I don't know if planets were in retrograde this past weekend, or someone slipped something into the drinking water of independent authors, but after reading too many disgruntled and disturbing posts on various Facebook groups I was sure that had happened.
It seems people were up in arms over a couple of things, most notably Smashwords recent edict about pulling certain "erotica" books from their site mandated by Paypal and arguments over whether giving away thousands of free books makes you a best-selling author.
I don't have any, nor plan to write any books about incest, rape or bestiality so the erotica dilemma doesn't affect me at all. And as far as the best-selling free author argument, I have my opinion, that no, it doesn't make you a "best-selling" author, but if someone wants to call themselves one, go ahead. I really don't care, and I wouldn't dream of bursting someone's bubble by calling them out on it.
Unfortunately there were lots of ugly comments, chest-thumping, grand poobahing, "expert" opinions, sniping of people's accomplishments and denigrating their opinions to the point that I thought these groups are no longer worth reading. It saddened me because when I first discovered them in my early self-publishing dream, I found so many authors were helpful. They taught me, held my hand and helped me cross the busy boulevard. Even if I only read the comments and didn't always jump in, still feeling insecure, I loved the camaraderie I saw and the support of each other.
Then, over the last couple of weeks, I started noticing the wind began blowing jealousy. It's like Amazon's KDP Select program has created a wedge between indies. The program has worked wonders for some writers, and for others, like me, not so much. Just because I'm not enamored of it, it shouldn't make me a "loser" and those who are, shouldn't think because they are the "winners" that their opinions of it are any more valuable than others. Everyone has their own experiences and what works for one person, might not work for another. However, reporting on the results helps everyone to see what "might" work. But if anyone thinks they're an expert at anything, they're insane.
So on Sunday I was all prepared to leave certain Facebook groups when something happened. Someone suggested that instead of just promoting our own work that day we should all promote another author's on our wall. The idea immediately took off and suddenly the group got back to where it should be. Authors helping authors.
It's the Wild West out there in indie publishing land. There's gold in dem dar hills and although everyone can grab a pan, not everyone is going to find the nuggets. As independent authors, we face enough obstacles without having to knock the pan out of each others' hands.