Monday, April 7, 2014

The Problem With Adjectives - Part II


By Henry Mosquera

Read Part I

Consider the following, this besmirching propaganda campaign on the part of the publishing industry against indie writers has one goal, to turn potential costumers from buying their product. It’s already hard enough for them to successfully market a novel (fiction has been experiencing a slump in recent years). On top of that, books have to compete for attention against more easily consumed entertainment media like TV, the Internet, film, video games, etc. And now they have a bunch of people flooding the market with self-published books. Not cool. Agents hate indies. And why shouldn’t they? A big part of their job is to find and filter manuscripts to be published. But a publishing house can easily scout which indies are doing well and move in for the kill. The author has already done all the work and taken all the risks. Easy money. Who needs a middleman?

Some mid-list authors—the lion’s share of the industry—hate us because we draw away from their sales, and we accomplished the same thing without jumping through hoops or regard for what’s selling. The A-listers, the people at the top of this pyramid, can care less about us. They’re too busy working on their next project and enjoying their incredible success. The media? Well, if you have, say, a radio show and you have to choose from two guests: one is a known author, and the other a freshman indie, who do you pick? Who do you think is going to bring you more listeners? Now you run a website. You have a page where you review books, who do you think is going to create the most traffic? John Doe and his new self-pubbed novel, or Peter Popular and the next installment of his bestselling series? So the whole, “Don’t pay attention to those indie guys. All they publish is garbage,” makes a lot of sense. We threaten their cash flow. Let alone that new technologies endanger their whole business model and people’s careers.

Readers (meaning: consumers) get caught in this asinine game of “get in with the cool crowd.” Why scrape the bottom of the barrel when you can hang out with the stewards of literary merit and good taste? The problem for the industry is that every year the indie market grows, awards gain respect, and so do review sites. We’re present at national and international trade shows. A few self-pubbed writers have managed to break into the mainstream, while established authors have decided to self-publish, adding to our credibility cache. Traditional outlets have seen there’s cash to be made from this self-published movement, and they add services to cater to us. Entire websites exist to support indie authors, allowing readers to discover, critique, and connect with us.

Self-publishing has always existed. It used to be called “vanity press” back in the analog days. But the metamorphosis and continuous growth of the indie publishing industry in the digital world is creating its own quality controls. Nobody wants to be known as the award given to badly crafted writing, or the site that gives five-star reviews to literary crap. No Internet community is going to come together to support mediocrity. There’s no interest in that, monetary or otherwise. The Wild West days of the quick-to-publish writer, who haphazardly manages to put together some semi-coherent paragraphs into a literary catastrophe, are fading away, and with it, the stigma of the amateur indie author. The infant self-publishing industry, and the readers who support it, are already weeding out the vain from the pro.

Like it or not, the indisputable fact remains that indie writers are very much authors. As real and far more driven than anyone traditionally published. We’re the ones who refused to take “no” for an answer. We create, hone our craft, and polish our manuscripts because we love what we do and take pride in our work. We do these things regardless of monetary compensation or mainstream appraisal. We become self-contained publishing houses in spite of ourselves because we want to share our thoughts, concerns, hopes, joys, and imaginations. We want to connect, to have a dialogue with our readers (even if we agree to disagree). And if that, ladies and gentlemen, is not the mark of an artist, then we, indies and trads, are just playing with our keyboards. We’re authors, each and every one of us. No matter what adjectives certain people want to attach to us.

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Henry Mosquera is a writer and artist born in Caracas, Venezuela. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning political thriller, “Sleeper’s Run.” He attended the University of Miami, Florida, where he obtained a double major in Graphic Design and Film. Henry currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and dog.

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