Exploding Myths & Destroying Minds

Dean Wesley Smith is updating his infamous blog series Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. I remember my first reaction when I stumbled across his blog: this guy is going to make enemies!

He takes on every myth in the business from “you must rewrite something to make it good” to “an agent always acts in a writer’s best interests”. When I discovered his blog around Christmas 2009, I thought it was explosive stuff.

I agreed with a lot of what he was saying, but I was completely invested in the agent myths and dismissed those sections. Needless to say, I’ve snapped out of that now.

Some of the information is out of date (a lot has happened in the last two years), so I am delighted that he is rewriting the articles and releasing it as a book at the end of the summer.

He has posted revised versions of the first three chapters so far, and it’s great stuff. The first chapter is a good primer. It’s called “Only One Way”, and you should read it.

If you find the articles useful, you can donate. Those who do will receive a free copy of the 120,000 word book when he is done.

***

Speaking of myths, here’s one guy that believes them all.

In a deliberately provocative article titled “Why Selling E-books at 99 Cents Destroys Minds”, Chad Post, a small publisher of translated works, achieves several things in the space of just a few pages.

He shows – with himself as a prime example – why so many publishers are completely out of touch, and will get swept away by the rising digital tide.

He also manages to insult self-publishers in general, John Locke in particular, all of his readers, and anyone who thinks reading should be enjoyable rather than hard work.

This kind of nonsense has been spouted in “literary” circles for years. In fact, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were reviled by their “literary” contemporaries.

I could deconstruct the entire article, and show how he is wrong about absolutely everything, but I have better things to be doing with my time (and that has been mostly done in the comments anyway).

In any event, someone who is that invested in the myths of publishing won’t listen anyway. In fact, in the comments, he only responded to people who agreed with him!

I will, however, say this. If you are going to criticize someone’s writing, try not to have a big glaring typo in that paragraph. It just makes you look stupid.

Oh, and John Locke’s response in the comments was pure class. He said, “I wish you well in your publishing venture, and would like to add that you and I can still be friends even if you don’t like my writing. But we can’t be friends if you keep insulting my audience.”

Zing!

UK author Nick Spalding wrote an excellent response to both this article and the false battle-lines that are being drawn between self-published writers and trade published writers. It’s quite funny, and completely accurate.

***

Alan Rinzler has worked in publishing for almost 50 years, including stints at Rolling Stone, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, Holt, Grove, Bantam, and now at an imprint of John Wiley & Sons.

He has edited books which have sold millions of copies, working with everyone from Toni Morrison and Hunter S. Thompson, to Tom Robbins and Clive Cussler.

He wrote an excellent article a couple of weeks ago about why this is the best time ever to be a writer. He’s right. Go read it.

***

Lee Child recently joined Stieg Larsson, Nora Roberts, Michael Connolly, Suzanne Collins, James Patterson, and Charlaine Harris in the “Kindle Million Club”. We have yet to see an indie writer crack this group, but John Locke and Amanda Hocking must be close.

I haven’t read Lee Child’s thrillers (I keep meaning too), but those who do are entranced with his word-shy hero Jack Reacher: a six-and-a-half foot giant, with a fifty inch chest and two hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle, who can snap a man’s neck with one hand, or kill with a single punch.

I know what you’re thinking. There’s only one actor out there who could play that role. That’s right. Tom Cruise.

***

An Australian minister has prompted outrage by making the entirely sensible prediction that his country’s bookstores will be wiped out within the next five years.

The howls of indignation were comical. Note to those involved: predicting something is not the same as wanting it to happen.

I have a lot of time for booksellers, and a lot of sympathy for their predicament, especially independents. I regularly state that print is doomed and e-book dominance is inevitable, and that bookstores face a bleak future. That doesn’t mean I want any of those things to happen.

In fact, one of the saddest realisations that age brings is that you have very little say in what the future is going to be like.

Finally, I think the last thing we should be doing is attacking a politician for being honest and forthright. That is, unless you want even more of them exclusively employing doublespeak.

***

The Never-Ending Blog Tour rolls on. This beast is always hungry but never tires. This week, I’m interviewed by fellow indie author Jack Wallen. The interview is here (some great questions), and you should check out the rest of his site.

Also, I’m participating the Great Indie Summer Read Giveaway, where over 100 books will be given away. Entry is simple, you fill out a form. You gain extra entries by tweeting and such.

In case you are interested, I usually find out about promotional opportunities such as these through Kindle Boards.

***

Finally, yesterday’s interview with Lizzy Forde was extremely popular, and many of you left questions for her in the comments. Unfortunately, my spam filter went a bit crazy and blocked a lot of Lizzy’s responses. These have all been retrieved now, so you can go back to yesterday’s post and see her answers at the bottom.

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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21 Responses to Exploding Myths & Destroying Minds

  1. Katie says:

    The saddest thing about Australian bookstores shutting down is that the digital age hasn’t really fully reached us yet. We can order books online, but there are still a lot of older people who won’t. As for e-readers, any mention of them is generally met with a blank look, at least in the part of Australia I come from.

    Like

    • That is sad. The situation in Australia is pretty bad, and it hasn’t got much international press. I can understand why booksellers are hurting. Australia has an amazingly diverse range of independent bookstores which have captured a far larger share of the market than in the US or the UK, but they are hanging on by their fingernails.

      But I do think this was a case of shooting the messenger.

      Like

  2. You always find the most interesting topics. I could lose a few hours this morning reading these links. Thanks, and yes, in the traditional, non-sarcastic, way.

    Like

  3. amyshojai says:

    Excellent post! Will be sharing this with my blog readers as well.

    Like

  4. Hektor Karl says:

    I’m don’t believe that movie adaptations have to be slaves to the source material — but if you’re going to turn Jack Reacher into a 5’7”’ pretty boy, you should probably just adapt something else.

    Like

  5. WFMeyer says:

    Stop Dave, I’m afraid.

    HAL 9000 – as a Big 6 Publisher

    Like

  6. WFMeyer says:

    In regards to the comments related to the “Why Selling E-books at 99 Cents Destroys Minds” article, I too liked John Locke’s comment, but did you see Bob Mayer’s (2) scathing responses? That is one angry former Special Forces dude.

    Like

  7. dborys says:

    David, I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. Thanks for all the time you put into it. I’m glad we ran into each other, digitally speaking, through Agent Query Connect.

    Like

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  12. scm2814 says:

    Poor Australian Minister. I think it’s a shame B&N closed down their physical shops. Going into a books tore and being in the PHYSICAL presence of books… their’s nothing liek it. Libraries can’t compare, because you don’t have the same feeling of potential ownership if you happen to see something you like.

    Plus, in a bookstore, you can see if the book is damaged before you buy it, a rather practical consideration.

    Thank goodness I live in a backward third world country that can’t afford to assume everyone will be buying thier books online.🙂 I still get to engage in that of-so-taboo activity of ‘reading the ENTIRE BOOK while standing in the shlves, even if it takes me days’…

    Like

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