Excerpt for The Ugly Truth About Self-Publishing by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Ugly Truth



Not another cookie-cutter contemporary romance

Educated Rants and Wild Guesses – Volume 3

Copyright © 2018 by Oliver Markus Malloy.

All rights reserved.

Published by

Becker and Malloy


Table of Contents






Dear Indie Author,

Forget everything you think you know about writing and self-publishing. Chances are it's complete bullshit.

Nowadays there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who dream of being a professional writer. And thanks to self-publishing and print-on-demand, there's nothing stopping you or anyone else from publishing whatever you want.

Even if it's complete crap.

The result? Every year, millions of shitty books get self-published. Books that should have never been published in the first place, because they are so bad, nobody wants to read them.

While you're reading this little book, one of two things is likely gonna happen: Either you totally hate this book, because you feel what I'm saying is stepping on your toes and you may feel personally attacked. Or you wholeheartedly agree with this book, because you're one of the few good indie authors who actually have talent.

But even if you hate every word I say, you probably should take the time to read this book anyway, because you'll learn a few very important things. I promise to keep it short.



I live in Los Angeles. LA is full of wannabe actors. Hundreds of thousands of people move here because they dream of one day becoming the next world famous movie star.

But out of those hundreds of thousands of people, only a tiny handful actually make it. How many superstars can you think of? Maybe a dozen?

And then there are second tier actors. They're not super famous, but you see their face pop up in a movie or TV show every now and then. Even though they're not stars, at least they make a living doing what they love.

How many second tier actors can you think of? Let's be generous and say about a hundred.

So a couple of hundred people were lucky enough to make it as actors in Hollywood. The rest of the hundreds of thousands of wannabe actors are still waiting tables at a restaurant, hoping for the big break that will never come.

Meanwhile they waste money on acting classes, headshots, a spiffy wardrobe, rent in one of the most expensive cities in the world, etc.

Most wannabe actors don't actually make any money acting. They spend money on trying to break into acting. There's a whole "support" industry making money off of these poor dreamers.

The same is happening in the self-publishing industry.

99% of self-published indie authors make no money from their books. They spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars, hoping that it will pay off some day, when they finally get discovered as the next superstar author.

Nowadays you constantly see ads for services you supposedly need if you want to make it as a writer.

Random folks claim to be professional book editors, and offer to "edit" your book for a couple of hundred bucks, even though they have no degree, no training, no experience, no qualifications, and no business editing anything.

They have never contributed to any book that was even remotely successful. They have never worked as editor at a real publishing company. Most of these so-called editors are failed wannabe writers themselves, who have given up on their own dream of one day becoming the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.

Now they make money spellchecking other wannabe writers' shitty books.

Sadly a lot of wannabe writers fall for this bullshit and end up spending a ton of money on something that they believe will make their book look professional, but in reality doesn't get them one inch closer to making it as a writer. You might as well flush that money down the toilet.

Then there are book cover designers who claim you need to have an exclusive cover for your book, with a picture taken by a professional photographer. With a professional model.

Complete bullshit.

Just like those so-called editors, most of these so-called cover designers are just failed wannabe writers themselves, who're trying to make a few bucks on the side, because their own books aren't selling. What does that tell you about their cover design skills?

Some failed wannabe writers call themselves personal assistants. They fail to sell their own books and now offer to do the same for your book. Weee! Who could say no to that?

And wannabe writers love to "hire" these unqualified personal assistants for a few bucks, because they think it sounds cool when they can say they have an assistant. It makes them feel like they're real writers: "Have your people call my people."

I have seen so many atrociously bad book covers that were supposedly made by "professional" designers, that look like some kid with a meme maker slapped it together, and then charged the gullible wannabe writer hundreds of dollars for it.

Same thing with the "professional models." Most of them are just folks who think they look good on Instagram. And a lot of these self-proclaimed "professional photographers" have no more qualifications to take pictures than you or I do.

The truth is, you don't need a photographer or a model. You can just download one of millions of pictures from stock photo websites, for about $20 or so. Sure, there's a small chance that some other wannabe writer might pick exactly the same picture you picked, and now your books have the same image on the cover. But it doesn't even matter. Most people will never see either one of these two books, never mind both. Virtually no one will ever even notice that two unknown books share the same image.

It's not like both books are on the New York Times Bestseller list at the same time. The reality is, your self-published book will most likely disappear among millions of other books, and never be seen by anyone, unless you personally send them a link to your book.

But regardless of their total lack of qualification, self-proclaimed cover designers with zero credentials charge you a couple of hundred dollars for an "exclusive" crappy cover that looks like a thousand other "exclusive" crappy covers.

If you're a fan of romance novels, you've probably noticed that most of their covers look the same. There are thousands of shitty self-published books with a shirtless guy on the cover.

Why? Because the wannabe writers and the wannabe cover designers think by emulating other books, it'll make their own crappy self-published book look legit: "My book looks just like a real book!"

That is exactly the wrong thing to do, if you want anyone to buy your book. No one has ever stood out by being a conformist. If you want people to notice your book, make it look different than all other books. Make it look unique.

I know, easier said than done. But that's the whole point: Self-publishing is not nearly as easy as people think it is. Sure, you can upload some crappy manuscript online and slap some run-of-the-mill cover on it. But that doesn't mean anyone wants to read it.

Chances are you will be the only one buying your own book.

The large companies that offer self-publishing services don't care whether you buy a copy of Dracula, a copy of Frankenstein, and a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey – or if you buy three "proof copies" of your own book. They still sold you three books.

And they know that wannabe writers are so proud of their own crappy book, they'll buy a whole bunch of copies to give to their friends and family. Wannabe writers are their best customers.

Basically the self-publishing industry's business model is based on selling you your own book. You're giving them money so that you can feel like a writer.

Some people feel that cheap immigrant labor is bringing down wages, which makes it impossible for Americans to earn a living. A lot of real writers feel the same way about the influx of millions of wannabe writers into their profession.

In the past, ten authors made a million bucks each. Now a million authors make ten bucks each. Is that better? No. That's not helping anyone. Your vanity is making it harder for real writers to feed their families.


Many rookies think: "If I write it, people will read it."

But that's not true. Most self-published books are kinda like dreams. Your dream was interesting to you, but when you tell others what you dreamed last night, their eyes glaze over, because your nightly hallucinations really aren't all that interesting to anyone else.

Chances are, even your friends and family aren't really interested in reading your self-published book. Your mom might read it to do you a favor, but if it wasn't written by her precious little angel, she probably couldn't care less about it.

Up until a few years ago, there were only about three million books on Amazon. Then people started self-publishing and the flood gates opened.

Nowadays over a million new books are published every year in the US alone. Most of them self-published, and most of them really bad. (That doesn't mean every self-published book is bad. But I'll get to that later.)

In one day more books get published than anyone can read in a life time.

Even if there were no more books published ever, there are still more books in existence today than anyone can read. And most of them suck. Good luck trying to find a good one. It's like finding a needle in a hay stack.

And books have to compete for the reader's attention with movies, TV, Netflix, the web, social media, apps, video games, and all sorts of other things. Some business experts call the era we live in today the attention economy, because everyone is trying to get your attention, to sell you stuff.

Even those people who still love to read books above all else only have so many hours of spare time. Even the most voracious bookworm can't read every book that's out there.

So readers have to be very selective. They don't want to waste their time on a shitty book. And after reading a bunch of really shitty self-published books, a lot of readers are hesitant to even take a chance on another self-published indie book.

So when you self-publish a book, not only are you competing with millions of other books, you're also at a disadvantage because your book is self-published, and a lot of readers are unwilling to even try your book, because they've had so many bad experiences.

And they already have a long list of books they want to read next, as soon as they're finished with the book they're reading right now.

Occasionally I read a few Facebook groups for wannabe writers, or indie authors as they like to call themselves. What strikes me is how utterly clueless most of them are. When I ask them: "Why would anyone read your book as opposed to some other book?" a lot of these rookies reply: "I'm not competing with other books. People can read my book and the other book."

But that's not how this works. Readers can only read so many books in a month. And unless you give them a really good reason to read your book, they'll prefer to read some other, more famous book. You're competing for the reader's attention. And if you don't even know that, you've already lost.

Most rookie wannabe authors spend a lot of money on self-publishing their book. They follow the advice of other wannabe authors. They pay an editor. They pay a cover designer. They pay "professional review services." They pay someone who claims they can promote the book. They might even pay some other failed wannabe author who claims to be a "publishing company" and then charges them hundreds or even thousands of dollars to simply upload their book on one of the free self-publishing platforms. Easy money.

And then, when all is said and done, and they spent a ton of money, these rookies wonder why their book isn't selling. They think they did everything right. They did all the things the other wannabe writers told them to do.

They didn't realize that the other wannabe writers don't sell any books either.

Before you take anyone's advice, check the sales rank of their own books. If their Amazon sales rank is somewhere around 700,000 or worse, they're barely selling one book per month, if even that. Why would you follow their advice? They have no idea what they're talking about. They're rookies pretending to be experts. It's almost like they're role playing. They're make-believe writers, the way kids are make-believe astronauts or pirates.

Its pretty annoying to real writers, when some unqualified, talent-free hack calls himself a writer, because it devalues the word. Millions of shitty self-published wannabe writers are giving real indie writers with real talent a bad name.

If everyone is suddenly a writer, then no one is. It feels like cultural appropriation. You're stealing their identity. You're appropriating the one thing that is sacred to real writers. You're not a writer. You like to write. There's a difference. To you it's just a hobby, and yet you decorate yourself with stolen feathers. You give yourself a title you haven't earned and don't deserve. Just like you can't wake up one day and pretend now you're a proctologist.

And the flood of shitty self-published hobby books are making it more and more difficult for real writers to make a living with their craft. Imagine if suddenly everyone claimed to be a lawyer. It would make it much harder to find a real lawyer, with actual legal expertise.

Wannabe writers talk a big game, about the book industry, as if they were veteran insiders. But in reality they have no more to do with the actual book industry than the Hollywood movie industry. They don't even know the fundamental basics.

On Facebook, there are hundreds of wannabe writer groups, each with tens of thousands of members. And they think it's a good idea to post their book link in these groups for wannabe writers.

You know what most of them have in common?

No one is buying their books.

They spend hours, running from group to group to group, posting their book link. Tens of thousands of them do that. So as soon as you post your book link, someone else posts their own book link above yours. But you didn't notice, because you just posted your link and immediately ran to the next group, to post your link there, too. You didn't even look at the previous book links before yours.

Well, the next wannabe writer does the same thing. He posts his book link above yours without even looking at yours, and then he runs to the next group. They all do that. Everyone blindly posts their own book link and runs to the next group. But your link disappears within just a few minutes, because so many other links get posted above yours. And none of these links get looked at or clicked on by anyone.

It's a gigantic, ridiculous waste of time. And yet, thousands of wannabe writers do it. Why? Because everyone else is doing it, too.

Never underestimate the stupidity of crowds.

And then there's the Sharing is Caring meme. Every Sunday, hundreds of wannabe writers post "Sharing is Caring" and encourage others to post their book links in the comments below.

Lots of wannabe writers run from Sharing post to Sharing post, to post their book link. Over and over and over, on post after post after post. It's idiotic, because just like in the writer groups, no one looks at the other links that were posted. Everyone just posts their own book link and runs to the next Sharing is Caring post, to post the book link again. Over and over and over, for hours.

The end result? Not only a giant waste of time, but it also turned your book link into spam. When you post the same link more than a few times, Facebook marks it as spam. You are literally destroying your own book link by participating in the Sharing is Caring idiocy.

And once Facebook marks your book link as spam, their algorythms make any post with your spam book link virtually invisible. People don't get notifications for your spam posts, or your posts become hidden altogether. And the cherry on top? Your account gets flagged as a spammer.

Facebook might disable your account altogether, or block your access for a few weeks, which is known as Facebook jail.

Wannabe writers constantly complain about getting sent to Facebook jail, because they don't understand that they're sabotaging themselves. They're shooting themselves in the foot by turning their own book links into spam.

And why are they doing something so incredibly dumb and counterproductive? Because everyone else is doing it.

Brilliant. Good thinking.


Doing what everyone else is doing, is who they are. They're herd animals. Conformists. That's why they suddenly think they're writers. Because tens of thousands of other people think they're writers. So let's all be indie authors now, you guys!

"We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people."

-Arthur Schopenhauer

It's like when a bunch of soccer moms decide to take a pottery class together: "Let's all be creative! So fun!"

Never mind that not everyone actually has the talent to be a writer.

They know so little about what writing actually is, they think it's just the act of putting a bunch of words on paper. They think if you type lots and lots of words, you're a writer.

That's why you constantly see them brag on Facebook about their word count: "I wrote 4,000 words today!" or "My book is already 60,000 words long!"

Seriously, they write stuff like that. And they think that makes them a writer!

Most wannabe writers are to the book industry what cows are to the meat industry.

Nobody gives a shit about your word count. It's not about how many words you wrote. It's about how good those words are.

"You know that I write slowly. This is mainly because I am never satisfied, until I have said as much as possible in a few words. And writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length."

-Carl Friedrich Gauss

"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Self-publishing a shitty book doesn't make you an author any more than singing in the shower makes you a rockstar or squeezing your pimple makes you a dermatologist.

These soccer moms aren't writers just because they type a lot of words. That just means they like to write. As a hobby. It's neither a calling nor a profession for them. To them it's just a fun thing to do, like tie-dying a T-shirt.

A while ago, I asked wannabe writers on Facebook:

"What makes you interesting?"

A bunch of them replied with things along the lines of: "Nothing." or "I don't think I'm interesting." or "I dunno."

Well, then make something up, before you bore us to death. What kind of a writer admits that they are boring and that they can't think of a single thing that's interesting about them?!

Here's a pro tip, free of charge: If you have absolutely nothing interesting to say, don't be a writer. Nobody cares about anything you write, if even you don't find yourself interesting.

Have you traveled the globe? Have you been places, done things and experienced the world? Have you lived a colorful, unique life? If not, you have nothing of value to contribute to humanity. Everything you write is not based on real world experience but recycled second hand information.

"Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."

-Albert Einstein

You can't be a writer if you haven't done shit and experienced nothing interesting. They say write what you know. If you know nothing about life, you can't be a good writer. Good writing is based on who you are as a person. Every good book is a part of who you are. Every good writer reveals his true self in his books. If there is nothing interesting to reveal, go be an accountant or something. You have no business being a writer.

"The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees."

-Arthur Schopenhauer

Just retelling Fifty Shades or some other story in your own words, after you read it in someone else's book, or saw it on TV, is not writing.

Painters create art with colors. Writers create art with words.

But what is art? Some people falsely believe that anything anyone makes with their hands is art. Look at the picture my 5-year-old drew! It's art!

No, it's not art. It's the scribblings of a toddler. If that is art, then nothing is art.

Words not only have meaning, they also separate one thing from another. Imagine if we called every color green. Then how would you explain the difference between yellow and blue, if they're both called green?

The reason why yellow is called yellow and not blue, is because yellow and blue are two different colors.

And if the scribblings of a toddler are called "art" just like the Mona Lisa, then the word art becomes meaningless.

There is a difference between the Mona Lisa, and what you draw on a napkin when you're drunk.

The difference? Talent.

The difference between some random toddler scribbling some crappy drawing and Leonardo da Vinci is that Leonardo has talent. Someone with no talent is not the same as someone with talent.

If someone with talent creates something, it's art. When someone with no talent creates something, it's crap.

If you want to be a good writer, you need to be a talented artist. And artists are unique and stand out. Artists are the opposite of conformists. So by doing what everyone else is doing, you're proving your mediocrity, and your lack of artistic uniqueness. When you follow everyone else's example, you are by definition not an artist. You're a copy cat.

That's why your crappy clone of Fifty Shades is not art. You're just imitating someone else... just like tens of thousands of other wannabe writers. You're part of a herd of unthinking, unoriginal followers, without that all-important spark of talent and uniqueness that would make your words art.

If you've decided to write a book because everyone else is writing a book, you're not a writer. You're a soccer mom or a Walmart cashier, who likes to write as a hobby.

The same thing happened a few years ago, when free blogging software became widely available. Suddenly everyone thought they were a blogger. Even if they had nothing interesting to say, and no one read their blog.

And before every numbnut thought they were bloggers, everyone thought they needed a website.

Remember the good old days? When the Internet was brand new, and people just aimlessly surfed around the web for hours with their 56k AOL connections, searching for funny pictures of cheeseburger-loving cats and free gimp porn. Finding good gimp porn wasn't easy in those cold days, before Google and Pornhub made our lives worth living.

Back then, every website served an actual purpose. You could buy socks on Sears.com, laugh at Funny.com, read the latest news on CNN.com, or puke all over Rotten.com. Those pioneering days actually deserved the name Information Age.

But then random civilians made their own shitty little Tripod pages, because they felt the need to tell the whole world about their grandma's secret cookie recipe (The secret ingredient is butter. Shhh!) or post awkward photos of their last family reunion. (Check out uncle Billy's new glass eye! It almost looks real!)

Those personal pages that served no actual purpose were called vanity sites back then. Professional web designers mocked these cookie-recipe and family-album vanity sites, because they were of no interest to anyone other than the poster's immediate friends and family.

So why post this crap for the whole world to see? Professional web developers were sure these vanity sites were just a fluke, a temporary nuisance, and sooner or later they would disappear.

But the opposite happened. The whole Internet turned into a giant vanity site. Thanks to social media and web 2.0 (sites based entirely on user-created content), the Internet went from being the greatest collection of human knowledge the world had ever seen, to being the greatest garbage dump of vapid trivialities and pointless vanity the world has ever seen.

And the same thing is happening to books right now. Books used to be written by humanity's greatest thinkers, or at least our greatest entertainers. Now every halfwit can publish his verbal diarrhea. And millions of shitty, mediocre, uninspired, trite books are drowning out mankind's greatest literary accomplishments.

Nobody wants to read that crap. That's why your books aren't selling.

Things are so bad that wannabe authors literally have to beg and bribe others to read and review their book. Think about that for a minute. Instead of getting paid for writing a book, they have to pay others to read it!

And yet, almost everyone you meet along your self-publishing journey will encourage you to write. Keep writing! Keep writing!

Not because they honestly believe you're a good writer, or you're writing an interesting book, but because they profit off of you.

You're not the butcher, selling sausages. You're the cow, pre-sausage.

They're selling you all kinds of useless services that you supposedly need to make your book a success. By the time you finally find out they were just bullshitting you, it's already too late. They already got you to fork over a bunch of money. None of them will give you an honest opinion of your book or your talent as a writer, because they make money every time you self-publish another book, no matter how shitty it is.

They're like a sales clerk in a department store who tells the fat old lady that she looks great in that skimpy dress, even if she doesn't, simply to sell her the dress.

And the other wannabe writers keep encouraging you, because they want you to encourage them in return. Because we're all being creative! Yayy! Next week let's all go volunteer at the animal shelter and pretend we're professional animal trainers!

They'll offer to leave your book a glowing 5 star review, if you promise to do the same for their crappy book.

There are countless books out there with exactly 20 glowing 5 star reviews, because these wannabe writers think 20 reviews is a magic number. Trust me, it's not. Check the sales rank of those books and you'll notice that they're still not selling.

Anyone who has looked at a few self-published books knows by now not to trust those first 20 glowing 5 star reviews. Everyone knows that they're fake reviews from other wannabe writers who asked you to do the same for their book in return. That's why Amazon keeps deleting these fake reviews.

Among rookie wannabe writers, honest critique is actually considered bad form.

They act like you're a horrible person if you tell them that their book isn't all that great. And I agree that bad reviews can be heartbreaking. It can really hurt your feelings, on a deeply personal level. Especially if you're not making any money with your book, and all you get out of it is a sense of validation.

But the result of this fake positive feedback loop is that wannabe writers live in a bubble where they're never exposed to an honest opinion. Everyone keeps telling them they're doing a great job and their book is awesome and keep writing and blah blah blah. That's why most bad writers don't even know how bad they are, until they finally get crushed by the first real review from a random reader.

Everyone thinks they are above average, which is statistically impossible. There have to be below average writers. But nobody sees themselves that way. That means there are a whole lot of bad writers out there, who don't even know it.

Thanks to social media, reality TV, and YouTube vloggers, every boring twit now thinks he's interesting somehow and deserves his 15 minutes of fame: "If people like Kim Kardashian can be famous for absolutely nothing, then I can too!"

If the world wants to hear every idiotic word out of Kim Kardashian's mouth, surely the world needs every moronic status update I post on my Facebook page: "I pooped today! Yayy!"

You post boring pictures of your boring life, and some of your 5000 fake Facebook friends click like, so they'll get likes from you in return the next time they post something nobody cares about, like a picture of their dinner.

Pro tip: If you can't think of anything more interesting to post on social media than a picture of your cup of coffee, you are boring and you have nothing interesting to say.

I think future generations are going to look back at our time period and call this the Age of Narcissism.

Ten short years ago, nobody had ever heard of a selfie. But today every decent cell phone has not one but two cameras, so you can take idiotic duck face pictures. And don't forget the billion dollar selfie-stick industry. Capitalism has found a whole new way to turn our vanity into profit.

Sure, people have always been vain. Can you imagine what it was like when some guy invented the first mirror? Maidens probably spent all day and night just staring at their own reflection in the dim candle light of their drafty castle tower, back when the first mirrors were cutting edge technology.

And if you've ever been to an old-timey museum, you've seen those silly portrait paintings that vain noblemen of by-gone eras used to plaster all over the walls of their pompous mansions.

Today, thanks to social media, people can take pointless pictures and pollute the world with their dumb shit faster than ever before. Progress!

Everyone thinks they're entitled to their 15 minutes of fame. And it's that narcissism that makes people, who have no business writing a book, think they can write a book.

People who have absolutely nothing interesting or unique to say think writing a book will make them interesting. They think when they tell people "I'm a writer" it sounds cooler than if they say "I clean houses for a living."

But if you have nothing unique to say, your books are not going to be interesting. People are only going to read your books, if they find you and what you have to say interesting. That's pretty basic stuff.

Conformists are boring. Artists are interesting. That's the difference between a wannabe writer and a real writer.


Like I said, not every self-published indie author is bad. There actually are some very good ones. But they're the exception, not the rule.

Like with everything else, talent is rare. Just because you know how to ice skate without falling on your ass, doesn't mean you're an olympic speed skater.

Shakespeare was one in a million. That makes you pretty unique, if there's only one million people.

But when there's a hundred million people, then being one in a million means there are 100 people just as talented as you.

In a country of 300 million people, there are 300 people like you. And in a world of seven billion people, you're competing with 7000 other people who are every bit as good as you. I wonder if Shakespeare would have gotten famous if he lived today, and had to compete with 7000 other Shakespeares.

Hundreds of years ago, the population was a lot smaller. That made it easier for a unique person to stand out from the bland crowd. But today there are hundreds of thousands of writers. To stand out among so much competition, it's simply not enough anymore to be one in a million.

You may be an amazingly talented writer, and still not get your book published as a worldwide bestseller, because there are so many other amazingly talented Shakespeares out there, and there's just not enough room for everyone. No matter how good you are, the world simply doesn't need yet another Shakespeare. The world will go on spinning just fine without you. That's sad and unfair, but that's just the reality of today's overcrowded, oversaturated world.

"99 out of 100 geniuses perish without being discovered."

-Rudolf Diesel

But let's be honest: You're probably not the next Shakespeare or Hemingway or Steinbeck anyway. You're probably a housewife who likes to read smutty "romance" books, and you realized that Fifty Shades of Grey was so poorly written, so amateurish, that even you could write a book like Fifty Shades.

So after you picked up your children from soccer practice and made dinner, you hastily typed away on your old laptop, and basically retold Fifty Shades in your own words, the way kids retell a movie they just watched. You changed the names and some details, but you basically retold the same stupid story. Just like a million other wannabe writers.

Scroll through a list of books online, and you will find page after page after page of book covers with shirtless guys and titles that scream BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE! or ALPHA-MALE PARANORMAL WEREWOLF ROMANCE! or something equally ridiculous. All these shitty books look like clones of each other. There's not an original thought in sight.

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But if there's a shirtless guy on your cover, or your title includes the words billionaire, alpha-male, werewolf or werebear, your "book" is probably a pile of unimaginative, derivative drivel devoid of a single original thought. Yet another poorly written romance clone the world didn't need.

Nowadays, there are not just thousands of Shakespeares out there, but also millions of mediocre or absolutely terrible "authors" who self-publish a neverending flood of garbage thanks to the invention of ebooks and print-on-demand.

Just because you know the alphabet doesn't mean you're a writer. And just because you can write down a bunch of sentences doesn't mean you're an author.

You could literally self-publish a book that contains no text except the word "tomato" repeated a thousand times in a row. Would that make you a writer? Of course not.

Real writers have original thoughts. They bring something new to the table. They don't write the same story that has already been told by a thousand other people. They enrich the world with new thoughts that have value. Thoughts that force you to see something new, or to see something in a new light. Real writers make you think about what you just read.

Wannabe writers love to pretend that they are veteran book industry insiders. And they spout off absolute bullshit with such sincerity, it almost sounds true.

A lot of them like to make-believe that they are Young Adult authors. The funny thing is, they don't even know what the label Young Adult actually means.

They think it means the protagonists in the book are teenagers. It doesn't matter what the book is about, as long as the protagonists are teenagers, it's a YA book.

By that definition, my book Bad Choices Make Good Stories, in all its hyper-realistic, uncensored and extremely explicit glory, would be a Young Adult book, because the protagonist is a teenage hacker.

If you've read it, you know how absurd that is.

The reality is, and this will shock you if you are a clueless wannabe writer, the YA label is the equivalent of the PG13 label in the movie industry.

YA is the label the real book industry uses to designate books that are written for children between 12 and 18 years old.

I know. You can't even.

I'm gonna give you a minute.

Better? Ok, so, yeah, YA doesn't mean "any book where the protagonist is a teenager." YA means it's a book that was written for the simpler minds of 12 to 18 old kids. Regardless of the topic. There are YA books about every imaginable topic. Just like grown up books. So, what makes YA books different from grown up books? YA books are written for the minds of children.

YA books are easier to read (and easier to write) than grown up books, because they require less intellectual maturity than grown up books.

That's one of the problems with today's flood of crappy, uninspired books. Particularly Young Adult books. Most of them have no intellectual value. There's nothing in there that will grow your mind. No new information that you haven't already read better somewhere else. There's no meat and potatoes for your brain in most of the shit that gets self-published these days.

Calling a book "Young Adult" is just a fancy way of saying the book is censored. People used to say they like to read books about romance, true crime, comedy, horror or science fiction. But these days people simply say they like to read "Young Adult" books. As if that were a topic. But that's the thing: Young Adult is not a topic, it's a level of censorship. Saying "I like Young Adult books" is just another way of saying "I like books that have been dumbed down for children. I like books with no big words and no difficult abstract concepts. Nothing that will strain my brain."

"The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience."

-Arthur Schopenhauer

But don't take my word for it. Look it up in the dictionary. Or google it. Google will send you to Wikipedia. Google always sends people to Wikipedia when they look up what words mean. You know why? Wikipedia is trustworthy. Sure, occasionally there might be a mistake. Just like in any other dictionary. But Wikipedia is almost always right.

So, what does the Wikipedia dictionary have to say about Young Adult books?

"Young adult fiction (YA) is a category of fiction published for readers in their youth. YA books are catered towards children between 12 to 18 years old."


In case you're one of those sheepish idiots who think nothing on Wikipedia is true, because that's what everyone else says, here's another dictionary definition for you:

"young adult

an age group including persons from about 12 years to about 18 years old: used as a reader category in libraries, book publishing, etc."

-Webster's New World College Dictionary

If that comes as a surprise to you, you are absolutely clueless about the actual book industry, as opposed to your circle of role playing wannabe writer friends on Facebook.

Have you ever heard of the National Writers Union? If you were a real writer, you would have.

People like to brag that they used to start reading at an early age, as if that were a badge of honor, a sign of intelligence. Nobody brags about when they started to watch TV. But books are being dumbed down so much these days, it's really not a sign of great intelligence when you're a grown up and you struggle your way through Green Eggs and Ham.

Nowadays, so many unbelievably shitty books are being self-published, it's really nothing to be proud of to read that garbage. It doesn't make you sound smart when you brag about reading 65 shitty billionaire cookie-cutter romance novels in a row last year.

Young Adult is simply a censorship label, like PG13. Now imagine if someone said "My favorite movies are PG13 movies!" That would be a little odd, no? Like, why is the level of censorship of a movie so important to you that you need to make it a point to watch only PG13 movies, regardless of what they're about? Shouldn't the topic or the quality of the movie be more important than its level of censorship?

Or to put it another way: I would never describe Lord of The Rings as a YA book (or a PG13 movie.) I would describe it as a fantasy novel, or a hero's quest. The Catcher in the Rye is not a YA book either. It's a coming-of-age novel.

Another hilariously common misconception among wannabe writers is that erotica and porn are two different things.

Supposedly porn is smurt. Dirty and gross. But erotica is literature. Supposedly porn doesn't have a plot. It's just sex. But erotica has a story line.

Complete bullshit. There are lots and lots of pornos with elaborate plots, like the movie Pirates XXX.

So why do they believe that erotica and porn are two different things? Because that's what all the other rookie wannabe writers keep saying, so it must be true. They're all just repeating the uninformed, clueless bullshit they hear in their little echo chamber.

It also has to do with the fact that Americans don't know a lot about the outside world. They don't know anything about foreign languages or history. They have no idea that the word erotica is thousands of years old, and has always meant one thing: sexually explicit material. Then, not so long ago, we started to use a more modern word for sexually explicit material: porn. Language is fluid.

But porn and erotica mean literally, exactly, precisely the same thing. Both mean sexually explicit material. The name erotica is just a lot older than the name porn.

Google Ancient Roman Erotica. Or Ancient Greek Erotica. Or Ancient Egyptian Erotica. Then click on the Google button for image results. Take a look at those results. It's hardcore porn. Thousands of years old. Sexually explicit material. Ancient porn. And what word is used to describe old porn? Erotica.

Most wannabe erotica authors know nothing about any of that. They know nothing about the thousand-year history of erotica prior to Fifty Shades. They never even heard the word erotica before Fifty Shades.

So now they think somehow Fifty Shades is a new genre, called erotica. They have no idea that erotica has always existed, for thousands of years, and it was always the name for sexually explicit material, or in a more modern term, porn.

They think porn is bad, so they don't want to be seen as mere porn peddlers. They want to make-believe that they're real authors. So they swear that erotica and porn are two different things, and that they write artsy fartsy erotica. Sure, it's sexually explicit material, but noooo don't call it porn!


And because tens of thousands of wannabe writers believe that, you probably believe it too.

But when you search for erotica on Thesaurus.com, guess what? The #1 synonym for erotica is porn. And the description for erotica and for porn are identical.

Another thing I see them say on Facebook is that you must always write: Write write write!

Here's a better idea: Only write when you actually have something original to say. Until then, don't write. In the meantime: Think think think!

Some wannabe authors like to go to homemade author conventions. By homemade I mean it's not a big, legit convention. It's a small get-together, arranged by a wannabe writer. And then a couple of other wannabe writers come, too. Then they all sit in a room with a couple of their books that nobody wants to read and hope to sell a copy or two. Usually to each other.

Sometimes they travel hundreds of miles to these wannabe conventions. Supposedly to sell books. But the handful of books they sell, if they even sell any, don't turn a profit. The travel expenses, and printing flyers, promotional posters, table stands or banners, cost far more than the couple of bucks they make from selling a few copies to each other.

It's almost like a bake sale, where everyone brings a homemade pie.

Some of them even give away free gifts with their books. Like bookmarks or lip gloss with their name printed on it. Seriously. They call it bling. Apparently they believe this will make people want to read their book.

I think they're simply doing all that to role play and make-believe that they're real authors: "I have an assistant! And I go to author conventions! I'm a real writer! Even if nobody wants to read my books unless I beg or pay them."

They like to believe it's an investment in their future career. Just like wannabe actors in Hollywood, spending a ton of money because they want to believe it brings them closer to their dream.

Well, there you have it. The ugly truth about the self-publishing dream.

You might be angry with me now for writing these things. Or grateful. I guess it depends on whether you're a real writer or just a clueless wannabe.

But even if you are an angry clueless wannabe, reading this little book might save you a lot of money and heartache. Maybe writing just isn't your thing after all. There's no shame in that. Maybe you're really good at karaoke instead. Or scrapbooking.

I think a lot of wannabe authors would have thought twice about spending so much money on self-publishing and promoting a shitty book, if they had known that it's shitty, and they're not gonna sell any copies because no one wants to read it.

If you're a real writer: Good luck to you. It's tough out there. But you know that already.


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(Pages 1-42 show above.)