Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tootsie Pops and Other Suckers

P.T. Barnum is credited as saying (although he really didn't): There's a sucker born every minute. No matter what you are selling, there is someone who will buy it. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we've been hoodwinked, swindled, duped, wrapped up like Tootsie Pops and appropriately labeled - writers and readers alike.

Ever since the introduction of independent publishing, there has been a host of authors and readers bemoaning the price point issue, poor quality of writing, review manipulation, the deletion of reviews on Amazon, and the list goes on and on.

What's the dealio? Why is everyone complaining? Is this not the very dream we have wanted since infancy? To write in our own styles, our own poor grammar and punctuation, and have as many books as our eyes can feed on?

Through our own collective hopes and dreams we have created this mess. YES, as writers and readers, we have some responsibility and accountability to take in the whole fiasco. Gone are the days of the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the amazing mega-authors, and every aspect of the olden days of publishing. Why? Because we can.

As writers, instead of pushing forward with our dreams in the good old fashioned way of hard work and perseverence, we marched straight into the battlefield like good little soldiers. The odd thing is, the war isn't ours. It's not our fight. Yet, here we are pawns on the great chess board of the on-line ebook retailers. We willingly put on our Tootsie Pop wrappers, armed with our stories - good or bad - and began feeding at the holy grail of all publishdom, the internet. We don't profit from the endeavor, at least 99.9% of independent authors don't. What we do is make a profit for the online retailers, while scraping up crumbs from the cyberfloor.

Authors all over the internet are lamenting the decision to price their books at the low, low price of free or 99 cents. About the same price as a Tootsie Pop sucker. Or in some cases, a whole bag of Dum Dums. Oh yeah, if you are an author you totally get this. The bulk of what editors and agents call the slush pile has been moved off their desks and flooded into the marketplace. In theory, it seems to be an editor's / agent's dream come true. No more tasting flavors they don't like. However, in reality, it has caused problems for everyone - especially the readers.

In an effort to sell in quantity vs. selling quality, the readers have had to be enticed with more than just a chewy chocolatey center, no...this required a full on specially priced blow pop with the price points of free and 99 cents. Unfortunately, more readers are finding themselves with sticky ickiness stuck in their hair. What once promised hours of reading pleasure, now seems to be resulting in buyer's remorse. Amazon's 'See Inside' seems to prevent many of these catastrophic hair mishaps from happening, but not always. However, despite the great amount of empathy for readers, it is a free market. Buyer beware still applies. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. If the readers keep buying the 99 cent ebooks, and downloading the hordes of freebies they also bear some responsibility for the current market mayhem.

We make our own decisions when it comes to what we sell and what we buy. As authors, we will just have to pick our favorite flavor, package ourselves in our Tootsie Pop wrapper and hope for a Chief Shooting Star. The liklihood of any independent author rising to fame and glory is pretty slim. The sucker manufacturers will continue to reap the profits, and readers will continue to risk gum in their hair. That's the way the market works today. 

Sometimes our mothers had to say things to us that we did not want to hear, but she did it anyway. At least my mother did. One of the things she would say, not in these words, but the sentiment was the same: QUITURBITCHIN also known as Suck It Up.