independent author j paul roe

Amateurs are ruining art!

Author’s note: I sincerely hope that your first reaction to the above headline was a strong desire to punch me in the face.

 

If you read my last post (a rant on narrow-minded people brilliantly disguised as a discussion of ethics) then you’ll be glad to know that I’m still not entirely off that topic. I want to keep writing about it because I need a break from fiction and writing about something helps me figure it out in my own brain.

I guess the thing I want to figure out is how a handful of high-horse “Artiste”-types manage to get their head so far up their own ass. (Sometimes what you’re trying to figure out is what you’re trying to figure out.)

My first attempt to participate in an online writers’ group earned me a handful of fresh, new enemies. I was blocked, trolled, called names, the usual. That was because I made the mistake of talking about making money with our craft; my response to that outrage was covered in my last post.

What I still wanted to talk about was the extra layer of self-righteous, exclusionary, judgmental crap that floated to the surface of our conversation. There were only a few people (maybe five out of a hundred) that were going off on this tangent but it was still pretty sad to see people saying things like:

Most new writers are crap.

99% of all books that come out now are worthless.

Readers are stupid because they like “Twilight.”

Anyone who still writes about vampires is a shitty writer.

Amazon has ruined literature because everyone with a computer wants to publish a book (and does.)

Literature is dying because so many crappy writers are polluting the market. 

I wouldn’t want most readers these days to read my work anyway. (Yeah, some asshat actually said that his writing was too good for most people.)

 

These are just examples of the kinds of sentiments that the “select few” were spouting. They united in a self-serving little phalanx and built a platform on these ideas. Some of them even went on to brag about how proud their literature professor would be to see them standing up for “real literature.” It really was like watching a bunch of dizzy idiots wank each other off.

I have a lot of problems with those statements and their underlying ideals. Excusing the fact that they’re nothing but opinionated bullshit, they’re spiteful and delivered in poor taste (unlike when I refer to dizzy idiots wanking, that’s pure class.) They make whoever says them look ignorant and childish. In other words, they’re not the kinds of things that people who are trying to put on “the intellectual act” should be saying.

Yet these pseudo-intellectuals think this is exactly what smart people would say. True aficionados of literature would sit around stroking each other and talking about how terrible other writers are. Good job, professor! You learned them good.

What I wanted to point out here is the largest fallacy in that entire way of thinking:

What you’re complaining about is not happening to “literature.”

It’s happening to the world, and it has been going on for a long time.

You think it’s an atrocity that anyone can write something and self-publish it, yet this is not a trend exclusive to “literature.” It’s the new way of our ever-changing world.

How many people do you know . . .

. . . are in a band?

. . . paint oil paintings?

. . . take photographs?

. . . play basketball in the park?

. . . write poems?

. . . film their own videos?

There have always been more amateurs than professionals because everyone is an artist in some way. Art is far older than currency. Art is older than code of law or stone tools. There was art before anyone could pay for it.

So it has always been, but now there’s a small difference. The internet made it so a person no longer has to wait for some overruling power, patron or corporate entity to deem them a professional artist. You’re a professional as soon as you make something and sell it. Between the strata of amateur and professional is a new layer: “independent.”

And the “Artistes” are all pissing themselves because there are people getting into their club without first spending time in the barrel with a hole in it*. Not fair! That person sold a million books and I didn’t? But I have an MFA! *Choke gasp* they’re ruining everything blargh. And so on.

The independents will not kill a medium. Never will they, nor do they want to. Amateurs and indies are responsible for proliferating and propagating a form of art more than any other group of people. Their participation doesn’t diminish it, rather their attention and love gives it means and cause to grow. Who talks about books and reading more than indie writers? Who talks about bands and shows and equipment more than indie musicians? Who goes to the theatre and discusses movies more than an aspiring filmmaker?

YouTube has not ruined the film industry, Etsy hasn’t shut down any art galleries, and touch football games in the park didn’t cause any pro teams to go under.

I just hope more of these “Artistes” can get over themselves and realize that they smell of fear and sour grapes. When you belittle a bunch of your fellows and then take a streaming whiz on the people who you hope will someday buy your work, you’re not impressing anyone. You’re just digging yourself a grave and looking like a complete tool belt in the process.

Slainte!

- J. Paul

* The “barrel with a hole in it” is a reference to a joke that my uncle told me. It’s dirty, but I’m going to PC it up as best I can:

So a guy shows up at a fishing camp in Alaska to work a six-month rotation as a fish-gutter. The foreman is showing him around and he sees the barracks and the commissary and even a little movie theater. At the end of the tour, the new guy asks the foreman:

“Most of the workers stay here for half a year and this place is in the middle of nowhere. I don’t see any women around . . . doesn’t anyone go crazy after a while?”

“We’ve got that covered,” said the foreman. “See that barrel over there? The one with a hole in it? You just stick your unit in that barrel any time you want and you’ll be taken care of.”

The new guy nods approvingly, “any time I want, huh?”

“Well, any time you want except for on Thursday,” says the boss.

“Why? What happens on Thursday?”

The foreman claps him on the shoulder and grins, “that’s your day in the barrel.”

Roanoke: The Price of Power is out!

Supernatural horror, mystery and a prelude to the events in Sins of the Patriots!

Read it free with Kindle Unlimited! Click Here!

roanokeDONEsmall

 

This novella will be on a free promo from 10/1/14 – 10/4/14!

The ethics of art and money.

It is completely unnecessary to read this if you’re just wanting to participate in our experimental book fair idea. For that page, click here!


 

 

I posted something into a Facebook writers’ group last night that got far more attention than I thought it would. Here it is:

Just occurred to me. There are over 17000 members in this group. If all of us signed up for KU right now and did nothing but download and read each others’ books for a couple of weeks, we’d all have a pretty nice payday.

Just sayin’.

This was an offhand comment, a take-notice reference to the mathematics of the situation. As writers, we are always thinking, speculating and wondering, aren’t we? We damn well should be.

After posting the above, the replies started to trickle in and they weren’t what I expected. Quite a few people simply said “that’s a great idea.” It is a great idea, in a way, but it has flaws. Moral, ethical, logistical. Lots of flaws.

What I was waiting for was the ethical pundits to start questioning it. I’ve always felt that ideas are forged in conflict, so I need people to argue with me in order for my mind to work. (That’s why I majored in philosophy.) After some time, the ethical argument began, but what unfolded wasn’t what I’d expected at all.

I was prepared to discuss and counter the arguments related to “gaming the system.” Fraud arguments, basically. I read up on the KU TOS and I thought about how to make this idea work in a way that didn’t wantonly take advantage of Amazon. I had a few point already loaded up, in fact:

  1. Amazon doesn’t (and rightly can’t) have any restrictions on how you choose what books to read through Kindle Unlimited.
  2. No one can question the methods by which you determine what books you want to read. If it’s through advertising, browsing or meeting the author in a closed event, you’re still free to download what books you want. Amazon, least of all, has a say in your decision-making process.
  3. Certain subscription-based services are inherently unethical, and I believe that KU is one of them. The way these systems make money is through consumer negligence. They’ll probably lose money for the first couple of months, but imagine what happens when 300,000 subscribers who ended up not using the service forget to cancel their trial subscription: Amazon makes $3 MILLION DOLLARS without having to continue providing a service. In a way, Amazon has no reason to care how or why people subscribe to KU, as long as they do. (This is pretty much how gyms make money, and most people will tell you that it’s pretty damned unethical.)
  4. The self-publishing industry is full of fraud right now. Opportunists are all over the internet trying to make money off of people who just want to sell their books. I’ve seen “clubs” where people pay memberships for essentially nothing but a vague promise that they’ll sell more books. I’ve seen services where you pay big money to have your book link tweeted to thousands of people who are probably farmed contacts or other authors who don’t want to read your book.
  5. In regards to the above two points: what we’re discussing is not a money-making scam or an opportunity to screw somebody over. It’s actually a case of authors helping authors…a very rare thing to see in truth.

 

What’s weird is that the above “ammunition” wasn’t even needed. The ethical discussion came up, but it wasn’t about gaming the system or cheating Amazon. It was about the idea of making money.

In all fairness, I should have seen it coming. I’ve been dealing with this type of mindset for my entire life, and these arguments are never pretty. Details to follow. Read more [+]

Enhanced Amazon descriptions without a generator.

Not long ago, I heard there was a website that offers a “generator” for making enhanced (better looking) Amazon descriptions. I later learned that authors have to pay to use this generator(!.) which kind of sucks because HTML is really easy to use.

On top of being easy, there are only 18 tags that Amazon will recognize in your description, so there’s hardly anything to learn. You can master this in no time and save yourself $20 a month.

Tips:

  • HTML is all about bracketed tags. There is a “start” tag (i.e. <b> for bold) and a “stop” tag (i.e. </b> for stop being bold.) The “stop” tag is always the “start” tag with an “/” added.
  • Every bit of text you modify must have a tag that tells it start and one telling it to stop. For instance: <b> BOLD </b>. When you forget to close the tags, errors and conflicts show up. Think of closing your tags as being a hug for your precious, precious words. Seriously.
  • Amazon product descriptions allow for the use of HTML tags but you are not using full HTML. Carriage returns (hitting enter) and line spacing show up the same way they look when you’re entering them on the screen. No real need for <p> or <br> codes, although they will work.
  • These tags do not work in Author Central. You must input them on Kindle KDP.

 

Simple copy & paste method!

I’ll make it really easy by providing a cut-and-paste snippet of code that’s ready to go. All you need do is fill in the blanks: Read more [+]

Sins of the Patriots is now available!

I’m proud to say that my first novel-length work (just over 400 pages) is now available on Amazon.com!

Sins of the Patriots is a historical fantasy set during the American Civil War. Seeing as how I’m a huge fan of both history and high-fantasy, this was an extremely fun book to write!

This is not just the Union against the Confederacy with magic thrown in. In this world, you’ll find that the British Empire has (again) taken a strong interest in the New World, Marie Laveau is building a Voudon army in New Orleans and the main characters end up facing a Native American doomsday prophecy that threatens to end the world at large. And throughout all of this, we have a number of ambitious individuals who are bent on “rousing the Dragon” that dwells beneath the United States.

There are battles, of course, but the story is centered largely around the political maneuverings of the various entities within the States, including the secret societies and foreign agencies that are out to stake a claim on history.

sins patriots novel book indie author j paul roe

It’s every bit as awesome as you’re imagining it is.

I put quite a bit of research into this book with hopes to make the traveling, locations and historical characters as accurate as possible within the fiction. Take notice, however, that I’m not Harry Turtledove (nor do I aspire to be.) The focus of this story is on the fantasy, not the history, and reasonable creative license was taken when I felt it would make for more entertaining reading.

Sins of the Patriots is the first book in a planned trilogy. These three books will cover everything that happens through the end of the war and beyond. Once you read this first installment, you’ll learn that magic is going to become increasingly more important to the fate of the characters as the story progresses!

Be sure to check it out. (You can read it free with Kindle Unlimited!) Click here to see the Amazon listing and get your copy today!

Slainte! – J. Paul

3 Reasons writers use adverbs (and why they should stop.)

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s—GASP!!—too late.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

adverbs, writing, writer, author, self-publish, novel, j paul roe

He created goats, sin and words that end in “-ly.”

Adverbs. If  you discuss the art of writing, these little modifying words are sure to come up. Most writers, especially those who study (or have been educated in) the practical application of the art form, will tell you that adverbs are bad. At best, they will tell you to avoid using them frequently…but many will stand on the belief that they should be discarded all together. But why? Ahem…

Adverbs. If you frequently discuss the art of writing, these little modifying words are sure to eventually come up. Most writers, especially those who diligently study (or have been thoroughly educated in) the practical application of the art form, will fervently tell you that adverbs are bad. At best, they will tell you reservedly to avoid using them frequently…but many will firmly stand on the belief that they should be unquestioningly discarded all together.

Both of the above passages carried the same message, but the second version was cumbersome and wordy. Because of adverbs. Yes, it’s an extreme example of adverb use, but I wrote it to make a point.

99% of the time, adverbs are unnecessary and redundant.

Read more [+]