Monday, January 2, 2017

Huffington Post and the woefully uninformed writer

I live near Wakefield, Quebec, a small village in which independent artists create music, poetry, theatre, textiles, glasswork, woodwork, photography and more. Everything from the food we eat to the culture we consume comes from the place we live. Our seniors are anything but "elderly" and our way of life is DIY if all else fails. We are not conservative. Though we value tradition, we respect differing points-of-view and choices.

Or so I thought.

A traditionally published author in Wakefield has written an article for Huffington Post entitled Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word. 

Laurie Gough is a fine travel writer; I have two of her books and a copy of her latest release on my shelf. But she does not know anything about self-publishing and to the best of my knowledge (based on this article) she made no attempt to inform herself before she posted her opinion piece. She is aware I am a self-published author. I cheerfully insult the written word every morning from 7 am and 12 noon.

Laurie makes an apology of sorts in the comments trail in which she more or less throws Canada under the bus saying self-publishing isn't as big up here. That doesn't fly with the Canadian authors on KBoards Writers' Cafe. (Founded by a Canadian author who passed away last year. Seriously, Laurie. Google is your friend.) 

HuffPo article take down of self-pubbers destroyed in comments

I drop into the Cafe every morning with my cup of coffee to wake my brain up and get started on the day. I usually don't read threads like the one above because, meh, I've heard it all before. I made $1400 in 20 years of traditional publishing and $10,000 in 2 years of self-publishing so I can't be bullied into thinking less of my work. For whatever reason, I opened the thread and Laurie's name came up. Talk about surreal. And then I read the piece and got a stomach ache.

I can accept that Laurie was expressing her personal opinion. What I can't accept is the utter lack of thought, research or fact-checking that went into forming her opinion before she hit "publish." She made no effort to challenge her beliefs and consequently she has no idea how to defend them.

We've all fallen victim to the sloppy journalism of online "news" so I won't go down that rabbit hole of dissecting the misquoted Margaret Atwood, the lazy analogies or the hyperbole. The over 700 comments do a better job of correcting the errors and misinformation.

Two authors address the fundamental flaws in Laurie's thinking better than I can.

It's Joe Hunt

Monster Hunter Nation

The interesting silver lining that I got out of this as I head into 2017 was the sense that I am part of something bigger. The traditional publishing system is far from obsolete and has a lot to offer society and writers. But where it can't serve, self-publishing is a viable alternative.

It is also work, but that's what's cool about it. I had no appreciation for what editors, publishers and agents were talking about in terms of marketability until I tried to sell my own books. I do now and that's the best thing about DIY--one is forced to be humble enough to learn.

A lesson I hope Laurie Gough gets out of all of this.