Terrible Career Advice

I listen to a fair number of writing podcasts that cover the business end of things. I never know when some random interview might offer up a relevant nugget of information that has direct bearing on my own endeavours. People like Joanna Penn, the folks at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, and the lamentably defunct Self-Publishing Roundtable have uploaded many hundreds of hours of worthwhile material that serve as a guide for do-it-yourself authors.

As I’ve said, probably too often, the publishing industry has changed, and I’ve been seeing a real deficit in professionalism from the old guard. Often, it’s the bigger, established publishing houses that are the worst offenders. They do increasingly less to promote their stable of writers, while the options for new authors to bootstrap their way to a readership increase. My decision to go it alone remains firm.

Nevertheless, I don’t like to live in an echo chamber, listening to confirmation bias. Sometimes, a suggested video will cross my feed that provides another viewpoint to counter an argument I’m already sold on. No stranger to self-doubt, I like to remain open, asking myself if I made the right call.

One recent video I saw offered a bunch of reasons to not self-publish—to stick it out on the slush pile, go pro with the establishment press, avoid the solo-act fad. It was a well-produced video, from a YouTuber who was slick, presented himself well, and spoke with authority.

And he was completely full of shit.

The nitty-gritty details of why I disagreed with each of his points is academic and not likely to be of much interest to casual readers. But the way I knew he was full of shit may be more generally enlightening: I looked him up.

Simple, I know, but effective. I do this all the time when I listen to writer interviews. If they sound like an authority, I want to confirm they are an authority. So I check their credits and sales.

Sure enough, this guy had an Amazon author page, complete with photo and bio. Bearing in mind that his video, advising other writers to keep banging their heads against the wall of mainstream publishers, was uploaded to YouTube two years ago, I was eager to see how many books he’d since come out with, and how well they were doing.

He had one credit. One. And it was for a short story in an anthology. Hilariously, it was a collection I was also in, from 2015. And I remember what they were paying. It wasn’t the sort of money careers are made of.

In the two years that have passed between his video upload and now, he could have learned the ropes of how to manage his own little publishing empire. I did in that same time frame. And whatever novels he’s shopping around to indifferent publishers—who can sometimes take a year or more to reply to a single submission—could have been edited, designed, and printed for a growing readership by now.

I hope he’s doing well as a video blogger giving bad advice, because he’s not an author.