The blog of D Kai Wilson-Viola

Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

When a good (wo)man goes to war

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When a good (wo)man goes to war

Jun 26, 2011 | Announcements, Personality, Writing | 12 comments

I’ve been pussyfooting around one of the major reasons that this merge is happening – happened now actually.

About six months ago, I started getting involved in a very specific area of the writing community.  That involvement was, in part because after closing five presses with Glass Block, I decided I’d had enough and was going to publish it on my own.  Couple that with the fact that the average writer that I know has no technical expertise to speak of and a lot of the questions I was seeing and hearing was specifically to do with blogging and I thought ‘what the hell‘.

The hell…?

Here I am four weeks in and not only am I arguing with people who don’t know their twitter feed from their RSS feed that spam is spam no matter where it’s stuck, I’m now in a special kind of WTH, because sometimes it really is kinda hellish and difficult to get people to see what they are doing to the community as a whole.  There are some *seriously* serial unprofessional people out there.  And before people say that it’s true of any community, yes it is – that’s not the point I’m making.  The point I’m making is there are some seriously, terrifyingly badly behaved people in the community who don’t deserve the benefits that the rest of us are securing for everyone.  And we don’t deserve to be tarred with the same ‘can’t even keep a tense straight, bloody hell is this what I’m in for if I buy indie books’  brush.

There, I’ve said it

I’ve been avoiding the rant about the level of unprofessionalism in the community for a while now, but having had the worst week to date with my community mates, and losing my site to an ill advised email from an author who shall remain nameless (The Indie Author Community was removed because, basically, someone complained and though I’d had a chat with my host, they pulled the plug and refunded me rather than waiting for my side).  Apparently threatening to sue the host works, well done.

The point being, I’ve decided that there are going to be more than just a few domain changes happening around here.  One of the biggest ones is that I’m going to stop – or at least *try* to stop worrying about ‘the crazies’.  The low barrier of entry to the Indie community isn’t anything to do with me, and while I’m being shoved into the limelight in the community far more than I enjoy, all I can do, personally is emulate the behaviour that I hold to be the kind that I’d expect others to show.

The other side to that though is that I have to go ‘to war’.  To war against perception.  Against everything that I revile in the community, and I have to lead by example all at the same time.   So.

From now on, I review books to my standards – no gentling the authors and giving them the chance to ‘update’ their stuff.  No working with ‘known’ troublemakers in the community (because contrary to popular belief, we moderators do chat together) and no bending my standards because I know the person ‘couldn’t afford’ an editor, or has just chosen to forego that aspect of publishing.  I totally appreciate the money reality for some is that they can’t afford an editor, but I hate to say it,  putting out more books isn’t going to change that you’re making the same mistakes and while readers don’t read the same way as ‘professional’ reviewers do, they still know a crap book when they read it.  And while there are some writers out there managing the same as ‘poor’ traditional presses that are pressed for time and get most of the mistakes out, I hate to break it to people, but the majority of indie writers aren’t *them*.
Readers might not be able to point at something and say ‘that’s the wrong tense’ or ‘thats a plural participle that’s dangling off a grammar cliff’ but they still know that it’s poorly constructed and doesn’t match the standard of publishing they are used to and that’s where many indie authors are shooting themselves in the foot – and the wallet ultimately.  How are you going to make enough money to afford an editor if your book is so horrible people return it for a refund for example?  Or worse, you put them off the indie community entirely, and the only non publisher stuff they load onto their readers are knitting patterns?

Next post?  The projects 🙂  I have to have artillery to go to war after all 😉


  1. John M. Dow

    I think that’s all fair comment and I don’t see any need for you to hold back. People are presumably writing novels in the hope that they’ll be read; by the general public as well as the literary industry.

    If these people are comfortable that their prose (and their egos) can stand up to the criticism of, say, The New York Times, then they don’t have to worry. If they’re not comfortable – well, it’s questionable whether they should be writing at all.

    • Kai

      I held back slightly. There is a post on this blog, on private called ‘f** the low barrier to entry and find yourself an trainee editor – it’s better than no editor at all’ but I think it’s got too much profanity in it to be published on my respectable (ahem) blog.

  2. Mary Ann Peden-Coviello

    Wow. I didn’t know any of that had happened with the server and all. I don’t know what it is that makes people so impossible to deal with. I’m really sorry it all fell onto your head.

    • Kai

      The community was about a week old. I’d soft launched it to some indie writers I used to mastermind with – and was just on the verge of merging ‘Writer’s Diner’ over too when it all kicked off. Dumb me, I also lost my new review blog, and coincidentally, the syndication deal cause that was all on the same hosting, so I’m more than a little narked right now. But I’ll fix it, it’s fine. I just merged 18 domains onto here so that’s all good. It hurt to delete the older blogs, but I need to do something 😉

  3. Donna K. Fitch

    The battle for professionalism is a tough one, but I respect you for wading into that battle. From what I can tell, you’re very well-armed for the task! Keep the faith and know that you have comrades in the trenches with you!

  4. Dannye Williamsen

    I totally understand and support your actions. This is the reason I changed the approach on Breakthrough Bookstore. As I stated on the new site, it is time that we “raise the bar.” It has to start somewhere in an organized fashion – whether it’s through multiple organizations or individuals. Those of us who are concerned about the self-publishing industry as a whole have to start setting the pace.

  5. Bonnie Rice

    I think the one problem with self-publishing is that any idiot can do it and more than a few do.

    • Kai

      Yeah – the low barrier of entry i alluded is a massive problem….

  6. Shaina Richmond

    Kai – I’m sorry to hear you’ve gone through all of this. I’ve been mostly absent from the community lately and caught signs that something was going on but I didn’t know it was this bad.

    You’ve done so much to help us! And you’ve asked for nothing in return. I know that just by catching a few crumbs from you, my own marketing has changed for the better and I’m eternally grateful. I’ve had to switch my focus back to writing and let some of my social media stuff drop temporarily. And some of it was due to frustrations I’ve dealt with in the community that I just didn’t need in addition to all the other crap I’ve dealt with in my personal life. One example: I Googled myself and found an author semi-trashing me and someone else on his blog because we had each posted his work and he had still made no sales. Like it’s my fault that nobody buys his book? I’ll open that ginormous can of worms later at my own blog.

    Anyway, I really just wanted to say that I appreciate you and the things you’ve done for us more than I can possibly communicate here. I’ve said it before, and I mean it – the Internet is a brighter, happier place for me because of you.

  7. Kai

    Feedback from one friend: “Kai, I just can’t take a risk on a book that I don’t know is going to be worth my time. It’s not the money that bothers me (I did, after all I paid for a 3g Kindle) – it’s the idea that I’m wasting my time when I could be sticking with safe, enjoyable options.”

  8. caitlin hicks

    Thank you for all the good work you do, Kai. Try to keep your head up, don’t let the crazies/bad energy slow you down. There’s enough out there without getting into a negative spiral, my hubby calls it, “pushing the bone around the plate.” Gotta go,

  9. Bex

    It’s deplorable that someone would have your site removed. I’m terribly sorry that happened. I too have been rather disturbed by the notion that we are all hack writers, with no semblance of real talent. It bothers me that a few people who missed the clear distinction of their/there/they’re make everyone else look bad. I applaud you for trying to show the world independent books are not a worthless waste of time. I’ve been trying to do the same.


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This is one of my harder blog posts to write, because though I talk – a lot – about the impact my mental health has on my day to day life, and has done for a while, I’m pretty sure that this is the bit no one really understands, causes the most…misunderstanding and I hope, because I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, they can’t relate to. If you didn’t know that psychosis was a feature of my mental health diagnosis, or didn’t understand if you’d heard it mentioned before now, please…don’t start changing your opinion of me. That’s the biggest reason those of us with serious mental health issues aren’t as open as society needs. Because we lose people.