I am amazed at the number of posts I read from the self-appointed protectors of literature, encouraging the implementation of standards for publishing books. They are discouraged by the ever-increasing number of indie authors turning out what they consider sub quality work, and they want them culled from the literary world. Some of these overseers go so far as to make pleas directly to self-published authors, asking them to put down their pens, to quit clogging up the publishing marketplace.
I’m likely one of the self-published authors these literature-cleansing zealots are targeting. I’ve self-published three novels and recently published a collection of short stories. Sales of my books have never exceeded more than a few hundred copies. I’m sure my marginal success is the result of several factors: my limited marketing budget, a saturated market for fiction, and yes, my evolving writing skills.
I’m a tough judge of my own work. I don’t need someone telling me it’s time to quit. I know that I’m not, and may never be, a Grisham-quality writer, but I have some ability and even more desire. I’ve won writing contests for my short stories and have received impartial feedback giving me encouragement to continue. Still, I recognize that achieving anything more than selling a few hundred copies of my novels will be a challenge. So, why do I do it?
In some ways, writing is like sex. Initial efforts by most are usually not very good. Both require an ever-increasing knowledge of your audience and repetition to improve. They are also both addicting. Even the slightest encouragement explodes your ego, making you desire more. Now imagine someone telling you it’s time to move over. They’ve determined you’ve had enough time to improve, and you’re just not getting it. It’s time for you to give up sex.
Okay, the comparison is a stretch, but my point is most writers are addicted to what they do. They work hard to hone their skills and to produce an ever-improving product for their audience. They’re motivated by even the slightest encouragement, and any attempt to dissuade them will fall on deaf ears. So, my recommendation to the self-appointed protectors of literature is to quit trying.