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Why So Much Hostility Toward the Mainstream?

Editor’s Note: This post is in response to the discussion in this post.

I can understand why you’d rather publish yourself. I can understand not wanting to wait to be noticed. I can understand why you might think traditional publishing is elitist or backwards–or even stupid.

I am personally hostile to a number of what have become standard practices in traditional publishing. I am even hostile toward individual traditional publishers and even individuals in traditional publishing. At least I have had the dubious pleasure of working within or somewhat within the system for decades, having come by my hostility by direct contact, direct confrontation, direct experience. None of that stops me from using  my experience and knowledge to better the outcomes I still nevertheless establish with mainstream publishing.

How many here have ever actually worked with a real editor on staff at a traditional publisher? Does all the downright hostility I see here, every day, arise from prolonged exposure . . . or from not getting that far?

I’m no apologist for the system, for the man, for the industry. But I have lived within it, made my way in it, when it was the only recourse for an aspiring writer, a young writer on the make, a published author with only the hope of being published again. And, yes, as an older, reasonably high-earning career author with enough life experience and curiosity to see and begin to exploit the possibilities technological advances slowly set in place for someone willing to self-publish.

I have turned my back on the individuals, firms, and publishing institutions that treated me like a pariah when they noticed that I had gone out on my own, gone astray, broke their rice bowls, spit on their concept of what a good little writer should do and how a good little writer should behave in the presence of his betters (which is to say, everyone on the publishing side). But I used a tool I learned as a kid growing up in a lower middle class neighborhood in North Philly. I didn’t get  mad, I got even. I struck out on my own beginning in 1985, when there was no supportive technology except WordStar (the daddy of desktop word processors). But as late as between 2005 and 2009 I relieved mainstream publishers of a hair under $250,000 in advances and royalties, retained more or less complete artistic control of seven pictorial books, and have been offered more (but not as much) advance money for several more such books if I please won’t retire. Also between 2004 and 2010, I self-published four books I wrote and have brought to print or brought back to print more than a dozen other books by other authors. As long as I’m a high earner, all is forgiven.

When I add it all up, the mainstream has been good to me. It helped pay for a suburban San Francisco house I own free and clear. It helped educate my kids. It has provided for my retirement. It made me crazy a lot over the past twenty-five years–still does sometimes–but mostly I didn’t notice it was there when I had no use for it.

Why do so many of you hate an institution that you’ve barely touched? If it doesn’t acknowledge you, at least it doesn’t interfere with your dreams and plans. It’s over there, doing what it does, and you’re over here, doing what you do. Nevertheless, if it wasn’t there, doing its thing, you wouldn’t have an Amazon.com or similar commercial outlets, because without the undergirding of commercially viable, advertising-supported books, there would be no point for the Jeff Bezoses of the world to plunge into bookselling the way they have. You’re an adjunct–possibly a profitable adjunct, in aggregate–to a business grounded in the most basic business principle of all, which is “give the public what it wants.” Adding in “what it might want” is something a business can do only if it has the first, basic, part down.

But I digress. My point in all this is that acting in opposition to something renders that something central in your life, in your interaction with the world. If you really hate mainstream publishing because you know something about it from first-hand experience, you can hate away or turn the tables, as I have. Or ignore it and get on with your plan, your version of life, without ill will dragging you down. If you hate it because it did something bad to you, ignored you, rejected you, never gave you a chance, then at least know that this is an industry that spends enormous resources looking for the next big thing, taking chances and spending money on novices who might be built up to become the next big thing. J.K. Rowling wasn’t born a famous author, she was given an opportunity by Big Publishing. And when you put all that in perspective, you can then ignore it and get on with your plan, your version of life, without ill will dragging you down. You know, make better use of your time, your emotions, your passion to be heard.

  • http://ipadtest.wordpress.com Mike Cane

    Yo, I’ve been published four frikkin times, so stuff your “Oh, you’ve not a Pro” lietmotif. I come by my contempt and disgust from direct experience and from years of watching publishing strangle good writers to pauper graves. You sound like someone who was freed from a concentration camp who shrugs his shoulders at it all and says, “Well, at least they put a roof over our heads!”

    And this: “J.K. Rowling wasn’t born a famous author, she was given an opportunity by Big Publishing.” Really, who the hell do you think you’re kidding with that crap?

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/henry-baum/ Henry Baum

    I’ve had agents, traditional publishers, etc. I’ve also seen rejection for the most stupid reasons possible. That you’ve made a living is great but there are many, many other people who have not been able to make a living and should – while absolute crap is given a 7 figure advance. And (in the other post) your trickle-down theory that publishers put out Dan Brown so they can take chances on less-saleable writers is not really how it works anymore. Now everything has to be a big seller and writers are given no room to grow.

    Publishing – like most every industry – has become BP: only thinking about profits. Of COURSE, there are great people working in the industry, but it is bottom-line driven, and anything bottom-line driven puts out an increasingly inferior product. That there’s a lot of money floating around so that JK Rowling can become a billionaire isn’t any more proof of publishing’s health than it’s proof that the oil industry is sound because Tony Hayward is riding in a yacht race. For me, the anger at publishing is part of a larger framework of systems falling apart. I also happen to be a writer so it cuts deeper.

    The industry is profit driven and then people in the mainstream (such as the Salon editor) have the gall to criticize the peons for releasing books on their own? That’s yet another reason to hate the mainstream’s myopia.

    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/erichammel/ Eric Hammel

      Have I misread you, Henry? I thought your answer to hate, anger, disappointment, etc. toward Big Publishing got wrapped up and pointed in a positive direction through this site, through promotion of victory through alternative means. If you’re really done with them, why bother even thinking about their motivations or the state of =their= industry? Why allow =them= to continue to divert your energy or govern your emotions? Dwelling on =them= in any way, shape, or form impedes your progress. Stipulate, once and for all, that they’re bad and you’re good, and then get on with what makes you happy or complete or successful as defined by you, yourself, in your own terms.

      • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/henry-baum/ Henry Baum

        Well, the Salon piece was a piece of hate mail against self-publishing, so I thought I’d respond to it. Also, my initial intro into self-publishing was my hair-pulling-out frustration with not getting traditionally published. I like self-publishing and enjoy it, but I haven’t lost all of that bitterness.

        The weird thing is not the hate self-publishers have for the mainstream, but the hate the mainstream has for self-publishers. If they’re already successful, why do they care?

        • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/erichammel/ Eric Hammel

          They care bcause of the rice bowl we’re breaking. Objectively, we’re a way bigger threat to them than they are to us. Every penny they don’t make from our labor is a penny they can’t use to prop up a rotting structure.

          I’m a military historian. My gut has me looking at this as guerrilla warfare. We use their expensive infrastructure to advance ourselves, which helps defeat them, or at least inflicts pain. Except for our brains, which we own one hundred percent, what do we field that they might possibly use? (For example, they’re the folks who invented print-on-demand, but we all share in the benefit of its being there to use. Amazon, Kobo, iPad, etc. were all built for them, but we’re free, or will be in du course, to extract income from all such outlets.)

          The best kind of guerrilla warfare is to give them opportunities to expend their resources and emotional energy fighting us while we fight no one and thus allow ourselves governance over the full range of our emotions and resources. As I said, just get on with what we need to do, using their infrastructure but without engaging them, or giving them a thought that isn’t about using their resources–not against them, but–for our own purposes.

  • klcrumley

    Hate is a very strong word. I reserve my hate for those who deserve it: Rapists, murderers, and terrorist.

    I have had short stories “traditionally published” by small press periodicals, college presses, and ezines. I made very little money, had zero control, and also found myself nearly suing the editor of a small magazine…who was in enough legal trouble already and wound up just paying me my contributor fees.

    I’ve had 2 children’s books get offered contracts…and then shortly thereafter the small presses went out of business. It’s life; and it’s no reflection on my writing that a publisher didn’t have whatever resources he/she needed to keep their business afloat.

    I’ve had poems published, and got a few more dollars. wow. really went rich with traditional publishing. didn’t I?

    I’ve never had a novel published or even rejected because I have never written a novel. I write short stories and novellas, and self-publishing just suits my needs better. It works out better for me financially too.

    When I do write one…sure, I’m going to self-publish because I can sell mine on kindle immediately and for a reasonable price. I can make sure my book gets a DECENT COVER, and not like the stuff on “good show sir.” I can keep it in print, forever.

    Yes, I have a lot to complain about regarding traditional/commercial publishing. But as far as I’m concerned it’s my right. I dislike the celeb memiours, the trendiness, the pricing structure for ebooks (that is when they pub in ebooks at all). And, yes I will voice my opinions because …well that’s the type of person I am. Opinionated. This is a Pro-self publishing site. You’re gong to get a lot of strong pro-indie opinions here.

    But I wouldn’t label it all as “hate.” More like frustration/anger/disapproval…

    I have some very personal reasons to chose the indie path too, but I won’t go into it here. It’s not the place/time for it.

    Everyone has their own reasons, and their own history with publishing. You should really get someone’s whole story
    before just judging them and labeling them as someone who got rejected, then became a “hater” of the system.

    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/mynewhitman/ Myne Whitman

      I couldn’t have said it better.

  • http://www.onegirlonenovel.com Wanda Shapiro

    We don’t all hate the mainstream and we’re not all sitting on a pile of rejection letters. I’m an indie author who is self-published by choice because I’m an intelligent entrepreneur who saw an opportunity in front of me.

    And I have had some experience with traditional publishing (my first novel was immediately picked up by a small press that went out of business shortly thereafter) but it didn’t leave me angry and vengeful. My choice was rational not emotional.

    In the tradition of indie musicians and indie film makers, I am taking advantage of available technology and bringing my novel directly to readers. In the past, if you wrote a novel, you needed a publisher (preferably a big one) for printing, distribution, and publicity—but the established publishing industry has outlived its usefulness in all three arenas.

    Now, I can do everything Random House does—at home, in my spare time, with my laptop and an internet connection. With the advances in personal computing technology and print-on-demand printing there isn’t a single thing Random House does that I can’t do myself.

    It’s not that I hate the traditional publishing industry, I just don’t have a use for it. If I was selling a celebrity memoir I’d go straight to Random House. Or if I was trying to publish high profile socio-political commentary, I’d go straight to Random House. But I write literary fiction and quite frankly, the traditional publishing industry isn’t thriving in that genre. Titles are pulled too quickly, initial print runs are two small, and large publishers often do little to support their unknown authors.

    Like many industries that were built upon the economies of scale, the publishing industry is now being crippled in certain ways by the diseconomies of scale because they haven’t evolved as quickly as the technology and culture in which they operate.

    Indies of all kinds are thriving. Indie films are winning Oscars and indie musicians are on ipod commercials. From video game developers to graphic novelists to crafters of all kinds, indies are thriving. Just because indie literature has been slower to the indie market space, I’m confident we indie authors of literary fiction will begin to thrive.

    The haters on both sides are an inevitable result of changing technology butting heads with unchanging industries. I understand how many people ended up hating one side or the other but there are those of us who pursue our own vision without rankor.

  • http://feralintensity.com Scath

    I’m with Wanda.

    I don’t hate traditional publishing, but just didn’t see a need to sign over my rights to my works when I can self-publish and keep them all. As well as earn more per sale for my work than I would’ve otherwise.

    There’s no need to worry that if a new release of mine doesn’t sell 50k copies the first two weeks out of the gate that I won’t be getting another contract. It’s available for as long as I want it to be.

    While I respect those authors who have gone through the TP process, spent years being rejected before finally ‘making it’, I don’t see the point in doing so myself, when there’s no need to.

    No, I’m not a big seller, but I do have hopes of being so one day. In the meantime, I’m learning and further honing my skills without getting my self-confidence smacked down by a multitude of rejection letters.

    I’ve seen a lot of writing online about traditional publishers sneering over self-publishers (and traditionally published authors doing so as well). Why sneer at us? We had a choice they didn’t have way back when, and we still have to work to earn readers.

    Maybe it’s not the traditional path, but it’s still a hard row to hoe. =)

  • sleepyjohn

    I do not detect hatred for the mainstream in the independent publishers here, just disdain, and some hurt; because of the mockery and vitriol they face, as exemplified by that childish woman at Salon throwing her toys out of the pram – because Mummy & Daddy are talking to someone else and ignoring her. And she is far from alone with her bile.

    I have had twelve books published in the mainstream, and I am grateful to my mainstream publishers as I could not have published them myself in those days. However, I do see them as increasingly irrelevant now, as I suspect they do themselves, which explains their fear, and thus their venom. As Eric says, they have more to fear from us than we from them. But hate? I would hope not.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/kelindk/ James Ashman

    I do want to mention, that all major publishers are corporations. After working in a corporation, filled with people who love their jobs and want to make other peoples lives better, I’ve understood what goes on. Traditional publishers are controlled by people whose aim is to make money. That’s it. Now, they do hire editors and staff who are under the illusion that they are there to promote authors and make the world a better place, but that is not how the people at the top think. It’s a sad reality. Eric, as much as you talk about the great people that work for them, they aren’t the people at the top.

    I don’t really care about TP either way, since I’ve never bothered to submit to them. I’ve never been rejected, because I decided from the outset that I’d rather self-publish. But because this response was to a post about a Salon article that bashed self-publishers. Instead of looking at the gems, it concentrated on the slush. So my response: instead of looking at the gems who work for the traditional publishers, there is an overall disdain for the slush that is the traditional publishing establishment overall. It’s ultimate goal is profit for itself, not for promoting authors. Though there is nothing wrong with making profit, eventually it will lead to alienating authors.

    Since not everyone worthy of being published is, there is a bit of vitriol towards the publishers that will not recognize quality in the face of profit.

    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/iolanthewoulff/ Iolanthe Woulff

      “Since not everyone worthy of being published is, there is a bit of vitriol towards the publishers that will not recognize quality in the face of profit.”

      Precisely so.

      I would further propose that not recognizing quality in the face of profit is the preeminent corporate virus of our time. Notable victims: General Motors, the airline industry, and –heaven help us all– British Petroleum, compared to all of whom the rubbish-spewing TPs are rather minor league.


  • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

    I think much of the hostility you see is purely reactionary to the BS bandied around about “all” self-published authors. If people would stop yapping about how you must not be “good enough” for a “real publisher” and would just let each book rise or fall on it’s own merits, you wouldn’t hear a peep out of us.

    But the fact is… me and many self-publishing authors are better writers then at least a fair percentage of what is being traditionally published. So when all TP authors get a “pass” and if you didn’t like their book, you just didn’t like it, but it was “good enough” to “get past the gatekeepers”… meanwhile if someone doesn’t like an indie author it MUST be because they suck…

    yeah, that’s going to breed hostility.

    Imagine that.

    When people stop ghettoizing independents and acting like we are little amateur wannabes, then a lot of this perceived hostility will die down.

    If you read me and don’t like me, that’s fine. But assuming that because you didn’t like my book I “couldn’t have” gotten a “real publisher”, it’s just insane and insulting. Especially given how much truly awful drek is published by TP houses these days.

    I may not be up to everybody’s standards, but let’s be honest most “real books” aren’t up to those standards, either. When that is honestly recognized by most people, we’ll all probably just ignore trad pub.

    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/lyarde11751/ Lisa Yarde

      Well said, excellent response.

      • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

        Thanks, Lisa!

  • Mary


    It’s very hard to move into traditional publishing right now. Surely, it would be easier to let someone else handle most of the hassle. But, even then, when you submit, most agents, publishers want a marketing plan. Tough world. So, self publishing is here and glad for it. There is a wide range both traditionally and in self pub… artistic merit, public appeal, the whole nine yards.

    The thing is, agents and publishing houses are taking only what is a sure-to-sell. Which leaves a lot of good by the wayside.

  • Linda Reed Gardner

    Well, fine discussion. I’m a tad surprised to hear repeated comments about how TP ignores “better books,” and publishes “dreck” over and over. We all have moments of feeling that the masses would be better off reading our own work, instead of the popular stuff that TP chooses to publish, but I try not to take it personally, because it obviously is not. If TP thinks a particular ms will make money for them, of course they will accept it. If not, they pass.
    Do we really want to go down the road of accusing the reading population of preferring pulp fiction to “better” books, which usually mean our own? Seems to me that if any group accepts indivdual choice, it should us. I try to remain glad that anyone can now be published, and that the market will decide what is wanted. While I am bad bored by the whole vampire genre, I can’t help notice that TP is making a —-load of money from the Cronin book. Books. Seems to me that they made the correct choice on that one, in spades. Like it or not, this…stuff is clearly what is wanted out there. Wake me when it’s over.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters


      Honestly I feel there are levels. And it’s perfectly fine if TP wants to publish drek, who am I to judge? I write paranormal romance. It’s not like I write high literary fiction. However, what isn’t okay is to act as if self-pubbers “couldn’t get a publisher” or “weren’t good enough” while simultaneously letting crappy TP books get a free pass just because a corporation approved them for mass distribution.

      I mean seriously?

      I recently finished reading a TP book that I can’t believe got published. And that’s speaking as someone who writes what many might consider “pulp”.

      I mean I write vampires. And not just vampires, but vampire romance. What people think isn’t “real fiction” because it’s what’s “popular” now. My beef isn’t on subject matter or writing style. I don’t think “pulp” is automatically low-quality storytelling. My beef is on work that could have used a lot more polishing being TP’d and getting a free pass because gatekeepers “approved it”.

  • http://brentrobison.blogspot.com Brent Robison


    I appreciate your suggestion of a philosophical shift based on a bedrock truth that lies deep under all this surface TP/SP business: That to which you give your attention will grow. You’re creating your own reality every day. Let “them” do what they will; give your attention to your own path.

    This is the best possible advice.

  • Linda Reed Gardner

    Yes, Zoe, I don’t disagree with anything that you’ve said, and I’ve read some very very good romances, from Shana Abe. Top of the line prose, which hauls me along into books I would never otherwise read.Anyone who writes so beautifully always has something worthwhile to say as far as I am concerned.
    I don’t know what to make of the vampire Niagara. I’m not attracted to pain and danger in my personal life. I don’t want to go to bed with any guy whose skin is “ice cold.” Major turnoff the there.What I noticed most about both movies is that everyone is miserable, especially Bella, who is continually either sulking or pouting. Teens are one thing, the attraction of grown women to this pity party is beyond me. But it is clearly what many women want, TP sees a chance to make big bucks on it, and I am so glad there is another route to publication for the rest of us. May the best ( or most miserable,) vampire win.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      hehehe. I hate the emo/sulky vampires. I like the vampires who like being vampires… Spike, Damon, Eric… yum.

      Angel, Stefan, Edward, Bill, etc. can go off in a corner and brood somewhere.

  • lindareedgardner@yahoo.com

    All right! Did I miss the boat on this one! A live author who writes & sells vampire books. I would love to know why you think both teens and adult women can’t get enough vampire novels. I asked a bookseller at B & N several yrs ago, and she said it is the sense of danger and the feeling that they can’t quite have the guy, er, vampire. I keep reading that Edward Cullen is “torn between loving Bella, and killing her for her blood.” Hoo boy. Must be me. Not a turn-on at all. But to each his own. Please tell me what you think the undying attraction here might be.
    Part of the problem is that I never found Edward attractive on any level, not to mention the endless sulking and general unhappiness. Now the little Indian guy, yes, yes.Too bad he cut that beautiful hair.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      For me I think there is just something very sexual/sexy about the blood-drinking thing with vampires. They’re getting their very sustenance from someone else’s body. That’s just so primal. And then there is the danger element. For me, the entire vampire thing boils down to: “You could become my dinner or you could become my lover. Or if you’re lucky, you could become both.” LOL.

      I thought Edward was a pussy though. And frankly the relationship between Edward and Bella has some disturbing emotionally abusive/obsessive subtext. I also don’t like the emo unhappiness thing. Probably the subtext would be slightly less disturbing if Bella was in her 20′s and not a high school girl. I think a woman in her 20′s is slightly more equipped to have a vampire boyfriend. (I say this like vampires exist, LOL.)

      My world has some emo vampires, but they definitely are NOT the heroes. My hero vampires are dark and very morally ambiguous, but they enjoy their life. They don’t think living forever and being young and never getting sick is a curse.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/linrobinson/ Linton Robinson

    God, more vampire chat.

    There is a reason for the antagonism towards traditional publishing: it’s requited.

    You read so many sneering comments about how the “gatekeepers” and “filters” maintain the real integrity of literature and only losers self-publish and it gets to you after awhile.

    Also, it’s a highly disfunctional industry (a fact becoming more prominent every day lately) in which writers are treated like crap. A lot of people SP for no other reason than to avoid getting involved in more of the denigration and delay of publishing houses.

    It’s not really a mystery.

    My own theory (and subject of my ebook) is walking a line in which you reap the benefits of modern technology in getting read, while using that readership to lever a traditional contract.

    But basically the problems facing an author/publisher are his or her own problems: how to accomplish things. Whereas the problems faced when dealing with the whole “literar/industrial complex” tend to be problems of that hell known as “other people”. Many problems that just can’t be solved.
    Many problems of the kind that makes you want to fly to Manhattan and walk around bitch-slapping people.

  • http://feralintensity.com Scath

    Note: Not all self-pubbers are hoping to get a traditional publishing contract. I know I’m not (I don’t think Zoe is either? Correct me if I’m wrong!)

    Self-publishing is simply a choice we now have. I know I’ve never considered submitting to traditional publishers, and now, considering the state of the publishing industry, I’m glad that was never a goal of mine.

    Yeah, an advance would be awesome, and not paying out of my own pocket for editing would be too. But even if a traditional publishing house came along and offered me a contract, I’d say no.

    To me, what you get in return isn’t worth it. Limited marketing, a long period of time before your titles are actually published, losing your rights for a set period of time, lower royalties, etc. – just not worth it, in my personal opinion.

    I can write a story, polish it up, send it to my editor, create the cover while she’s going over it, handle the final edits and publish that puppy without any further waiting period. Plus, 42.5-82% (or more, depending on where sales are from) of the cover price goes into my pocket and I retain full control over the rights.

    Why would I want to give that up for what the now common first advance reportedly is (around $4k)? It’s not even enough to pay my monthy living expenses for two full months after taxes! :)

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      Hey Scath,

      No, I don’t want a trad publisher. Thought I WOULD sell subsidiary rights for foreign language, audio, and book club if such offers ever came down the pike. I just can’t see giving up so much control of the primary rights of my work to someone who is unlikely to invest enough in me to do more for me than I could eventually do for myself anyway.

      Publishers have to bring something to the table. “Validation” isn’t a big enough carrot for me. Either invest mondo money in me and getting my name in front of every literate human being in America, or leave me to do my own thing.

      And $4k for a full advance, when you are unlikely to “earn out” statistically speaking is so laughable.

      • http://feralintensity.com Scath

        Yup, it is. :)

        I honestly don’t get the ‘validation’ thing. We write, people read, and if they say they like it, isn’t that validation? If we sell some, isn’t that also validation?

        In fact, I think that’s the thing I’ll miss hearing about the least as the self-publishing ‘stain’ is slowly worn away.

        And it is wearing away. Slowly, but surely. :)

        • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

          Getting fan mail and paying bills is pretty validating to me. A lot more validating than sitting around waiting for someone to give me ‘permission to publish’. That’s silly.

          It is wearing away! And Every time I happen to hear about query letters or agents or blah blah blah… I just sit back and think: “Thank GOD I don’t have to do all that crap anymore.”

          • http://feralintensity.com Scath

            I never did tried it. Started posting on an artist community’s writing section. Got nice feedback. Made writing friends.

            Encouraged, I shot right off into self-publishing.

            I think I’ve submitted one flash piece to a horror ezine. Was rejected, but then I didn’t really think it was ‘horror’ enough for their tastes. A friend prodded me into it, LOL.

            So I did get one rejection! Yay! =)

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/iolanthewoulff/ Iolanthe Woulff

    I think it’s perfectly understandable for the publishers to be enamored of vampires. After all, they’re both bloodsuckers. ; )


  • lindareedgardner

    Thank you, Zoe. I am trying to think about how being killed by my lover would be an erotic experience. I won’t argue with what so many women want, but that old quote about how all women are essentially masochists does keep circling like a bat round my throat, as it were. Is it me? Like all women, I have been treated badly by males enough times so that I don’t think I have to date for it. No sir, it comes right along without any effort on my part. Therefore when I walk in the door at night I am happy to see a guy who while far from perfect, at least is not torn between hitting the sack and strangling me. I hope to hear more of your thoughts on this topic.
    As for SP, I am still hung up on the Cronin deal. Another rehash of Killian Murphy’s zombie classic movie, & I am Legend, with a little girl instead of a dummy. Five and a half million. He read his market perfectly. He bought his freedom for the rest of his life. Am I wildly envious? Believe it. No offense to Cronin-I admire his astute sense of marketing as much as I envy his outcome. Go guy.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      Hey Linda, you think about “killing” or being “treated badly” but to me that’s not what the vampire thing is about, or even what a woman who wants a very dominant male is about.

      In other mammalian species, the dominant males show signs of being dominant so the women can FIND them. In mammals the majority sexuality has always been dominant male paired with more submissive female. (Which doesn’t make other things “wrong”. Just not as statistically common. There is a reason every romance novel practically has a dominant male and a slightly more vulnerable female.)

      But our culture punishes men for being dominant. So they hold back. A lot of them don’t give any kind of “display” that would make finding them easy for a woman into that (which frankly, is most of us.)

      The ones who DO make the displays tend to be abusers and NOT dominant males. To me dominant and abuse are completely mutually exclusive categories. A truly dominant male has control of himself and abusive men can’t even control themselves. They are weak men.

      The vampire thing plays on that and to me something that women seem to really want, a male who ‘seems’ scary, but won’t hurt them. For a lot of women I think it’s about the power of being the one person who gets to see the softer more protective edges of a man that other people are a little afraid of.

      And with the vampire thing… being “dinner” doesn’t mean being murdered. In most vampire mythologies, vampires can feed without killing. And Anne Rice made a career out of making the bite a very sexual thing. Though Bram Stoker did it before that, even.

      Most vampire mythologies associate pleasurable/orgasmic feelings with being bitten and fed from, not screaming and crying and death. Though some vampires in every mythology are into the latter.

      To me the vampire thing is just a more extreme version of the… Male showing softer feelings/protectiveness toward one person, while having the power and even likelihood of being severely scary to other people.

      Women in this situation are “special” and so awesome and sexy that some vampire changes his entire M.O. for her. Wildly unrealistic, but still obviously a strong fantasy in many female brains.

      • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/kelindk/ James Ashman

        Great. I’ve had a few male friends who’ve tried explaining the cultural depiction of dominant men before to other men and women, and being lambasted for it since they couldn’t understand the difference between dominant and abusive. Thanks to our culture, the dominant male has been distorted in media. It’s great to see the point made well, and by a woman who actually gets it.

        • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

          Thanks, James! I wish people understood the difference in dominant and abusive. An alpha isn’t abusive. They don’t have to be. They’re naturally the leader. People naturally follow them.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      Oh,and this is why I don’t think vampires will ever truly die in fiction. It touches on too deep a part of the average female psyche. Popularity of vampires will ebb and flow due to overexposure. But then when the exposure dies down, they’ll become popular again.

  • Lindareedgardner

    Well, well, that really is interesting. And having spent my life with large animals, I certainly agree about male dominance displays, and the response of females to them. Doggone, Zoe, you may actually have moved me toward reading some of your books.
    The usual small voice says this rather sophisticated understanding of mammalian behavior may be a tough one to put across in literature, but I see it in action, for better and worse, every darned day.
    As my brother has said for years, with no small amount of frustration and resentment, “women say they want one thing in men, but we all know that they choose to date something else.”
    And that woudn’t be men who cry, babe.Life is indeed cruel.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      HA! OMG win! :P My views may not come across quite as sophisticated in practice for the paranormal romance, since I think people want to be entertained and not read my dissertation on sexual politics. :P

      I think women ultimately want a man who is strong but who will be kind to them, who won’t be a total emo. It’s one thing to be a LITTLE sensitive, it’s another to cry over everything or want to sit and discuss your “feelings” all the time.

      We have women for that.

  • Jodi

    I don’t think hate is the proper word. From those on the outside trying to break in I call it disdain and disappointment for the lack of concern for the new author trying to break in.
    We as readers can be handed 16 books with basically the same plot in every single one but this author is a money maker. We get 200 disappointing pages for $27.
    I think the face of indie is changing and is going to change the face of publishing. There is a quality and a commitment to the readers you won’t see from the big guns.
    I’ve put very little effort into getting traditionally published because I realized early on I didn’t matter, I wasn’t read and I wasn’t taken seriously. Writing is my life and my passion and it means something to me.

  • http://feralintensity.com Scath

    Well, I’m feeling slightly hostile now, after doing some blog hopping and reading more than one traditional publishing employee say that self-publishers are ‘losers’.

    And yes, that was the exact word used.

    Gee, might be why there’s hostility. You think? Sheesh.

    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      They can bite us. In a few years they will be irrelevant. There is only so long an industry can keep doing dumb crap and still survive. They’re going to do dumb crap one too many times and then those who actually cared about quality and price and common sense will be the winners.

      • klcrumley

        Exactly, Zoe!

        We didn’t start this supposed war between SP and TP. We’re not the ones giving into childish name calling, and labeling everybody who chooses a certain business model a “hack.”

        But the funny thing is, we are winning. :)

        I’m hearing more and more that readers not only don’t care who publishes a book, but that some actually prefer self-pub/indie books for various reasons.

        • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

          Same here, Karen. Which makes me think that indie authorship will very soon be like indie music and indie film to people. And the publishing “industry” can keep crying and whining about it for all I care.

          I’ve never once told someone NOT to trad pub. I’ve never once said anyone who trad pubs is stupid or wrong or a “loser”.

          I think TP folks should just STFU about SP. Unless you’ve read a book, you can’t judge it.

          I find it particularly annoying in genres such as romance, where they fight stigma every day. Where most people think ALL romances are Harlequin Category romances with titles like: “The Greek Millionaire’s Forced Bride.”

          And yet… while people are fighting to make others understand that there actually exist romance novels with good writing and PLOTS, they’re still whining about how SPers suck and are lame.

          Um, ok. Good luck with that.

    • klcrumley

      I know this sounds childish, but to those people I would just say “Takes one to know one!” LOL

      Then again, calling someone a “Loser” without even knowing the person and/or knowing why they chose to self-publish is pretty childish in itself.

      Somehow, to many people in the TP industry have it in their heads that every SP book on amazon was shopped around to every one of their companies, and “the poor saps” were stuck self-publishing.

      Meanwhile the majority of SP books were either never submitted to publishers/agents in the first place, or published before with a traditional publisher who took it out of print for whatever reason.

      Saying someone is a “loser” or a “bad writer” when you don’t even know them, or haven’t even read their book(s)…
      Is like saying someone is “ugly” when you have never even seen them.

      I just consider the source, and laugh.