When Good Enough Just Isn't
A dear friend of mine, who happens to be a voracious reader, just told me that she keeps seeing a facebook ad from an indie author claiming that Jodi Picoult was "completed absorbed" by his book, and wouldn't we all like to buy it right now???
Okay, deep breath while I heave myself onto a three-story soapbox before proceeding. Here's my reaction:
1. I love indie authors. I want to believe in them. I want to support them. I do not want to discriminate against, patronize, or otherwise belittle them. After all, I have published with an independent small press, putting me more or less in the same camp.
2. Like it or not, indie authors are held to a higher standard than traditional press authors. Rant, whine, howl, whimper, or erupt in fury as you see fit. Sorry, but it's the truth.
Is it fair? I suppose not, when has life ever been fair? Indie authors are pioneers. You guys are like the first women in the military, the first African Americans in Congress, the first whoever to do whatever - you have to work twice as hard and be twice as terrific in order to be considered acceptable. As we know from previous "firsts," eventually you'll be accepted, at first grudgingly, and then openly, at which point you can be judged on your own merit. In the meantime, don't screw it up for the rest of us.
Seriously, just don't. Don't put out ungrammatical Facebook ads with errors that a spell- and grammar-checker would have caught. Don't forget to use Oxford commas consistently. (Don't know what the Oxford comma is? Look it up.) For the love of all that's holy, know how to use an apostrophe! Don't exclusively self-edit. Know all the rules backwards and forwards and work within them before you even think of breaking them. You have to earn the right to be an iconoclast. Bad grammar, poor spelling, poor usage, weak structure and style, and sloppy editing aren't signs of closet genius. When you've sold a few hundred thousand copies, you can be "colorful." Until then, you're paving the way for those coming behind you.
See? The individual indie author is carrying a huge weight on his or her shoulders. S/he is breaking ground. Sure, it's not fair that those in the vanguard have to work so hard, but that's the reality. Think about it. And then, make sure your work is so squeaky clean perfect that we don't notice the details at all.
I completely expect howls of dismay from the peanut gallery for this post. Bring 'em on! Peace, everybody.