When it comes to ethics, the RedneckGranola is driven by a prime directive -- "stick it to the man." Basically, greed and injustice demand civil disobedience. Thus sneaking food into a movie theater that charges two dollars for popcorn is unethical, while a theater that charges six dollars demands that I sneak in food to support the cause of the globally popcorn-oppressed. Simple. (a 200% markup is business, a 1000% markup is oppression).
But when it comes to the self-publishing ethics and marketing ethics of my upcoming novel, where do I draw the line? It has been said that "a duck is a duck is a duck." But one could also respond, "duck, duck, goose," so you can see my problem. (Truly mine is a dizzying intellect.) When writing a dieselpunk, weird Western, pulp adventure story there are two main options available for its marketing:
1.) Codify it as I did above, as specifically and accurately as possible.
2.) Fudge on the label by comparing it to something people have actually heard of (in this case, steampunk. Well, more people have heard of steampunk than dieselpunk).
So when it comes to self-publishing how can one adhere to the prime directive and "stick it to the man?" I've decided that the answer has to start by not sticking it to the people. Right? Empowering the people is by nature sticking it to the man. Ah, but what if the people are ignorant chattel playing into the hands of the man? Here is where it gets interesting.
The masses want steampunk. The publishing machine feeds them steampunk. The masses want more steampunk. The industry (teetering on the cusp of ruin despite its 1000% markup) grows desperate for more steampunk. Here steamy-steamy-McSteam, but there simply isn't enough. Solution. Redefine the genre. Broaden the boundaries. I mean, really. Who decides these things anyway? A bunch of aether inspired artists munching on Cheetos and drinking wine straight from the box?
After all, why couldn't a book about transgendered Nazis gone back in time to battle zombie dinosaurs be just as steampunk as, as... thus goes the argument. Pretty soon the genre label means nothing. Readers tire of thinly veiled vampire romance novels decorated with brass goggles and dirigible-facilitated booty calls, and the entire industry moves on.
Decision: I will not yield to the temptation to call my dieselpunk weird Western by the more alluring steampunk title. Instead I will stick it to the man by offering an exciting and enjoyable read to those fans who know about and lust for true dieselpunk and weird Westerns (and to those bold enough to try something new!). I will contribute to the empowering of a truly disenfranchised sub-genre struggling for recognition!