Time Better Spent

Recently I’ve read some scare pieces about why Scott Turow thinks we should all fear Amazon, why Jonathan Franzen thinks ebooks are ruining the world and how Ewan Morrison thinks ebooks are like the housing bubble and will ultimately burst, destroying anyone’s ability to sell a book with “culture” for more than $.99 (or free).

I’ve listened to these “authorities” tell me repeatedly that the sky falling and that ebooks will be the downfall of the civilized world. It’s done nothing to help me become a better writer nor has it made my life any better.

These people want me to believe there’s something wrong with me because I publish my fiction on the Kindle. Apparently they believe that when people read my work and enjoy it, I’m making the world a worse place. They would have me believe that I shouldn’t be earning $1000 a month from my books. They would have me believe that if they (or their ilk) don’t “approve” of what I do it not only has no legitimacy, but is actually harmful.

Bullshit.

I’m finished with old fogies telling me I’m doing something wrong while providing no compelling argument to substantiate their claims. I’m through with tweed-jacked, elbow patched, self-important word snobs telling me what is and isn’t “legitimate”.

Mark Twain said it best:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

I’m through with small people who want to belittle my ambitions. I don’t care if they sell a million books; if they’re trying to keep others down then they’re small people. Besides, Mark Twain said so, and he’s a fucking legend.

I’ve always been defiant. I guess that’s why I think for myself, I don’t follow a religion, and I don’t let others tell me what’s acceptable. It’s why I listen to metal. It’s why I don’t have enough middle fingers for self-appointed judges who pretend to know what’s best for me when they don’t even know what’s best for themselves.

I have readers. Not millions, but thousands. Before the Kindle I had none. I’m not so good at math, but last I checked five thousand is more than zero. A lot more.

I’m through wasting my time reading drivel. Instead, I’ll be spending my time improving myself. I’ll continue reading books about the craft of writing to improve my prose. I will learn from the corrections and suggestions my editor and proofreader make to my manuscripts (I always learn something from them). I’ll be sharing information with other writers and learning with them. I’ll be helping other writers learn and become empowered by writing about my own experiences on this blog.

The old guard is falling, but they’re not going out without a fight. Strawman arguments and fear-mongering articles like these are no surprise. A lot of these writers have been on top of the world so long they’ve forgotten that they serve the reader, not the other way around. Savvy writers know that the future is a world where self-publishing and traditional publishing will ultimately live together. They also understand that anything that gets in between the reader and the writer better be adding some value, or else it needs to get the hell out of the way.

My time is better spent becoming a better writer than it is feeling ashamed of self-publishing or afraid of the future. Chances are, your time is too.

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2 thoughts on “Time Better Spent

  1. fivereflections July 31, 2012 / 7:37 pm

    great post Brian!

    • Brian J. Jarrett July 31, 2012 / 7:54 pm

      Thanks! I try to keep my articles here focused more on helping other writers by sharing my own experiences than rant pieces. That said, sometimes you call out nonsense for what it is. As long as these guys didn’t squander all their money on tweed smoking jackets and pipes they’ll be just fine if people stop buying books (which won’t happen). Mp3s haven’t stopped people from buying music, a lot of which is self-published. Of this doesn’t seem to inspire the same rabble-rousing as one does when self-publishing a book.

      It boils down to using self-serving, strawman arguments used to desperately defend their eroding positions within an empire caught in upheaval. It’s time to adapt or end up like the dinosaurs.

      Take care.

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