self-published authors

Ghetto Is Racist; Goodreads Drama; Lazybeagleentertainment.com

Ghetto Is Racist

At times I’ve been accused of being too politically correct, and at times even I agree with that. But I recently saw an author post something where the word “Ghetto” was used, and it was not only tasteless, but highly insulting to anyone who is sensitive to racism.

To take this a step further, I think authors should be held to a higher standard in cases like this because they above all others should know the significance of ALL words. In other words, had I seen this posted by someone who is not an author I would have had more forgiveness. I’m not sure it was intended to be racist in a cruel way. But either way, the author who made the comment came off looking racist or dumb…or both.

The saddest part about all this is that not one single person called the author out on it. And there were many comments that joked around and no one even seemed to notice it. I personally think this is why we do have race issues in America today. If over fifty people could not see that what the author posted was racist, that means over fifty people with good intentions don’t actually know that the word “Ghetto” is considered a racist word.

Why didn’t I say something? I’ve posted before that I’ve learned the only online argument that’s worth getting into is one where you are ready to stand up and die for the cause. And in this particular case, I wasn’t willing to do that. But, in the same respect, I didn’t make a funny comment to encourage this kind of racism. And, I am posting about it today in a way that I hope helps others see that the word “Ghetto” can be almost as offensive to others as the N word.

To show that I’m not making all this up, here are a few links. This particular piece gives a few good examples of what I’m trying to express right now.

From The Black Commentator:

“Ghetto,” when used colloquially as an adjective, is the most racist, derogatory word in the common lexicon, given its so subtle insinuations and layers. Employed to mean “uncouth,” “unruly,” or “parvenu,” “ghetto” is the most popular, new code word to stigmatize blacks.
 
The article gets into more detail, and I highly suggest reading it in full. This is especially important to me because I’ve also heard the word used with gays, too…as in “Gay Ghetto.”
 
 
It’s a term that stereotypes and lampoons a culture and is wrought with racial implications. Now instead of acting “black,” or “poor,” because those terms aren’t politically correct, people substitute the word “ghetto” and it’s suddenly acceptable.
 
As I stated above, I think a lot of people still use the word without knowing any better. However, I also think that if you claim to be an author you should know better.
 
Goodreads Drama
 
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Goodreads.com. I love the way it brings readers together, and at the same time I wish there were a different set of rules enforced to keep it more honest. I do have an account there, but when I go there I always make sure I go as a *reader*, not as an author. And I only have one account with my name, not multiple accounts with fake names and IDs. I’m not trying to be holier than thou. I just like to sleep at night.
 
In any event, there’s been another shitstorm over at GR I read about in Salon. I haven’t done anything more than a simple search because I haven’t had time.
 
You don’t necessarily think the world of bookworms would be full of bullies. Readers, after all, are assumed to be a more evolved species, capable of articulating higher sentiments than “You suck.” Well, not always. Just a short time ago, Lauren Howard was gearing up for the release of her self-published debut novel, “Learning to Love,” a tale in which “love at first sight isn’t always as simple as a fairy tale.” But then the Goodreads crowd reportedly decided to assert its dominance over the fledgling author, and that’s when things changed.
 
In this article it alleges the self-pubbed author was threatened with rape.
 
They say that novelists ought to develop a thick skin if they want to survive the inevitable assault of literary critics and the occasional displeased reader. Then again, most novelists don’t get rape threats from strangers online before their first book even hits the shelves.
 
There’s an interesting quote in that particular article where a GR member says, “Get over it princess.”
This is the GR member speaking to the self-pubbed author (a young woman). This comment was made by a man named “Derrick.” Is it just me being too PC correct again, or does that sound like he’s talking down to a woman? And if this GR member…reader…is allowed to comment in a public forum should he be kept to the same PC standards as the rest of us?
 
So far, no one has mentioned how poorly this author was treated as a woman. I’m not talking about the book or the reviews or the ratings now. I’m talking about the fact that the author is a woman. I won’t even get into the rape culture aspect of this thing right now because that would be another post. Maybe I’m too sensitive to these things because as a gay man I know that subtle brand of degradation all too well. It even comes from some gay men sometimes, unfortunately.
 
But I digress. The point of me posting about this is mainly because I think it’s interesting these things are now becoming more mainstream, and that they are being written about in larger publications. Five years ago if something of this nature had happened you would only have seen it on a small blog like mine.
 
Lazybeagleentertainment.com  
 
On a far more positive note, there are web sites out there that are bringing authors, publishers, and readers of all genres together. The one I’m talking about now is lazybeagleentertainment.com, which I’ve mentioned before a few times. It’s owned and authored by two great guys, Patrick and Rondal, and I don’t think I have seen two people work so hard on anything since Tony and I opened a business ten years ago in less than three weeks. So I know how hard they are working.
 
If you have not seen Lazybeagle yet, take the time to check it out. If you are a reader I think you’ll love what you see. The most interesting thing about this site is that it includes all genres. I like that partly because I think it’s going to be important for LGBT authors to start incorporating hetero characters with LGBT characters in the future.
 
The reason I’m posting about this now is because Patrick has had a minor health issue and he’s going to be slowing down for a while. And I think we should all offer these guys our support and our best wishes for a fast recovery.

And, if the Internet is supposed to be all about information, lazybeagle has cornered the proverbial market this time with book info.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

Gay Porn and Johnny Hazzard; The Lazy Beagle for Authors and Readers

 

Thanks to social media, I found a fascinating article written by gay porn star known as Johnny Hazzard. From the way it appears, he’s written the article as Frankie Valenti. The post to which I’m linking does contain adult material, so you’ve been warned. The photo above is not Hazzard it’s from wiki commons. I don’t like to post photos unless I have permission or I know it’s safe.

A good deal of the article gets into how Hazzard has managed to survive in the adult entertainment industry, specifically gay porn.

Then, most recently, writer and friend Brett Edward Stout asked me, “Johnny, how did you survive?” I was speechless. I had no answer.

I still can’t totally explain why I survived.

While I do think there are other industries that are just as competitive as adult entertainment (trust me, I work in one), I also think that porn stars across the board deal with a few more intense issues than others. And the adult entertainment industry has changed like everything else in the past few years and I’m not even certain it’s possible to reach the heights of stardom it once was. This statement backs up something I’ve been wondering about for a while.

 There are no “porn stars” anymore. And that could be a huge reason why we are losing some of the “big guys.” Many didn’t have a way out or didn’t have goals for when the title stopped meaning as much. I can relate. You have this title, this crown that acts like currency, like armor. When the money stops, that diminished title is all you have left. Today there are hundreds of boys flaunting the moniker “porn star” but getting paid a fraction of what they were five years ago.

You can read more here.

Valenti is also in a new non-porn indie film titled, Where We Belong, which I’ll post about very soon. The film seems to get into gay brothers. I have a gay brother and I’m interested in seeing how this was handled. I’m also interested in seeing how Valenti does crossing into something more mainstream. Most porn stars don’t fare well. For some reason it’s almost impossible to lose the image of porn star once it’s been established. I understand this all too well as an erotic romance author. It’s the same for authors who write erotic romance or anything dealing with strong sexual content…which is why the less courageous authors (and clever) use fake names when writing erotica. There’s one who won’t even be associated with his own pen name, which I find amusing. Frankly, I couldn’t care less. I love what I do and I personally regret nothing I’ve done…even that burping penis.

The Lazy Beagle for Authors, Readers, and Publishers

I’ve posted about a lot of great web sites for authors, readers, and publishers in the past, but I’ve never come across one that is this unique. It’s called Lazy Beagle: Bringing Readers and Authors of all Genres Together in One Location.

I added a few of my books last week, and I’m in the process of getting more to them. It’s simple to do, and it’s another way for people to connect through social media that isn’t daunting and requires very little time.

This is from the home page:

Welcome to Lazy Beagle Entertainment founded by author Patrick Wendling-Markwell and husband, and sometimes co-author, Rondal D. Markwell. Ever find it hard to find self-published books and other books not promoted with a million dollar advertising budget. Looking for that hidden gem? Well here at LBE we will link you with your favorite published and self-published authors, and give authors a prominent place to link their work and promote themselves, so they are no longer hidden gems but displayed diamonds! We will provide links to all locations the book is available for purchase, and all available sites where you can follow the author. This page was started originally to be for self-published authors, but we have opened it up to any and all authors, self-published or not.

I especially like the fact that they put an emphasis on self-published authors and books. I can’t even count the times I’ve wished there were a place where I could browse through a list of self-published books and authors as a reader.

Here’s the home page link.

Here’s the page where you can add books.

And here’s my page once again. My full list of titles isn’t up yet, but I’m getting there.

Like I said, it’s very casual and simple to navigate.

Video with Outspoken Gay Author: Hal Bodner


Lately, every time I see someone complain offhandedly about the quality of self-published/indie books on Amazon (or anywhere) I tend to cringe a little. And that’s because it’s getting tired as a general statement. Even though there are bad self-published books out there all over the place (and a few bad published books as well that cost far too much money), there are also experienced, bestselling authors now moving into self-publishing. The reasons authors who have been traditionally published do this are many, and far too complicated to get into in one simple post. I had very distinct reasons, one of which was I wanted more control over my work. I got that control with “Chase of a Lifetime.”

But the main point nowadays is that with more and more traditionally published authors self-publishing their own books (most seem to be on Amazon)the reputation of indie/self-publishing is taking a turn for the better and that old cliche about authors who do self-publish because they can’t get a publisher or agent doesn’t work anymore. In fact, literary agents are now taking advantage of these self-publishing opportunities and I know they are offering “services” for their clients. I even know authors who are trying to juggle their schedules with publishers because they prefer self-publishing their own books. And, more important, pricing their own books.

More than a few authors I know who have been traditionally published, and have had agents, have moved into indie publishing quietly, and Hal Bodner is one of them. I met Hal through a friend when he started getting into the digital first market about four years ago. I’ve posted about Hal before on the blog, and about his books. I’ve read his latest LGBT novel, THE TROUBLE WITH HAIRY, that he released on Amazon himself, and I can tell you without question the quality is there, the story is there, and it’s just as good…if not better…than anything he’s had published before.

Hal recently did an interview that is now on youtube, to which I’m linking right now. It’s not only interesting to watch Hal on video and to put the face and voice with the name, but also to listen to what he has to say about his own personal experiences. And like the title of the post says, Hal’s an outspoken gay man with a professional background in law, he’s a businessman, he was in a long term relationship before his partner died suddenly, and he’s a bestselling author with books that have been released from traditional publishers. You can check out his books here.

Calling All Self-Published Authors

Although I’ve never self-published anything…yet…I’ve been following all the exciting things that have been happening with self-publishing, especially with e-books, and I’d like to do something different here on this blog. I’ve been writing blog posts about self-published authors and their books for a while. But I’d like to see something a little different for a change.

So I’m opening up this blog once a week to any self-published author who wants to talk about his or her new self-published book. Just e-mail me everything I need in the body of the e-mail (no attachments, please), including book cover photo, a description of the book, and anything else you’d like to mention that you think might help promote your book. This is about information: who, what, when, where, and why. And please include all product information like word count, author contact info, and links to where the book can be purchased.

This isn’t going to be a review or a rating on the book. It’s strictly about getting information out there. I have a lot of respect for self-published authors for taking the chance and empowering themselves. And when I see literary agents now jumping onto the band wagon with their clients self-published books, I’d like to try to build a network that’s just for self-published authors who don’t have that kind of inside support.

There are no rules; just that the work has to be self-published. It can be a .99 amazon e-book or iuniverse. I couldn’t care less. It can be digital or print or on a stone tablet. It doesn’t matter. But I’m standing firmly on one thing: I’d like to stick with self-published authors who don’t have agents, and authors who don’t work with agents who are now offering self-publishing/e-publishing services. Literary agents have web presence, they promote their authors all the time and they get a lot of attention. These agents know how to take advantage of all the opportunities on the web. So the authors who work with them can let their agents promote them. They don’t need me. I’ve been in publishing for twenty years, but I’ve never been one of the good old boys and never will be.

I’m not focusing on one particular genre. This blog has always been pg rated and publishing oriented in a general sense, and it always will be. If you write YA, I’ll post about it. If you write middle grade, I’ll post about that, too. Your book can be erotica; it can be religious or spiritual. Fiction or non-fiction. This is open to everyone across the board. But I want authors who are going it alone.

I don’t want anything for this. I don’t want free books or gift certificates. This blog is non-profit and it will always be non-profit. I only get about 10,000 hits a day, which isn’t much compared to other blogs. But if 10,000 people see your self-published book that’s 10,000 more that wouldn’t have seen it if you hadn’t posted about it.

My e-mail address is located on the sidebar with my profile. Like I said, post everything in the body of the e-mail, no attachments. In the subject line of the e-mail, please write “Self-Publishing Blog Post,” so I know it’s for the blog. And if I don’t reply, resend. It could have gone into spam. I haven’t chosen a specific day yet, but I’m thinking I’ll leave that open until I see how many requests I get to promote these books. If I don’t get any, I’ll just do it myself.

The only one thing I ask is that you pay this forward. In other words, be proud you’ve self-published your work and help other self-published authors promote their books. I’ve seen a lot of good self-published books out there but the authors are stuck in a difficult place when it comes to getting the information out there.

"Indie" Author…or Self-Published Author?

Early this morning before I started working on a new series, I checked out a few bloggers I like to follow on a daily basis and found an interesting post. The title of the post suggested I was going to be reading about “Indie” authors. I’ve been published by small presses myself many times. I love “Indie” publishers and “Indie” authors and look forward to reading anything about them.

The blog post I’m talking about was a guest post on a publishing blog I frequent often. The regular author of the blog wrote a short introduction paragraph and I decided to skip it and move right into the guest blogger’s post to save time.

But I’d say about a quarter of the way into the guest post I stopped reading because things weren’t making sense. The author was talking about editing costs, cover artist costs, and a list of other expenses I didn’t expect to find in a blog post about “Indie” authors.

Then I started to wonder if I’d missed a few changes…whether or not it’s become common practice for “Indie” publishers to now charge authors fees. I’ve always been a little fanatical about this. The way publishing has always worked is that the publisher pays the author, with either an advance, a flat fee, or royalties. I’ve never paid a publisher a single cent to have any of my work published. I’ve never paid a literary agent a reading fee. For me, paying a publisher or paying a literary agent is an automatic red flag. And I stay far away from those types because I don’t think they are ethical.

I’ve been around for almost twenty years and I’ve seen a lot. I know for a fact there’s one small press out there that charges authors editing fees, and there have been literary agents charging reading fees since the beginning of time.

But as I continued to read this blog post something wasn’t right. The author of the post continued referring to herself as an “Indie” author, only it sounded more like she was talking about her experience as a self-published author.

So I went back and checked the blog owner’s introduction, which I should have done in the first place. And sure enough, the blog owner introduced the guest blogger as a self-published author, not an “Indie” author. And the post was about self-publishing, not small presses.

I’ve always been a staunch supporter of self-published authors. I admire them and I’ve supported a few right here on my blog. But as far as I’ve always known…and like I said I’ve been around for a long time…”Indie” publishers are considered small presses. And the distinction has always been crystal clear.

At first I thought maybe the guest blogger was so new she was using a term she shouldn’t have been using. But then I read the comment thread and found that I wasn’t the only one confused, especially with the title of the post. Others thought it was misleading, too. I found this on wiki. But the biggest surprise of all was that for every comment that said the guest blogger was misleading the readers, there was another comment defending the use of “Indie” when referring to a self-published author.

So I learned something knew today. Evidently, “Indie” is now being used to refer to self-published authors as well as small presses.

I’m not commenting with my opinion at all. I don’t think it makes a huge difference in the grand scheme for anyone. It might even catch on and become common practice. But I will say this. If I ever decide to self-publish anything (and I’ve thought about self-publishing very seriously in the past year), I’m going to proudly call myself a self-published author, not an “Indie” author. If I’m going to spend my hard earned money publishing my own book, I want full credit as a proud self-published author and I don’t want anyone thinking I was published by a small press. I also don’t want to mislead anyone either.