Disclaimer: this is not an anti-indie rant. Spend a few minutes at my blog and you’ll realise I’m very pro-indie. This is an anti-indies-who-feel-they-can-treat-people-like-crap rant!
I see a lot of discussions about whether or not there should be a seal of approval for indie books. Something that guarantees that the time, effort and commitment needed to produce a quality book have been lovingly put in. But after some recent events I’ve been wondering if what we actually need is an author seal of approval?
I’ve spoken to numerous people who run book blogs or set up events to promote authors, who commit time and effort to trying to help people progress and in return receive… abuse! Book bloggers who don’t accept independently or self-published books come under criticism but when you delve into why, you very often find out that it’s because they’ve received insulting and derogatory emails. People who give up time with their families or friends to develop events or promotions and just get nastiness in return.
I’d like to say it’s rare but without more than 5 seconds thought I can reel off a string of people who have been subject to this kind of rudeness: myself included. What’s my crime? Because I chose to cancel the Adopt an Indie event due to other commitments (including working a vastly increased number of hours in comparison to when the November event was running) and because I hadn’t been able to generate enough support for the event in terms of volunteering, moderation etc. Many authors had helped out greatly but others had thrown their $5 in and then assumed that everything would be done for them. In the two months between sign ups for Adopt an Indie February 2012 opening and now I have cajoled, wheedled, even practially begged for help but didn’t receive enough to make the event feasible. The low fee was to encourage people who didn’t have much of a budget to sign up and to commit their time and effort, not their money, to get the event working. It didn’t work and on New Year’s Eve I had to make a difficult decision. So, as the bells were chiming midnight and the fireworks were starting I was wrapping up Adopt an Indie. About the most horrible way to bring in the New Year I’ve had.
I spent the next few hours – as the world celebrated – processing refunds, sending emails, fielding queries. I went to bed at 5 a.m.
The next morning, I woke up to some lovely messages of support: people who knew me and knew I wouldn’t have made such a difficult decision without very good reasons. Unfortunately, I also received a very unpleasant email berating the ‘doubts’ I had apparently obviously had since the beginning and saying what an unpleasant way it was to bring in the New Year. Hah! You’re telling me.
When talking to others about this, I’ve heard about some of their horrible experiences. Time and time again people have experienced negativity and rudeness, simply because they tried to do something good. These aren’t isolated incidents: these are growing in number all the time.
I appreciate that every indie author has a lot on their plate and needs to keep those balls in the air but trust me, being rude and condescending is not going to get you very far. Book bloggers and indie supporters are sick of having that support thrown back in their face.
People will say, ‘Oh well, it’s just one person’ and ‘Don’t let it get you down’ and it’s true: we don’t. That’s why I still run my blog and welcome indie authors and traditionally published authors alike. But I understand that everyone has a breaking point, a cut off where you say ‘That’s enough!’. I empathise with those who have chosen to stop reviewing indies. The lure of free books? Trust me, we spend so much on books anyway that even if you didn’t give them to us we’d still have enough books to fill our review blogs for a year!
Your books are your life – we get that – but we’re the people who can help you. When you send that next email, take a step back and ask yourself this question:
If I were traditionally published and my PR company sent that, would I be happy?
Because believe me, if a PR company was sending some of the emails I get, I’d be recommending you fire them and get someone else in.
Your book is YOUR life but we have lives too. In 2012, be glad of all the people who support you but – more than that – help us stamp out the authors who call the integrity (and not just the quality) of the indie author community into question.