Sue Grafton – G is for Gobshite?

By Evangeline Jennings

Actually, no. But she came close when she described self-published authors as “too lazy to do the hard work”.

Following the inevitable uproar, she has now gone on the record to say that she wrong. That she “meant absolutely no disrespect for e-publishing and indie authors” and that she was “uninitiated when it comes to this new format”.

It’s clear to me now that indie writers have taken more than their fair share of hard knocks and that you are actually changing the face of publishing. Who knew?!

Bless. The rich old dear actually comes across quite well. She made a mistake, and has now corrected it in the right way. But was she entirely wrong? Far from it.

Let’s take the shades of grey for granted. It’s obviously unfair to categorize such a huge group as the mass of those self-published authors currently knocking around Twitter begging me to buy their piece of shit book. However, if like OJ Simpson I was going to categorize them, I would say that a significant majority are indeed taking a lazy short cut, kidding themselves, and trying to kid us. As Grafton said, self-published books are “often amateurish” and becoming an author is about “hard work” and “taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time”. She had her own first three novels rejected and says sees “way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to”.

Nail me to a tree if you must, but I agree with her. Most self-published books are crap. However, there are also some very, very good ones. The problem, as always, is telling the Kopi Luwak from the civet shit. This is something that might keep me awake at night, if I wasn’t such a heavy drinker.

Here at Pankhearst, we intended to publish our own books. One is in the final stages of preparation. Two others are lined up and waiting to take their place on the pre-production line. And we are now – for the first time – wondering how we will get our stories noticed. Obviously, we believe they’re very good and worthy of a reader’s attention. But.

But just as I cannot imagine being the first woman – well, it was never going to be a man – to rummage through a wild cat’s shit in search of something to boil up and make a drink with, I cannot imagine why you, dear reader, would ever notice or take interest in our little books unless we learn how to play the game. And while I’m fascinated by the game, I’m not sure I understand it. Indeed, as Confucius and Gandhi both once said: We come not to play.

Then why did you put your kit on?

Incidentally, Sue Grafton also said this:

The struggle is what teaches us.  Learning to be resilient, learning to have courage, learning to take rejection in stride…these are some of the ways the system schools us as painful as it is



One thought on “Sue Grafton – G is for Gobshite?

  1. I know we live in a world geared to instant gratification. The fact is, in indie publishing, as new writers we need to respect our work over our dreams of ‘fame’. Te publishers can make this happen – IF they are aware enough to do this.

    As a writing coach I don’t discuss publication (indie or other) with my clients because I want their nascent writing to be the focus as we work, not their plans for their upcoming ‘success’.

    Any who ask me are pointed to other resources. I’m here to train up the person who wants to be successful at writing – I can’t condone harboring folks who plan for short-cutting all that boring ‘writing/craft/stuff’ that they mistakenly think an editor will handle, and who allow things to proceed, even when the sad truth comes up : there is no editor input doing that clean-up.

    Any indie publisher might do well to hire editors with a flair for structure & writing (in their own works). It (the editor role) is never simply about punctuation and proper syntax. Indie Fiction needs shepherding by the new round of Michael Korda’s, Max Perkins’ and Gordon Lish’s.


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