Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Pyramid Scheme

As the self-publishing fad continues to fade and continues to return fewer and fewer dollars to fewer and fewer of its practitioners, I have decided not to belabor the victims any longer. And I'm not talking about the readers who have been suckered so many times into buying so, so,  so, so,  so, so many awful books. I'm talking about the people who have been tricked and taunted into self-publishing their own work that is so woefully and terribly and obviously not ready for prime time.

Here's a sad case that's not directly tied to self-publishing, but is one I'd like to use to illustrate part of the problem with the practice.

I won't mention the guy's name here, because I felt so much pity for him:  but a few years ago there was this sad sack going around to comic book conventions claiming to be a professionally published comic book artist. He obviously had some very basic talent, but he was soon caught out for having produced mainly swiped art by people who actually were professionally published comic book artists. Yes, he probably needed to be chastised and prevented from making his outrageous claims. But, in fact, he was publicly savaged not only in print, but in person by any and all who recognized him at a convention where he was trying to sell art.

Now, the cruelty came because he was--as far as I'm concerned--either emotionally or mentally unbalanced. Perhaps both. Anyone who would try to make the claims this poor guy did and think that he could escape scrutiny or being exposed...well, there's something intrinsically wrong with that kind of person. After I'd read about him, it became obvious that he needed counseling or medication or treatment (probably all three). But what he got was a public raping. At the end of it all, I found myself feeling terrible for the guy. (But I seem to be completely alone on the pity front.)

And this is what's going on with many of the people who create stories and novels and are fed the pie-in-the-sky tale that if only they will self-publish their novels they will become rich and famous. This is not so. This is a lie. More than likely, what they will become is disappointed and depressed and ridiculed. I have always gone out of my way never to single out any self-published author for ridicule, even if they deserved it. That steps over the line into cruelty. I don't want to be like those awful people who berated that sick guy claiming to be a great, professional comic book artist. It's just freaking cold-blooded.

Recently I have noted that many of the people I have seen who were actually making some money from self-publishing can no longer do so. The blush is off the rose. When it was just them and a few thousand others, they could scrape by or even break out. But now...there are millions of self-published books. And they're pretty much all terrible. Awful. Just execrable. Now it's almost impossible for these jokers to make any money self-publishing their poorly rendered novels.

So...what some of these cats do--the ones who scream the loudest to promote the big pyramid scheme of self-publishing--what they do is create a fall-back option. They become editors and offer their services: THE AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING NOVEL DIGGITY-DOO-DA WILL LINE-EDIT YOUR OWN BOOK FOR $500! Or they offer their services as a manager. THE AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING NOVEL SMACKITY-SLIP-SLOP WILL TAKE YOU UNDER HER WING AND HELP YOU SELL YOUR NOVEL TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSAND OF POTENTIAL READERS! Or they have created a company to advertise, blog, or re-freaking-tweet your self-published "book". THE AUTHOR WHO BROUGHT YOU THE BEST-SELLING NOVEL DANGLY-DINGEY-DONGEY WILL POST YOUR BOOK ON HIS BOOK PROMOTIONS WEBSITE! YOU'LL MAKE MILLIONS!'s all bullshit. The chances that your self-published novel will make any money at all is practically zero. Except for the editor or book manager or the owner of that site that charges for promotions. They'll do just fine with your money in their pockets.

It's okay to have dreams. That's fine. Everyone has dreams. I'm not here to crush your dreams.

But please...avoid the lying, thieving, soulless shills who want to take you for a ride and steal your money.

If I ever speak to you online or in person and you have self-published a book, I will offer you hearty encouragement. But I won't tell you to give me money to promote/edit/advertise your book, and I won't tell you that you're going to get rich. Any self-published writer who does ask you for money to do these things...they're a scam artist.

"Give me some money and I'll make you rich."

Post-script. I am not talking about legitimate editing services here. People who have a fine eye for detail and a knowledge of language. When I'm getting ready to submit a novel I sometimes employ such editors who help me find mistakes I often miss. But they're not self-published writers who have turned to a scam to make money.

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