I had a friend tell me the other day that he was going to start writing books.
As far as I know, or can tell, he’s never read one. If he has, it had pictures in it. Perhaps I’m exaggerating. But not really.
I asked why he felt compelled to throw his hat in the ring in a business that was extremely competitive, and in which one’s chances of making any sort of real money were between slim and none. What special perspective did he bring that would be vital for an audience to hear? What stories had he been cooking up, waiting for the right moment to spring on a delighted world? How much studying of his favorite authors had he done? How much time invested in mastering niggling details like remedial grammar, or punctuation, or any facet of craft?
The answers weren’t good. As far as I could tell, he decided he wanted to be an author after reading some accounts of how easy it was now to publish your own book.
BREAKING NEWS: A fabulous new interview with Alan McDermott. Worth a few minutes of your time.
NEWS: A brilliant new book review for JET by Kate’s Reads and The Kindle Book Review! Nice!
NEWS: And another great book review for JET by Wren Deloro. Wow!
Which seems to me to be the wrong reason to publish – that it’s easy. Many things in life are easy. Eating too much pie. Foregoing a shower. Having that last few cocktails instead of going home. It may well be easy to upload a document to Amazon and have it available for purchase, but does that make it a good idea to do so?
Perhaps I’m overly pedantic, but if you’re confused over the use of your and you’re, or its and it’s, if you think definitely is spelled with an “a” somewhere in it, and your idea of great writers are names that you commonly see in airport bins, then does the world really need you to rush your unique literary contribution to the presses? Not that you don’t have a right to invest little or no time in actually being able to tell a story via the written word with anything more of a command of your mother tongue than a ten year old might display, but is it really such a great idea? Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I have always believed that one should actually take the time to learn about something before walking onto the stage with experts who have been working at it for, oh, decades, and hoping that one’s chutzpah and charisma will carry the day.
I know that’s an unpopular notion among indies. In our world, we’re supposed to be as supportive as sponsors at a twelve-step meeting, and coo and gush at each other like obese aunts over a newborn.
But folks. The giddy buzz of seeing one’s work on Amazon quickly fades to anger and recriminations when the lousy reviews hit and sales go through the floor. Because the world doesn’t reward most with a high five and an offer of a lotion job in reward for some paltry half-baked effort. Now while it’s true that there are lots of readers at all different levels, and plenty of authors at all those same levels, the world is not made of marshmallows and ponies, and everyone can’t be a winner. Most won’t be, for one very simple reason: they didn’t invest the time to get good at what they’re trying to succeed at. Because most people don’t like to pay to be entertained by performers who are about as inept as the audience is.
None of which I said. Instead, I used words like “awesome” and “excited.” Because in a way it’s like your five-seven friend with the gimp announcing that he’s going out for the NBA, having become an expert at basketball by watching lots of it on TV. Do you want to be the one to have to break the news, or do you let the world do it instead?
Being a coward, I chose the latter. And far be it for me to pretend to know what is good and what isn’t. Or rather, what will be popular and what won’t. That’s anyone’s guess, and maybe he’ll knock one out of the park with his debut effort, which he’s assured me he’ll crank out in no time, and not waste any money having edited – his reasoning being that after he’s sold a few thousand dollars worth, then he’ll have some change to throw at an editor – but only a cheap one. No way is he going to get ripped off and pay, oh, say, what a 16-year old at McDees might see on an hourly basis to the editor who is going to be responsible for his work. Likewise, he’s not going to blow money on formatting, and certainly not going to get taken to the cleaners by some fancy-pants cover artist when he can Photoshop with the best of ’em.
Fortunately, I have it on good assurance from reading several platinum-level “How I lied my way to the top” books that this is an easy gig. We’re all right on the cusp. Everyone’s a winner, just waiting to happen. And the time very well could be now!
I wouldn’t just tell you what you want to hear ’cause you’re kind of cute.
Okay, maybe I would. But let’s not get too hung up on the details here.
In self-promotion news, JET IV – Reckoning, is now in the can, and will be edited and ready to go live sometime in the first 10 days of December. Whether I get the next in the Assassin series done in time for Xmas is anyone’s guess. A lot will depend on the muse, and my boozing schedule, which is likely to get serious over the holidays – which in Mexico, start around September and last through June. Nobody said this was easy. Don’t hate me. Or if you do, lie. I’m okay with lying about how great I am. I actually celebrate it.
And go buy one of my books. JET is selling like mice in a snakehouse. Might wanna start there. It’s been described as Fifty Shades meets Harry Potter with some Twilight and Wool tossed in, but without the vampires, sorcerers, sweaters or sex. Which actually makes it sound pretty lame, so never mind. Just read it. As a recent reviewer said, “Imagine the emotional stability and coherence of a Charlie Sheen or a James McAfee with the self-aware maturity of a Kardashian.”
Okay, so that wasn’t about me. But it could have been. I think that’s the point here.