What’s Wrong With Mediocre?

So lately, it seems like there’s a been a lot of bashing of indie/self-publishers by traditional publishing authors and agents. Basically, they’re all pointing out that the open gates of indie publishing let all sorts of crap through and that “most” of what is indie published is indeed crap. Unedited, unproofread, poorly imagined, vanity-published junk not fit for purchase.

This kind of bashing is to be expected as indies bypass the middle men and provide consumers with what they want. The traditionals are panicking as their profits shrink and people like Hugh Howey, E.L. James, Russell Blake and Elle Casey make the headlines and the big bucks.

Now, I could debate this crap-declaration. I could say that it is beyond anyone to know whether “most” Indie work is good or not, because there are literally MILLIONS of works now on Amazon. At best, an honest statement from the bashers would be that most of what they have personally read themselves is crap. But if they said that they couldn’t convince the sheeple they think we all are to bypass indie work, hand over our paychecks and pay for the privilege of what the gatekeepers hope we’ll believe is good.

But, I don’t want to argue this point. No, I, as a reader and consumer of Science Fiction & Fantasy, take great offense at the slight on mediocrity. That’s my beef. See, several of the bashers will quickly backtrack and say they declared indie efforts mediocre, not crap. As though there is something wrong with mediocre.

Firstly, the customer is always right. I mention this old business axiom for all the bashers who sneer down their noses at indies telling us that we need to start treating publishing like a business. Customers love the mediocre. Walmart, McDonald’s and cheap beer all prove this. The average Joe is more than happy to get a bargain and get something okay. Heck, to many, okay is great. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

What really irks me about the slams on mediocrity is the source: SFF authors. Hello! Until Star Wars, the mass public looked down on SFF. It was the redheaded step child of film and literature. Only dorks and weirdos liked SFF. Then BAM! Han Solo and gang make it cool around the world and everyone jumped on our nerd bandwagon. SFF is firmly mainstream now. If anyone should remember this, it’s the agents and authors who struggled to make a living in the genre. They should be the last people to look down their noses at anyone.

And then, there’s B Movies.

I LOVE B-MOVIES. I’m not talking the latest fylm from Syfy, featuring horryble CGI and 80s actors we all thought were dead. I mean, honest-to-goodness B Movies, like Creature from the Black Lagoon, or anything Full Moon Entertainment put out, Heck, I’ll even include Critters and Leprechaun (no matter how much Jennifer Aniston tries to forget it). B Movies are awesome. And given how many were made, it’s not just me and Roger Corman who think so. Remember, bashers, the customer is always right.

There’s nothing wrong with mediocre. Nothing. This is all hype from a dying dinosaur that is angry consumers and authors have figured out you don’t have to charge $10 for a digital copy of a book. That you can actually (gasp!) write a book by yourself (without hiring a Book Doctor to make it into something else). I wonder if any of these bashers dislike Director’s Editions? You know, where the Director got to keep it his or her way?

So I say to you, fellow readers and lovers of SFF, ignore the bashers. Or hear their bleating as the frightened cries of the real sheep out there, worried that the big bad wolf of low-cost entertainment is coming to eat up all their sales. Either way, we are all going to be the richer for it, and all the bashers can do is cry like the babies they are rapidly turning into.

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