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IDGaF

Here’s why you should. I see it frequently, if not hear it outright, and although there are times the ability to not GaF is a powerful tool, there are definitely times it is a bad thing. When you get to the point where you stop seeing the people around you as humans, but inanimate objects who are simply obstacles to overcome, you need to GaF. As an author, not giving a damn about readers will get your book outright mocked, if you don’t do everything right. So I decided I needed to make a case against the modern philosophy of IDGaF. It’s self-centered, and self-defeating, when it comes to Indie Publishing. Or trad pub, for that matter.

IDGaF about grammar. I want to use this idiosyncratic notation to indicate certain words mean something. No, I don’t want to use the conventional notation, I already used that for something else and it might confuse readers. Give your readers the benefit of the doubt. They are used to seeing that style of notation, it’s proper grammar. They aren’t going to give the benefit of any doubts to you, dear author, with your ‘groundbreaking innovations’ that look a lot like text speak. They don’t GaF about your crusade to better English grammar by example. They are going to assume you’re ignorant and move on to another book with grammar that looks correct to them.

IDGaF about my book’s cover. My sister/grandma/friend’s-neice’s-daughter-who-is-3 painted that cover art and I’m using it by golly! Or: my main characters look like these famous movie stars and I demand my cover artist use their likenesses in this exact scene representation for my art. Or: I really liked that landscape photo, and it’s free, so I’ll use it for my science fiction novel. Look, I rant on this on the regular. You’ve heard it before, or you should have. Study the freaking genre conventions, and use them. You might not GaF but your readers do, and they like professional covers on their books, especially when they are trying out a new-to-them-author.

IDGaF about promotion. That’s my publishers job, and I shouldn’t have to soil my dainty white hands with it. Oh. Honey. Bless your heart. I don’t care if you have a sweetheart deal with one of the Big Five. You still should learn all you can about promoting your book in an effective way (versus the paragraph below) and put your shoulder behind it and push, push, push. No one, absolutely no one in the world, cares about this book as much as you do.

IDGaF about being an ass. If I want to share my book link in this group where the rules explicitly state that’s a no-no, and by being pushy, I spoil it for all the other authors, who cares? I got my link noticed (and promptly deleted, but someone saw it). I just want to make sure everyone in the world knows I have a book and oh, boo-hoo someone left me a bad review… what do you mean, they didn’t like my grammar? It’s avant garde! Attack, my flying monkeys, swarm! Yeah. You should really GaF when you’re told you’re obnoxious and disliked by readers and authors alike because you never stop promoting. Ever. For one second. Let your fans do that for you. Seriously, while promotion is crucial, you should absolutely pay attention to repeated negative feedback and get an objective opinion on what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it. (The corollary to this is not to pay attention to isolated negative feedback, like I saw a post on a friend’s social media recently grousing about how he should unfriend all authors because they never post anything but ‘buy my book.’ This, to an author who is promoting her first novel release in over a year, and someone who is very low-key about promotion. That wasn’t a bash on her, it was her reaping the seeds sown by someone who was actually being an ass).

IDGaF about business. Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaa… *gasp, gasp* Wait. You’re serious? You really don’t care about making money? Well, ok, you probably won’t make any. Not with that attitude. But if you do, have you any idea of the tax implications? Trust me on this one, if you make money, the IRS will GaF. A lot of them. So you need to pay a tiny bit of attention to finances and economics before you publish a book, because surprise! You’re now doing business. Even if you have a publisher, you’re a businessperson, because you’re certainly not their employee and they won’t present you with a W2 later this month. Hie thee over to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog, put some bucks in her tip jar (paypal button on the sidebar) and get a cheap education in the publishing business.

IDGaF about historical accuracy. You think readers are stupid, and won’t catch your glossing over or completely re-writing history. Uh-hunh. Let me educate you on something. They’re going to think you’re stupid right back, and they will not only stop reading, they will point and laugh on social media. You don’t want to be internet famous that way. Do your research, or make it clear you’re writing alternate history. Also, don’t try to remake history into a reflection of modern mores. Some of us *coff* remember history. Or at the very least read source documents extensively. That’s not how it was, and you can’t make it different now. No more than you can decide that ‘gee, I don’t like that genocide was a thing. So I’ll write it out of history.’ Or write the ‘Patriarchy’ into existence so your heroine can nobly fight a thing that wasn’t a real thing at the time you set your story. Historical literacy is alive and well among readers. GaF, or get out.

IDGaF about reviews. Good. Keep on not giving a damn. Reviews are lovely. Having lots of them is desirable. Having lots of only 5 star reviews is not so good, and you shouldn’t GaF about that. Accept that one dude who thinks everything you write is crap, but he keeps following your books and writing sucky reviews every time one comes out… readers, as I said above a few times, are smart cookies. You should let them decide if that’s a legit review, or just some troll with a grudge. They will, and they will read your book if the troll says something stupid like ‘he writes like Heinlein, who sucked so this book sucks too’. You can’t pay for publicity that good. Take it and run. And readers will assume that if all your books only have 5 star reviews, ever, that you are gaming the system. Either having all your friends butter up your book or buying reviews. Either of which will get your reviews deleted, by the way, and making a fuss on facebook about how you have no idea why your reviews all disappeared is going to get you serious side-eye from those of us who know why reviews disappear. But if your reviews stress you out, don’t read them. Have a trusted friend keep an eye on them, if you must, or just ignore them entirely until someone tags you in one and you get a delightful surprise.

Side thought – I’m over at my blog talking about a really cool historical find and the story ideas you can spawn from it. Viking forensics and bodysnatching.

Header: “Time to Run” by Cedar Sanderson

32 Comments
  1. Grammar. “The Elephant’s Journey. ” Shudder.

    No capitalization or quote marks. Periods where there most people put paragraphs. Paragraphs where most people put section breaks.

    Why make your reader work four times as hard?

    January 5, 2019
    • That sounds like a nightmare, to be honest. I like ee Cummings, but only because it was cute, and in very small doses.

      January 5, 2019
      • If anyone is interested.

        January 5, 2019
        • Ok, the way it opens tickles me, but no. I couldn’t put up with much of that and not have a headache.

          January 5, 2019
        • Sigh. I like the convoluted sentences, but then I adore convoluted 19th century prose which goes on for a quarter of a page. The lack of proper capitalization would get to me, after a couple of pages.
          The pic of the elephant reminds me of Poochie, in the George of the Jungle movie, though.

          January 5, 2019
      • Luke #

        ee cummings also had a purpose, in that most of his stuff could be interpreted in a number of different ways, they all worked, and his eccentric kerning, line breaks, punctuation, and capitalization highlighted this.

        It’s clever, but best in small doses.
        And not to be emulated lest one look decidedly less clever than he.

        January 5, 2019
        • Mary #

          Also note that many of his poems were sonnets.

          January 5, 2019
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      Nobel prize. There’s your problem right there.

      Remember, Kofi Annan got the Nobel prize for his involvement in the Rwanda genocide, which he pretty much helped make happen.

      If I got one, I would have to seriously reflect on my life choices and see where my work went so horribly wrong. And see if I could get Kratman or another suitable proxy to go on my behalf.

      January 5, 2019
    • TonyT #

      Maybe this was cool a century ago when James Joyce (ugh!), cummings, and Faulkner were writing. But it’s way past its sell by date now

      January 5, 2019
  2. When I was an instructor at [redacted college], students complained that I couldn’t grade on grammar and composition in a history class. I was only to grade their ideas.* When I pointed out that if I couldn’t understand their words, I could not grade the ideas, they grudgingly allowed that perhaps the instructor might possibly have a point. Perhaps. Maybe.

    *It stated in the syllabus that grammar and composition were graded along with ideas. So it was not a “gotcha!” change.

    January 5, 2019
    • I taught history at a bilingual high school in Bogota, Colombia,and ALWAYS graded essays on grammar, even though they were writing in English, their second tongue. My rationale: two essays, both splendid. One in pristine English, the other in barely decipherable Spanglish. How could I justify giving both the same grade? (My inner Conan the Grammarian chuckled with sadistic glee.)

      January 5, 2019
    • Sherri L #

      It’s even worse now. 2 years ago at *cough* college, our marketing director stated spelling in official publications didn’t matter, as college kids thought proper spelling and/or grammar was pretentious.

      January 5, 2019
    • My mother, when she was a biology teacher, graded on grammar and spelling, and used the same reasoning you did.

      January 5, 2019
  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    I didn’t have enough coffee to know what “IDGaF” meant. 👿

    Oh, I did look it up. 😉

    Of course, as far as writing goes it can be a problem to use a term that “only members of your In-group knows” and you expect “everybody to know the meaning” or “you don’t care if the reader doesn’t know the term”. 😦

    January 5, 2019
    • Good point! I was being silly, but you are spot on it’s an in joke. acronyms are another bad thing in fiction without repeating definitions.

      January 5, 2019
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Yes, I know you were being funny. 😀

        January 5, 2019
      • Ah, I would have to vote “innocent.” I didn’t recognize it right away myself (some new writing technique?) – but the first two sentences went by, and I though “ah, that.”

        I remember a mini-discussion in a class once. Whether it should be “meaning (acronym)” or “acronym (meaning).” You took the latter path – and kept things PG, to boot!

        No, I don’t remember how that discussion ended; I just used whatever the instructor laid down as the rule for the class, and then went my own way afterwards. SOP (Standard Operating Practice) for my life.

        January 5, 2019
      • SheSellsSeashells #

        I am personally enamored of “DILLIGAF” (Do I Look Like I…”), which is not only emphatic but fun to say. I mostly apply it to the inner voice going “you should do what all the YA authors on Twitter are doing and hire a sensitivity reader!”

        January 5, 2019
  4. The ones I really can’t stand are the SF authors who “DGaF” about science. People who think you can’t leave the solar system without passing close to Jupiter and Saturn. Or that a vehicle moving close to the speed of light will be significantly deflected if it passes close to a star. Or that planetary gravity is like tar so a spaceship that gets too close will get “stuck” in its gravity. Or a planet whose atmosphere was warmed up by putting silver in it.

    Typically these bad-science howlers aren’t important to the plot. The author just stuck them in to make the story sound “sciency.” The very worst are the ones that are critical to the plot and which turn up too late for suspension of disbelief. (If the story starts with the oceans turning into lime jello, I can suspend disbelief for that, but if it’s resolved by someone turning them into jello, I’ll make ugly noises.)

    If you write SF, you should study up on the science. If you don’t like science, you probably shouldn’t be writing SF. Or at least write “soft” SF and try not to talk about how anything actually works.

    January 5, 2019
    • Strongly agree.

      From my perspective there’s an awful lot of dreck out there that could have happened in Aurora Illinois in 1985, but with flying cars. Or not even flying cars, as some recent award winners like “The World Turned Upside Down” show. This is how recent Arts grads do “science” fiction. They add sciencey sounding things as salt to their grey-goo stew.

      Science fiction -requires- science to be part of the plot, or at least part of the ground-state in the world building. As the world can be a character, so then science itself or an advanced technology like teleportation must at least appear as a character. Even Steampunk includes that.

      January 5, 2019
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Well, I’ve enjoyed the “In Death/Eve Dallas” series which while it’s “set in the future”, many of the stories (with little rewrite) could be set in today’s world.

        Mind you, a few of the stories do involve stuff that couldn’t happen today. 😀

        January 5, 2019
        • Indeed. That would be a series where “the future” setting acts as a character, like Middle Earth is a character in The Hobbit. It is integral to the story, and makes it Science Fiction instead of Dallas with flying cars.

          January 5, 2019
      • I enjoy very much when a science fiction story is about some essential element of science, but those stories aren’t common. I enjoy a story where science and consequences of applied engineering are explored and extrapolated to the society as a frame or background (if you have inertial dampeners, you have lots of other things as well and they should be there). I also enjoy, very much, adventures in space, even if they could happen just about anywhere with a change of scenery and stage props. I enjoy an utterly impossible romp.

        I think that I understand the impulse to try to insist that science fiction ought to be that first, rare, thing, but I gave it up ages ago.

        January 7, 2019
  5. Poodlehorde #

    The Elephant’s Journey – just looking at the cover tells you not to bother. Elephants don’t gallop like a horse with more than one foot off the ground at one time. If the editors and author are that careless about details, is the story worth reading? Probably not.

    January 5, 2019
    • The elephant never does more than a slow lumber.

      Authors complain about bad covers all the time. I’m not going to blame him for this one.

      January 5, 2019
      • George Phillies #

        The fast gait gets an elephant up to 25 mph. One foot is always on the ground.

        January 5, 2019
        • Mary #

          That’s only real elephants. 0:)

          January 5, 2019
  6. Draven #

    on the other hand, you need to know when to say NMFP.

    January 5, 2019
    • Heh. It’s not. But the point of this blog is to be helpful.

      January 5, 2019
      • Draven #

        knowing when is helpful 😀

        January 5, 2019
    • Aimee Morgan #

      The two most useful skills I have developed in the last few years are (a) how not to give a flock, and (b) how to generate an SEP* field and toss it around something. Strangely, they appear to be skills that my Dragonette was born with, as she is out of flocks to give, and has no intentions of ever growing new ones.

      *SEP – Someone Else’s Problem

      January 9, 2019
      • Draven #

        the funny thing is, people who knew me in college knew immediately what i meant if i just told them something was being declared ‘nmfp’.

        January 9, 2019

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