Eating Your Young

 

Yesterday, I read a somewhat mean-spirited post by one of my favorite authors. Throughout his tirade, he maintains that he was speaking to a particular subset of independently published writers that release poorly written stories with zero editing and bad covers. He’s known for these spittle-flecked tirades laced with gruesome metaphor and massive doses of 6th-grade humor. I’m told that he’s actually a very nice guy in person. But posts like this are his shtick. It’s what he does. I get it.

This post struck a nerve with me, not just because he called out indie authors, but because he came off as a bit of a bully. I know one when I see one. Anyone that’s survived high school does.

There’s a phenomenon in nursing culture called “eating your young.” The older, more experienced nurses bully the new nurses. I’ve seen it and have been on the receiving end of it—quite recently, in fact. Some might consider it a traditional rite of passage, like hazing. (It’s ironic, really. An occupation that’s meant to foster healing and solace in the vulnerable allows a subculture of lateral violence amongst its own.) But it’s destructive and generally, makes people feel crappy.

I’m a newbie to indie authorship. In my journey, I’ve approached a lot of accomplished writers to ask them for guidance or advice. Not one of them has ever turned me away. The environment of the indie world has been in my experience a supportive one. We may be competing for the same audience of readers, but we recognize that in the Upsidedown of indie authorship that there are no hard and fast rules. And the ones that do exist seem to do so at the whim of capricious gods. Supporting each other goes a long way compared to going cannibal on our cohorts. There’s no room for bullies here.

I choose to believe that everyone has a story to tell. At the heart of every “book cover gone wrong,” there is an intent to bring that into the light. Every misplaced comma is a chance to learn from our mistakes and do better next time. Some might choose to pick apart these foibles of the indie world, but I won’t. I know they exist. No system is perfect.

Maybe as the indie authorship market evolves, this will change and turn on each other like the ravenous undead. Until then, I choose not to turn to cannibalization. Any younglings that approach me are not on the menu.