Friday, October 7, 2011

Chuck Vs Joe: Indie Writer Heavyweights

Eating sushi, watching the Bruins, drinking some white wine of questionable vintage, and thinking.

Occasionally I like to think. Kind of mix things up and go against the grain, you know? Can't always shoot from the hip.

So here I am, drinking my second glass of wine of questionable vintage, kind of annoyed by the Bruins being down 2-1 to the Flyers, and thinking. Got that? I'm drifting a bit, but hey, stick with me for a minute and it is entirely possible that I might get somewhere eventually. Equally possible that I might continue to drift and end up in a sad, dark corner of space, weepy and alone.

Who knows?

Anyway. Thinking and drinking, drinking and thinking and what exactly is it that I'm thinking? (We've covered what I'm drinking and yes, there is a creepy sort of shadow that will probably be a headache, thank you very much.)

Joe Konrath is on my mind. I read the tweets on his end this morning about his interaction with Chuck Wendig. Then I read the post by Chuck- and the comments. Then there was the post later that I read on A newbies Guide to Publishing where Joe Konrath bow out of the blogosphere. Sort of. In his own way.

Kinda like Dread Pirate Roberts vs Captain Jack Sparrow?
Fascinating stuff. I was riveted, and though it was sad to see the squabbling, I was slightly cheered by the fact that I could follow the events while at work and thus get paid to be a spectator in the indie publishing version of a car crash, or better, a battle between heavyweights slugging it out for supremacy.

And Joe, as I said, is taking a powder. Of sorts. He will no longer blog but will allow guest bloggers to use his vacated space. I say, cool.

I am one of those who have drifted away from Joe's blog. I still check in, still find value in what he writes, but have increasingly been turned off by the tone of the posts. It is probably a fine thing for Joe to step back, allow others to step into the breach, for him to take a breath and recognize that being right is not important. Present the facts and then don't worry about defending your position. It will never work, trying to convince everyone of your personal point of view. Joe was sounding defensive and it was off-putting.

The message was being lost; by readers, by critics, and by Joe himself. I think the message is that there are alternatives to traditional publishing and you, the writer, you need to find your own path. Joe gives us a unique perspective and invaluable information but you need to make decisions that are best for you in the moment.

Did I make a point yet? Not sure. That shadow bastard is full-blown, out and ugly, hovering in the forefront of my head and definitely, I am thinking of bed.

I guess I was trying to say simply this; learn from everything, learn from everyone, inform yourself and ultimately, no matter who you follow, you have to in the end follow your instincts. Then move on. If you don't, you'll end up in some comment section on a random blog stridently defending your beliefs when really, your time could be better spent writing.

It happens to all of us, getting lost in trying to find the perfect path. The only path, the only path, folks, is the one that propels you forward and never the one that forces you to look back.

Keep stepping forward, keep up the good fight and, most important, remember this and hold it close to your heart- spending less than ten dollars on a bottle of wine is always a crap shoot, so take care and next time, try stopping at one glass.


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Nice site. Like you insights. No pun intended. Yeah, sometimes we get backed into a corner and think we need to be right all the time. And pound readers over the head with our 'rightness'.
That's when you have to become Zen-like and let it go.
You can pound a square peg into a round hole but all you'll do is break one or the other. Not a good fit.
There's a lot of disappointment in the world of publishing, regardless, each of us still has to find our own way.

MT Nickerson said...

Yes. It usually works out best when we realize doing for ourselves is the best option. We can present facts, suggest options, but in the end, it is up to each individual to choose their path.

Thanks for the comment- puns and all :)

Joe Konrath said...

Chuck's post was poorly done, in many ways. The premise itself was silly (there are still scores of people who need to hear about self-publishing, and don't know how awful legacy publishing is--saying it is an equal choice is Bad Advice), he suggested working on tone when his own tone was dismissive, condescending, and not nearly as clever as he thinks it is, and his plaintive cry to elevate the issue did nothing but degrade it.

He was basically using a rant to denounce ranting. It was hypocritical. It was also cowardly. If you have a problem with me, man up say it to my face, don't be coy.

Plus, he offered zero suggestions or answers to his own premise, and failed to refute and of my comments, other than to take me to task for tone. Ad hominem in place of logical, factual replies.

Fail, fail, fail.

But I truly don't care. Chuck had nothing to do with why I'm taking a break. He's just another sad sack defending his illogical beliefs because he's afraid of change. I see this all the time. He's got a horse in the game, and wants it to win, same as all of us.

My message still needs to be heard. But I don't have to be the one who says it. Other writers can carry the torch for a while.

In the meantime, I can get some writing down.

And, yes, I am right. Why it is important for me to be right has nothing to do with the fact that I'm am. That's why, when people can't attack me with logic, they attack me on my tone.

Ad hominem. That's the internets for you. :)

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

"But I truly don't care. "

...and a 6+ paragraph comment, coupled with a tweet to 6500 followers, is a great way to demonstrate how little you care.

Joe, seriously -- I agree with you on self-publishing, but it IS your tone that's getting in the way. I've been there myself, so I do understand that frustration gets to you.

Walking away to take a breather is a good thing -- but you actually have to walk away to do it.

Joe Konrath said...

Just to be clear, I care about being right, Gareth-Michael. What I don't care about is what people think of me personally.

I enjoy debate, and defending my arguments. That helps to make those arguments stronger, and often gives me new ideas. So I defend my positions when needed, and correct those who misrepresent my positions, because that's how false memes get spread. Memes like "Chuck made Konrath go on hiatus."

He didn't. I personally like Chuck's writing, and enjoy his blog, but he's really done nothing worth teaching others. He's got some entertaining insights, and he's funny, but the blog post in question contained a lot of bad advice.

As for rewteeting, I thought Michael had an interesting take on this issue, so I threw some traffic his way. ;)

Anonymous said...

The reason I take time out from my writing day to blog about what's right, is because I actually care what happens to my writer friends who get ripped-off by literary agents and publishers.

But I guess you're okay with letting people fail where you yourself can succeed. Cut out the competition. Right?

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

Joe-- "Gareth" is fine. (the double-barreled name is purely for credits) :)

I understand caring more about being right than being liked -- believe me, I've been there.

But, surely being right is only important in as much as people *listen*, right? If they stop listening, you're doing yourself, and the subject that you're so passionate about, a disservice.

That's all I'm saying here -- to be clear: I THINK YOU ARE RIGHT. But even I (someone who agrees with you) thinks that your "my way or the highway" tone is starting to seep over into the realm of shrill zealotry, and is making even those of us who agree with you want to stop listening.

Whether that's important to you, I guess is your call.

MT Nickerson said...

(I made it clear that I was drinking in my post, right? Ok, because I was tipsy, to remind everyone.)

I want to make certain that people understand that taking sides, or creating the impression that there should even be sides, was not the intention of my post. I enjoy both Chuck and Joe. In the past I have commented on Joe's blog and he has been kind enough to thrash me without mercy with his words (based on his years of experience).

I appreciate the ability to have the opportunity to interact with Joe and to be able to have a back and forth. However, tone is important and I have taken issue with tone in the past.

Tone is important because, now I am about to engage in conjecture (completely sober,)I see multiple posts by Joe on the same subject, answering the same questions over and over, and frustration has to be part of the reason delivery is at times harsh. Maybe not. I would be frustrated so perhaps I am just projecting.

I will miss Joe but everyone must pick the time to step aside and re-charge, to concentrate on what is most important, which is writing. Both Joe and Chuck have a desire to help and I thank them both. At the end of the day though, we have to decide for ourselves, to take steps on our own and in hindsight, once we have traveled alone, judge our success through the lens of our experience.

It isn't about sides. It's about making this new writing dynamic work for us and to help each other get to where we want to go.

Thanks, Joe, for the attention, for the comments and the retweet on twitter.

I have to build a shed in my backyard, now, before my wife beats me without mercy (not with her words either). :)

Chuck said...


I bowed out of the discussion because I felt it became unproductive and, honestly, a ruddy and ugly emblem of the tonal problems I think this topic engenders.

Further, I didn't really find points to refute. You think you're right: good for you. I don't even disagree with the core assertion that self-publishing is a proven commodity. My post makes that clear and, in fact, my argument builds from that.

I just don't think it's the only road. I don't think people that do differently are idiots.

You do. And there's that tonal problem I'm talking about.

I used to like your blog. But I got tired of the tone. I grew weary of you calling everyone who didn't agree with you pinheads or idiots or, as you've called me just now, an unclever sad sack who's done nothing to help others.

Which suggests you might want to Google "Ad Hominem."

This is the last time I plan to engage you on this subject because, honestly, it's really tiring. This has ceased to be a valuable discussion to anybody.

Good luck with your work and your time away from the blog.

-- Chuck

Michael Montoure said...

As Gareth says, Joe, if you're still reading this -- I think you're right, too. But when I first read your comments on Chuck's blog, my immediate thought wasn't "Yes, I agree with his position," but instead, "Man, he's being a *dick.*"

And, you know, sure, who cares what some random guy on the Internet thinks? Well, the thing is, all of us being relatively simple primates -- we all tend to pay more attention to *who* is saying something, rather than *what* they're saying. I know you're concerned about the truth of what you're saying, and I hear you when you say people still need to be educated about it. But what worries me at this point, is that now, someone will see an argument in favor of self-publishing somewhere, and they'll associate it with this. They'll think, "Oh, yeah, that's what that jerk Konrath is always going on about. To hell with that." They won't want to be on "your side." And with everything you've done to raise the visibility of self-publishing as a viable option, I think that's a damn shame.

I totally get why both sides of the great debate, trad vs. indie publishing, are convinced they're right. It all comes down to what you value as an author. If what you value is the prestige and the legitimacy of being a Really For Real Published Writer, then you'd think self-publishers were crazy! I get it. I understand that, and I'm sympathetic to it. But if you're way more concerned with paying the rent at the end of the month, and you've found your landlords don't take payments in prestige and legitimacy, then you'd think the writers courting trad publishers were crazy. Both sides make perfect sense, depending on what your victory condition is.

I really, really hope people on both sides of the issue will keep debating it just as passionately -- but I also really hope that people will stop acting like their very lives and sacred honors are being attacked, when all that's being "attacked" are your ideas. (And seriously, the more harshly you feel you need to defend those ideas, the flimsier they look to the unconvinced.)

Unfortunately, people let their egos get in the way of everything. Fortunately, *I'm* above that sort of thing.

Sean Lindsay said...

I think we're all losing sight of who the real enemy is here.

James Patterson. Jerry Bruckheimer. Ryan Reynolds. The Onion. Top Gear. Dancing With The Stars. NASCAR.

MT Nickerson said...

Sean Lindsay says:

I think we're all losing sight of who the real enemy is here.

To some degree, I will agree that there exists an enemy, but that enemy is not traditional publishing. The enemy is the writer who looses focus on the writing. Traditional publishing is changing- is most likely destined to be subsumed by the indie market- the indie will dominate the market in the near future. If writers want to part of the future, they need to stay on point and keep their focus.

Just write and don't worry about 'right'.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Christ on a crutch. There is no enemy. There is only us.

I'm idie pub-published and self-published. I'm a nobody. I don't have the clout or the kind of sales figures that give me permission to tell anyone what to do with their work.

Do what feels right. If you get screwed, well, you'll learn. If you succeed, you'll be happy.

I'm not yet certain what the publishing world will look like in five years and I'm not sure anyone is. Yes, anyone can surmise and predict and extrapolate. But nobody knows for sure.

The one thing we all know is that the publishing world is changing about as fast as Apple updates its iPad/iPhone. Faster.

I suspect we will all need to be option quarterbacks if we want to survive.

MT Nickerson said...

Nice Julia.

I'm more comfortable as a pocket passer, but hell, I guess everybody has a cross to bear, right?

Adapt or perish. Adapt or perish. :)