Angry Authors. Tar and Feathers.

I’m an independently published author, or if you like, an Indie author, a self-published author. I don’t brag about it, I’m not egotistically proud to be self-published and very definitely not ashamed, because in my mind I’m just a writer who publishes her books and offers them for sale with on-line retailers. I do believe self-publishing can – for many – be more profitable than going the traditional route, and I don’t have to deal with the restrictions, lack of control and lack of disclosure from editors and publishing houses that traditionally published authors must deal with. But this year, I often cringe when I read a new blog post, article or reader’s comment about self-publishing. This year I’m ashamed of, and embarrassed by, the actions of a few Indie authors.

Authors publicly reacting badly to negative reviews. Authors verbally abusing, threatening and stalking reviewers and book bloggers. Public flame wars.

I’m not going to add links. If you Google “Authors Behaving Badly,” you’ll find enough to keep you reading for the rest of the day.

These authors are so self-centered, they don’t comprehend the damage their rants do to their careers, or care about how their behavior influences readers’ opinion of other self-publishers. Unfortunately, we are all tarred with the same brush. People like to generalize, so when the shit hits the fan, it sprays in everyone’s face. The shenanigans of a few can have the power to besmirch an entire industry.

Some book bloggers will no longer review a self-published work. Reader forums warn readers to not buy any self-published books.

Recently on the scene, the revelation that successful self-published author John Locke, the guy who wrote “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months,” paid a service to write hundreds of reviews for his books, and he’s not the only one. Locke’s (apparent) belief he did nothing wrong saddens and disgusts me. Paid-for reviews are nothing new, but Locke bought 300 reviews from Todd Rutherford, whose stable of reviewers were paid only for 5 star reviews. Locke gamed Amazon. Now the legitimacy of the review system is in doubt and Indie authors are being targeted, although  it’s likely a number of Big 6 authors, or their publishers, also buy reviews and have for a long time.

Indie authors are not the only ones behaving badly.

Traditionally published authors are actively telling writers to not self-publish. I can’t label them “authors behaving badly,” but certainly authors behaving inanely, because they don’t know what they’re talking about. They know little or nothing of the self-publishing industry. Authors, editors, journalists have taken up a kind of mantra: “most self-publishers only sell 100-150 books.” No data or research is ever presented to back this up. Perhaps an editor said it five or ten years ago, it certainly does not apply now. They say self-publishers pay tens of thousands of dollars to publish, and some go on to cite rip-off agencies such Author Solutions (xLibris, AuthorHouse, iUniverse,) that profit more from the services they sell to aspiring authors than actual book sales. And, of course, the old refrain: Indie books are poorly written and poorly edited, by which they mean all self-published works. These trad published authors are totally misinformed on many aspects of self-publishing, and gleefully spread the misinformation.

Indie authors are no different when it comes to propagating fallacies instead of taking the time to research. Hundred of authors mistook a legitimate service that linked readers to books available on Amazon’s book lending program for a piracy site. The site was overloaded with complaints and the host could not cope. The site went down. Readers reacted by publishing the names of offending authors and threatening to give their books one-star reviews.

All this depresses me. Traditionally published, self-published – we should concentrate on one thing and one thing only: putting out a good product for those who spend their hard-earned money on our books. We’re writers, so instead of obsessing about what other people do, how about we channel our energy into writing?

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