After yet another dollop of disappointment this week, I thought long and hard about what being an Independent Author really means. Aided by this article from Stephen Hise at Indies Unlimited, I’ve realised that something is wrong. Something’s got to change. There needs to be a whole paradigy-whatsit-thingy. The box needs to be thought outside of, then torn to bits and intensely peed on. And I’ve found the answer!
As we all know, the brand is king – and our brand is way out of date. Think about it, people: “Self-publishing” – what does that mean? “I published myself,” as in, I stapled some paper to my rib-cage and put a photo on Amazon. And – with all due respect to my good friends at Indies Unlimited – the term “Independent Author” is just soooooo 2012.
Nope, the question I want to ask you is this: Are you a PUP?
PUP stands for Publicly Un-Published author. Your work is out there, for sale; you
wasted invested incalculable thousands of hours over your craft, your characters, your plot, and at least three editions of Word committed suicide due to your agonised sentence construction. You’ve blown enjoyed yet more thousands of hours on social networks, meeting hundreds of other writers whose sales are almost as hopeless as yours.
And you don’t sell diddly-squat. In fact, by comparison with your sales, diddly-squat is laughing at you from the bridge of his 400-foot luxury yacht.
In short, it’s exactly the same as being not-very-published at all. Yes, you did all the work, all the research, you told everyone you knew. You did the guest posts, the giveaways, the competitions. You got your book “out there”. Hell, a few readers actually made it past the synopsis and may have even written a nice review. But now, a year or two down the road, the painful truth has become inescapable: for the number of readers all your hard work has got you, you might have well just stuck with those sad little rejection slips from literary agents.
Well, fear not my fellow PUPs, for now we have the identity – we have the brand!
Not every self-publishing writer can be a PUP. Hugh Howey certainly isn’t a PUP. Even mid-list successes like Martin Crosbie aren’t PUPs. Selling books is not what PUPs do. No, to be a PUP, ongoing, abject failure must shadow you like a homeless person at the metro station. To be a PUP is to stare in hopeless, forlorn misery at your book’s sales rank as it spirals ever downwards to the kind of numbers that you need a degree in applied mathematics just to understand.
PUPs know that the world doesn’t know about their book. PUPs get it that no one listens to them. PUPs understand that the world doesn’t care for that sliver of their soul which infuses their work. And you know what? PUPs don’t care!
So, if you think you might qualify as a PUP (say, fewer than 20 sales over the last calendar year), then join me in some serious tail-wagging, a cute-but-vacant stare, and know the pleasure of being so excited that you pee where you stand when you hear the sound of a tin-opener.
Celebrate being a PUP – because PUPs know that the rest of the world won’t give a damn either way!
To complete this first, official acknowledgement of PUPs, the most insignificant and irrelevant movement the fiction-writing industry has ever seen, here is our official theme song. GO PUPS!
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