The following is a fairly random and pointless rant that, as I continued with it, I came to recognise not as a specific and solid complaint, so much as something I needed to work out of my system in order to realise I didn’t have any specific problem and I wasn’t all that mad after all. Consider it a controlled venting, but since I am on hiatus right now I might as well post it in order to keep my blogging muscles trim.
A couple of disclaimers for this one:
No, in this blog entry I am not referring to the books written by my esteemed peer Lucas Thorn. While I do (snobbily, arrogantly, shamefully) consider my work to be more technically proficient, this is purely a matter of me working in the field of spelling and grammar editing and language validation, and being a nitpicker about that sort of thing. Anything stylistic is purely a matter of opinion. And indeed, any complaining I might be tempted to do about his phrasing and typos … well, I think Edpool has that covered in his complaints over how few of his editorial suggestions ended up being implemented. Bless this horrible little sinewy mass of directionless aggression (Thorn, that is, not Edpool – Edpool is not sinewy), and read his books.
And don’t worry, I’m not talking about Mr. Bloom’s writing either. As a matter of fact, while I have purchased Helsinki Noir, I have yet to read it since it has momentarily vanished into Mrs. Hatboy’s book-restoration-and-tagging system. I always look forward to seeing his new stuff.
So, this being said, I have an unhappy confession to make. And that, unsurprisingly, is that I am a snob. I am a great big flabby snob with rather too high an opinion of myself and my skill (please note I am talking skill here, not talent – there is a difference).
When I encounter a story that is badly-written, difficult to read or otherwise crummy, I get more offended than I should be by it. Sometimes, it flat-out outrages me.
And it’s not necessarily just because it has found an agent, publisher, marketer and audience. I’ve made my opinion on the submitting-and-acceptance game already, so I relinquish any claim to competitiveness or envy over authors who take that path. And we are all aware at this point that even a worldwide bestseller with massive following and movie adaptation can still be horribly-written and full of ideas that are bad, unoriginal, or both. It can be a matter of being frustrated that this inferior author had better luck than I did, but it’s really not that. These days, the whole idea of landing a publishing contract and making the big bucks … well, it’s a classic fairy tale, isn’t it? You might go into music daydreaming of being the next Elvis, or directing with hopes of being the next Scorsese, but you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment the first three or four hundred times you fall on your face.
 Yes, those links led to my own books. What, did you think I was going to give free advertising and link-cred to some actual piece of shit?
No, sometimes it can be a book from my humble independent author end of the pool. It still represents a story that someone thought they should tell and then release to the public, and it grates on me in a very personal way when they evidently also decided that it wasn’t worth actually putting any effort into writing it well. Ooh, especially when it’s hogging my genre and getting more reviews and – okay, usually worse reviews, but those reviews still amount to visibility. Sure, I’m happy to admit that’s just sour grapes. We authors are all in this together and I don’t actually begrudge them their sales … but could they just have some more pride in their stories? Please?
And I know, by a similar rationale I should like these books, because they’re the work of my peers and I should respect them. And the quality of their work really has no bearing on mine. If anything, isn’t a lot of bad writing going to make mine seem even better in comparison?
And in a lot of cases you have to say “okay, this person just isn’t very technically skilled, they clearly love to write and they’re churning out these books and just flinging them out there in sheer joy, good for them and I salute their bravery and their sharing spirit.” There are whole genres of writing dedicated to this sort of stuff. It’s not bad in and of itself. The thing is, most of the time actual publishers won’t touch this stuff with a fifty-foot pole, so they have to go through independent presses if they want their beloved stories out there. Heck, I’m entirely happy to be classified under this category myself, as long as I get a little credence for also being able to write coherently. Professional pride.
It is quite the opposite, indeed, when I encounter a story that is so damn good, and so damn well-written, that it makes me envious. It makes me wish I had come up with an idea that cool, that I could write stories that engaging, characters that brilliant. And I’ll rave about those stories, and try to get as many of my friends to read them as possible. That’s the sort of envy I’m happy to live with. When those sorts of books get picked up by publishers, I feel it restores the cosmic balance. And when they appear out of nowhere on the independent presses, it is amazing. I just can’t accept that this feeling of mine is pure why-are-these-crummy-books-selling-better-than-my-crummy-books sour grapes. I hope I’m more fair than that.
 No, those aren’t mine. I’m not completely tacky.
So okay, maybe the independent authors get a pass on this. Guidelines are less strict (although Amazon and assorted presses still put some stock – sometimes ridiculous stock – in technical correctness) and if you are a passionate but perhaps slightly-less-skilled writer this is a good alternative to just being crushed by rejection letter after rejection letter. You want to write a story? Do it. We live in the future, you know. It’s never been so easy to get your book out there in an assortment of formats. And nothing will ever compare to that moment when you open the post-package and pull out the book you wrote.
 Okay, quite a lot of things will compare to it. But it’s a fucking brilliant feeling, anyway. That’s my point.
Independent authors get a pass. But when an actual publishing company decides to throw its resources behind a badly-written piece of crap, it riles me up. Because 99% of the time, it’s going to be about a gimmick. It’s going to be about the publishers making money because two million idiots are going to buy the book, and then twenty million idiots are going to follow the “TWO MILLION COPIES SOLD!” hype.
And heck, can I even argue with that? Twenty-two million idiots can’t be wrong.
Oh wait. Yes they can.