This rant, as those of you who follow me on Twitter may know, has been simmering on the back burner for awhile. Well, today it boiled over and that means…you guessed it!

The Dina Rant is ready!

Today’s rant is brought to you by self-publishing, “indie” writers and viewers like you.

This is a rant. You have been warned. There will be language and screaming, with a chance of blood, guts and gore. (Hi, Mom!)

Still here? Okay. At your peril. Warning: Length. Possible TL;DR.

Stay back, though, because I’m in the mood to RIP FUCKING HEADS OFF.

That’s right, ladies and gentleman. Dina is annoyed, and if you don’t know what happens by now when you Annoy Dina, you’re about to get a mega-dose.

Yes, this is me being annoyed. You probably don’t want to know what happens when someone pisses me off.

So! Onto business then!

Let’s start with the thing that added the last bit of fuel to the fire upon which Dina’s Rant was simmering. This post by Harry Baum. This quote in particular, via Nathan Bransford:

At the risk of sounding like a snob: non-sophisticated readers will not care if writing is non-sophisticated, and there are a lot more non-sophisticated readers than sophisticated ones. That’s millions of potential readers. Publishers might like to believe that they have the finger on the pulse of what sells – or what should sell – but when mediocre writing is becoming a bestseller, this pretty much renders the slush pile meaningless.


Now let’s back up a teensy bit, shall we? You should all know by now how I feel about Twilight and its’ creator, SMeyer. If you don’t, well, let’s just say I have no love or respect for either of them, and that’s unusual with me, because I try very hard to respect the work that goes into writing. There are a lot of things that make it into print that probably shouldn’t, and a lot of things that don’t that should, and while I firmly believe that the whole Twi-shite thing is a travesty of epic proportions, at least the writer was PAID FOR IT.

Again, that doesn’t make it right, and that doesn’t make it fair. It just goes to show that there’s no accounting for taste. It also shows that bad writing sells, and readers make choices based on their tastes, not whether or not something is well-written. I blame the readers for Twishite – if the first book had bombed, there would still have been more (because SMeyer was offered a three book deal originally), but at least it wouldn’t have been the sparkly-douchebag-stalker phenom that it is. However, readers decided that they liked it for whatever reason in spite of its numerous flaws, and behold, the Light of Twi. Readers did this with their choices. This is how awful books become bestsellers. It’s about the readers’ choice, not the writer’s brilliance. We’re going to talk more about choice later on in this rant.

There’s a writer whom I will not deign to link to that was the subject of a great fiasco involving a rant against agents/the publishing industry for not recognizing her work as genius and blaming the agents for playing gatekeeper and buying what she termed “fluff” instead of serious literary work like hers.

This woman honestly thought/thinks that people would make better choices if they were just given the choice to make in the first place.

Yeah, I’ll wait until you stop laughing.

Finished? Onward, then.

The above said, let’s get into the heart of the matter, because I’m seething with bloodlust and a little heart-salad would just set me on the road to sanity.

I have asked for and received permission to both link to and quote from this amazing article from Lynn Price of Behler Publishing, titled “They’ve Screwed Up Our Words.”

The same permission has been granted for this marvelous post from Lynn on the definitions of what’s what in publishing.

Let’s get one thing straight, people. I’ve ranted about this before, and I’m going to rip it apart some more….


Okay. Let me repeat that again.


Calling your pay-to-publish writing “indie” because you think that makes you sound cool doesn’t mean you’re a) a “published” writer or b) somehow cooler than the people who do it the…let’s see…what is it called now? Oh, that’s right!

“Legacy,” “traditional,” “mainstream,” “old way,” “out-dated,” “dead,” “old-fashioned” way.

Do you see any of these terms above? Do you know what they mean? Really? Truly?

Because they’re kind of insulting.

(I do admit to having mistakenly used the term “traditional publishing” myself in the recent past, but now that the correction has been pointed out to me, I won’t do so again.)

I realize that the self-publishing industry is trying hard to shake off the disgrace scammers and asshats have made of it. I realize it’s looking for recognition as a legitimate way to publish. I know there are some brilliant people out there who choose to take on the VERY HARD WORK that is true self-publishing/DIY publishing. I know it’s hard. It’s hard even when you have an agent working on your behalf, doing the majority of the real work for you.

I realize that some people who self-publish are truly great writers who went into it with their eyes wide open, with the foreknowledge that it’s expensive, difficult and stigmatized. They went in with the realization that they would be pitting their work against other people who don’t put the same amount of time, energy and effort into crafting a book as they did.


Some anonymous commenter (I would credit you if I knew who you were, but this is all the credit I can give you here!) on the Jessica Howlett (the self-pubbed author who had a meltdown on a reviewer’s blog– bad form, for those who don’t already know that, for all writers, not just the self-pubbed ones) debacle said:

Oh for the love of …

Stop calling it INDIE publishing! Do you have any idea where that came from? Because it’s not what you think.

That tag didn’t come from authors wanting to scrub off the stigma of “self-publishing” like with indie music, it came from a friggin’ scam VANITY press using it to RIP-OFF their marks.

They coined “traditional” publishing and “indie” publishing to reinforce their propaganda that “traditional” publishing would squash the creativity of the “indie” writer’s soul.

Considering that the number of self-published books per year is something like 80% of all books published, and with “that press” and their quickly rising total of 25.. no 30… no 40,000 HAPPY AUTHORS (dammit!) the tags caught on quickly and spread.

When you use those tags, you reinforce the scam. You give the labels credibility and make it that much easier for them to rip off the next starry eyed, and unedited, writer who doesn’t know any better.

This commenter is talking about PublishAmerica/Authorhouse. If you don’t know who and what they are, go here and educate yourself.

The point is, it’s true.

There’s self-publishing and commercial publishing.

To quote Lynn Price’s Definitions post: “The same can be said for those who use the term Traditional Publishing. Ach! Read my lips: There is no such term. A Print on Demand company made it up in order to insinuate that mainstream publishing is broken, and their way of doing things is the bestest thing since the invention of the Twinkie.”

Self-pubbers are not made any “cooler” by referring to themselves (erroneously, as Lynn Price and others like me and Anonymous up there say) as “indie.”

Writers like me who choose to pursue commercial publishing ARE NOT STUPID OR OLD-FASHIONED for wanting to do things the way they’ve been done for the last hundred years.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. MONEY COMES TO THE WRITER FROM THE PUBLISHER. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. YOU DO NOT PAY TO PUBLISH. Unless–


You want to.

And that’s the thing, here. It’s about choices, and I choose to commercially publish. I choose to get paid for my work, not shell out money I don’t have and hope I make it back (if I wanted to do this, I’d go to Vegas and have fun gambling). I choose the long road, and I am willing to take the gamble that I might not be chosen for the high road.

I’m okay with that. Do you know why?

Because I wouldn’t want anything less than my best out there.

If TPTB (The Powers That Be) tell me that there’s something wrong with my writing/I’m not ready for publication, I’m not about to take my toys, go home, and put that baby out there myself just to prove them wrong. I’m going to go home, figure out what’s wrong/what they’re saying/talking about and FIX IT. Then I’ll try it again.

I hear you out there. Amanda Hocking! John Grisham! BARRY EISLER!

First of all, please research before you spout off examples. I realize this is asking you to do work [something the majority of people I’ve encountered who self-publish (or are planning to do so) try desperately to avoid], but bear with me here. You offer an argument, I’m going to counter it. I was on the debate team in high school and I MAKE PEOPLE CRY. DO NOT ENGAGE ME. If I say something, I make damned sure I know what I’m talking about before I open my mouth. For instance:

Grisham didn’t self-publish. He published with a small press that went out of business and bought the remaindered copies and sold them himself. HUGE difference.

Hocking knows the work involved, did it herself, then accepted a two million dollar commercial publishing contract and just sold the movie rights to one of her series because of it. She’s also represented by one of those fancy “gatekeepers” the self-publishers love to hate – an agent, who in all likelihood got her both the movie deal and the publishing contract. Again, Amanda Hocking KNOWS the work involved. She’s done it and she’s tired now and just wants to be a writer. I can’t say I blame her.

Barry Eisler thinks he can make more money selling his books himself NOW THAT HE HAS AN AUDIENCE TO SELL TO (that he earned via commercial publishing). He did not start out as a self-published writer, and he’s not going to be the first in a mass-exodus from the publishing industry. Also, Nathan Bransford gives a breakdown as to how many copies Eisler will have to pay for and sell in order to make the $500k advance he walked away from. Good luck to him on that. No, really. Best of luck to him. I hope it works out.

To quote the lovely Skyla Dawn Cameron: “If you think publishing a book is cheap, you’re doing it wrong. If you think there is no cost involved besides printing a book, you’re not ready to self-pub.”

Commercial publishing is not dead, nor dying. To quote the always brilliant and wonderful Audry T via Twitter: “There has always been an audience for penny dreadfuls. Doesn’t invalidate the need for good stuff.”

So to those of you decrying the death of commercial publishing, screaming that I’m an idiot for doing it “the old way,” (I’ve even heard commercial publishing being called “the HARD WAY” – YEAH IT’S HARD! Like anything else truly worthwhile, there’s no easy way to do it, so stop looking for one! There’s no miracle pill or quick fix, despite what self-pub proponents shriek.) I say, “BITE ME.”

Agents aren’t in fear for their jobs – they’re sighing in relief because their slush piles will hopefully decrease significantly with everyone rushing to publish their latest opus themselves. (Then of course they’ll cringe when the same authors who are now “published” try and sell them their self-published opus. I do not envy them.)

Writers are not supposed to pay to publish. As I’ve said, money comes from the publisher to the author. That is how it’s supposed to work. Now anyone with a computer and an idea can bang it out, upload it to a service, pull out their Visa and BAM! You have a book! Published author, just like that.

Um…no. Paying customer, just like that. You’re paying for both service AND product.

Some companies require that you buy a certain amount of your books from them. Others don’t. There isn’t any difference between the two except that. You still pay to publish. On top of that, many of them still take a percentage of your earnings, despite any “royalties” you may earn. Does that seem fair to you?

Here. Chuck Wendig has broken it down for you in plain (foul and wonderful, NSFW) language. It’s called SHOULD I SELF-PUBLISH? A MOTHERFUCKING CHECKLIST.

If you want to self-publish, that’s your choice. If it turns out badly, which there’s a better-than-average chance it will, you don’t have any right to bitch because that’s the choice YOU MADE. You don’t have any right to tell me I’m an idiot or “wrong” for doing it the way I want to do it, and you CERTAINLY don’t have any right to bitch me out/condemn for any success I might enjoy because of MY choices.

And don’t compare yourself to me, either. We’re not in the same class, as you so sanctimoniously spout (you know who you are, and I truly, truly hope you’re reading this). You’re self-published – or as you wrongly call it, “indie” – and make a proud point of saying so. You’re different from me by your own admission/wish, and let’s keep it that way.

I’ll leave you to your choices, even if I might not agree with them. Your choice, your decision (informed or not).

Live with the consequences.


  1. Dina and I were online at the same time, reading the same article. We were tweeting and then realizing we were both ranting about the same article! Funny how those things work.

    I am both self-published and publisher published. I am currently working on another novella that I plan to self-publish. I am also working on two novels that I plan to submit to a publisher. I have a novel being published late this year, and I’m planning a short story collection for self-publish next year.

    I’m at the stage where I know what piece should go where and how best to publish it. I’m happy to have many choices available to me, because I’m able to write whatever I want and find a home for it.

    I laugh at the people who keep saying how “traditional” publishing is dying. If you follow Twitter writer chats, Sunday afternoons on #writechat always attracts a handful of these folks, who go on and on about this. Yet, the numbers just aren’t there.

    personal rant: ebooks does not mean self-published. I really, really wish writers would stop spouting out factually WRONG information. Ebooks are put out by self-publishers, epublishers, small print press, and *wait for it* big publishers. Oh, that’s rights…there are other groups in between self-publishing and big publishers. I’ve read blogs of people being rejected by a couple of agents and then self-publishing. Did you know that you could submit without an agent to a number of places? Obviously not.

    I might need to do a blog series on this.


    BTW – I am indie published. Why? Because I am published with a small press who is independent of any mother or sister company. That’s what indie means. Look it up.

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