What If They’re Right?

There’s a school of thought that self-publishing is embarrassing and opened the floodgates to a whole bunch of shoddy work that would never have seen the light of day if the gatekeepers were properly gatekeeping everything, and the unwashed and unschooled masses did not have access to this democritizing technology.

And that’s all true. Most of it. I differ at the typical smug go-to insult, which is the “embarrassing” part.

After all, there is a lot of embarrassing ficton that is published by the gatekeepers, solely on the basis of the story’s premises (are there nonbinary WOC as the protagonists? And so on–I’m not kidding here; these are the things traditional sci-fi and fantasy publishing thinks are more important than skill and story) or the identity of the author. Much of what is allowed by the gatekeepers certainly does not have artistic quality as the highest standard for allowing. 

This isn’t just me bloviating here. Book sales are awful in American. Nobody reads, certainly not enough for the book industry to be expanding, which it’s not, and not contracting, which it is. But as we all know, as with most industries, particularly in entertainment, it’s not about making money. It’s about evangelizing the new secular religion, shaping minds and attitudes, and yes, propagandizing. Artistic quality as a considertion is farther down on the totem pole.

Yet in the spirit of self-reflection, I can’t help but wonder “what if that criticism is right?” What if I’m just being ridiculous and vain by self-publishing? After all, I don’t have the stamp of legitimacy from my peers, or a contract or an advance. I have some nice reviews on Amazon–generally and what some might call overwhelmingly positive–and they’re selling decently well. But I’m still a nobody in this field and any impact I’ve made has been very, very tiny.

So it’s quite quoxitic. And maybe nobody in the traditional publishing world would publish any of my novels, both because of their contnent and becasue of my identity. I am a member of an unfavored and many may say despised group and an adherent to a despised religion (despite it now being Totally Awesome again because we have the Most Catholic President Ever) writing positive sci-fi with Christian themes, so I’d never get my foot in the door no matter how good my writing is.

That’s fine. I kind of enjoy being the underdog. It keeps me hungry, and I’m not embarrassed about anything I’ve published. However, a part of me will always think about this.


You can check out some of my books here and let me know what you think:

34 comments

  1. The criticism just comes from the fact that you stick your neck out. You may always entertain the idea that it’s right, and maybe that is useful in a sense, but I don’t know how much weight you should give to slave mentality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a lot of respect for anyone who self-publishes- not only are you having to write the thing, you’re having to do the marketing, financials etc.

    I imagine its quite daunting to do that and then have to push through the setbacks (bad reviews, poor sales),to not be totally demoralised.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the “vanity press” stigma surrounding self-publishing has greatly diminished in recent years now that people have made real money at it. Much of it is garbage. But like you say, much of professionally published fiction is garbage, too. You have to dig through a lot of dirt to find a diamond either way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think there’s any stigma against self-publishing anymore because no one reads OldPub anymore, which is where that mentality originated from. Back in the day, you either had to bow to gatekeepers demands or be rich enough to afford a scam vanity press. Now you either bow to the gatekeepers demands or write what you want and put it out however you want.

    Of course that means we have be careful we are offering quality lest we chase potential patrons away, but readers are more forgiving than we are with our own material. They want adventure and the mainstream isn’t going to give it to them. So I will.

    Simple as.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alexander

      I haven’t bought or read a mainstream publishing books. They dimplybdon’tvsppeal to me. I don’t want to read about the petty lives of upper class academics. Fretting about trivialities while being emo is boring.

      xavier

      Liked by 1 person

    • Your last part is key: if you’re going to take on the big dogs, you’d better be good. Nothing less will suffice, because contra conservatives and libertarians, businesses want to squelch any and all competition, not “use it to get better.” So they’re gunning for us because it’s easier to take out the competition than to be better.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alexander

        Exactly. These lazy entitled rentiers are affronted we regular people are voting with our feet and wallets.

        Can’t.have.that. Nope, their quasi monopolies are at stake so our moral imperative as customers is to soothe their status anxiety by giving them money even though they loath us with a chemical purity.

        Nah Very hard pass. Gramsci’s hegemony collapses when regular people no longer pay attention.

        xavier

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Alexander

    Yeah. A follow up. I’m also not reading much in English or i”m limiting it a bit. Other reading the big book of Continental ops (a real blast!) And the books I’ve either crowdsourced or gotten free from newsletters. I have enough for a lifetime.

    One last note there’s a revival of interest for Arsene Lupin in the Francophonie. One of the big publishers even republished the first 3 books (I have the public domain editions) and they’re great. I had to stop reading them because some titles were melancholic and I didn’t need that at a particular time in my life. I’ll get back to them eventually

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

      • Alexander,

        Everyone likes to dump on the French but the CSI type mysteries are from the French detective pulps. It’s often forgotten but they were innovators in forensic policing. They were years ahead of Scotland Yard in fingerprinting and using science to resolve crimes long before the Americans jumped on the bandwagon.

        There are indirect comments in Agatha Christie by Poirot on the subject here and there.

        Gaboriau is a major authour for scientific policing genre and a major influence on Sherlock Holmes. His character M. Lecoq is a really interesting character. If you go to https://standardebooks.org/ There’s a book or 2 from that authour as well as of Arsène Lupin.

        Inspector Maigret by Simenon has never gone out of print in French and there are many English translations. I read a juvenile edition of le Chien Jaune (the Yellow dog) back in highschool It’s one of the more popular novels. I should read the original one.

        xavier

        Liked by 1 person

      • Only dumbass Americans dump on the French. I used to do that myself. It’s as if a few intellectuals people don’t like, or the horror of the French Revolution, or “Muh cheese-eating surrender monkeys!” in WWII somehow invalidates centuries of wonderful culture and wonderful people.

        Like

      • Xavier,

        Not everyone dumps on the French! My maternal grandfather flew bombers (B-24 Liberator) over Europe in WW2. His plane was shot down. A French family, who had a son in the Resistance found him and saved his life. They kept him hidden and fed while he recovered. He was there for 8 months and by the end of the 8 months, he had learned French and was helping at their furniture making business until the Allies came through.

        Three of my Uncles are named after the three sons of the family. And one of my uncles is still in touch with that family!

        The people who dump on the French are ignoramuses. And people who dump on the French push a button with me. I also met many French when I was an exchange student in the Netherlands and traveled to France twice. Contrary to stereotypes, except for one a-hole in Paris, the French were wonderful, gracious people. My French is rusty now but back then it was a bit better. And they were usually flattered and friendly when I attempted to speak it. I had always been told it would be just the opposite.

        And that’s not even taking into account my father’s family from Quebec and my feeling on the French-Canadians!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Awesome story! That’s really cool. French people and French culture both have an incredibly unfairly bad reputation here in the US for some weird reason. Here’s what will tick off most Americans: the French were 100% right in opposing war with Iraq.

        Maybe the anti-French attitude goes back to the US being a British colony? Who knows. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

        I see it to a degree with attitudes towards Greece too. People who aren’t Greek and have never been to Greece will tell me definitively what Greek people are like and Greek culture is like, from a position of sheer ignorance. It’s infuriating.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fractalrabbit

    Cool!
    Yeah no one like Parisians. 🙂
    I prefer the regions the Catalans ,Occitans Bretons and so on. They’re really fun and vivacious. And the women were prettier too:)

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What’s interesting is the simultaneous collapse of multiple cultural gatekeepers, including OldPub.

    The “gate” has shifted to the infra/platform layer. I think this is a good thing because it’s more of a practical problem to solve; banning something from your store is actually less powerful long-term than “soft” cultural imprimaturs people take seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alexander

    Strictu sensu no. The Francin (aka the real French) are Western European. The Mediterranean are the Provençal Gascon Catalans Niçoise, Marsellaisois are (aka languedoc)

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

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