I started this blog post yesterday, originally with the intention of ranting until my face turned blue and my voice went hoarse. Then I stopped and took a breath, and for better or worse, listened to the advice of a friend.
“Pick your battles carefully,” he said. Once he told me that, I thought that I should just can the idea altogether because doing this will only start a flame war. Then I thought about it again and realized something else.
You know what? My blog. My opinion. My rules. More than once I’ve shared my opinions on unsavory subjects, and today is no different. I have a strong opinion that needs to be stated before the top of my head comes off. I apologize in advance if this gets ranty or preachy.
So the context: Yesterday, Ellora’s Cave Publishing announced that Farrah Abraham is their newest author. She also has a pumped-up release schedule of July 1, 2014. Pre-order pages are up already, and the author is on the cover of her own book.
My initial reaction to this was much the same as most of the people on their Facebook feed: “please tell me this is an April Fools joke!” But it persisted. Then it hit HuffPost. And then Jaid Black herself got on the thread and started defending the action. Then I realized, oh, shit…this is real!
My next reaction was this: “What the fuck is EC doing?”
I was immediately repulsed and offended (yes, offended!) by this decision, as I’d initially thought EC to be a prolific and respectable establishment. No, I don’t write the type of thing that they necessarily publish, but I have been a long-time reader of their stuff. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to be able to read a really juicy fantasy? I cut my erotic romance teeth on EC’s books. Their books are good.
Which is why it surprised me so much when this news hit. It shocked me to the point where I couldn’t even respond. I tried to rationalize it…I really did. I went and checked out her website and read the reviews of her other book to see what she was about. I was hoping, praying even, that she had a little bit of talent to back up this crazy announcement.
You know what I found? That this girl has absolutely no concept of the written word. Don’t believe me? Look at her website. Misspelled words, rampant bad grammar, pretentious attitude (not that that has anything at all to do with things…it just rubs me the wrong way). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re going to be a writer in the United States, you do have to at least know how the English language works. You can’t use run-on sentences, you have to use spell-check, and you should know basic things like the difference between “to”, “too”, and “two”. Typos happen – God knows I’ve had my fair share of flubs, but it’s painful to attempt to read some of the things on her website.
Let me stop here and clear something up – this has absolutely nothing to do with Miss Abraham as a real person. Do I enjoy her excessive lifestyle, the lies about a “leaked” sex tape that’s pretty much a professional video shoot with a real porn star, and the glorification of teen pregnancy? Hell no. I pity the poor girl because she thinks this is the way to validate herself. But it’s her life to live and those are her mistakes to make. I made the decision long ago not to follow along with the travesty that is her life because I don’t approve of it. But that’s not my point.
This discussion has to do with her “celebrity” status, however ill-gotten it may be. And that, kids, is the crux of my whole rant.
I don’t give a shit who you are. You should have to wait your turn and be judged on your talent and merit, just like everyone else. Being a “celebrity” should not under any circumstances grant you the ability to exploit a market you have no business entering.
There are few things I find as disgusting as “celebrity” status. I know, I know, that sounds really strange coming from someone who can technically be considered a “public figure”, but let’s face it, at this point in time, I’m a nobody from South Carolina with not enough time in my day and too many ideas in my head. Yes, I want to sell books for a living. Yes, I attend conventions and talk to people. But damn it, I work hard at what I do. I’m not in it for notoriety. I do what I do because I don’t want to do anything else. I love it.
I put my heart and soul into every single word that hits the page. And you know what? I can’t get my shit noticed because of people writing dinosaur porn and celebrities putting themselves on the covers of their books. And I’m not alone. There are thousands of amazingly talented authors out there who don’t get the recognition they deserve because people like this girl and Snooki are signing book deals. Hell, even Gillian Anderson has signed a book deal. Has she ever written anything before? No. That irritates the shit out of me. I’ve been writing my whole life and so have countless others I know, love, and respect. And we’re still the dregs of literary society.
If these people have the chops to pull it off, great. By all means, go for it. Write lots of books and be happy that all is right in the world.
BUT GET IN FUCKING LINE AND WAIT YOUR TURN.
Back to the point – the bad move.
Yes, Jaid Black has absolutely no qualms about admitting that she enjoys controversy, and that’s fine. Yesterday wasn’t the first time she said it, and I know it won’t be the last. I’m proud of her for sticking to her guns and believing what she’s doing is in the best interest of her press. I just hope that she realizes this isn’t the type of controversy she wants. She’s about to get more than she bargained for, and I can’t see it in any way, shape, or form being good for Ellora’s Cave.
She’s going to alienate her authors, some of them long-standing. She’s going to show preferential treatment to this one person – who, might I remind you, without her “celebrity” status would be listed as little more than a white-trash slut by today’s societal standards – while leaving her long-term, loyal authors in the dust. She has put this girl on a pedestal, far above the heads of the people who have built her empire for her.Rule number one of sustaining an empire – you don’t shit on the people you rely on to do the work for you.
EC is absolutely not going to show the same level of care and concern for every author it has, and when that happens those authors – some of which have built lives around EC – are going to get up and walk away. They’re going to be as insulted as I am on their behalf, and they’re only going to take that sort of neglectful abuse for so long. And chances are they’re not going to be quiet about it when that mass exodus occurs.
And then there are the readers. Part of the Facebook discussion last night came in the form of some pretty serious truth-telling. The ladies commenting on that thread are very right. Readers are going to be disgusted by the egocentric display of immaturity, and the caliber of person who will read this book is not going to want to pay $8 for it. The people who want to read it are going to wait until it’s up on the pirate sites and download it for free so they can trash it. It’s not going to go well at all.
Aside: Yes, I get that hate-reads are still reads and boost sales numbers when the books are purchased, but it’s a pretty poor business model, IMO.
And I hate all of it. I hate it for the authors and the readers, and honestly for the press as well. It’s a cheap, sell-out move and one that I’d expect from the big five (since they’ve already been doing it for years). I never thought I’d see the day when the quest for the almighty dollar would corrupt such a beautiful machine.
I hate to see something so wonderful potentially go down in flames over something that could easily have been avoided. If those in charge at EC were smart, they’d listen to the concerns of their authors and contemporaries and think twice before attempting to exploit such a cheap publicity avenue. I equate this to wartime propaganda… all show and no real substance. But unfortunately, “Keep Calm and Carry On” doesn’t apply in this situation
For EC’s sake and the sake of all of its authors, I hope I’m wrong on this one.