3 S.R. Johannes: JA Konrath's Revelation

Friday, January 04, 2013

JA Konrath's Revelation

So as my first post, I'm going to talk about hypocrisy in publishing.

JA Konrath has been a pioneer in self-publishing. Those of us who have traveled down the self- publishing road know of him. His blog, his opinions, his books. He's been a man who has stood up for his right to publish. A man who has been vocal in his distaste for publishing. And a successful self publishing author (who of course build his audience with a traditional publisher).

Every year, Konrath lists his New Years Resolutions and sometimes gives his prediction for indie publishing for the year to come.

This year JA Konrath's big statement - is telling indie authors and writers to "Get over yourself and just write."


For years, JA Konrath has promoted social networking, connected with readers, supported indie publishing, and helped authors move forward in their goal of publishing.

But now that he's made it big - he suddenly preaches, "Go on your own and forget everyone who helped you get there?" which of course was picked up by MediaBistro.

I'm sorry Mr. Konrath, but for once, I respectfully disagree with your post. I dont want to start a battle with him because to be frank he would chew me up and spit me out.

But this hypocrisy is what bothers me about some big-time authors. Self published or traditionally published.

They network with writers, connect with readers, network, blog and then when they make it big (usually with the help of those people) - they suddenly decide they don't have time for it anymore.

They decide they should just focus on themselves.

All in the name of writing.

Don't get me wrong, I think we do need to focus on writing more. The craft. Creating good stories. Spend less time online. But this to me was a - forget you- kind of statement. Not in the name of craft persay.

This view is a bit distorted. A tad shady. It makes me feel like they're networking just to sell. Not to connect and learn and assist. It's a mentality of "Let's do what we can to meet as many people to get ahead, build readers, and then when we make it really big and boast about sales and money - we don't have time for you anymore."

Now JA Konrath's big revelation is that he just wants to write??

Don't we all?

I understand this view. Sometimes I just want to write. Check out. Be alone. And sometimes I do take that time. But does it have to be all or none?

I kinda feel like I have somewhat of an obligation to continue connecting with those I've met along the way. Those I've been connecting with. Those who have helped me. To respond to readers who give my book a chance. To connect with authors. But most of all, to give back to others.

Maybe this is a problem of mine. Maybe this is not the popular view anymore.  But I think it should be. Especially if readers and writers are a big part of what got you where you are today.

I understand the need to write and prioritize. But to use the system to your benefit - start a blog, go on Facebook and pretend to connect, - make it big, and then back-out or disconnect when paychecks get too big and your name gets known - is a crappy thing to do.

What Konrath forgets is there are many authors who make it big and DON'T forget their readers, still talk at conferences to help writers, and maintain connections who helped them. They are able to do both. Sometimes one may falter but they try. maybe not equally but at least a little.

I hope as I continue to grow my career and explore different paths that I continue to blog, tweet, connect, share, and help others.  I hope I don't blow people off.

I don't think it has to be one or the other. I think I can write and still make time to connect.

Will I be able to do all of this every day or as much as I have in the past? No.
Will I let people down? Probably.
But will I try? Yes.
Will I make a declaration that I no longer have time for readers, writers, or the publishing industry? Never. Because that is not what I believe.

Bestselling authors would not be where they are without the community of writers and their loyal readers.

What are your thoughts?


Jamie said...

I really enjoyed your post, and agree wholeheartedly. I've been through the entire rollercoaster of writing, with much ahead of me. After deciding to self publish my first book, those who are still pursuing traditional, barely speak to me. There's such a break down in the writing community that makes me genuinely sad. We are supposed to support each other always, not just when it's convenient or a need. Thank you for your words.

Anna Staniszewski said...

This made me think of a well-known children's author who refuses to blurb other people's books. When I heard about that it made me sad, because undoubtedly authors once blurbed her books when she was starting out. It felt--exactly like you said--like she was turning her back on the writing community.

Anonymous said...

I get both sides. For the last several years, I've been writing and networking and got so caught up I ended up networking more than I was writing. And while I was making some awesome friendships and learning a LOT, I wasn't reaching readers and I wasn't writing that much. I was...sad to say, trying to get to that next step. I was focused so much on the goal of getting published and making sure I had all my avenues covered to get there, I was forgetting why I was writing in the first place.

So I stopped. I refocused and listed the reasons I really wanted to write in the first place. Because I want to reach readers. Because I want to entertain them and show them a new world. Which means...I DO need to write more. A lot more. And instead of networking with just writers and agents and all that, I really need to be networking with readers.

It's a balance, just like everything else. (And there's no way I can forget all the contacts I made before. I wouldn't be the writer I am now without them and I'm eternally grateful!)

Mel Chesley said...

I agree with everything you said. I also have to agree with what Jenna commented.
I just have one book out right now. It just came out, yet I find myself networking and helping out all these other authors more than I am helping myself. They tell you, 'promote others, don't promote yourself. Let others promote you'. Well, I sort of believe that and I sort of don't. Most of the promoting of others I have done has not been reciprocated. (Not being whiny about it, I promise. Just stating a fact.) However, when I do promote myself only, I feel guilty and egotistical. I'm not that kind of person, I don't want to feel that way.
So there has to be a middle ground somewhere. Will I stop promoting others? Not on your life. But I have to shift my focus.
But for someone who has been supportive for so long to just blatantly tell authors to get over themselves? Well. Looks like someone had a day where he needed a nap. This is a community of writers and don't ever forget the ones who helped you along the way. In fact, pay it forward. I don't know where I would be without the contacts I've made and the support I have received.
Very good post.

Jemi Fraser said...

I agree with your viewpoint. Obviously we have to write - but like most other things in life, there's a balance here & contributing and giving back is something I hope I always remember too :)

Huntress said...

well said.

StaffPicks said...

One thing I really like about kid book writers--the SCBWI tribe-is that they really are helpful in writing and in publishing. I think it's odd that indie film is respected by Hollywood elite, indie music is watched with admiration, yet on the wordsmithing side, there is disdain for in the indie writer. Ha! Not for long.