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What Can We Learn from Sue Grafton’s Controversial Remarks against Self-Publishing?

Posted on 2013-Jul-25

by BB eBooks Staff

Lesson from the Past


The latest feud hurled from Sue Grafton sent a huge ripple among indie publishers. Ms. Grafton, who is a very successful traditionally published author in her alphabet series, was quoted in a Forbes article published nearly a year ago. Regardless of the effort she tried to make peace with her harsh criticism, it seems the insulting remark cut deeper than she might have estimated. Although this is not the first time indie authors are under verbal attack and misjudged, this time Alanna Brown took it to Huffington Post to defend her fellow colleagues’ reputation and Susan Lulguraj of TeleRead echoes her reasoning voice to highlight why self-publishing is a craft worth defending.

Controversial Remark


To fully understand what was going on last year that led to a piece of the article updated on Huffington Post, one might need to retrace what Ms. Grafton had originally said in the interview. The first half of the interview sounds typically harmless when a successful author gets to talk about their success and offers advice for their colleagues. Sue discusses her professional motivation how she has maintained her writing routine and so on. What might be unsettling for self-publishers in particular starts right off in the part where the term “indie” popped into the question as if the interviewer were dropping the bomb to her peaceful sanity.

It seems this powerful terminology has deeply moved Ms. Grafton to express her disapproval of how indie publishing has constantly evolved. Her harsh criticism of indie publishers merely recognizes the ‘blockbuster indie sales’ as an exception. More condescending perception since she sees indies’ books, indie authors, and self-publishing in general as “amateurish,” “’wannabe’,” “short cut [sic].” Towards the end of her response to ‘how possible it is that indie publishing is more effective than querying agents and publishers, for the new writer’, it is pretty obvious that she has generated enough dislike.

Followup Response


It goes without saying that her comment had gone viral ever since and simultaneously attracted countless of self-publishers to define how the current state of the publishing industry flourished. Having reviewed most of the comments, independent authors speak for their respectable profession in unison. Thus, the follow-up apologetic article by Ms. Grafton was rushed to the same website to quell the frustration by sharing her personal struggle to cope with rejection. Her intention was clear to set the record straight that she did not have enough understanding of ‘the mechanics of e-publishing’ yet became more aware that there were other authors earning their living this way. In fact, she meant to warn authors about those who might want to take advantage of using indie publishing for their ill will.

Her subsequent effort appears to be too little too late when the commenters were still deeply insulted by the original comment. Hugh Howey chimed in the comment section to point out how the use of negative remarks could have been toned down and how her patronizing tone went too far that “the universe comes to your aid.”

Disillusionment of Stereotypical Illusion


Although it has been a year and some might bury the hatchet over the sentiment that caused a great stir of controversy, Alanna Brown revisits the war of words to suggest the stereotypical image of self-publishing. Alanna simply reemphasizes what you and I know best about indie author’s self-controlled earnings. When money is involved, traditionally published authors should know their best why indies go the other route.

Nevertheless, when she compares the publishing industry to the music industry, ‘indies’ do not seem to be seen as threats. Conversely, successful musicians can be supportive of a new band’s take on new challenges. If you have watched The Voice, you might be stunned by undiscovered musical talents who passionately sing their heart out and impress the audience without bragging about their trophies. Indie authors support and promote each other’s work by sharing and providing insightful data to avoid obstacles and potentially maximize sales in any possible way. An extensive article by Forbes, written by David Vinjamuri, validated points about self-publishing that can even describe the scene of today.

Self-publishing Experts


A year has gone by and the spirit of self-publisher’s commitment to produce great works never ceases to stop. To find great resources about marketing strategy, you can trust David Gaughran’s practical advice to choose the best way for your digital publication. Joe Konrath’s guest blogs are known for outing the author’s success in their own merit. Paying a visit to Kristine Kathyrn Rusch’s blog will not disappoint you to learn self-publishing news in a flash. Another additional testimony from Trey Ratcliff can confirm why self-publishing through a digital medium better suits his needs. Laziness is out of his equation when it comes to promoting his work.

Artisanal Wordsmith


Quoting Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, “Art is for art’s sake,” I believe authors share the same struggle and responsibility to connect with their readers. Whichever way they release their materials to their target audience, they sit down and “write.” Their readers will be the best judges of what they will prefer to purchase and read. Perhaps, the best way to eliminate future war of words as mentioned above is to keep ourselves updated with the latest technological advances that will aid our professionally proficiency, learn to adapt to this ever-changing environment, and encourage one another to unleash our potentials to benefit from our shared interest; that is, being an artisanal wordsmith by day and night (whichever order that suits your preference).

Label: Self-Publishing

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