Well, I’ve been saying it all along. The sharks are out for we indies, and what they want to do is rend the flesh from your bones with sharp, wicked teeth and eat you.
Think I’m kidding? Nope. Check out this post by Patti Larsen regarding the ill-conceived notion of a “Mark of Excellence”. And this thing had a price tag of FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Seriously? Thankfully, since this post and others like it, the IBC (Indie Book Collective) has pulled their “program”. For now. UPDATE: (Yes, already.) Apparently the “Mark of Excellence” program is still available, although I refuse to link to it from here. RUN. AWAY. Seriously. This is so much bullshit I’m about to faint from the stench.
And then, this weekend, my friend and fellow indie, Janet Sked pointed out yet another entity trying to hop on the “let’s choose for readers what they want to read” bandwagon. Although I HATE to give them any hits, Grub Street Reads wants you to know “the best indie authors come from Grub Street”. Here’s the gist of their program if you really want to go look. But in a nutshell, the people here want you to PAY to put your book through a vetting process by their “qualified” endorsers and then, if approved, YOU CAN GET A STICKER FOR YOUR BOOK COVER!
Look, let me just break it down. Indies vetting other indies is a CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Especially if they are charging a fee. Granted, Grub Street is nowhere as expensive as the “Mark of Excellence”, but still. And they might be lovely people. The truth is, there’s already a vetting process in place — it’s called READERS. Readers who now have the choice of reading whatever they damned well please, whether it’s something like Ninety Shades of Turquoise or the latest from a long-term bestselling author.
Get it? There’s no one standing between you, the indie author, or any author really, and the reader. NO ONE. Which is the whole premise behind this indie revolution, amirite?
What makes this particularly disgusting to me is it seems these types of “programs” are preying on the new writer, the scared indie, the struggling artist who just wants to cut through the white noise out there and stand out. But if you think a shiny golden sticker handed out by people charging you money for the process is going to shoot your work of genius straight to the bestseller list, you’d better get a grip.
Think about it. Does Amanda Hocking have a golden sticker? Or Konrath? No, but they do have one thing in common — a shit-ton of material out there you can choose to read. Actually, how many of your favorite authors actually have a golden sticker on their book cover? Do you even notice? Does it make a difference in whom you choose to read?
Readers don’t care about stickers. They care about STORY. You can have a book cover with a bajillion stickers on it, but if what’s inside sucks, those stickers aren’t going to mean a damned thing. Not in the long run.
Write a good story. Save your money for great covers, great editing, and put the thing out there for the readers. And then you know what you do? WRITE ANOTHER ONE. Rinse and repeat. Your readers will find you, promise.
There is no magic bullet for success but HARD WORK. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no in-between and there is no short cut.