If you aren't sure whether to self-publish, ask yourself what you want.

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Sheryl Nantus

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Feel free to call me Adam.

That isnt what I'm implying. I'm saying in no uncertain terms that there was no offer from a publisher until after the book was a self published success.

But these were Short Stories.

You don't usually go to a publisher with a short story.

AFAIK he wrote the first one and then the second and so forth, the audience giving him direct feedback and encouragement.

On short stories.
 

AP7

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Not sure what your point is, Sheryl. Hugh's path is unique. Every writer's path is unique. But clearly this is another self published success story.

If you want to ignore the home runs, let's go back to who's hitting more singles? Which way is the trend running? How many writers going the traditional route are making mid list money? Is it more or less than 5 years ago? Last year? Ask the same question about self publishing?

If you are starting from scractch, you have a better chance at success self publishing than querying. And if you have success on your own, you can negotiate a far better deal than if you are just another lucky soul plucked from slush.
 

bearilou

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Feel free to call me Adam.

That isnt what I'm implying. I'm saying in no uncertain terms that there was no offer from a publisher until after the book was a self published success.

Pleasure to meet you, Adam!

*shakes hands*

The danger with saying it that way, is the inferred implication that many of the more uninformed could come away with. The book was written, there was no offer from the publishers. Self-published, then got offer.

So...if I just skip the submission route, go straight to self-publishing, I'll get an offer from publishers? That's what it sounds like to me. Why would I even submit to publishers to begin with when I can skip straight to the money.

Those of us on this board know there was a whole lot in between that went on, hard work, blood-sweat-tears. And as Sheryl is discussing, the fact that (maybe) he didn't start with a book but with short stories may have had something to do with it? And that he already has a large body of work out there? And that his success -- hard won and rightly deserved that it is -- didn't come to him overnight?

I guess that's an awful lot of me saying that what you said sounds too familiarly as 'all you gotta do is' and anyone who is doing this knows it's not 'all you gotta do is'.

If you are starting from scractch, you have a better chance at success self publishing than querying.

Interestingly, that's not the sense I'm getting from this thread at all.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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If you are starting from scractch, you have a better chance at success self publishing than querying. And if you have success on your own, you can negotiate a far better deal than if you are just another lucky soul plucked from slush.

That's a rather sweeping statement to make.
 

Terie

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If you want to ignore the home runs, let's go back to who's hitting more singles? Which way is the trend running? How many writers going the traditional route are making mid list money? Is it more or less than 5 years ago? Last year? Ask the same question about self publishing?

Seems to me, Adam, that you missed the very post that restarted this thread, in which Uncle Jim looks at precisely this question. That post is here, and a number of subsequent posts present more information about the numbers:

A year ago I looked at the top hundred items in the Kindle store, and the top hundred books. Time to revisit the question, to see what a difference a year has made.

Short version: Self-published Kindle e-books are already, in just the past year, trending away from, not toward, the top-seller list.
 

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I read it, Terie. It's the top 100. What about the mid list?
 

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But these were Short Stories.

You don't usually go to a publisher with a short story.

AFAIK he wrote the first one and then the second and so forth, the audience giving him direct feedback and encouragement.

On short stories.

More right than wrong. For clarity, Wool 1 was a novelette (12K words) and each subsequent story grew until Wool 5 which is short novel length (60K). So most fall in the novella range.

Given that, it likely would have been a tougher than usual sale through the trade channels.

I could have seen Wool 1 having a decent shot at a quality magazine slot if Hugh had chosen that path. The writing is mostly crisp with but the rare bit that a quality editor surely would have cleaned up. The story is solid. If you've read a lot of slush or amatuer writing you'll recognize Hugh's skill from paragraph one of Wool. At least I did.

You may not agree with his every comment or business decision (heck, I don't either) but his craft is strong and readers clearly are responding to his storytelling.

It's a fantastic self-publishing success story, but all such stories are unique.
 

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It's a fantastic self-publishing success story, but all such stories are unique.

This is the thing for me. One really can't say that one route is *the* route to take based on their own experience. I don't know this author or his writing, but it seems like saying people should self-publish because when you're successful at it, trade publishers will come running is a bit beyond reasonable. Publishing as a whole is not that cut and dried. The statements should be "If A, B, and C, then self-publishing will probably work better for you. If M, N, and O, then you should probably try trade publishers. And if X, Y, and Z, then maybe some of the indie publishers would work better. And hopefully, that will lead to success." (And nothing in that alphabet soup should include pejoratives about the other routes.)

There aren't any absolutes in publishing, any more than there are in writing itself. I wish people would quit acting as if there were.
 

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I had trouble finding the list. The only lists I could bring up had just ebooks, not Kindle Fires and stuff. I did some searching, cos it was driving me crazy. Apparently, there are two ranking lists with different algorithms. I think Jim posted from the second list.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store/zgbs/digital-text/ref=zg_bs_unv_kstore_1_154606011_1


http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_hi_1?rh=n%3A133140011&bbn=133140011&ie=UTF8&qid=1337029333

Very true - the first is the bestseller list (updated hourly). The second one, based on my watching, seems to be based on sales for the last week or so - so it's not as volatile (but it is less sticky than it was six months ago, where it took over a month for the list to "catch up" with current sales rank).
My source is a Kindleboards post, so take or leave it.

Anyway, there is a thread over there about how Amazon recently changed its "popularity" list algorithms (different than "bestselling"). It seems Amazon does this with its lists from time to time, so when we compare an Amazon list from one year ago to now, we really have to take changing algos into account.



ETA: I just realized the second list is the popularity list, so if that is indeed what Jim posted, it is not the bestselling list, and is directly affected by the specific algorithm change discussed in the Kindleboards thread I posted.

I was looking at it on my Kindle and noticed that very few of the novels near the top of the lists I was looking at were indies, including some lists where I know there have been successful giveaways in the past week.

Until even a couple of weeks ago this would have boosted them to the first or second page of on in their genre in the Kindle store. Now no sign of them. Epic fantasies, for example, Big Six novels fill the first two pages in the Kindle store and take up most of the slots for several pages after that.
ETA2: Here's another thread on the recent changes (yes, plural). I have to say, reading about this stuff is fascinating.

Basically, after six weeks of running three concurrent lists, Amazon's switched back to a single popularity list. (These aren't the bestseller lists; they're the lists you'll be directed to while browsing around the Kindle store.) Your placement on the new list is determined largely by how many books you've sold over the last 30 days. It isn't weighted towards the most recent days, it's an average of the last month. And freebies only count towards these ranks at a fractional rate. As far as I can tell, for the purposes of pop list rank--which, for the record, is completely different from your sales rank--freebies count for something like 10-20% of a sale. In other words, for every 5-10 books you give away free, your pop list rank will be credited with 1 sale. And I think it's closer to a 10% rate than 20%.

In brief, what this means is that giving away a ton of free books will no longer result in an automatic bump in sales afterwards. That bump came from Amazon dumping you at the top of the pop lists after you gave away several thousand copies. If you're no longer at the top of the pop list--and unless you're in a very small category, or gave away a monstrous amount, you won't be--your book won't be seen. If your book won't be seen, your book won't be bought. No buys, no bump.
 
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bearilou

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This is the thing for me. One really can't say that one route is *the* route to take based on their own experience. I don't know this author or his writing, but it seems like saying people should self-publish because when you're successful at it, trade publishers will come running is a bit beyond reasonable.

That's all I've been trying to say. Thanks for putting it more clearly.

There aren't any absolutes in publishing, any more than there are in writing itself. I wish people would quit acting as if there were.

QFT
 

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I could have seen Wool 1 having a decent shot at a quality magazine slot if Hugh had chosen that path.

That path seems really limiting in exposure comparatively.
 
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That path seems really limiting in exposure comparatively.

As it turns out, but in a vacuum (or for someone who prefers trade publishing) getting a novelette into F&SF or Asimov's is a Big Deal within the industry and could get the author a step ahead with agents or editors in the spec-fic field.

It's the exceedingly rare case where worldwide availability equals massive exposure the way it has for Hugh. In 99% of cases a prominent mag would turn out better for the author. I'm not suggesting Hugh could have reached his current highs that way, but I think he could have concievably achieved what I define as success that way too.
 

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This is the thing for me. One really can't say that one route is *the* route to take based on their own experience. I don't know this author or his writing, but it seems like saying people should self-publish because when you're successful at it, trade publishers will come running is a bit beyond reasonable. Publishing as a whole is not that cut and dried. The statements should be "If A, B, and C, then self-publishing will probably work better for you. If M, N, and O, then you should probably try trade publishers. And if X, Y, and Z, then maybe some of the indie publishers would work better. And hopefully, that will lead to success." (And nothing in that alphabet soup should include pejoratives about the other routes.)

I tend to agree, and tend to think most of the zealots will admit to the exceptions meaning they agree to some extent too. If you take some time to talk to someone like Konrath just on the logical points he'll admit to it. (I've had that conversation with him.) But couching everything in exceptions sort of dulls a point and makes for less entertaining reading. And I'm sure if I had the chance to talk to a "self-publishing sucks" zealot you could get them to admit the exceptions too (though I haven't had that opportunity myself.)

I find Hugh to be rational. And so I don't believe he would disagree with with you've said if he had the chance to respond himself. That isn't mutually exclusive with recommending the path he's had success with to new writers.

I sort of disagree with Hugh there (assuming he said it in the other thread I haven't reread today.) The odds of massive success are a crapshoot either way. Do what you're comfortable with. Try both if you're undecided. No one knows where publishing will be in 10 years and the zealots on either side could be completely wrong. Listen to everyone but make your own decisions.
 

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Discussing the matter in hand? Great.

Discussing another thread which was locked some time ago? Not on.

I've deleted four comments. Let's move on and try to remain on-topic. Thank you.
 

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As someone noted earlier, Jim was taking rankings from the Amazon popularity lists and not the bestselling lists. Here's the breakdown (SP = self-published and RB = Rosetta Books, which I'll explain the significance of later for those unfamiliar with the independent press).

Kindle EBook Bestsellers (May 15, 2012)
1. Fifty Shades of Grey. E L James.
2. Fifty Shades Darker. E L James.
3. Fifty Shades Freed. E L James.
4. Mockingjay. Suzanne Collins.
5. Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins.
6. The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins.
7. On the Island. Tracey Garvis-Graves. SP.
8. Fifty Shades Bundle. E L James.
9. The Book Case. Nelson DeMille. SP.
10. The Long Way Home. Karen McQuestion. SP.
11. The Marriage Bargain. Jennifer Probst. SP.
12. The Innocent. David Baldacci.
13. 11th Hour. James Patterson.
14. The Witness. Nora Roberts.
15. The Last Explorer. Simon Nasht. SP.
16. I Am Legend. Richard Matheson. RB.
17. The Last Boyfriend. Nora Roberts.
18. Deadlocked: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel. Charlaine Harris.
19. Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut. RB
20. Snake Skin: A Lucy Guardino FBI Thriller. SP.
21. The Lucky One. Nicholas Sparks.
22. Nazareth Child. Darrell James.
23. Wool Omnibus. Hugh Howey. SP.
24. Guilty Wives. James Patterson.
25. The Hunger Games Trilogy. Suzanne Collins.
26. To Dance with the White Dog. Terry Kay. RB.
27. The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted. Andrew Kaufman. SP.
28. Stolen Prey. John Sandford.
29. She Can Run. Melinda Leigh. SP.
30. A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire. George RR Martin.
31. Insurgent (Divergent). Veronica Roth.
32. Wizard's First Rule. Terry Goodkind. RB.
33. The Art of Intelligence. Harry Crumpton.
34. Calico Joe. John Grisham.
35. Beautiful Disaster. Jamie McGuire. SP.
36. The Serpent's Shadow. Rick Riordan.
37. Blood Stained. CJ Lyons. SP.
38. Bared to You. Sylvia Day. SP.
39. Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Susan Vreeland. RB.
40. In One Person. John Irving.
41. The Hangman's Daughter. Oliver Potzch, etc. SP.
42. City of Lost Souls. Cassandra Clare.
43. Pray for Silence. Linda Castillo. SP.
44. Defending Jacob. William Landay.
45. Easily Amused. Karen McQuestion. SP.
46. Fifty Shades of Grey (Unavailable). E L James.
47. Weekends Required. Sydney Landon. SP.
48. The Amateur. Edward Klein.
49. The Day of the Triffids. John Wyndham. RB.
50. Game of Thrones 4-Book Bundle. George RR Martin.
51. A Dance with Dragons. George RR Martin.
52. Who Goes There? John W. Campbell. RB.
53. Shoeless Joe. WP Kinsella. RB.
54. Divergent. Veronica Roth.
55. Bring Up the Bodies. Hilary Mantel.
56. The Shoemaker's Wife. Adriana Trigiani.
57. Wolf Hall. Hilary Mantel.
58. Throttle. Joe Hill, Stephen King. SP.
59. A Clash of Kings. George RR Martin.
60. The Next Always. Nora Roberts.
61. What the Heart Knows. Mara Purl.
62. The Vow. Krickitt Carpenter.
63. The Help. Kathryn Stockett.
64. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Stieg Larsson.
65. Water for Elephants. Sara Gruen.
66. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Seth Grahame-Smith.
67. Almost Summer. Susan Mallery. SP.
68. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late. Harry Kemelman. RB.
69. Lord of Vengeance. Lara Adrian. SP.
70. Bad Doctor. John Locke. SP.
71. Not Planning on You. Sydney Landon. SP.
72. Fuzz. Ed McBain. RB.
73. Betrayal. Danielle Steel.
74. The Lost Years. Mary Higgins Clark.
75. A Storm of Swords. George RR Martin.
76. A Week at the Beach. Virginia Jewel. SP.
77. The Girl Who Played with Fire. Stieg Larsson.
78. Heaven is for Real. Todd Burpo, etc.
79. Power Down. Ben Coes. SP.
80. Red Alert. Peter Bryant. RB.
81. The Sand Pebbles. Richard McKenna. RB.
82. Midnight Cowboy. James Leo Herlihy. RB.
83. A Matter of Honor. Jeffrey Archer.
84. The Passage of Power. Robert A Caro.
85. Make Room! Make Room! Harry Harrison. RB.
86. The Midwich Cuckoos. John Wyndham. RB.
87. Barefoot Season. Susan Mallery. SP.
88. Sunrise Point. Robyn Carr. SP.
89. Bang the Drum Slowly. Mark Harris. RB.
90. The Wind Through the Keyhole. Stephen King.
91. An American Tragedy. Theodore Dreiser. RB.
92. Heat Wave. Richard Castle.
93. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Laura Hillenbrand.
94. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Steig Larsson.
95. A Feast for Crows. George RR Martin.
96. A Nose for Hanky Panky. Sharon Love Cook. SP.
97. Accidentally Married to... a Vampire? Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. SP.
98. In the Heat of the Night. John Ball. RB.
99. What Doesn't Kill You. Iris Johansen.
100. One Pink Line. Dina Silver. SP.

Self-published: 28 / 100
Rosetta Books (republished backlists, typically gone to film or television): 17 / 100
George RR Martin: 5 / 100
E L James: 5 / 100
Suzanne Collins: 4 / 100
Steigg Larsson: 3 / 100

Self-published or re-published: 28 + 17 = 45
Martin/James/Collins/Larsson: 17
Midlist left in the top 100?

Rosetta Books is a large independent publishing house that appears to be setup for authors to publish backlists through. For established authors who want to get mileage out of their backlists, RB seems to do a great job marketing these established books. For those with a backlist, this seems like a decent path to take if authors don't want to self-publish.

So, 28% of the top 100 Kindle bestselling eBooks are SP. 17% are republished books through an independent press that typically went to film/TV. Well over 25% are from topselling authors who have films out or coming and are published by Random House or other top presses (the top one started out as self-published fan fiction before going to small press and then Vintage). In other words, these mainstream published authors in the top 100 are hardly midlist and care should probably be taken when citing them as proof that mainstream publishing is a better option than self-publication--just as citing Hugh Howey should be noted with the caveat that his results aren't typical of self-publishing.

I don't think anyone is arguing that everyone who self-publishes is going to outsell all traditional publication houses. However, at some point, it would seem to make sense to concede that self-publication is giving many midlisters a chance at success that they probably wouldn't have had otherwise. Not everyone is going to have the same success as Howey, Geary, Locke, or Konrath, but not everyone is going to have the success of James, Collins, Martin, or Larsson either.
 
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AP7

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Discussing the matter in hand? Great.

Discussing another thread which was locked some time ago? Not on.

I've deleted four comments. Let's move on and try to remain on-topic. Thank you.

Wow. Really? New and very significant information with regards to that locked thread have emerged. Information that strongly points to the "common wisdom" espoused in this forum may be wrong. But rather than discuss you'd prefer to pull an Orwell?

Why?
 

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Wow. Really? New and very significant information with regards to that locked thread have emerged. Information that strongly points to the "common wisdom" espoused in this forum may be wrong. But rather than discuss you'd prefer to pull an Orwell?

Why?

The comments I deleted didn't provide any new information, nor did they suggest that "the "common wisdom" espoused in this forum may be wrong", as you very well know.

Instead, they dragged disagreements from a thread which was locked some time ago into this thread (and if you weren't previously aware that that's not on round here, you are now), and hugely misrepresented the discussion in that locked thread.

If you have anything positive or pertinent to contribute to this discussion you're very welcome to post it, AP7. But if you continue down this particular route I'll give you a time-out. I hope that's clear.
 

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If you have anything positive or pertinent to contribute to this discussion you're very welcome to post it, AP7. But if you continue down this particular route I'll give you a time-out. I hope that's clear.

Call me Adam. I sign my name to every post.

If you don’t like something I had to say, then rebut it. Your answer is to muzzle. That speaks volumes. I didn’t come here looking for a fight and I had never seen that thread in question until GregB posted the link. I found it very informative and it reaffirmed many of the issues I’ve struggled with in my own personal path in pursuing the different publishing options. The exchanges were reasonably cordial and deleting those posts did nothing other than give forum members less than the whole story with regards to Hugh Howey and his path to recent success. I came to this forum a year ago when I was wrestling with the decision to self publish. I came here for a reason; I could’ve simply gone to the Kindleboards and other such places if I wanted nothing but pro-SP opinions. But I wanted as much information as possible to make an informed decision for a career that is very important to me. I received nothing but discouragement at every turn, much like Hugh, who was told “To talk less and listen more” and “If the work isn’t good enough for traditional publishing keep writing until it is” among other things. Had Hugh listened to those voices, he’d have missed the biggest opportunity of his life. I’m not asking for humility, but if the goal of this forum truly is to educate, then neutral forum-goers deserve all the information to make an informed decision.

If you want me gone, just ask. But you are doing a disservice to the community here by chasing off every dissenting voice.
 

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AP7, this isn't about muzzling anyone, or chasing anyone away: it's about keeping our conversations here sane and civilised, and allowing the majority of our members the chance to enjoy their time here. And part of that means understanding that when a thread is locked, it's locked for a good reason which might not be apparent to people who aren't privy to the many and detailed discussions that happen back-channel. When you resurrect discussions which have already been locked you risk stirring up all the problems it caused previously, and you take new threads way off-topic, as you have done with this one. Which isn't fair on the members who have participared in this particular topic.

If you think that a locked thread should be reopened then the way to deal with that is to PM a mod--it doesn't have to be me, this room has two other mods or you could contact Mac or our Admin--and present your case. Such requests are often successful. What you don't do is drag someone else's thread off-topic under the pretence of standing up for free speech and the greater good when what you really want to do is bitch about AW and its moderators.

Moving on, AP7, I assume that you read this part of my comment and understood it:

If you have anything positive or pertinent to contribute to this discussion you're very welcome to post it, AP7. But if you continue down this particular route I'll give you a time-out. I hope that's clear.

My bold. It was too much for you to manage, wasn't it? You will now be given a five-day holiday from AW, and I hope you will be less belligerent when you return.

Sorry about that, everyone. Let's see if we can't get this conversation back on topic now. Thank you.
 

GregB

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Discussing the matter in hand? Great.

Discussing another thread which was locked some time ago? Not on.

I've deleted four comments. Let's move on and try to remain on-topic. Thank you.

Respectfully, the referenced thread was directly relevant to the title and topic of this one, as well as the way it's developed. The author explained his own reasons for self-publishing and why he felt it was the best approach.

Moreover, in this thread, we've since started listing self-published titles in the Top 100, and the author of that thread is in fact in the Top 100! I don't understand how the discussion in that thread could be more on-topic for this one.

Likewise, where is it written that one can't reference a locked thread? I've been scouring the FAQs and the Newbie Guide, but I can't find anything. There can be many reasons why a thread is locked, presumably, but I wouldn't think a decision to lock the thread renders it "unmentionable."

If you want me gone, just ask. But you are doing a disservice to the community here by chasing off every dissenting voice.

A wise woman once said:

My concern about this stuff is largely in terms of building and maintaining a mostly-egalitarian community, at least as much as humanly possible. Because what happens when you get a preponderance of members who tend to agree and share a cultural background, and they take for granted or actively put forth -- even it it's never said in so many words -- that their world view is the only "normal" or "right" world view, is that people who see things differently finally just quietly go away.
Bold in the original.

The Newbie Guide to Absolute Write

The Newbie Guide is a locked thread, but I hope I can quote from and link to it anyway.

There is a groupthink about self-publishing on AW. There's a lot of wisdom and experience that goes into that groupthink, and so it's more often right than wrong, in my opinion. But it's still groupthink, and as such it can be rigid, excessive, and dismissive of dissent. That was displayed vividly in the referenced thread. Deleting the reference here -- deciding for members that they shouldn't read that thread -- paints an even starker picture of it.
 

Amarie

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I'll have to do some research to find lists, but I thought the conventional wisdom was that self-publishing may be a better bet for certain kinds of genre fiction, such as romance, sci fi/fantasy and thrillers. It would be interesting to look at the lists for those specific areas to see how sp books are faring.
 

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You may have intended to, but I can't see it in any of your recent posts. If you want to go by that name here you might want to add it to your username or sig line.

veinglory, AP7 is now on a time-out and whenever a user is under any sort of ban, their avatar and signature disappear for the length of the ban. He has a link to his website in his signature, I think, and his domain name is the same as his own name.

Respectfully, the referenced thread was directly relevant to the title and topic of this one, as well as the way it's developed. The author explained his own reasons for self-publishing and why he felt it was the best approach.

The way you brought it up in this thread was not pertinent to the discussion, though. In the post I deleted, you didn't once mention the author's position in the top 100: instead, you wrote only about how poorly you thought he'd been treated by other AW members. And that's what I took exception to. As I already explained to AP7 here:

The comments I deleted didn't provide any new information, nor did they suggest that "the "common wisdom" espoused in this forum may be wrong", as you very well know.

Instead, they dragged disagreements from a thread which was locked some time ago into this thread (and if you weren't previously aware that that's not on round here, you are now), and hugely misrepresented the discussion in that locked thread.

If you have anything positive or pertinent to contribute to this discussion you're very welcome to post it, AP7. But if you continue down this particular route I'll give you a time-out. I hope that's clear.

Please read my comments more carefully in future.

where is it written that one can't reference a locked thread? I've been scouring the FAQs and the Newbie Guide, but I can't find anything.

I'm not sure where it's written: but as I said in a previous comment here, if you weren't aware that it's not allowed, you are now. If that's not good enough for you, then I suggest you ask Mac for clarification.

Now, I'll repeat myself again, only this time solely for your benefit, GregB:

Discussing the matter in hand? Great.

Discussing another thread which was locked some time ago? Not on.

I've deleted four comments. Let's move on and try to remain on-topic. Thank you.

If you want to argue about this, take it to PM. If you continue to derail this thread, you'll be joining AP7 in a time-out and I'll be forced to lock this thread too.
 

GregB

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