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August 29, 2012

“D” is For Dare—A Challenge to Sue Grafton

An Indie Author’s Response to Sue Grafton

I know I shouldn’t do this. I know it’s like responding to a bad review…but I couldn’t help myself. Sue Grafton pissed me off.

Sue Grafton, bestselling mystery author, has been in the headlines recently, but not for her books. This time it’s for her mouth, or rather, the words that came out of it. It’s not often you see an accomplished artist attack an entire community of artists, but that didn’t stop Sue Grafton. Here is a link to the interview she did with Leslea Tash

Below are a few of Ms. Grafton’s statements from that interview:

Sue Grafton: “Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.”

Really, Sue? What hard work would that be? As an Indie author, I know about hard work, and from my experience it’s a hell of a lot more work going Indie than it is with a traditional publisher. Indies have to do everything associated with getting the book to market. They not only have to write it, but get it edited, proofed, take care of formatting and layout, have the cover designed, arrange distribution, promotion, marketing… I’m tired just thinking about it.

Sue Grafton: “The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish.”

Wow! Sue, you blew me away with this bit of wisdom. But please…if you remove the word “indie,” you actually have a true statement. All author success stories are the exception to the rule. Yes, there are indie books that are amateurish, but there are some tremendous indie books out there, too. Check out Steena Holmes book, Finding Emma. It sits at #27 in the Amazon Kindle rankings, with a 4.5 rating on 135 reviews. How’s that for amateurish?

Sue, you’d have been far better off stating the truth—that there are good and bad books on both sides of the fence, and it has nothing to do with being Indie or Traditional. It has to do with the author.

Sue Grafton: “To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall. Don’t get me started. Oops..you already did.”

This statement is so full of garbage that I don’t know where to start, so I think I’ll answer it this way:

“D” is for Dare

(part of Sue Grafton’s alphabet soup)

A is for Amateurish, which is what you called the Indie author community. Shame on you.

B is for Bullshit, which is what most of your advice consisted of.

C is for Challenge, which is what I’m offering you.

D is for Dare, which is an offer to compare our books.

E is for Enlightenment, which you can find in the dictionary.

F is for … I can’t say that here.

G is for Gauntlet, which I’m throwing down to you.

H is for Horse shit, which is a repeat of “B.”

I is for “I can’t believe she said that.”

J is for Justification—absent from your statement.

K is for Killer—oh, wait, you already used that for one of your titles.

L is for Lazy, which does not define the Indie author community.

M is for Maybe—maybe you shouldn’t stereotype an entire community of artists.

N is for Nonsense, which is what some of your statements amount to.

O is for Opinion—we all know about those.

P is for Pause, which is what you should have done before speaking.

Q is for Questionable, regarding all of your statements.

R is for Revolution—there is a revolution going on, and it has many publishers and authors worried.

S is for Solitary Confinement, which is where you must have been these past few years, since your views on Indie Publishing seem outdated.

T is for Transparent—the reasoning behind your words.

U is for Unbelievable—the reaction from the Indie community.

V is for Vilify—referring to your rant about Indies.

W is for Waitress—that’s Ms. Grafton’s next title. Rush out and get it.

And about that dare

I worked my ass off to make my book the absolute best I could. I sweated blood on that book, as I do on all my books. I’m proud of them. So when a respected (rightfully so) author such as yourself throws out a blanket statement about Independent authors and the quality of our work, it ticks me off.

We both write mysteries, Ms. Grafton, and we both use different POVs. So here’s what I’ll do—I’ll put my Indie-published book, Murder Takes Time, up against any of yours. Compare “Indie quality” versus your “Traditional quality,” and that includes all the points you mentioned in your interview: narrative, character, pace, description, exposition, and dialogue. 

Meet me at the O.K. Corral, or behind the cathedral at 6:00, or anywhere you want. I’ll be waiting.






Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of Murder Takes Time, and A Bullet For Carlos. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 41 loving “friends.”

5 Responses to ““D” is For Dare—A Challenge to Sue Grafton”

  1. Now that’s a slam, great job.

  2. Thanks for this. You said it far more strongly than I did, but I think you said it VERY well. http://ruthannereid.com/learning/so-about-those-lazy-self-publishers

  3. Thanks, Ruthanne. I didn’t know whether to hit “publish” or not, but then said the hell with it. I’m going to check out your post now.

  4. Bravo! Artists should support fellow up-and-coming artists, not disrespect them like that and make it even harder for them.

    And you can’t stereotype an entire community, as you said.

    There are plenty of great indie writers who are just fed up with how ridiculous the publishing community is…

    How many rejection letters did JK Rowling get??

    Some people just get tired of the nonsense so they chose to self-publish. That doesn’t say anything about the quality of their writing.

  5. I don’t think Sue Grafton realized how big her cow patty was until she stepped into it.

    She has since made an apology after admitting she’s been too insulated from the rest of publishing (meaning too rich, and sheltered by her entourage) and wasn’t up to date on what was really involved in self-publishing.

    Her comments created such a backlash she was forced to reassess and apologize.

    I liked your blast best. 🙂

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