Sue Grafton: H is for Hubris

The indie-published crowd is in a deservedly righteous dither after Sue Grafton and John Green tossed the lot of us into the “isolated” and “lazy” slush heap of artists. This author will not even validate their positions with a rebuttal. My only response would be the following: Gertrude Stein, Walt Whitman, Virginia Wolff, Beatrix Potter, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau, Anais Nin, Deepak Chopra, Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Zane Grey, William E. B. DuBois, Strunk and White, E.L James …self-published…every one. I could keep going but my indie-published, short-cutting fingers are tired. If this is the “lazy” and “isolated” conglomeration of authors of whom I am a part, well, I humbly accept my position within their indolent midst.

The publishing paradigm has shifted. To those on the “traditional” side, my sincerest good wishes and congratulations. But to those of us with the pluck and mettle, the tenacity and persistence, and the temerity to launch our best efforts into the hallowed realm of publication…kudos to you all, my thick-skinned brethren. Keep your chins up and your pens a’ penning.

Dorothy Hagan is the indie-published author of The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, (2012) seven years in research, writing and publication. (Not a lot of books written about women working in the gritty, offshore world of men. Honest. Go try and find one.) Oh, yeah. And Lazy Hagan also published The Edge of the Grace Period in 2000, POD with IUniverse, before most “traditional” people had even heard of such a thing. Ms. Hagan’s books will never go out of print and will be entirely available when Oprah calls up for the Book Club.

Mounting a Square Hat on a Round Head

“But it’s really a good story. Really!”

After seven years of thinking, plotting, writing, revising, submitting, proofing and finally publishing, that precious time comes at last when as the author you get to actually hold your printed, bound, glossy, glowing masterpiece. So you hope, anyway.

But before the euphoria is even allowed to infect your being, you know it’s also time to do what comes most unnaturally to a majority of artists: it’s time to sell your work. Only now it’s called a product. That you need to market. In the marketplace. For money. To strangers. And worse, your friends!

Publishing a book is a very long process, and one I have just recently completed for the second time in my life. It was intense, concentrated and laborious. And at its end I was forced to watch helplessly as my book became “live” electronically via my publisher’s website and online retailers around the world. I waited in anxiousness for the author’s copies to arrive so that I could physically hold my own book for the first time. There is an indelible nose print on my front window as I watched daily for a visit from UPS. (To further my angst, the books arrived on my doorstep sometime early in the morning on a wet, humid day. While stepping out to feed my stray cat, my foot landed smack on top of my delivered, moist books. Yowch.)

But the books did arrive, both hard and soft covers, and they look good. The website is up and progressing, blogs are rolling, Facebook and Twitter announcements are in the pipeline, events are being scheduled…there remains nothing to do except to ask, with all humility, the five hardest words coming from an artist:

“Will you buy my stuff?”

Asking this is well nigh impossible for this creator, but necessary, nonetheless. Turning an author into a marketeer is not unlike trying to pound a square peg into a round hole, or mounting a square hat on a round head, as this case may be. That said, I now humbly ask you to purchase a book, and more than that, read it and tell your friends. Because in the end and in all honesty I can say:

“But it’s really a good story. Really!”