News flash: One size still not fitting all!

I've been reading some things that are very dogmatic about how you MUST go about self-publishing and how you're an IDIOT if you do it some other way. And hey, I also get frustrated when I see writers who I don't think are valuing their work properly.

But the fact of the matter is, we are all individuals with different goals, who are motivated by different things.

If you look at the advice I gave Crabby McSlacker, for example, you'll notice that there's a lot of "Well, I did this, but you may want to do that" in there. Is that because I think I made a bunch of horrible mistakes? No, it's because, being a fan of Cranky Fitness, I know that Crabby is very different from me. I just want to write books--that's it, from here on out, that's what I'm doing. Crabby has another career, plus a very strong interest in health and fitness that she's built into at least a half-career at this point. So the math around things like, "Should I hire someone to lay this out, or should I do it myself?" is going to be different for her. It would be really silly of me to go foaming at the mouth because she hired someone to do something that I did myself (as long as she's not getting totally ripped off, of course), or because she put her book up only on Amazon because she didn't want to figure out Smashwords, or because she decided to give her book away for free, or whatever. Her life is not my life, and she's going to make different decisions.

People have different goals and are motivated by very, VERY different things. I don't think it's appropriate to judge those goals and motivations by any standard other than, "Are they mine?" I don't think it's sensible to heap scorn on people who differ from you, nor do I think it's sensible to slavishly copy the career moves of someone whose goals may be completely unlike your own. John Locke is quite happy to make 35 cents per book sold--he knows that he could easily make more money, and he doesn't care. If that keeps him motivated as a writer without causing him serious money problems, I say more power to him. But someone who is relying on book sales to pay the rent or is simply more motivated by money should probably investigate other pricing strategies.

I learned pretty early on not to be too judgmental about what motivates people. This happened because in my first publishing job, I wound up ghosting for a Notable Academic. Said Notable Academic was (to my mind) an utter sell-out: We never met, and he didn't even know who was ghosting for him--he thanked someone else for their "help" in the introduction to "his" book (to my knowledge, he actually did write the introduction).

Of course I had nothing but contempt for this Notable Academic! God, what a money-grubbing creep! Why was he so greedy? And then later on I found out why: Notable Academic has a seriously handicapped child, who will always require very expensive medical care.


That was about when I got off my high horse about being someone who simply isn't that motivated by money. And I'm not: I've learned the hard way that if I'm in a miserable situation and have lots of money, I'm still extremely miserable and the money doesn't help at all. Really, as long as I'm housed and fed and have enough shoes, I'm happy. (Not that I don't find money damned interesting to write about, mostly because people have such neuroses about it. Money = survival, and that kicks off all kinds of things in our primal brains.) 

The fact that money doesn't motivate me doesn't mean that I can't be motivated as a writer (indeed, if I was more motivated by money, I never would have started writing--I would have gone to law school). It also doesn't mean that the things that do motivate me (feeling like I'm producing good-quality work, feeling like people appreciate said work) are somehow wrong or bad or stupid. They're just different from the things that might motivate someone else.

Of course it bothers me when I feel like an author is being taken advantage of or is making decisions out of ignorance--I really, really doubt that Michael Chabon carefully investigated the world of e-publishing before deciding to sign away half his profits. (To Open Road. Not to a charity or something.) But I'm a total agnostic when it comes to what motivates you or what your goals are--whatever works, works. As long as you're being realistic, honest with yourself, and mindful of your real goals, then knock yourself out. This world is big enough for all kinds of writers.