Most Indies shouldn’t ever publish. Well, most women shouldn’t have babies. #amwriting

That’s not a kneejerk yeah well you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny response.  Ask any writer, traditionally published or indie, our books are the children of our brains, and we’re protective of them.

A traditionally-published writer puts that baby into the hands of professionals who whisk it away, do cosmetic adjustments, dress it, raise it, choose its schools, and, sometimes, hand it back after a while saying hey, we’re as sorry as you are, but the kid ain’t gonna cut it. Of course quite often (not always) the kid does good and the publishers are yammering at the door – make more babies. Fast. One a year. Go go GO.

Traditionally-published book-parents are proud to the point of arrogant about their progeny being Chosen, and they are enraged when an indie book baby does better than their own Improved By Professionals offering because it just isn’t fair. The indie parent had all the fun of producing exactly what they wanted, AND success?

What generally happens is they write scathing blogs, as Laurie Gough did with ‘Self-publishing is an insult to the written word’.  No idea who peed in her cornflakes, but she’s cross.  She thinks indies bash out a book in 24 hours, read it through once and think ‘good enough’ and publish.

I’ll not lie to you, I sometimes wonder myself. Book parents do range from the over-processed squeeze-it-into-a-fashionable-mode through to those who pop out a book in a week and stick it out into the world in a dirty nappy, snot running down its virtual face.

But not all, Laurie Gough. Not all. Some work on their books as hard as you do. They write them, rest them, edit them, polish them, send them to beta readers,  edit and polish again, send them for professional editing, they find the money and they pour it in willingly and only then do they publish.  For an indie, that’s just the end of the beginning. There’s no handing over. There’s placing the book in the right places, trying to find the right readers.

There’s no easy publisher-provided dollop of paid reviews, no publisher-provided salesperson working the shops, nothing on tap.  Just a writer and a book, trying to make it in a largely indifferent world.

So when an indie does make it, when their readers loyally buy every book they put out, when they make a tiny niche for themselves in a giant market – suck it up, Laurie Gough. Don’t be ugly, because it makes you look ugly.

If no-one could ever sing unless they had a record contract, there’d be no live entertainment in pubs, no bands entertaining parties, no wedding singers.  Buskers, eek. You’d shoot them on sight.

If no-one ever offered their art without a professional contract with, random example, an advertising agency,  this would be a poorer world. The professional artists do a slick, pleasing, and efficient job, but the life and vitality poured straight from the artist’s eye into your brain, that’s the real deal. Love it or hate it, from piece to piece, you deserve the choice. Van Gogh wasn’t to public taste in his whole lifetime. Laurie Gough would completely approve of that. If he couldn’t find a dealer to handle his stuff, he was obviously useless. QED.

What if no-one ever had a baby unless it had been commissioned with high expectations and a mapped-out future?  Well, there’d not be 7 billion people on this planet, for sure. Yes indeed, we tend to be ruled by the elite who were propelled expertly through the system into the top jobs. And yes, some babies are a complete waste of space – for the most part, they live and die and their lives make very little impact. Sometimes, though, the elite fail horribly, and sometimes the great unwashed change our lives. Actually, very few inventions, very few of the things that change our world, ever came from the stuffed shirts taught how to think and behave from the start.

To be validated by a money-machine that sees potential for profit in you is wonderful, well done Laurie Gough.

To be validated by loyal readers is better. Had a look at your book sales. Hope they pick up soon, and soothe that anger of yours.

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Lol has officially become a word – it is in the Oxford dictionary

LOL

(also lol)

Pronunciation: /ɛləʊˈɛl//lɒl/

EXCLAMATION

informal

  • Used to draw attention to a joke or amusing statement, or to express amusement:

    ‘I love how you said ‘coffee is not my cup of tea’. LOL!’

Okay that’s probably not exactly breaking news, I’m usually behind the trend on that sort of thing, lol.

Yes I know it is an infuriating little word!  Those of us who date back to the 80s get quite het up about it. There was confusion anyway back then between Lots Of Love and Laugh Out Loud.  Love fell by the wayside, as it always does (sigh) and we watched with jaundiced eyes as lol bounced into social media. Laugh out loud? At that comment? Please. It wasn’t funny enough to rate more than a smile, tops.

Well, that’s the point. It doesn’t mean laugh out loud and hasn’t for ages. It really is a quick smile, the half-shrug, sometimes wry, “I thought he meant it, lol” or a quick defuse of a comment that might otherwise sound a bit critical, “I hope you’re not going to wear that blue jacket again, lol” and although I resisted it fiercely for a long time and will FOREVER resist lolololol (or at least until it finds its way into the Oxford dictionary) I am finally not only using it but finding it quite handy. At times. In more ways than included in the dictionary definition.

Which just proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks. (Rueful half-shrug and wry smile)

It hasn’t crept into my books yet, and I don’t think it will.  My editor probably wouldn’t allow it anyway. And it will never become punctuation, I’m simply not that much of a smiler and that’s all there is to it.  My hackles still go up lol when I see it used more than once lol in a sentence or paragraph lol because that is simply infuriating. Lol. See? See how silly that looked?

mumbling

(Oh, and by the by – look at those helpful hints on pronunciation. Are they kidding?)

QR Codes

So, because I will otherwise probably forget myself how to do it, a quick blog on QR codes because this is quite cool for writers, even in the very, very basic way I understand it. It seems if you want to put a smart phone link onto, say, a bookmark or your business card, or a poster advertising your books, you use a QR code. The smart phone can scan that, and being very smart, is whisked to your linked market.

So, example. Say like me you use Booklinker, which will link browsers to their version of Amazon (which is also quite handy) (and you can then keep track of how often the link is clicked, and from which countries, which can also be handy), you would go into a site like this http://goqr.me/#t=url and feed in your Booklinker link and get something that back in the sixties would probably have been called Op Art (and been thought pretty groovy, I suspect) and that is your QR code.

If you scroll down my sidebar to the very bottom you’ll see two examples because you can embed them as well as save the images.  (Using a text widget, but you knew that, right?)

And then anyone with a smartphone who sees your poster or your promotion material can scan it and Bob’s your uncle and at least in theory you have a sale. You have certainly found another way to introduce Potential Buyer to Book.

Heavens, I know this is insanely basic and there is tons more to the subject! I’m rubbish at this sort of stuff. You cleverer types go and create your own codes, here’s a potentially useful site for you. Enjoy. http://www.qrcode.com/en/about/

Thanks to fellow writer JJ Alleson on LI for this tip!