(Continued from a whole bunch of days ago...)
It only got weirder. But first, it got more annoying. One of the onerous mass assumptions about self-published eBooks is their general lack of quality writing -- perhaps quality editing is more accurate, but the public only views the end result and thinks "bad writing."
When I am self-publishing an eBook or POD book, I painstakingly edit. This comes from years (and years) of working in the small presses that often spent little to no money at all on editing manuscripts before they went to print. I learned the hard way that if I didn't painstakingly edit my own manuscript before turning it in to the publisher, there was a high likelihood that all kinds of typos and weirdness would be lurking within the pages of my prized novel that was -- at long last!! -- FACE OUT at Barnes & Nobles nationwide.
Only a writer can know how horrible that feels. Your authors' copies finally arrive. You crack it open and find the most horrific typo anyone can possibly imagine. And it's too late. The book is in warehouses across the globe, ready to be placed on public shelves. You look like a "bad writer." There's nothing you can do about it. You can't send out some sort of press release to the world that says: "Bad Editing."
And even painstakingly editing your own manuscript can be problematic, since we all know our own eyes see all kinds of 100% perfection that isn't there!! Regardless, what is absolutely TRUE about self-publishing eBooks is that the manuscripts are not edited by these giant machines that spit the manuscripts out as downloadable files. So if you are not editing, no one else is doing it for you unless you hire someone. And my point is that when you upload your manuscript to Kindle and it gets rejected for being pornographic and obscene, it has nothing to do with the literary value of what you wrote. It also has nothing to do with how readily available it might be in a number of other outlets or formats. It has everything to do with the giant machine owners not wanting a bunch of rabid conservatives stomping all over them while bleating loudly and foaming at the mouth.
That's all it is, gang. That's absolutely all it is.
To be honest, The Muse Revisited: Volume One is readily available at other online outlets here and in the UK at a cheaper price than what I am allowed to sell it for on Kindle. And now I was facing not only selling the eBook at a higher price, but in a censored version. Why did I want to waste my time trying to get my manuscript to pass muster with the giant Kindle-grinding-out machine? Well, mostly because I wanted to write about it on this blog and tell you what happened and I needed an ending to that story! I didn't want to say: "And so I gave up and lived happily ever after." (Which of course would have been the best overall choice to make back when I was, like, twelve... However. I digress.) I also wanted to prove myself right. That no one was actually reading any of this stuff; they were just looking for offensive words, or groups of words. WORDS. Not necessarily even ideas at this "incubatorial" stage; just WORDS. Censored on account of words. Now how scary is that, gang? Think about it.
I thought about it, and it totally pissed me off. But I went ahead and censored my own writing for the first time in my entire 23-year (thus far) award-winning fiction-writing career. I deleted the entire first section of the 11-year-old story "Muriel the Magnificent" -- offering a link to the uncensored version free of charge instead. And I buried this link way at the very back of the book and I used all kinds of safe words that wouldn't alert keyword-alarm-spewing machines to its existence. And as far as the story that included a guy accidentally ejaculating on himself when he sees the nude dead body of the girl he loves ("Judge Johnson's Will"), I simply went through that entire manuscript and deleted words and sentences here and there that might be considered sexually or racially offensive, inserting "[Censored]" instead because God knows, in the real world, nothing whatsoever is sexually or racially offensive. Ever. I didn't want to risk rocking that Utopian boat.
I formatted and uploaded that censored manuscript to the mighty Kindle machine, and within a couple hours, I was approved for publication and up the file went to the Kindle store.
Then I got an actual, non-formletter email from a human person in the Kindle-approving food chain, who summarily informed that my cover art was considered obscene. That I should replace the cover art and once more reload my manuscript to the Kindle-making machine!!
I gave up. I wrote the guy and said, "Okay, I will, but this cover art is based on a famous painting from 1912..." (That's 100 years ago, if you enjoy doing math.)
For your additional enjoyment, amusement, edification, what have you; I am including below the artwork that the cover is based on, as well as the original cover art from my eBook along with the censored version I was prepared to replace it with.
The very curious outcome to the cover art situation, though, was that I never actually replaced the cover because the Kindle version of the eBook has never actually been ejected from the store! Yes!! That's right!! That means you can buy it! A higher-priced, censored version of The Muse Revisited: Volume One that you can get lots of other places much more cheaply and with the content complete and unabridged for your lurid reading pleasure.
Funny, how when you actually get to communicate with a human person, as opposed to a keyword-alarm-spewing machine, sometimes sanity reigns.
[Nude Girl on a Rug, 1912, by Lovis-Corinth]
[The eBook cover]
[The censored cover we haven't had to use (yet).]
About Marilyn Jaye
Causes Marilyn Jaye Lewis Supports
The Film Council of Greater Columbus, Columbus, OH
The Adrienne Shelley Foundation, NY, NY
Paralyzed Veterans of America, Washington, DC...