I’ve come upon mentions of that article here and there. Some people are dissing it while others are giving it acclaim, but recently I read a blog post that really disturbed me. The general jist was that the blogger had initially reacted to the article the same way I did. “This flies in the face of everything I’ve said and done for the last ten years. This doesn’t make sense. This is BAD ADVICE.” But then the really freaky thing happened. The blogger said (paraphrased),
“Then I started to think about it. This guy has written something like 10 books. Maybe I needed to reconsider *my* position because clearly they know what they’re talking about.”
And therein lies the rub, said Hamlet.
We’re all special, which means nobody is
Have you ever watched the Pixar flick The Invincibles? As an adult I have to say, “No, neither have I.” However, you might recall, if you had seen it, several repetitions of the idea that if everyone is special then really no one is special. How can everyone be special, right? Well, that’s kind of where we’ve gotten to in the publishing business, at least insofar as the online world is concerned. Factually, anyone can publish a book these days. It might be self-published. It might be online only. But I mean, heck, I *technically* have published a book. It’s floating up there in my masthead minding its own business. It’s not like Paul Giamatti’s character in Sideways or the dad in Little Miss Sunshine, both of whom had to peddle their wears to publishers.
Is this a good thing?
On the one hand, this ability to publish oneself at a whim is kind of exciting. I love that peoples’ thoughts (like Julien Smith’s, for example) are more readily accessible than they might have been five years ago. Much like Triberr touts itself as the friend of the little blogger, the new world of publishing could rightly tout itself as the friend of the author who wants to get published really really badly.
On the other hand, this also means that we have a lot of books that might be kind of like Wikipedia. They might look really good. They might be 90% legit. It’s that 10% that can be problematic. The thing is, while we have gotten looser about what we can publish, our reverence for the published word has not really changed. If it is in book form, it deserves to be considered. If a person has put a lot of thoughts into book form, they must know what they’re talking about.
Does this scare anybody else?
Don’t abandon what you believe or know to be true
More than the whole publishing conundrum though, what really worries me is that people are getting intimidated by authors who may have 6-12 books to their name. Don’t do that. Even the smartest people don’t know everything. Sometimes authors aren’t even the smartest people. If your experience has shown you that something is true, don’t just toss it away because someone wrote more books than you over the last decade. If you firmly believe something, read with an open mind, but stand up for your beliefs. You likely came by them for some good reason. Don’t be intimidated by people with lots of book titles in their bios. Especially these days. At least read all of those books first.
Does this make sense?
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