Friday, May 3, 2013

It's not the size of your book, it's the motion in its pages....

     I am a subscriber to a very well known writing publication which will remain nameless, but it does digest a lot of things about writers. I love the articles and the practical information they seem to come up with. Being a person who does most everything online (I would grocery shop online if my wife would let me), I signed up for the subscription on their website which means they got access to my email address and bombard me with advertisements. This is probably my fault for not checking the right boxes but, honestly, who reads all that stuff anyway?

     The most frequent topic I receive in these email advertisements has to with this magazine making writing easier, not only for me, but apparently for everyone. They propose a book with fifteen tips that will make anyone's writing process easier or the thirty things that are holding me back from writing nineteen books each year. Ignoring the fact that I love lists and the fact that there is no possible way a single book would be able to tailor to every person's writing style, the idea of easier writing is appealing. I have never bought one of these books or online seminars ranging from $39.95 to $175.95, but I can see why someone would.

     I usually just delete these emails without another thought, until yesterday. Yesterday I was catching up on some blog reading when I came across a bunch of blog posts talking about Amazon's crack down on "books" having a word count less than 2500 (you can view one of those blogs here which I have selected at random). I'm not here to debate the merits of a book at 2499 words versus a book at 2501 words (personally, I believe neither of these are books in a traditional sense) nor am I here to bag on Amazon for it's perceived evil, whether real or not. At first I thought it was a little rough to limit word counts. Self-publishing has always been predicated on the ability to get your work out there without limitation and now the "man" is stepping on the little guy.

     I really struggled with this, until I started reading the comments on a few of the blogs. The people posting were simply ridiculous. More than ten people were mad because their 1500 word "novel" was worth at least the $.99 they were charging (at that price, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would have cost approximately $111.50). They put a lot of work into it after all. I was not only shaking my head but slightly offended. I know how much work I put into my novel and it ended up just north of 70,000 words and it only sells for $2.99. In fairness, not everyone took this approach and some even came around to the idea of combining some of the "books" into short story collections. I'm not even going to comment on the "Free Speech" people who decided it would be fun to try to use the Constitution to force Amazon to keep their "book" for sale.

     Bringing this back full circle, I started to think about the emails from that magazine. The first question that popped in my head was, "Do we really need to make writing easier?". Everyone can write, but not everyone should be a writer. I'm not saying that I should even be a writer, that is for the people reading my book to decide. Nor am I saying I should be the one judging others. However, if  your goal is to put together a 1500 word story, place it on Amazon under the guise of a book or novel in hopes of duping people into buying or even worse, releasing a book one chapter at a time for $.99 each without being up front about it, do you have the right to be upset about what Amazon is doing? The most fulfilling part of finishing my first novel was knowing how much work I put into it. It was greatly satisfying.

     I am not dogging the people who are trying to get themselves more exposure or attempting to write for a living. I am, however, dogging the people who are abusing the process to make a quick buck and giving the rest of us a bad name. I don't work hard on my self-published novels and short story collections just to have other "authors" scare people from buying self-published books.

     I say kudos to Amazon for forcing some people to take the self-publishing process more seriously. I realize this is going to force some legitimate writers to combine some short stories into collections, however, it is good that they are working on getting rid of some of the junk out there.

     Comments, concerns or rants? Leave a comment.

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