Be the Monkey, as is explained in the forward, is a Google Documents conversation (actually, a series of conversations) that has been saved and compiled into a short eBook. Two authors, Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath, discuss in detail the self publishing revolution and what that means to authors. Now, this has been talked about extensively within the self publishing community. I’ve read tons of blog articles on this subject. But what gives Be the Monkey some extra flavor is that both Eisler and Konrath are successful authors. Crazy successful. What’s more, while Konrath more or less carved his success right out of the self publishing world, Eisler first made his mark as a best selling author in the traditional publishing world. His “defection” (my word, not his) to self publishing has apparently caused quite a stir in the publishing industry.
This book is insightful and quite educational. This is not so much a “how to” book as it a “why to” book. These two writers articulate exceedingly well the reasons for all authors, new and established, to consider self publishing. The fact that both are established (and commercially successful) authors gives them a great deal of credibility. I won’t go into all of the points they make in here (and I especially won’t reveal why the book is titled the way it is. Hint: it’s gross). But essentially the authors make the case that the established publishing industry is clinging to an outmoded business model, one that exposes the monopoly mentality they possess. Self publishing, particularly since 2009, has blown open the doors of accessibility and opportunity to writers. The success they both share bolster their arguments significantly, in my mind.
The negatives I took away from this book are few, but they’re there. I have to say that I still don’t understand the animosity both Eisler and Konrath express toward DRM. In addition, I have to admit that I became annoyed at the occasional political commentary. (note: Eisler is a political blogger as well as a novelist, so he freely allows some of his illustrations to be of a political nature). A couple of chapters are spent discussing just what it is that Amazon offers through its publishing imprint. I felt this discussion went on much longer than it needed to.
Overall, a fantastic read. I think all writers should take some time and read this. Unless you’re just dead set against the notion of self publishing, you can’t help but be motivated by these two writers. Heck, even if you are dead set, you may just find yourself reconsidering.