Yeah, I know it’s redundant, get over it. Here’s my point – if there’s one thing to be gained by pursuing traditional publishing, and I think there’s more than one, but that’s beside the point – if there is only one thing to be gained by pursuing traditional publishing, a thick skin is certainly it. I’ve recently seen several self-published authors either go batshit crazy at a bad review and flame the world, or make some stupid comment on a message board, get hammered for it and then storm off in a huff (or in tears).
I really have only one thing to say to those folks – life’s tough, wear a cup.
No, really. Life is hard, and art is hard. And putting yourself out there for public consumption isn’t just opening yourself up for criticism, it’s inviting crticisim. It’s begging for it!. Trust me, I’ve spent the last two decades (and more, but I might be a little touchy about just how old I am given my recent anniversary of my first trip around the sun) putting myself out there in the public eye. And I’ve gotten hammered for it. And sometimes I’ve gotten accolades for it. And then I’ve gotten hammered for it again.
But I chose this life. I chose to be an actor. I chose to be a writer that publishes. I chose to have a blog with my friggin’ name on it. I don’t write under a pseudonym. I don’t blog under an alias anymore. I stand in front of everyone, me, one fat redneck writing about fairies and vampires and things that go BUMP in the night. And I read too many comics, drink too much and fart too loudly in public. And I write about all of it on the internet. And sometimes I say stupid things in a workshop and hurt someone’s feelings. And sometimes I say too much on a topic and people get mad at me. And sometimes I just look stupid.
And it’s all my fault and I fucking deal with it.
But that seems to be lacking in some of my self-published brethren and sistren – the ability to take the consequences of their actions. Not all of them, mind you. The more professional authors behave, well, as professionals. I know, shocking, right? It’s probably not a surprise that some of them are the people who sell a shit-ton of books. Because they approach everything with the same level of professionalism, from book covers and editing to behavior on message boards.
So I posit that going through the years of rejection typical in the traditional publishing world does a few things for writers that self-publishing does not. First, it builds up a thicker dermis. After dozens of people tell you that your work isn’t good enough, or marketable enough or whatever, you either give up or you toughen up. And either way, you don’t get your panties in a twist about a bad review. Because either you’ve quit before anyone ever reviews the drivel that you put out there, or you’ve toughened up enough to take it.
And there is inherent in that first thing another thing that traditional publishing does for us – weeds out the pansies. Now I like pansies – in a vase. But I don’t like them cluttering up my kindle, or my iPad, or my bookshelf. If you aren’t tough enough to handle a bad review, or someone calling you out on your bullshit on a message board, then be Emily friggin’ Dickinson and put all your crap in a trunk to be released after your death. Because I don’t have time for you.
But if you’re willing to own your mistakes, if you’re willing to take your lumps and get right back up, if you’re willing to say “My bad. I fucked the pooch on that one,” then I’m right here with you. I’ll link arms with you as we skip down the yellow brick road of fuckups together, and I’ll help you up when you fall on your face. I might even loan you a hanky.
</rant> Thanks, I feel better. And I’m sure I’ve hurt someone’s feelings with this rant. And I’m sure there are people out there saying “but but but I don’t do that!”
If that’s your first reaction – then obviously you do.
More updates from the first month of Knight Moves coming soon, and I’ve got a special guest post coming this week, too!