The self-publishing industry certainly has come a long way since The Joy of Cooking was self-published in 1931. But we still have leaps and bounds to clear before we can feel 100 percent legitimized in the same writing industry with traditional publishers.
Certain traditionally-published authors have run the SP industry down, but nine times out of 10 it has always been a case of BBRMM (bird-brain-running-motor-mouth!). “These authors only need money, not talent, to produce a book that will sell in the same market as mine!” seems to be a common buzz phrase among these egocentric bigheads. As much as we hate to deny it, this is pretty much true. But on the other side of the coin, I have read some pretty dismal books by traditionally-published authors. Who all has read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? The movie was amazing! But the book pretty much improved my nap-time for the days I tried to read it.
This is why I have started tweeting advice that sounds like it comes from your old English teacher…you know the one I’m talking about! The one that was a bit too heavy for the skinny-ole high-heels she wore…when she came around, you instinctively grounded yourself for a possible earthquake. “Watch your double-negatives, young woman!” On a bad day, she may have even popped you with a ruler making you ask: “What the hell are you doing with a ruler in English class?”
Back to my point: As self-published authors, I feel that we have a firm obligation to legitimize the industry. Just as Frodo had to bear that scary, mysterious, and shiny golden ring, we have to shut the naysayers down before they can even get one negative little word about SP authors out from their snobby little lips. And we do this, by commanding the English language, not letting it command us. Sure, the rules are there for us to follow; but we don’t have to play “bitch” to these rules…we can grab the rules by the horns and make them our own personal bitches!
I’m not saying that we all need to go out and buy style manuals or anything else like that. Actually, a good grammar book is all you need. And you can actually buy those on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and other fine book sellers out there.
I’m just saying: “Make sure to check your word usage, punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and the rest of the sordid crew.” In other words, at least demonstrate that you know how to properly form sentences; or you at least know a good editor who does. If you wish to buy all the extras, then go for it!
Clint Eastwood once said in a very famous role: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Well, a writer does too. If they know without a doubt they sucked at grammar and have never come to terms with said suckiness, then they better be ready to shell out some money for an editor who can make them look like the next Gillian Flynn or Stephen King. The only other option is to make the rest of us SP authors look like the same type of noncaring dung-heaps; well, at least to close-minded, pompous authors who have made it in the TP industry and have grown a little too big for their own britches.
My final point is that we do NOT have to be perfect. Lord knows, I most certainly am not. Even the most famous TP authors have made mistakes in their writing…mistakes that have made it past one or more editors on their staff into glorified print. We have that same right as well. It’s called being human.
My main point is that I have read some work by SP authors, which were completely riddled with grammar errors. The story and characterization was about perfect! But the grammar brought it down and turned me off from the start. And I never wanted to finish the story. I’m just saying that we need to be better than this if we want to be held in the very same regard as most of our bestselling traditional authors out there.
After all, don’t you want to make your old English teacher proud? She’s probably elderly now; still wearing those same-ole skinny heels that have been super-glued more than a dozen times since you last saw her. If she falls in shock at a good many simple rules you violated in a single work of fiction, she may not be able to get back up!