable to comprehend the idea that other writers might not have the same career goals as them or, if they do acknowledge this, they see this as a legitimate reason to decide that we’re not allowed to self-publish, that we have less of a right to put our work in front of readers and let the readers decide than they do.

I actually think that this goes back to the traditional publishing culture, where you better love writing a whole damn lot because you would be slaving away for a pitance (and hold a day job) for years if not decades before you made it, if you ever did. In that context, there was no hobby publishing, which largely excluded those of us who just wanted to write and maybe recoup some of the time and effort we put in, rather than make a living at it. Publishers wanted writers who were going to make a career out of it and write book after book. In other words, they didn’t want to waste time branding one-book authors.

This concept of ‘career authors only’ has spread to indie publishing and if, like me, you don’t buy into it, well, haven’t you heard?

I’m selfish.

I’m selfish because I didn’t pay for my covers. I’m selfish because I did minimal editing, and did it all myself. I’m selfish because I don’t want to be a professional author and never have.

Me? I’m just hanging out in my corner of Amazon. If anyone wants to give my work a try, that’s cool. If not, no drama. I wrote it for myself and I put it up on Amazon to maybe re-coup part of the cost of electricity to run my laptop and the cost of hot chocolates to have a seat at a cafe. Still, if no one buys them, I don’t mind.

But there are indie authors out there who tell me that I’m selfish.

These authors demand that I pay for a cover. They demand that I spend my hard-earned money to pay for editing. They demand that I spend what little free time I have being ‘a professional author’.

They demand that I have the same career goals as them.

And, if I don’t, they I shouldn’t publish.

I shouldn’t publish because I’m making it look like indies publish crap just for the money, even though I’m not doing it for the money. I’m presenting indie authors as being unprofessional when I have no aspirations to being a professional author. I’m making indie books look cheap because I won’t spend large amounts of money on my hobby.

And mostly, I shopuldn’t publish because, by hanging out in that tiny corner of my own on Amazon with my self-edited writing, I’m cutting into their bottom line.

Oh yeah, and I’m the selfish one.

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1×06: Kinship released

1×06: Kinship is now available on Amazon at the following links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Amazon France | Amazon Spain | Amazon Italy | Amazon Japan | Amazon India | Amazon Canada | Amazon Brazil | Amazon Mexico | Amazon Australia

There will be no new installment release next month, nor the one after. The next released will be of 2×01, and it will occur on the 1st of July 2014.

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Liked what you read? Get  Episode 1×01: Subjugation from The Last Empire series for only $0.99 (non Amazon US links can be found here).

Also, please subscribe to the blog, follow Emilie on twitter or add her on Google+.

Update: What I’ve Been Up To

Yes, yes, I know that I’ve been seriously MIA recently. To be fair, I have written over 122 000 words since the beginning of January, they’ve just all been on various projects rather than on the blog. Because I’ve been so neglectful recently, I thought that I would do a post just to keep everyone updated on where I’m at, so here it goes.

1×06: Kinship (The Last Empire)

I’ll admit, this installment has been giving me trouble, particularly when compared to 1×05, which went really well. It will be up on time, even if I have to pull a few all nighters, but I doubt it will come to that. Currently, it’s less than half finished but hopefully that will change by the end of the day.

The Last Empire series

Once 1×06 is out, I plan to take a month or two off from the series in order to recharge my batteries a bit. The new schedule can be found on The Last Empire series page, but the essential information is that the second season will start on the 1st if July and run until December. That will be the end of The Last Empire serial, but not the end of stories in that universe.

Of The Empire series

Given that my writing skills have improved considerably since I began to write The Last Empire series, I’ve been feeling less and less happy with the first few episodes. To remedy that, I’ve decided to rework the series a bit once I’ve finished the second season. This reworking will mean some rewriting, though the story will remain the same. The content will also be reorganised into novels, and will include four brand new stories in the universe, three prequels and a sequel.

My tentative release schedule looks like this:

  1. Dominion Of The Empire (January 2015, brand new novel)
  2. Adversary Of The Empire (February 2015, brand new novel)
  3. Loyalty Of The Empire (March 2015, brand new novel)
  4. Governor Of The Empire (April 2015, reworking of episodes 1×01-1×03)
  5. Prisoner Of The Empire (May 2015, re-working of episodes 1×04-1×06)
  6. Tyrant Of The Empire (June 2015, re-working of episodes 2×01-2×03)
  7. Traitor Of The Empire (July 2015, re-working of episodes 2×04-2×06)
  8. Liberation Of The Empire (August 2015, brand new novel)

For those who buy the epsiodes, don’t worry. The content will be updated to reflect the novel on the release date, so those who have episodes 1×01, 1×02 and 1×03 will have the entirety of Governor Of The Empire. The releases will also be far more professional, and there will be separate covers fro each novel, like a normal series.

Camp NaNoWriMo

This year, the first Camp NaNoWriMo falls in April, one of the months where I will be having a break from The Last Empire. My current plan is to try to write the entirety of Dominion Of The Empire in one month, because the story’s been bugging me for a while now. The planned length will be 90k, so don’t expect to hear much of me next month either.

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