Self-Publishing: Just Another Prejudice

I’ve always kinda felt like any morbidly curious person who wanted to understand how it felt to face daily prejudice and discrimination should just self-publish a book and watch as they were wilted down into an incompetent, worthless, inferior by the rest of the publishing world.

Watch as the condescending headpats come in. “Oh sure, you’re a real author. Sure.”

Watch as every book blogger, contest, and community suddenly wants nothing to do with you.

Watch as every person you tell your book about gets a fixed smile as they pretend to encourage you.

Watch as the world openly points and laughs at you, belittles you, and writes entire dissertations about how you are inferior and disgusting and a blight on the publishing world.

It’s not the full experience of living with oppression, of course. It doesn’t extend into the workplace, where you’re lucky to get hired at all, where you’re often the first person let go. It doesn’t extend to your family or your community or your ability to walk down the fucking street, shop in a store without being deemed “suspicious.” It doesn’t extend to comedians dressing up like you and mocking and shaming your body. It doesn’t extend to casual slurs hurled at you with the expectation that you will quietly, docilely take them. It doesn’t extend into the courtroom, where your rapist will be patted on the head because now his life is ruined, not yours, even though everyone is writing disgusting articles detailing your rape and blaming you for getting separated from your friends.

For me, a marginalized person, self-publishing is just the cream on the already-sour cake. It’s one more thing holding me back from achieving my goals. You could argue that self-publishing is a choice and that being born gay, for instance, is not. But . . . sometimes I don’t feel as if the traditional publishing world left me any choice. For me, self-publishing was the only way to be heard.

For me, self-publishing means looking for two things book bloggers don’t want to read about. Most blogs will say “NO Self-pubs Here” while saying in the next breath “No LGBT Here — sorry, it’s not personal.”

As if discrimination were not a personal thing.

I get it. You don’t want to read about gay people. It’s still discrimination, and yes, it’s still homophobia. Doesn’t matter that you’ve got that one gay friend who approves of your behavior. You’re a homophobe. How hard is it to skip over gay sex in a book? Would it be so appalling to accidentally see a sentence about some pussies rubbing together? And WHY is it ALWAYS assumed that a book with queer characters is going to have sex in it?

Curious that there aren’t a plethora of gay people expressing disgust about having to read straight books. I mean, heterophobes exist, but the point is, most queer people have been conditioned to view straight people as human beings worth reading about who are not instantly disgusting. Straight people haven’t been conditioned to view us the same way.

In essence, you don’t want to read about me because you think I’m disgusting, and you’ve been conditioned to believe that thinking so is “normal.” But there’s a difference between a) simply not being interested in gay sex because you’re straight and b) thinking it’s gross and appalling and wrong because you’re straight. The person with the a) mindset will read gay books and just skip over the sex. The person with the b) mindset is a homophobe who will never read gay books and who has been taught to hate me and find me disgusting.

Yes, disgust is hatred. Would you be disgusted with your child and push them away by the forehead because you can’t stand the fact that they exist? That’s hatred.

And I’m sure there are plenty of book bloggers who don’t want to read about brown people either. But since being blatantly racist is no longer socially acceptable, and since everyone is now required to at least pretend to see people of color as relatable human beings, there are no book bloggers with signs that say “Go Home N” on them. Though I’m sure there are plenty of book bloggers who just don’t want to read about brown people. Again, because they can not relate to them. Because, again, they do not see them as human beings. 

This means that they will often accept a book with brown characters, then get into the book, realize the characters are brown, and stop reading it without a word, too ashamed to tell the poor, hopeful self-published author they can not relate to their characters (The Thieves of Nottica currently has several people who haven’t finished it for this reason, I suspect).

In short, being self-published is just another form of prejudice I have to deal with. And it is prejudice. Saying on your blog that you don’t read indie books because all indie authors are crap is kinda the same as saying you don’t read “black books” (there’s no such thing as a “black book,” by the way) because all “black books” are crap.

It’s a sweeping generalization. All you have to do is accept indie books, ask for a sample first, and if the book is SO riddled with typos and bad formatting, just don’t contact the person or ever answer them? They will assume you aren’t interested or didn’t get their email, and if they’re sane, they won’t keep bugging you. If they’re insane, just block them. Pretty simple.

Being a book blogger means you volunteered your spare time to review books, not good books. If you can’t handle having to trog through a slushpile of indie authors asking for reviews, then don’t be a book blogger. Because that’s what it’s about — reviewing books, good and bad, and volunteering to set aside time to do so.

Yeah, I understand why people won’t review self-published books. The overwhelming amount of requests, right? So? And . . .? Here’s a secret: you do not have to take every request you receive! 

Your excuse is that most requests are crap? Like traditional books are any better. Half the requests you get from publishers will be crap too, I guarantee. There’s a lot of shit being published traditionally, too.

Yeah, I stand by what I said. Shutting us out is just another form of discrimination. A lot of us are self-published because we are already discriminated against in other ways.

Thanks for making life just a little bit more unbearable.