I would be a terrible pundit. There's one thing you need to be a popular one, and I don't have it: self-confidence bordering on megalomania. Instead of capping every diatribe the way pundits do – you know, with "And that's what the lamestream media won't tell you!" or "This president must be stopped!" or (if you're Alex Jones) "They're turning the friggin' frogs gay!!!" – I have a different mantra.
What the hell do I know?
I can't resist the urge to add it every time I state even the simplest opinion. Here. Watch.
Hawaiian pizza is delicious… but then again, what the hell do I know?
I think Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year... but then again, what the hell do I know?
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has a self-indulgent, sloppy-ass script, and it pisses me off that it got good reviews and Oscar nominations… but then again, what the hell do I know?
Everyone needs to stop paying attention to Kanye West… immediately.
O.K, so there are exceptions. But generally, the rule holds. Here. I'll demonstrate it again.
It seems to me that self-publishing isn't just a viable option for writers today. If you're creating certain kinds of fiction – romance, say, or gay Amish bondage porn starring cowboys – it's probably the smart way to go. But then again, what the hell do I know?
See? It kicked in again. But I can tell you where to find people stating the same opinion – that self-publishing is sometimes a writer's best choice – without any "what the hell do I know?" about it. A few years ago, I went there every day. It's a website, by the way, not the local Hardee's. I don't want to link to it lest these extremely self-confident publishing pundits follow the trail back here to cyber-yell at me. I will say this, though: It's a blog-ish site with a strong emphasis on (A) self-publishing, (B) owning the libs and (C) the belief that agents and publishers sacrifice virgins, eat babies and turn the friggin' frogs gay.
It was (A) that hooked me back when I was a full-time writer watching his numbers (sales, advances, days left before bankruptcy) steadily dropping. So the idea that I could carpe me some diem, cut out the middle man (and his baby eating) and save my financial ass while writing whatever I wanted was really appealing. I won't say I totally drank the self-publishing Kool-Aid. I'm too instinctively timid and full of doubt to guzzle anyone's Kool-Aid, even when it's my favorite flavor. (Tropical Punch.) But eventually I did decide to give it a try.
That was over two years ago. After that, I got back the rights to five of my novels, republished four of them on my own and wrote one new one, which goes on sale next month. Goody for me. But I've also accepted that I'm probably not cut out for self-publishing. I mean, geez – it took me two years to finish a new book! Self-publishing success is often built on momentum (or so I used to read), and I've got all the unstoppable propulsive power of a runaway freight train...after it's gone off the rails.
I've also noticed that some of the loudest proselytizers for self-publishing have gone silent over the past couple years. Even on The Website That Shall Not Be Named, things have gotten a lot more quiet. It's still an "indie"/libertarian echo chamber, but with fewer voices shouting about the evils of New York publishers and the glories of the unfettered free market and the danger posed by insidious liberals luring unsuspecting amphibians into alternative lifestyles.
Does that mean anything? That the Kool-Aid party's over, and it's time to switch to SunnyD? Nope. I ain't saying that. But I am very, very curious to see how my new novel does. If it sells 3,000 copies in its first year, I'll be thrilled. If it sells three dozen copies, it'll feel like someone came bursting through the wall with a big, icy pitcher of Gut Punch.
But even then… what the hell will I know?