It is nice to know that somewhere in the midst of abject abuses of power, endless wars (do you really need a link for that one?), and legislation that makes you want to stand up and scream until your vocal chords tear (which was shot down, thankfully), that we can still turn to Lemony Snicket to act as the voice of common sense in support of Occupy Wall Street.
There are good things in this life. Sane and rationally composed arguments is one of them. Humour and wit to go with them are also nice.
Of course, rhyme and reason must sometimes give way to passion. For passion too can persuade with its sheer potency and sense of visceral urgency.
However, if you are going to falsify “passion”, utilizing nomenclature that should never have seen the light of day, like Michael Stackpole did – and you should read Stackpole’s original post which the second was clarifying (it’s not any better, you should just be informed) – to justify an assault on mainstream publishing, then you should expect a response like Tobias Buckell’s.
There has already been fallout, disparagement, and some truly bizarre arguments made by secondary individuals on both sides (though, thus far, I’m seeing more negative “arguments” on Twitter and blog comments coming from the people arguing on Stackpole’s behalf).
Having read all of the articles linked above and having listened to the arguments made on both sides (some of them excellent, others clearly perpetrated by individuals with some degree of neurological damage), I am going to agree with Buckell’s side of this argument.
Because Stackpole, K. W. Jeter, Barry Eisler and J. A. Konrath (among, it would appear, others), have positioned themselves as in defence of independent/indie/e-book/self-publishing authors/writers, and have started swinging at the mainstream publishers. Is there aptness in this? To a degree, absolutely. Some mainstream publishers perpetrate fairly reprehensible transgressions against their authors including acts of chicanery, withholding of funds/royalties and shoddy business practices (relating to contracts and hidden clauses, as well as fraudulent representations of appearance/tour availability and contractual obligation).
However, Stackpole has made his attack universal – which, I’m sorry, just isn’t true – and then claimed that all those who side with the mainstream publishers are choosing to be abused by the system. I’m going to purposely refrain from duplicating his term for those who continue to deal with/work with mainstream publishers (which, by the way is kind of funny since Stackpole still, you know, does that) because I too find it extremely offensive and in poor taste as a choice of appellation.
I cannot frame the diametric argument to Stackpole’s as well as either Buckell (in the blog post linked above) or Nick Mamatas have done. Partly because I have very little experience with e-book sales or marketing, and even less so in terms of direct interaction with mainstream publishing houses. One does not necessarily have to have experience direrctly with the industry to understand just how completely far gone Stackpole’s points are, but I could only tell you how Stackpole has resorted to both callous disregard for his audience and shown an effusive adoration for (and exemplar use of) intellectual masturbation. Buckell and Mamatas can show you why.
It’s not often we get so clear cut a divide in the publishing industry, argued at length by both sides, and are able to track the twists and turns that led us to this impasse. Here then is an excellent case study, which should be well observed and documented for reference by those who are in the industry, and those on the outskirts who want in.
How do we cast our discussion of these arguments? What witty and pithy prose or rejoinder can we offer against intellectual masturbation, bloated self-indulgence and a fulsome and callous disregard for our collective and separate audiences? Tobias Buckell put it best with the title of his blog in response to Stackpole’s:
Self publishing doesn’t mean you have to be a raging fuck wad