Guest author: Sarah Brentyn ~ Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

Image: Pixabay

In one day, I saw three negative opinions about indie “authors”. (I use quotes here as these opinions implied indies are not actually authors.) One was a blog post and the other two were strings of tweets on Twitter.

They were of the mind that all writers who self publish completely, utterly, and in all other ways suck. They gave “proof”. (I use quotes here as my opinion implies that what they offered was not actually proof.)

Their “proof” (there are those pesky, sarcastic quotes again) is as follows…in a nutty, nutty nutshell:

  • If indie authors could write a decent book, they would be picked up by a traditional publisher. Period. Full stop. End of story.
  • “Real” authors (who are traditionally published) think indie authors suck, too. So there!
  • Indie authors are mucking up the world! Pigs are flying! Hell is freezing over!
  • Indie authors are so bad, they should stop writing. Now. Because. The mucking up of the world and the pigs and whatnot. Also, they suck. (Oh, and are not traditionally published.)

I have no intention of stopping.

I also have no plans to go after an agent or try to get traditionally published for future books. I made a choice not to go that route. I do not regret it.

Let’s just go ahead and say it, shall we? There are some bad indie books out there.

Go figure. These people were right. There are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad self-published books out there. Egads! (Psst… You. Stereotyping indie authors. There are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad traditionally published books out there, too. Yes. There are.) As far as self-published books go, I have read some bad ones, some so-so ones, and some amazing ones.

Instead of getting into a debate with these people, let’s just demonstrate how wrong they are. Writers love the “show don’t tell”, right? So…

The most persuasive argument against this type of tripe is the following formula:

Produce a high-quality self-published book. Ignore those who belittle indie authors. Produce another high-quality self-published book.

I suppose their point is that we indies are incapable of writing high-quality stuff. We are chaff and should be thrown away unless someone somewhere in the distant hills and valleys of La-La
Land (or the Big Apple or wherever) decides we are grain. I call bullshit on that.

Carry on, my fellow indies. Be the best damn writers you can be. Prove the naysayers wrong. Take time to include the steps needed to create your glittering literary gold. Write, edit, revise, proofread, polish. Publish. Be grain, my friends!

Important public service announcement: This is a cheerleading post, not a rebuttal. I do not wish to get into an argument, dispute, squabble, or feud. I will not fight you in the comments. (What kind of a girl do you think I am?!) I also do not wish to draw attention to negative people who want attention for being negative. Therefore! We will stand tall, fellow indies, and follow the rules set forth here. Do not feed the trolls!  

About the Author

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi.

She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them.

When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

Find and follow Sarah

Amazon Author Page    Website    Lemon Shark    Lemon Shark Reef

Twitter    BookBub     Google+    Goodreads

Books by Sarah Brentyn

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.

On the Edge of a Raindrop

When You’re on the Edge, It’s Easy to Fall

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop.

Hinting at Shadows

No One Escapes Life Unscathed

Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.

A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning. A boy desperate for his father’s affection. A woman forced to make a devastating decision. A man trapped by his obsessions.

Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction.

Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath.

These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows.

Tell me a story!

If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…

If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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97 Responses to Guest author: Sarah Brentyn ~ Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

  1. Thank you so much for allowing me to guest post here, Sue. ❤ You are a lovely and generous hostess.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Marcia says:

    YES!! A thousand times YES!! You said it perfectly, Sarah. (And I love that you quoted Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a favorite of my kids. And of mine.) Not to belabor the point–okay, I’m totally belaboring it–but but both good and bad writers and writing exist, no matter how their work is published. I’m with you, standing tall here, and trying to be better with each and every book I write. And I am blessed to live in a time where self-publishing is even an option. I’m going to be a GRAIN. I choose oats, because . . . tasty! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 7 people

    • Right?! It *is* a capital-worthy ‘YES’, isn’t it? Belabor that point all you want. Writing can be good and not-so-good regardless of the publication process. What matters is what’s inside the cover, not what publishing icon is on the spine. Stand tall, my friend. You are grain. Mmm…oats… 🙂 ❤

      P.S. You got the Alexander reference. Aww… You're awesome.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. In summary:
    Self publish a high quality book, write, repeat.
    Got it!
    Like your self published books, this post is awesome and good writing. Best use of quotation marks I’ve seen all day, by the way.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Marcia says:

    Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Here’s a guest post from Sarah Brentyn on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo that I think might strike a chord with a lot of you. Check it out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous post and one that gave a huge boost to this Indie writer! I’ve read some wonderful, inspiring stuff from writers like Marcia and it’s irritating and frustrating when people make negative comparisons based more on the weight of the publishing company behind it than on the content of the book itself. I shall now resolve to follow this excellent advice and hone my skills. In the end, it’s being genuinely appreciated by readers – however few (!) that matters and not the sometimes inflated numbers of reviews that follow the big money – and I do acknowledge that a great many of the big names are fabulous writers, too.
    I’m already a fan of oats (it’s the Scottish in me) but I prefer them with milk and a bit of maple syrup rather than the traditional salt and water… Hope that’s not too wimpy after such a rousing rallying call.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Marcia says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Trish, and for standing up tall and being a GRAIN. A fellow oat-lover, too. (Milk and syrup sounds good to me.) Isn’t this just a terrific post? So glad Sue had Sarah as her guest today. This one is just, plain inspiring to us Indies. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • It really is frustrating. You’re so right! As I said to Marcia, “What matters is what’s inside the cover, not what publishing icon is on the spine.” And, though you and I might be in the minority, I agree with you about being genuinely appreciated by readers (however few).

      I read a lot of traditionally published authors, too, and, yes, there are some amazing books out there for sure. There’s no denying that. None at all. 🙂

      So happy this post gave you a boost! Hone your skills, fellow writer, and stand tall! (Or, you know, sit in your bowl as a delicious oats-with-milk-and-maple-syrup treat… I’m getting hungry.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • So now I’ve made a typo twice. Well, once then I copied and pasted it. Nice, Brentyn. Nice one.

        Of course, what I meant to say is:

        “What matters is what’s inside the cover, not what publishing logo is on the spine.”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. TanGental says:

    Am I a grain or a grit? Methinks I irritate as much as I nourish. Maybe that’s good. Or it just is. Is is good. Isn’t it? Piglet self published as did Pooh. Trespassers Will. That’s my inspiration. Thank you Sarah for being … hmm… is there a tag for superhumongousawespiringbrillfab? Must look it up. Sorry Sue. I’ve been Brentynned. Mine’s all mush. Go indies! (Do they play in the NFL?)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Brentynned… a good word 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Brentynned. 😀 Ha! Nice.

      A grain or a grit? Hmm… Neither. Maybe grits (a ground corn type oatmeal-like breakfast food). So…grain made into something with a bit of sweetness and a bit of grittiness. It is good. It’s great. And Piglet and Pooh are inspirations for us all. Just takes a special person to realize it. (I’m looking at you, Le Pard.)

      Thanks, Geoff. Praise from such a talented writer might go to my head. (I won’t let it.) Go Indies!


      Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on Lemon Shark and commented:

    I’m at Sue Vincent’s blog today with a fun, little post about indie authors. There’s swearing and sarcasm involved as I’m ranting about how indies are perceived by some:

    I’m at Sue Vincent’s blog today with a fun, little post about indie authors. There’s swearing and sarcasm involved as I’m ranting about how indies are perceived by some:

    “their point is that we indies are incapable of writing high-quality stuff. We are chaff and should be thrown away unless someone somewhere in the distant hills and valleys of La-La Land (or the Big Apple or wherever) decides we are grain. I call bullshit on that.”

    Please check out my piece: Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

    “their point is that we indies are incapable of writing high-quality stuff. We are chaff and should be thrown away unless someone somewhere in the distant hills and valleys of La-La Land (or the Big Apple or wherever) decides we are grain. I call bullshit on that.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be | Lemon Shark

  9. M. L. Kappa says:

    The ‘bad’ thing about self-publishing is that you’re always tempted to press the button too soon. That’s why I haven’t yet—or maybe I’m just a coward? Or plain lazy, postponing the marketing etc. However, I’ve heard horrendous stories of agents and editors making you make changes until you don’t recognize your own book, and then failing to sell it and dumping you like a hot potato. And yes, there’s loads of utterly unreadable traditionally published books out there. But people love to criticize, especially those that are notvery successful themselves. I say, go for it!🌹

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think it’s wise not to press that button too soon. I don’t think it’s cowardice or laziness at all. That said, if you’re happy with it, others have read it and are happy with it, it’s been edited, proofread, polished, etc. then…go for it, as you said. We need more grain out there!

      Okay, I don’t know for sure about the agents/editors but I have seen a lot of those stories, too. It is cringe-worthy to read about writers who have been edited to death. Literally.

      Ah. You’ve hit on something. Perhaps some of those dumping on indies haven’t been successful and/or haven’t been able to land an agent/publisher. ???

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I enjoyed your post, Sarah. From my dabbles into blogging I have discovered that traditionally published authors do not have it much better than Indie authors unless they are a big ticket name. I mean that the publishers don’t do much for them from a marketing perspective. It seems that many traditionally published authors have bought back their book rights so that they can have freedom to promote their books themselves. I am not actually considered to be an Indie author as I do have a publisher. TSL Publications has been wonderful and supportive and there are no shackles to either my creativity or my marketing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think a lot of publishers do very little for the author in terms of promotion/marketing. Not as much as they used to. That’s what it seems like anyway.

      I’ve seen that, too! Authors buying back the rights in order to publish the books themselves. Interesting, isn’t it? Glad to hear your publisher has been so supportive. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Georgia Rose says:

    Fabulous post, Sarah. Thank you. I really needed that this morning. x

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Georgia. And I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that this post came along at a time when you needed it. ❤ (I'm always here for cheerleading if you need it. Just don't tell anyone. Don't want to ruin my dark-streak image, you know?)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. willowdot21 says:

    Well Sue and Sarah that’s a great post. I often wonder if what I have to offer is any good at all. Reading what you have said puts fire in my belly! Thank you! 💜

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Wonderful to see you over here, Sarah. This is a prejudice like any other. You can’t lump all of a specific group in one basket.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. amreade says:

    You. Are. Awesome. Everything you said is spot-on.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Debbi says:

    My gosh! I’m so clueless, I had no idea there was still that much trashing of indie authors still going on!

    I’ve been indie since 2009 and have no regrets about it.

    Oh, and I guess these self-righteous idiots didn’t bother to point out the really bad crap that the Big Six (or Big Five or whatever the number is now) crank out. 🙂

    Thank you, Sarah. And huzzah! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Um, so, yeah, there is. I know, right? I thought it had diminished but, alas, it’s out in full force. Bah!

      You are an excellent writer, my friend. NYT best-selling author, too, I might add. Why would you regret anything? Even for me, as one of the little guys, there’s no reason to regret taking that path as long as I’m happy.

      No, they didn’t point out any crap from the Big Five (six…four…who can keep up?) but I’m not entirely sure they believed there is any. If it’s traditionally published, I guess they think it’s good. *shrug*

      Thanks, Debbi! 🙂 Huzzah!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Juliet says:

    Dearest Sarah, you are in fact more than just grain. You are a beautiful big field of golden wheat. Sway in the breeze, my Indie friend. Go Indies! Go! 🌾

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Great job Sarah and quite agree. It is the same rubbish that has been spouted for the last 20 years and when I published my first book it was rampant. Now I tend to ignore it but will sometimes pop over to catch up with their books… most of the time there are none. I write to be read and if I had waited for a publishing deal ( I did for two years the first time) none of my books would have seen the light of day. Are they best sellers and literary masterpieces. No. But people seem to enjoy them and that is what is important. Thanks for hosting Sue… hugs to you both.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Meet the #Reviewers – Monday 24th September 2018 – Leslie Tate, Olga Nunez Miret and Sue Vincent with Sarah Brentyn | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  19. Adele Marie says:

    Yep, well said. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  20. dgkaye says:

    Great article Sarah. All truth. And it’s important to NEVER feed the trolls! ❤ xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Loni Townsend says:

    I’ve always been partial to calrose rice myself. 😉

    Dude, a lot of the points you hit had my internal twitch response going full blast. Thankfully, I’ve surrounded myself with indie authors, so I don’t often come across the comments. But still, it’s one of those unforgivable grudges I still hold against people who make blanket statements.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry about the internal twitching but it’s a twitch-worthy subject. And it really is unforgivable. Blankets are bullshit (in this context–warm, fluffy ones on a winter’s day are good). You’re an amazing writer, calrose rice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. What a thoroughly enjoyable rant, Sarah, with plenty of sarcasm (my favorite thing) and cheerleading (my second favorite thing). I completely agree with you. In fact, when I was traditionally published, by books were poorly edited, poorly priced, and the covers were awful. Self-publishing resulted in better editing, better covers, and much-improved distribution and sales. So there, I say, to all the naysayers! Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha! A thoroughly enjoyable rant. Now that’s a sentence you don’t see very often. In Brentyn’s world, sarcasm is always available. Cheerleading is available by special order only.
      You are too kind to visit and comment, my friend. I know you’re caught up in Life Stuff. ❤
      I’m thrilled to hear from you on this topic because your writing is AMAZING and I did know a bit about your experience as a traditionally published author. Everyone chooses his or her own path and, if it works, that is wonderful. In your case, I’d say it worked out beautifully on all counts.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. Teri Polen says:

    Well said, my friend. Love your snark, and completely agree – it’s like we’re sympatico!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Hi Sarah, I loved your comments, and I also love the sounds of your books. I am Anne Copeland, and I too am an Indie Author, and also a student in The Silent Eye Mystery School which is beyond belief wonderful! My take on being an Indie Author, and believe it or not, I have been one since 1989 (yes, I am an oldie but goodie at almost 77 come November) is that it is a more holistic method of writing. We are directly engaged in the whole process from the beginning until way past the actual publication of the book. We have to learn what it takes to market our books, and to do all the steps that come afterward. It’s sort of like the regular doctor, who treats our symptoms, and the holistic doctor, who looks at everything going on in our lives inside and out, including the symbolic issues. So in the end result, we become more directly involved with our own healing, and that is always a good thing.

    So looking back at 1989. I had a pumpkin cookbook that was so much more – folklore, history, planting care and varieties, canning, etc. It had taken me three long years to complete the book, suffering through it as I did with a breakdown and near suicide (clearly not successful thank goodness) that was not related to the book. A friend had told me that when I submitted to the publishers (and that was what we had in that day), to make a list of the reasons for rejections, which I had done. I am not kidding when I say that I submitted to nearly 600 publishers in the U.S. and abroad. It was an expensive process to send the manuscripts, for the book was not short, and it was months, and in one case at least, more than a year before I got word that they liked it (they all liked it, but believed it to be “too seasonal” being a pumpkin cookbook). So this was step 1 in the college of publishing. I still believe to this day that the ones that kept it for so long published it under another name, etc. as they were overseas, and I had no way to really find out, and no money to take action if they had. That would have been ridiculous.

    Step 2. I took a full-time second job as an editor of a local small town newspaper. Now I had two full-time jobs; I was working this second job in exchange for the printing of the book and its cover. So after awhile, I had earned enough to have 5,000 copies printed. I went and got the pages and the cover, and then I had a collation party/potluck, and got all my friends to help me collate and comb bind the book, and of course I had to give each of them (and some others who helped along the way) a copy. Oh, I forgot to say that in the beginning I hired a local artist/hippy type gal, who did all the illustrations for me for the chapters and the cover and I had paid her from part of my salary of my first job.

    Step 3. Selling. I did take the book to a lot of bookstores in my overall general area, and that was quite a job and cost lost of miles travel and time, all while working full-time still! Only one paid for the books up front, but all the rest took them as it were on consignment, and I had to check each month in person to see if any sold, and then get my small check for royalties as they had to get something out of it too. Then it was listed with the Library of Congress so I actually got mail orders, and then I had to wrap up those copies to mail and pay the postage to get them to the people. It did not take too long before all my copies were gone except for one or two I wanted to keep for myself. I had typeset the book and pasted up all the artwork, etc. (I also had a small graphic arts company I ran from under the home where I lived on a hillside of a Southern California peninsula).

    Step 4. Broke. No money for getting more books, and I was too tired now and needing medical attention from trying to work two full-time jobs. So now would be a long-term interim.

    In 2011, I had knee replacement surgery from an accident, and decided that would be a good time to create Edition 2 of the cookbook. So the story began once again, only by now, there were indie publishers, esp. of Ebooks. So, . . . as I recovered from the knee surgery (which in those days took a long time), I began work on the book again. By this time, I had a close friend who did my cover art, and I also was a fiber and mixed media artist, so I had a lot of my fiber arts friend provide me with pumpkin-related photos and lots of quilt photos, and changed to those instead of the drawings.

    Published with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishers, and so the book sat there for these many years, and this year I decided to go paperback since I have realized that an Ebook cookbook is not a huge seller no matter how good it might be. This is the school of learning period. So I have re-edited it once again and added a few things here and there, and changed the cover again since the one I had looked somewhat dated, and also did not fit the template right. So here we are at the gateway of publishing the third edition. Has it been worth it, all that work? Of course! If money is not your main object, and mine never has been, you learn more than you ever will in college, and also, you make a lot of interesting and worthwhile friends, and you discover a whole new world out there. I think there is a wealth of experience to be gained that you simply cannot get from an old school publisher. Also, today it is becoming more and more difficult to get an old school publisher because they have to make a big investment in each book, even the bad ones, since they print enough books up to presumably distribute for sale. And what happens if a book doesn’t sell and make them money in a prescribed amount of time? It gets remaindered, where it will be sold very cheaply – anywhere from $1 to several dollars at stores like the 99 cent store, etc. And that will be the end of the publishing with that company. Sometimes they sell them in bulk cheap to overseas sources, where once again, it may be copied and resold and you will never see any of it.

    So good for you to go with the indie publishers, or print-on-demand publishers. Even today, unlike my experience, you still have a lot that you can learn by doing your publishing this way. Either way of course is a personal choice, and being picked up by a major publisher today does not mean what it did back in the day. I admire you for the choices you are making in your young life, and I think you are never going to regret any of them. It sounds like your writing is wonderful, and full of wisdom. Life is too short not to have adventure in it, and this is definitely a wonderful adventure! Good to meet you here. Oh, and just in case you might like to sample my writing, I do have a blog called And Sue knows me pretty well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. You’ve been at this for a long time. I like your comparison of indie authors to a holistic approach. We get the whole picture and are directly involved in the entire process. Certainly sounds as though you’ve had some ups and downs here but glad it all worked out. It’s an adventure for sure! Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are very welcome, Sarah. Yes, it has been a wonderful education. I have also been involved with publishing (not my own work) for a publisher who printed books on monetary theory and still used hot type!!! A few technical publishers (computers and electronics engineers), software manuals, and quality assurance manuals. I also was editor for two different newspapers (local–one in the healthcare industry and one community newspaper (the one I exchanged for first edition of my book. Yes, it was an adventure and one I would not change for the world.

        I don’t think we need to argue for self publishing vs old school publishing. There will always be plenty of candidates for each one, and I am sure something new will come up before we are old. It is good that we all have our personal choices just as some people choose to use computer, others laptop, and still others might prefer Ipads or cell phones. That is fine for us to have so many choices. It doesn’t bother me a bit, and if you talk about it that way, most of those people who argue just to be arguing will disappear because you don’t supply the fuel for their fires. There are people who have nothing better than to try to make themselves look better than everyone else; they would not need to do that if they were comfortable in their own shoes. Peace and blessings, Anne

        Liked by 2 people

  25. Norah says:

    Thanks for giving Sarah a spot to rant on your blog, Sue. I totally agree. There are good and bad in any form of publishing. And then there’s brilliance. Sarah’s stories are brilliant. I have read both these books and am more than happy to recommend them to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thanks for sticking up for us. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  27. leellington says:

    As a new indie author, this is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I don’t even listen to those nay-sayers anymore. There are tons of indie authors making a good living at it. I plan to be one of those. And I’m not self-published because I couldn’t get an agent or publishing deal, I didn’t even try! I’m self-published because I want to do it all myself. So there.

    Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 2 people

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