Scenes From the State of All Bookforms 2014

This whole journey towards trying to become a self-sustaining independent/self-published writer has taught me a lot about the craft and the industry. I think that’s one of the best things about it…there’s no better way to get a feel for the inner workings of an industry than trying to become a part of it, watching people succeed and fail on a fairly regular basis.

But one thing that has always alarmed me is the sheer bitchery between the two sides. There are blogs I once read religiously for ideas and motivation that I no longer visit because their space has become nothing but a forum to tear down the opposition. It’s frankly getting old pretty fast, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

There are days where it all comes down to being just a bunch of static…noise that gets inside a writer’s head and buzzes like a drill operated by a tiny mind-gnome. There are days when it sounds something like this little imagined scenario from an event I believe I will call The State of All Bookforms 2014.

Self Publishing walks in like it owns the place, swagger and confidence in his step. He knocks aside the rows of bargain bin books that were crouched quietly in the back of the conference room. In the opposite back corner of the room, Barnes and Noble can be heard squealing and making a commotion as it hides behind a chair.

MODERATOR: Can you NEVER be on time, Self Publishing?

SELF PUBLISHING: Hey man, I do what I want. Deal with it.

BIG 5 PUBLISHING REP: See that? Mr. Moderator, are you going to let him disrespect you like that? If we let him have his way, he’ll tear this room apart. He’ll digitize us all! And he’ll do with with terrible formatting, typos, and covers that are really all starting to look the same. WHERE WILL I MAKE MY MONEY?  I mean,…erm, let’s think of the readers here. Yes. That’s what I meant to say.

MODERATOR: Settle down before you have a heart attack.

Big 5 Publishing Rep, sweaty and pouty, mumbles something about bookshelves, marketing, and how faulty electronics are Satan’s work.

SUPER SUCCESSFUL INDIE: May I speak please, Mr. Moderator?

MODERATOR: Of course.

SUPER SUCCESSFUL INDIE: Thank you. I’d like to start this meeting by stating that the attitudes of the Big 5 are really beginning to cause the entire industry to…..

(three hours pass)

…and, basically, to sum it all up, that’s why self-publishing is awesome and I am the god of all things bookish.

SENSIBLE SUPER SUCCESSFUL INDIE: (slightly embarrassed) That could have been shorter. Please do shut up. You’re making us all look bad, you know.

INDIE WRITER MAKING AROUND $50 A MONTH: WTF? He scratches head, tries to take notes, really starts to get irritated with his leaders.

BIG 5 PUBLISHING REP: You see?! They can’t even get along with writers that are taking their side! Do we really want to hand over the platinum gold shiny keys to the kingdom to warmongers like these?

MODERATOR: Order please, order. Can we please…

BIG 5 SELF PUBLISHING REP: Look! The new Stephen King novel! All 23,000 pages of it. Look how pretty and big and expensive! And mmmm….that new book smell.

INDIE PUBLISHING: Look! The new Stephen King novel. It’s the same size as my Kindle. And I won’t have to cut a new hole in my wall to make room for it on my bookshelf.

STEPHEN KING: Ha! That’s awesome. Did you know I wrote that in like 2 weeks? Also, Stephanie Meyer sucks.

JONATHAN FRANZEN: (stumbles in). Bwaaaaaah why wasn’t I invited? Doesn’t matter. I hate you all anyway.

INDIE EROTICA WRITER hits PUBLISH on release #37596 during all of this.

BIG 5 REP: Did you see that? She didn’t even copy-edit that! She just sent it out into the—

AMAZON: Your title has been published. You now have ALL THE MONEY.

INDIE EROTICA WRITER: Hooray! (starts writing release #37597).

Suddenly, the doors swing open and a bright light shines in. A CASUAL READER steps into the room amid all the noise.

READER: What the hell is this?


READER: (Backing away slowly and in terror). Um…yeah, no thanks. I’ll just wait for the movie.

DISNEY and UNIVERSAL: Mwahahahahahahaha!


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