We’re living in a world with a lot of chaos and fighting.
Covid. The BLM movement. The art vs artists arguments.
The truths coming about from the traditionally publishing industry, agencies that have had staff walk out, the disparaging differences for advances to black authors, and most recently the NYT revelations.
All of these are confronting and difficult and we need to hear them.
So let’s also talk about the much-maligned/contradictory self-publishing/Writing Community.
I recently saw people have abandoned the Writing Community tag to form the Writerscafe to get away from the follow for follow trains and lifts.
Let’s start with the fact that many of these carry a subculture of bullying I’ve talked about before, but that the reason many of these accounts claim the following is done in support. Why? Because agents want you to have a platform. In the self-publishing case thousands, tens of thousands of followers will buy your books.
This is true.
But what agents and publishers and editors want to see is a reader base, especially if you’ve self-pubbed or went with an indie press. Not necessarily a host of other writers. And if you are seeking an agent straight off the bat, many represented authors DON’T have those bloated follower counts, some have less than a hundred. (As a side note; if you don’t at least check the feeds of those you follow you could end up following a pedophile, and oh yeah, MANY PEOPLE DID).
Why do it if that’s the case?
Because you DO want to find and support other writers, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, and you will never know who your newest best friend is as a writer if you don’t know them. Maybe their content is funny, engaging, helpful. Maybe they work in the same genre as you. You can beta swap and find critique partners and retweet pitches and ALL OF THAT IS VALID.
What isn’t is when you decide to bully people about it.
When “Follow me because I follow you” becomes the ONLY reason for engagement. Many of these accounts with their super high followers (we’re talking plus 20k here), do not have a lot of engagement. Look at their tweets. Many of these people do not engage in active dialogue – they serial retweet other accounts doing the same things as them.
These “writerslifts” and predominately self-published authors are not the ONLY ones, but they can make it seem like its either a join them or leave. That if you aren’t with them you aren’t a real supportive writer, and you won’t make it and GUYS, THIS IS NOT HOW SELF PUBLISHING WORKS.
There is a huge hidden part of the self-publishing world that cheats. They buy fake reviews, they swap stories and post it under different names, they use advertising and falsified buying and reading to up their ranking on Amazon so more people buy a trending book. I’ve talked about it a lot in the past and there are many places that talk about it in great detail.
And when we talk about supporting the writing community and that’s just your opinion, please remember the damaging behaviour of exclusiveness, and I would like to segue this dialogue to talk about… Rowling.
Many authors put their Hogwart houses on their bios to show their allegiances/preferences/and often writing style too. It’s become inconsiderate now because JK Rowling has made many public statements that she doesn’t support trans people.
So now writers are stating they need to remove it from their bios and they’re anti-trans if they’re don’t. There is the rise of separating the art from the artists and why this is understandable reaction given writers like Tolkien and Lovecraft.
Guys… they’ve been dead a long time and no longer profit from your patronage. Rowling does.
Separating the art from the artist is hard when integral parts of the storytelling carry themes that are hateful/thinly veiled phobias. When we’ve grown up with these stories and they’ve influenced who we are and the people we want to become. The shades of grey and uncertainty about where the line is, for me, still a little vague, but I am trying to seek clarity in what I am reading and writing. I still think the HP world has a lot to offer, but have also had my eyes opened from a tumbler post to a lot of the themes in the book that promotes slavery and exclusiveness.
You know… like… the Writing Community follow for following?
You can choose to keep enjoying HP, no one is telling you what you can and can’t do – as long as you are aware of what else is involved, and that your continued support will be clear to others about what you do and don’t believe in. It’s the same reason people ask you put your gender referral into your bio; not just to identify yourself to others, but to show that you understand and support those who’s genders are not clearly defined by a photo or even their bodies.
That you care about them and their lives and equality for those lives.
You cannot please everyone, someone is invariably going to take my words here and twist them or attack me for them and this is the thing; I am open to a reasonable discussion and learning from my mistakes. I removed my Hogwarts house from my bio the FIRST time I found out about Rowling and I didn’t exclude all of you who still kept it in your bio. I have Aspergers and sometimes my brain just works in weird ways and I try very hard to articulate that and maybe I’ve messed it up. But I can admit to my mistakes, and to try to improve.
I am here to support other authors and I do that many ways that involve sometimes never speaking to them or following them on twitter. I feature them on my website with book tours, blog posts, interviews and reviews of their work.
THAT’S HOW YOU SUPPORT A WRITER; YOU BUY THEIR BOOK AND REVIEW IT AND TALK ABOUT IT.
And if you find out that writer has a different political viewpoint from you; you can block or unfollow or whatever. But please remember your actions speak volumes and we aren’t just talking about opinions. Stating pineapple belongs on pizza (a gross preference I loathe, yeah I said it) is an opinion. Liking the colour green instead of purple and that purple sucks is an opinion.
The inclusion of the trans community is a human fucking right. A basic human right. Like everything else we are fighting for and that is not opinion, it is fact. Everyone deserves the same chance, the same support, and the same inclusiveness that the rest of us have held onto for centuries.
And we need to be clearer about it, and the kind of behaviour we want to see in our communities if we hope to be the ones doing the decent human thing. We’re making ourselves aware, we’re talking about it, and the effects that is has on our community.
Self publishing has no one direct leader, we aren’t beholden to five big publishing companies, a swathe of literary agencies or qualified editors who influence and direct our work. We are beholden to ourselves and each other. With so many voices, I refuse to let a single few dictate it for all, to devolve down to us vs them, to just a few of the squabbling children the rest of the professional writing industry not so subtly call the self publishing community.
My eyes are open, and I’m trying to make my community wider. Are you?