It's been fascinating to watch the uneasy boundaries shift and sway on every frontier of the Ebook Revolution. The uninformed opinions, the narrow-minded perceptions inflated to universal wishes, the selective experiences designed to affirm a certain outcome of what the future will look like...
No, this isn't a publishing industry rant. At this point, the industry deserves sympathy, not vitriol.
I am talking about the "experienced" writers who formerly used their platform to warn against all the perils of traditional publishing and have suddenly become self-publishing experts. You know, the ones who used to sit on the Old Fart Writing Convention panel and stay stupid stuff like "The money always flows toward the writer" while they themselves gave 85 percent to a publisher and an additional 15 percent to an agent. That's like having your mouth at the bottom crack at the far end of the trough, even though it was the only meal in town.
Those writers were among the first to frown at self-publishing. Indeed, another Old Fart panel staple was "Never self-publish." Then, when self-published writers were kicking their asses in sales, and the Kindle catapulted unknown writers over those who had been laboring on contract work for decades, they blinked and looked around, wondering why nobody was sitting before the Old Fart panel anymore.
The reason was because everyone was across the hall in the "How to Self-Publish" panel. The Old Farts, seeing their panel had been abandoned, went to the doorway to peek in. No, they couldn't enter, because this was turf they didn't rule. Entering would be admitting they were out of date and their time maybe had passed. Worse, that their advice was not only worthless, it was actually harmful.
With time, the Old Farts went in and sat in the back room of Self-Publishing, and soon worked their way up to the front seats. By making comparative judgments based on their "experience" ("Blah blah self-publishing should work like THIS because THIS is how publishing used to work. You need to go from A to B to C."), soon the Old Farts were back on the panel. After so many decades, it was assumed they had knowledge. However, it was like Copernicus trying to explain Hawking's theories, something based on an entirely different set of rules that were still inventing themselves.
Unfortunately for anyone who takes Old Fart advice, publishing books hasn't gone from A to B to C. It jumped to D-and-a-half. The writers who had no traditional publishing experience started at D and moved ahead of all the "experienced" writers. The Old Farts are still hanging on to B because it more closely links them to A, an era where A mattered and they mattered. The writers at D-and-a-half don't have any use for A advice, and the newer D writers who listen to A advice tend to move back to B or C.
Heck, I'm kind of an Old Fart myself at this point, even though I'm not enough of one to star on an Old Fart Writing Convention panel. And I am probably wrong about what's going to happen with ebooks and writers. But I'm equally sure the other Old Farts are probably wrong. If it comes down to it, I'm going to trust my D experience and tune out A, B, and C.
I guess the only advice this Old Fart has to offer today is to not listen to Old Farts. Let them serve you drinks in the hospitality suite, nod at their war stories, and then go to back to your room and create E, F, and G.