A while back a guy by the name of Jeff Duntemann crossed my Twit Box path. Two tweets in he tossed me a link to a book he had written called Ten Gentle Opportunities. The plug was so natural that it made me laugh…and it made me three dollar poorer. At the time it looked like Ten Gentle Opportunities would languish at the bottom of my reading list – my choices are largely constrained by the Puppy of the Month Book Club these days – but even if the book sucked, it was worth tossing him a couple of bucks just to encourage that kind of behavior.
I almost didn’t pull the trigger on the purchase. Too busy. No previous contact with the author. No recommendations from third parties. After two decades of playing long odds on reading materials and losing, why would I fall back into that old habit? In this case, Jeff was running in the right circles. Whoever introduced Jeff to me via Twitter was an author with a name that I trusted. While Jeff’s taste didn’t align with mine exactly, he was talking in good faith and treated our differences the way they should be treated – as novelties and not deal-breakers.
Besides all that, it was clear that Jeff wasn’t part of the Borg Publishing Alliance. He was a self-published guy not restricted by the demands of a few New York aesthetes. His work at least carried the possibility of new ideas and a fresh voice that hadn’t been milked of all personality by the normal meat-grinder of editors trained the same ways in a few schools to conform to the boiler plate voice coming out of the big publishing houses.
What kind of Pulp Revolutionary would I be if I can’t support a guy doing his own marketing for his own writing on his own time?
The bad kind, that’s what.
So I bought the book, and thought that would be the end of it for a good long while. Well, it now looks like each month will leave me with a gap to fill. Fellow readers will understand the twitchy feeling that results from not having a bookmark stashed in a current read. The thought of reading a book sight unseen by an author about whom I knew practically nothing appealed to me more than reading Castalia House’s latest blockbuster – sorry, Loki’s Child, you’ll have to wait until October – and so Ten Gentle Opportunities rocketed to the top of my list.
At a third of the way through this book I can only say thank god for self-publishers and social media. This is not a review of Ten Gentle Opportunities – I’m only a third of the way through, so it’s too early to say more than that I’m loving it – rather, it is a morality play about of the benefits of the self-publishing model. It is a call to arms for readers to get out there and take chances on the little guys. They might not all provide books as entertaining and different as Duntemann’s, but you’ll face better odds than you will with the Big Five Publishers. Better yet, when you hit that jackpot, you’ll have a new name and a new backlog to start pillaging for even more material.
The social media scene has been a god-send for readers and a fantastic way to push back against the SJW narrative, but at times the Puppy crowd tends to focus on the biggest names and the biggest fights. That’s all well and good, but when you’re spreading around the Pepe Memes and barking back against the Hugo Crowd, don’t forget to spread the love when it comes to the lesser known lights, because some of them – like Jeff Duntermann – are bright indeed.