On Dismissive Snobs and Whatever: Be Careful What You Write

The Indie world is all abuzz it seems, and because of a poorly thought out article posted by an author I’ve never heard of in the Guardian. I’ll link to the article, because why not, right? She has a right to be read, however ill-informed she seems. Here you go. 

I wasn’t going to say much at all about it, because everyone’s saying something, but the more I think about what is written in this article, the more irritated I am, so here goes. Let me preface the following rant by saying this is a rant. It’s my opinion and I’m letting my inner asshole out, because she hasn’t seen the light in a while. You don’t like when I act like an asshole? Meh.


Okay, so I  use whatever excuse is available to share that gif. Let’s get back on topic.

I don’t think there is a “right” way to publish for everyone. I think you have to choose your own path, and it might be indie or it might be traditional. No one else has the right to dismiss you for your choices. Cool? Okay.

Now, the article I linked to is clearly something the author tried to reason out, because she’s had this conversation with herself many times. In fact, it seems more like she’s talking herself out of the temptation of self-publishing more than she’s informing anyone about anything. Oh, and she wrote a piece designed to get attention, whether she admits it or not. The backlash is publicity and we all know what they say about publicity.

My anger stems from the fact that her points are not researched and her tone is dismissive and condescending. To me, the article is a regurgitation of every argument ever given against self-publishing by people who’ve never bothered to actually find out what it involves. Shall we begin?

All right. This:

“I think self-publishing is a terrible idea for serious novelists (by which I mean, novelists who take writing seriously, and love to write).”

Serious novelists… who love to write….

bitch please.gif

This comment is just offensive in so many ways. My first reaction was “What a cunt.” Now, I know cunt is a strong word and I know it’s terrible for me, a woman, to use a derogatory term like cunt when speaking about another woman, but if this were a man saying the same thing, I’d call him a cunt as well. It’s my go-to word for people who have no fucking clue about anything, but think they know it all. If you’re a serious novelist, you will research ALL of your options. You won’t discard one simply because you think it’s too hard or too easy, or you’re “too good” for it. You read, learn, listen and you weigh the pros and cons. You NEVER totally toss anything aside, because this industry changes every day. Readers change every day. You, as an author, change every day. What’s right for you now may not work down the road. But as I read more, I realize she’s one of those lovely breeds who feel that anything outside of literary fiction is not serious writing. So, my opinions is that an arrogant, ego-maniacal moron is the only person who would dare say something so condescending and wrong about her fellow writers.

“Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing.”

This is the age of instant gratification and attention spans shorter than a two-year-old on heroin. In order to keep your name and your books on everyone’s minds, you must market. Publishers do a bit of it for you, sure, but not much. I’ve published both ways. I know authors who’ve published with larger publishing houses than I’ve used, and all of us, every last one, have to do a shit ton of the marketing ALONE. If you publish at all, you’re going to be marketing for a living, or you’ll stay poor. Period.

“If your passion is creating worlds and characters, telling great stories, and/or revelling in language, you might want to aim for traditional publication.”

Why? Because only traditionally published authors can tell great stories? Only those authors revel in language and create worlds and characters? Are you for real, lady? I mean, seriously. ARE. YOU. FOR. REAL?

I’ve got nothing else. The absurdity of the whole paragraph that precedes this just makes me insane.

seriously meme.gif

Let’s examine the section beginning with, “Self-publishing can make you behave like a fool.”

Hello, Pot. My name is Kettle. You’re awfully black, eh?

The Internet makes us behave like fools. Misinformation makes us look like fools. You, Ms. Traditional, look like a fool for assuming that what you wrote after that nifty little subtitle has any truth to it. If you invite me to your house, I’m not interested in showing you my books. First, on the rare occasion I do some socializing, I usually try to be drunk. So I’m going to ask if you’ve got any booze. Free booze is the best booze. Second thing I’m going to do is pet your cat, because I love cats. If you’ve got a dog, even better. While I gorge on fluffy animal cuddles, I’ll tell witty jokes, use your bathroom once or twice, forage through your medicine cabinet to see what kind of weirdo you are, because that’s what I do, and I’ll eat whatever food you put in front of me.  NEVER will I say, “Oh hey, have you read my book?” Because I’m not a douchebag and I don’t generally pimp my books anywhere EXCEPT online or at book-related events. Furthermore, I don’t pressure anyone to look at anyone else’s books. What world are you living in? Have you even met a self-published author outside of social media? Have you gone outside at all lately?

After this scenario where the self-pubbed author practically shoves books down the poor woman’s throat, she imagines this:

“Then you tell me how many friends you’ve lost today, and that I can find out how many friends I’ve lost by using this app. Then you poke a reader review of your book under my nose. All within the first 10 minutes.”

Because we all know self-published authors are all,


Lady, whatever fantasy world you’re living in is obviously not the one where you see what actually happens in indie publishing. EVERYONE who’s not a dick hates those apps on Twitter. Has nothing to do with what way you publish.

Let’s move on, because I’m really wishing I was drunk on puppy cuddles right now.

Hashtags: traditional publisher use those too. Celebrities use them. People who have product to sell use them. Joe Nobody that Twitters because he’s bored? He uses them too. He’s not selling anything. Just chatting up the strangers on the Twitter, because why not? Why does anyone use a hashtag? Because they help target the audience for your tweets. If I want readers to see my tweet, I use #books #reading, and the like. If I want readers who like horror, I use #horror as my hashtag. If I’m posting about something that I’m pissed about, my hashtag might be #fuckyou or #cuntsmakemeangry. See? Readers aren’t likely to see the last post, because I didn’t target it to them. If you don’t want book related tweets, don’t follow book industry people. See how easy that is?

She then asks why she’d want to join the Indie gang.

Were we extending invites, guys?


Trust me, sweetheart, no one will ever force you to Indie.

Not even if it means we can “forget Hay festival and the Booker.” If awards matter to you, then I suppose this would be important. Personally, I like chart music, even if it’s true that,

“Literary fiction is opera”

Every idea in the paragraph that follows the above statement reveals a lot about this author and her feelings on genre fiction in general, not just self-published titles.

As for looking like an amateur without the help of a publisher and its team of editors, publicists, etc., maybe we all should take a good long look in the mirror. Go on. I’ll do it too.

painted whore.gif

Sorry. I usually avoid mirrors for this reason. Moving on.

I’ve done the traditional thing, had an editor, the publicity, and guess what? The editor I have for my self-published books was far more thorough, pyramid schemer and all. My network of readers and fellow authors also did more marketing for me than the publisher did. The publisher was small, mind you, but the time I “wasted” marketing and building my platform turned into my free publicity, and it was just as effective.

As for the indie industry being authorpreneurs selling secrets of success to other authorpreneurs, honey, that’s all over this industry. Have you not noticed the traditional industry’s big names selling classes, workshops and the like? No? Well, let’s see, James Patterson, is probably the most notable one, as I’m constantly bombarded with ads for his workshops on Facebook. And what the hell is this, Ms. Judgy Pants? http://rosbarber.com/release-fear-of-failure/

tell me more meme

To be fair, the author of the article did respond via Twitter, saying that she doesn’t judge others who self-publish. (See? I researched before I wrote my opinion piece.) She says the article is merely her explaining why it’s not right for her. It’s an opinion piece. Just her reasons for not self-publishing. Not an attack.

Not. An. Attack.

Well, the way the article is written, which you see in the above quotes I’ve shared, and her overall condescending tone imply otherwise. What she wrote does read like an attack, whether it was intended that way or not.

Just so we’re clear, I’ll repeat that this post is a rant and I am judging her. I’m judging anyone who cloaks a self-serving, misinformed rant that belittles others in the guise of “just my opinion.” What is written in the piece is little more than a collection of falsehoods, mostly, and it’s insulting to anyone who has taken the Indie road. She implies we’re arrogant, entitled, self-absorbed and ignorant. Maybe that’s not what she meant to imply, but to me, any writer who is serious about writing, and who loves language and all that, would take the time to choose her words carefully. She’d take the time to ensure what she writes is exactly what she means. No vagueness. No chance of being misconstrued.

I thought we’d moved past the whole “us against them” thing. I thought writers supported writers no matter what path we’ve chosen, and focus instead on our readers. Opinion pieces from any side that dismiss, insult or otherwise cast a negative shadow on a group of writers are assholery and they help no one except the author of the pieces.

I love indie. I love traditional. I love books. I love readers. I don’t care how you get your books out as long as your primary concern is giving your readers what they want. Encourage people to love books, whether those books are opera or chart music.

And don’t be a dick.

26 thoughts on “On Dismissive Snobs and Whatever: Be Careful What You Write

  1. Ugh! Yes to all of this. I’m SO fed up with genre-snobbery, trad-pub-snobbery, self-pub snobbery and any other kind of snobbery in the writing world. It’s just so… asinine! THanks fo ranting. I’m sharing this everywhere.

  2. You are awesome! BEST.RANT.EVER! Okay, now you’ve made me grin I’d just like to say that I think you are right. The mode of publishing doesn’t matter at all, It’s the quality of the story. Many of my favourite authors are indie writers because their stuff is just THAT good. But I also have many published authors I follow as well. Being a bibliophile has never been so wonderful as it is now. Now I’m gonna go peruse your books and see which one I wanna try out 😀 I’m always on the lookout for a new author to persuade me out of my money 😀

    1. Thanks for reading and I’m glad my dramatics didn’t overshadow my point. Now, hand over the cash. I can see how it’s weighing you down. 😉

      1. HEEEE your not wrong! Just been reading some extracts on amazon kindle and I cannot WAIT to read Sex, peanuts, fangs and fur. I can already tell its gonna have me howling 😀

    1. You are one twisted chick! I think I fell a little in love with you after reading the first two fur and fangs books… Good Lord what I’d give to be able to look into your head! Sorry the psychologist in me is rearing it’s analytical head there.. 😛 anywho all I can say to those books is they friggen rock and when’s the third one coming out? 😀

      1. You just made a rather ho-hum day pretty awesome. Thanks. 🙂 And the third Fangs and Fur is with beta readers. I’m hoping for a late summer-early fall release. I guess mid-summer is possible, but only if I curb my Netflixing.

  3. “Literaly fiction is an opera”? Why don’t we put people like this in a rocket and let them have “space opera”?

    I have queried on traditional publishers, have participated on Twitter pitches yet the best friends I have made on the writting world are the indie authors/editors/ market publicists. There shouldn’t be discrimination between indie and traditional.

    We all start from somewhere. Thank you for the post, I’ll make sure to share.

  4. I’m a musician as well as a writer. When I cross from one world into the other I’m always surprised by how uncivil writers are to each other. Musicians thrive on good vibes. That’s how we’re able to play together. Snarky musicians are usually unemployed because no one wants them dragging the groove. The rest of us are just happy when any of us gets to give up their job at Walmart in order to pursue their art. There’s just no upside to us publicly criticizing each other. (This doesn’t hold true for music critics who are almost never real musicians, and who generally wouldn’t know a good piece of music if one came up and slapped them in the nuts.)

    Writers seem to delight in hurting each other’s feelings. It’s as if they justify being mean simply because they think they’re being honest––as if it’s good for you to have your feelings hurt. Most writers don’t lack confidence. Many think their opinions are way more important, and their talent far greater, than they really are. My feeling is that if you have an opinion you should present it respectfully, in such a way that, as you said, you don’t come off like a dick (or in her case, “cunt”––a word, by the way, I would never have used without you leading the way first!)

    When someone does cross the line, like she did, then they’re fair game. She’ll get what she deserves. Go get her! Maybe you can teach her the meaning of the words “common courtesy.”

    1. I doubt she cares about courtesy when it comes to people she feels are beneath her, which seems to include anyone that writes genre fiction. And if she’d published that article on her personal blog, I’d probably have ignored it, but she didn’t. She chose a widely read site, where she had to have known a bazillion of the people she was belittling would see it. I suspect she wanted controversy, and she got it.

      And I prefer good vibes, but I also love the C word.

  5. By the way, I’m officially nominating you as “The Writer I’d Most Like to Get Hammered With.” I’m buyin’. (Will your local pub take an out-of-state check?)

  6. Well done. And you didn’t even have to mention that ridiculous “statistic” of 10% writing time / 90% marketing.

    1. I figured that was one I didn’t need to bother with. I write 10% of the time and work a day job the other 90%. Marketing is crammed in as an afterthought, which is probably why I’m broke. 😉

  7. YES. This is how I felt after reading her article. Generally I have found that writers support each other and understand that choice is a good thing, and that what suits one book or author may not suit another. Sadly Ms Barber does not seem to be one of those supportive writers. She’s lost a lot of friends here. (I’m also both self and trad published, and manage to fit writing time around a full time day job.)

  8. Ooooh Netflix Is the bane of all evil…. Or at least the devil’s version of digital sloth 😀 so many series so little time! Glad I could brighten up your day some , can’t wait for the release.

  9. I adore Opera! And, I am an Indie author – with lots of supported and supportive writer friends…How confused should I be? Is there a psychiatrist in the house?

    As usual, bloomin’ great article, Renee. And now, I’ll have to go looking for Fangs and Fur (too late for sex – or is it?)

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