Self Publishing Update

In Personal Stories, Thoughts on Publishing on February 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

When I was a young lad of 15 or 16 I had a friend who was in a rock band. He asked me if I wanted to be a roadie for the band and help them out with stuff. It sounded cool so I went to my friend’s house after school and sat in on their band practice in the basement. When it was all over the band turned to me and asked what I thought. I was eager to be “cool” so I told them that it rocked and they rocked and everything was wicked awesome!

I was hit with a wall of blank stares.

Finally, my friend broke the silence and with a laugh said, “He’s afraid to tell us what we did wrong.”

Sure, I wanted them think I was cool so I told them what I thought they wanted to hear. My first time there I didn’t want to tell them that this or that sucked.

I learned that day that the best thing that you can do for a friend is to tell them the truth. Do it nicely, but be truthful. Tell them what was great, what was good, and what sucked.

It’s what friends do.

***Flash forward to present day***

I’m an old lad of 30 or 35 (or 43) and I have plenty of friends in the world of self publishing. I am a firm believer in self publishing so on a daily basis I hang out at web sites that distribute self published books. I download short stories and novels from these authors. Having lived in this self pub world and sampled a lot of what it has to offer I feel that we’re friends and I can be honest with you.

We are friends, right?


As friends I believe that you need to hear this. I believe that it’s time for an honest sit down and a serious reality check. I think that it’s time that we discussed the good and the bad.

The Good

  1. There is always something new to read.
  1. There are some AMAZING undiscovered authors out there! When I was a young rocker there was nothing quite like finding that little known band that just rocked it like no one else. The feeling was even better when they got big. It was like you had bragging rights to being one of their first fans.
  1. The great authors that you discover are very approachable. Do you like the new Stephen King novel? Just try emailing him to let him know your feelings. Think that you’ll get an answer? Maybe, but probably not.
  1. The self pub industry is one of the most helpful collections of people I’ve ever met. Lit U is a perfect example of that exact statement. Lit U is built on the idea of helping when and where you can…and Lit U is not the only one! I’ve run into it with many self pub groups out there.
  1. The self pub industry is growing and becoming a more positive notion. The industry leaders are realizing this and more doors are opening every day.

Are you sitting down? Good, because it’s time for…

The Bad

Please keep in mind that this is passion that is speaking. I love you and I just want to see you do your best, but let’s be honest here:

  1. There is no excuse for not finding someone to edit your spelling and grammar. Most word processing programs employ a built-in spell checker. Feel free to use it. I suck at spelling and grammar and the English language in general. Some of my best friends are editors. I make them bacon and  they make me look  like I am not so stupid.
  1. Trends and fads are nice…nice if you are into the subject. For the rest of us it is a painful existence. Oddly enough my point here is that you should write what you like to write and not whatever the  latest  craze might be.
  1. As a self pub author you will wear many, many hats and job titles. Do your best to perform each duty to a professional level, but for the love of God , if you have to pay someone to make a decent cover for you then please do it! No one will even read the blurb if they are turned off by your sad graphics. For me, this is the one place where you want to hire a professional…or at least someone who doesn’t still use Paint as their graphics program. Nothing angers me more than seeing the multitude of shitactular covers that I see on a daily basis. For the love of all that it awesome, please scrap the cheesy fonts. Yes, that means you Mr. Blood Dripping Font. There are a million sins here. The point is DRESS YOUR PIG before bringing it to market!
  1. People can smell bullshit from a mile away…two miles if they are Jersey natives. There is a fine line between self promotion and being a complete dick. Know the difference. Please.
  1. Author photos – This is one of my pet peeves because this should be the easiest of all of the tasks that you have command over. Writing is hard, editing is hard, graphics are hard, but picking your bio picture is easy. When I see an author picture that is obviously cropped from a group photo I want to throw a lit paper bag of doggy doo at your house. I want to poop under the front seat of your car on a hot day, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and throw away your keys so that by the time a lock smith has opened your door the smell has eaten its way into your carpet and is a daily reminder not to use stupid blurry cropped pictures. Author photos should be CLEAR. They should be of YOU and only YOU (unless your wife is super hot and works at Hooters…then I’ll make an exception…or if your husband is an MMA fighter, then I have no choice). Take a look at your favorite professional author. What picture did he or she use? COPY THAT STYLE dimwit.
  1. Be PROUD of what you do. I will personally slap the next self published author who tells me that self publishing is a four letter word or any other negative connotation. If you believe the media’s hype then you are in the wrong business. It’s like a chef who says that he is an “artist”. No, you cook food. You are a chef. Be proud. You’re doing something that not everyone can do. It’s like a bartender saying that he is a mixologist. I call bullshit. You pour liquid from one too many sources into various containers. You tend to the needs of the thirsty at the bar. Be proud and pour your ass off with the best of them! I can’t tell you how many self pub authors hide from the “self pub” title. “Oh, I’m an award winning wordsmith .” Sweet Sassy MaLassy! I say that’s malarkey!  I wear the title of Self Published Author with honor and I dare you…double dog dare you…to try and tell me it’s wrong or bad. I’ll put you in a rear naked chokehold  and dry hump you until the referee pulls me from your embarrassed backside.

I could have more easily said that the world of self publishing is getting better and to stop doing stupid things, but what fun would that have been? And when do I really get so many opportunities to work in poop references.


Your friend,


Ryan O’Neil is not only an official member of LitU, but a voracious eater of all things once alive. His official blog can be found here

  1. Hilarious, true, and in the end, as they might say in a bad blurb, a self-affirmation for the Self Published and Proud. For God’s sake be proud.

  2. Look back at the list of The Bad, and memorize it all… then you might have a reason to be proud. It’s not all about book sales, either. I was proud of my first book, but then, a month or two after the release, I missed a proof correction — I mean the whole proof, and sent in the last proof to the POD producer. The result? What do you expect? I ended up with a couple of reviews from people who enjoyed the book, liked the story, but had serious editorial issues.

    Most of my reviews have been very good, including the ones I didn’t ask for, I’m very grateful for that, but those two reviews regarding my stupid loss of focus in the production stage, remain on Amazon to this day. They are constant embarrassments, and despite their being both four stars, have certainly hurt sales also. I’ve done everythi9ng I can to get rid of remaining copies of the bad editions

    Get it right. Right. Then pride can come as a result of your reader’s response. After all, HL Mencken suggested back in the Twenties, that if you got enough chimpanzees and typewriters and locked them in a room, after enough time had passed, you’d get the next Great American Novel.

    Completing a book isn’t enough. It’s got to be a good one and it should be cleaner than the last pulp to come down the pike from the Big Six (Oh? It’s only five now?) and get hyped on every TV news/talk morning show.

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