Last week I felt rather dismayed to read about a writer on Twitter who felt they needed to defend their position as being a real author. They are an independently-published (indie) author, and I can’t believe there’s still this ongoing debate as to whether indie authors are as “valid” as traditionally-published (trad) authors.
Actually, I wasn’t dismayed; I was downright upset.
My books were published by a small press, so I suppose I’m technically a trad author, but what if I hadn’t been signed by Renaissance? Would Life in the ’Cosm not be a real book just because I would have published it myself? If the book and myself weren’t real, then what were we? Imaginary?
As an editor, I mostly work for indie authors, or those who have had both indie and trad published works. Let me tell you, if they are hiring me, right from the start you know they care about their work. Anyone who employs one or more editors wants to publish a good quality product. And it’s not just editing that comes into the equation. My clients have even budgeted for cover and layout designers. One client told me they wanted to know exactly who they were working with, and fiercely chose to independently publish their book.
Are there “self-pubbed” authors who release poor product? Sure. It happens. But painting every indie author with the same brush is dead wrong, in my opinion. They work hard at writing, gathering their team, raising funds through kickstarters, and promoting their work. They are more real than a lot of people I know, and I admire the work ethic of my clients and other indie authors I know—immensely.
They’re rock stars, really.
One of the worst things we can do in the writing community is to be snobs. That is so unproductive and well, icky. What I love is to see authors—whether indie, trad, or not-yet published—coming together with encouragement and support. I’ve met some wonderful people in the Canadian speculative fiction world and on Twitter. Some Twitter chats like #JustAddTea, #HappyWritingChat, #WriteStuff, #WeeknightWriters, and #StoryDam have really fun people in it. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and provide virtual support when one or more of us feels bleh.
But this putting-down thing? Don’t do it. It only makes you come across as snooty and frankly, is a career-limiting move. Remember that every writer you encounter is also a reader. Be kind, generous, and encouraging, and people will recommend you as a nice human. They might even signal boost your work to others.
But really, be nice without expecting that reward. Because as Major Frank Burns from M*A*S*H used to say, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”
So, say it with me: All writers are real writers.
Unless of course, they are imaginary. But writers in novels count, too, even though they’re not real.
Hmm. I’d better stop this train of thought before I get metaphysical…
Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Cait has also recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)