Sorry, I've been so "quiet" lately guys. There have been several contributing factors: Extended tax return due on Oct 15. Trips to New York for Self Publishing Business Expo and to San Diego for World Fantasy Convention. End of the quarter and having to get royalty statements and checks out (some VERY nice income coming to Ridan author's - yeah that makes me happy). And most importantly being heads down on trying to get a number of titles out for the X-mas season. But there is a topic that is flaming hot right now so I'll take just a few minutes to comment on it.
There have been a number of recent posts about authors and the choices they are making. In general it arises from the push/pull between those staying with traditional publishing and those who evangelize self-publishing. In particular there were these posts:
- Barry Eisler on Joe Konrath's site: Where he speaks about the Stockholm Syndrome.
- Michael Stackpole's House Slaves vs. Spartacus post: Published back in May but mentioned in Barry's post so it's getting some recent notice.
- Micheal Stackpole's Degrees of Slavery post: which discusses how current industry practices and contract clauses put authors into a life of indentured servitude as they are compensated on "future earning potential"
- K.W. Jeter's: Mike Stackpole knows what he's talking about post: Where he speaks about how his eyes have been opened.
It was a surreal experience to be "the veteran," having been involved in indie publishing since 2007, (a lifetime in the compressed world of the fast moving changes) when surrounded famous authors who have sold millions of books, been on the New York Times Bestsellers list and are regarded as founders of movements (such as Jeter is to Steampunk). Both Stackpole and Jeter have put up some self-publishing titles, but my little unknowns (Nathan Lowell, Marshall Thomas, Leslie Ann Moore, Michael J. Sullivan) have pulled in impressive sales that (I would venture to guess) have eclipsed their sales. And my one peer of theirs, Joe Haldeman's Forever war sold 7,100 copies in October and as it is is ranked #1 and #2 on the Amazon bestseller lists I'll believe Jeter when he says that The Forever War is the poster child for "backlists done right".
As has happened in the past...and will happen again. The rhetoric is getting pretty heated. I actually like that. It shows passion, and those without passion are missing out on both the joy and the pain that strong emotions brings.
As frequent visitors to this site know...I'm a proponent of authors...all authors and helping them to choose the path that is right for them. Like Michael Stackpole, I want first and foremost for them to be educated on the choices and make informed decisions...and that's the beauty of the time we are living in now...there ARE CHOICES!!
Draconian publishing contracts are nothing new...and I'll even defend the publishers a bit here by saying they are not done in an Snidely Whiplash, evil-for-evil's sake. They are a result of a flawed system. The traditional publishing model mimics that of venture capital investing. The publishers pony up huge sums of cash (for advances, print runs), and have high overhead costs (large corporate offices, well paid professionals, warehousing fees, money set aside for returns) and must make additional investments for promotion (co-op fees, catalog printing, ARC distribution). In such an environment they impose "controls" to help ensure a profit and they must take a proportionally larger cut because most venture capital ventures fail so the "winners" have to "cover" the losers.
But change is coming...the free market will win out. Even those that are published traditionally will see better contracts because publishers will have to change in order to keep and retain top talent. Don't believe me? Well I can offer up my husband's own contract as living proof. He would never have signed the first contract we received, and because he was already making good money in self-publishing he had the freedom to walk away if it wasn't changed. This is an option that would not have existed for him 3 - 5 years ago...and guess what...it was changed and as I said to many at the WFC convention - I can find no fault with how Michael has been treated by his big-six publisher.
Want another example? Look at all the people being signed by Amazon's new publishing companies: Thomas and Mercer, 47 North, Amazon Encore, Montlake, and on and on. Many who are going that route have their eyes wide open to the pluses and minuses of both paradigm (traditional and self) and by putting pen to paper are endorsing a "new model". I only wish that Amazon would be more transparent about their contracts - they have a very restrictive NDA and I don't see why there shouldn't be transparency. These must be more "author friendly" for the people who are signing them to do so.
So, I guess my message for today is the same I've said many times before. There has never been a better time than now to be an author. Choices abound...opportunities exist. Go out and grab hold of your future - you have more power now than you ever had when traditional publishing was the only game in town.