Monday, November 11, 2013

Wherein Mama Bitchstress Puts You in the Corner and Makes You Think About What You've Done

I traumatized a few people on Twitter last night because I ran into something horrific and had to share the pain.

It was a book on Kindle (of course), self-published (of course), in which the author was arguing with negative reviews. The book in question--fiction, and romance (or possibly erotic romance at that)--was written in all caps.

All caps.


Also, it was riddled with spelling errors (like "eys" for "eyes"), wrong word usage ("bare" for "bear"), had almost no paragraph breaks, and...did I mention it was IN ALL CAPS?

The author's defense of this is that a) she is a new author, b) these books are "in progress", c) they're written purely for enjoyment (although she is charging $2.99 a pop for them), d) she works at a pantry kitchen and some of the money made will be going to feed the homeless.

No. No. No.

Listen to Loki. He only wants what's best for you.

I bring this up because this is not an isolated incident. Talk to anyone and you'll hear stories of books being sold on Kindle that flat out say "this book is a draft/work in progress" and "I can't afford an editor" in the description.

Come. Come sit at my feet as I have something very important to tell you. Lean in close. I want you to remember this.


Readers should not be paying for the "privilege" to be your betas or your editors. "Writers" who do this are the reason we can't have nice things.

If I go to a restaurant and pay money for food, I don't expect to be given a plate of lumpy mashed potatoes and still-frozen vegetables with someone's spit in a glass in place of water because the chef is "still learning." If I pay money for a meal, I expect it to be, you know, COOKED and well-prepared.

If I pick up a movie I've paid money for, I don't expect to see the actors fubbing their lines, mics in the scene, and the director walking in the background, with everything over a blue screen and no special effects added. If I see a movie, I expect it to be, you know, FINISHED.

When you ask someone to shell out money for your product, you damn well need to be sure it's the best fucking product and worthy of that money. There are hundreds of thousands of books out there--readers have a lot of options. They pay our bills, they support this industry, and they deserve the very best.

KDP is not where you put something "purely for enjoyment". You put shit up on your website or blog if that's what it's for and don't charge money for it. KDP is not where you go to find beta readers. You go to online writer groups and try to find crit partners. KDP is not where you go to find an editor. You find online resources for self-publishers and hire someone.

"But Mama Bitchstress, I can't afford--"

Stop it.

If you CHOOSE to self-publish--and it is a choice, no one is holding a fucking gun to your head--then you spend the money to have someone edit the work and put out a decent cover (not slap some Papyrus text on a poorly sized stock photo you threw into MS Paint). If you're charging readers money for something, you damn well better give them something WORTHY of that money. If you cannot afford an editor, then don't self-publish. Period. Full stop. The end. We all know normal typos happen, especially in longer works, but three or four of those is a far cry from BOOKS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS WITH NO PARAGRAPH BREAKS OMG SOMEONE SHOOT ME.

If Mama Bitchstress catches you pulling this kind of shit, I am going to come in to your house and take your keyboard away and I won't give it back until you've had time to think about what you've done. If you argue, I am going to beat you to death with that keyboard, pull out a Ouija board, call your spirit up from hell--where people who self-publish without an editor go, and they have to read SLUSH, 24/7--to yell at you some more.

This isn't just about readers, though.

This is about you.

Presumably you want a career, yes? You want to be around ten years from now? Do you really want people to associate you with a book written in all caps?

Let me tell you, you will be judged on what you've written regardless of what stage you were at when you wrote it. I am. All the time. And I'm not even talking about something as absurd as I've mentioned above--I'm talking about books that aren't terribly written, and have been edited, and are still young. They're not as I'd write them now but I don't get to go back in time and alter scenes I wrote when I was a twenty-one-year-old kid. And neither will you.

Respect yourself. Respect readers. Don't be in such a fucking rush.

Also, readers, please stop buying books that admit to only being drafts or works in progress. Because even if you one-star and return it later, you're only encouraging these people.


  1. YES! SO MUCH YES! And I'm done with the caps...because I only cap responsibly.

  2. Lord have mercy.I laughed. I cried. It's a bizarre old world, ain't it?

  3. "Come. Come sit at my feet as I have something very important to tell you. Lean in close. I want you to remember this.


    Yes, and exactly. :D

  4. I love you, Mama Bitchstress.


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