Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Are Traditional Publishers Really All That Bad?

There’s an Internet Media War going on.

The combatants are taking sides based on Traditional publishing and what’s being referred to as Indie publishing.

Like all wars, media or not, issues become quickly politicized and the truth of the situation becomes enveloped in a dense fog

Back in June, I wrote, The Complexities of Publishing, and featured a post by Joel Friedlander, a man deeply committed to the Indie-way yet supplying some good reasons to consider the Traditionals.

One thing seems certain, even though “seems certain” is a strange phrase, taking a word that connotes surety and modifying it with one that implies precaution, yet, in the current flux in publishing, my next statement is as close as I can safely come to a prediction:

What your descendants call “publishing” will not be anything like what folks are now wrangling over

I’m going to reference two recent posts that show some of the clearer thinking being done, one leaning back from the Traditional way and one leaning, circumspectly, toward it.

Jon Evans writes in TechCrunch that “Publishing Still Doesn’t Get It” and Kristine Kathryn Rusch explores Writers and Traditional Publishing Companies.

Jon’s is swift and punchy; Kristine’s is thoughtful and instructive.

Are you, or do you know, a writer preparing for publishing?

Do you have any “inside” information on the Traditional or Indie publishing routes?

What do you think Readers need to know about all this??
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6 responses to “Are Traditional Publishers Really All That Bad?

  1. Jane Watson November 26, 2011 at 6:27 am

    I think when talking about traditional versus indie publishing nowadays one needs also to look at the traditional way of selling books. One of the problems now for traditionally published writers is the way this is done by bookshops. It may not be the same all over the world but where I live, in Australia, there is a method of sale in bookshops called Sale & Return. This means that the bookseller may take so many copies of a novel to sell and is allowed within a certain time frame, usually 6 months, to return them to the publisher, if they are not selling. Many bookshops panic and send them back much earlier than 6 months because they do not want to be inadvertently left holding the goods. Effectively this means that a new book (especially a debut novel) only has about 3 months to take hold. This does not allow for books which gain an audience slowly. It would certainly have excluded from the shelf many famous books from the past which gained an audience in a slow and measured way. It does not allow a book’s reputation to ‘mature’ and puts the book out there almost like fast food – to be consumed straight away or not at all … and surely this type of literary consumerism cannot be good for any culture :)


  2. Alexander M Zoltai November 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Yes, Jane, we have the same bookstore policy in the USA.

    I remember reading that this policy also cuts into the advance authors receive since sales must reach a certain level to “justify” the advance; and, if sales are slow, the author must pay-back some of the advance—sometimes, all of it :-(

    And, in terms of Indie coupled with Internet sales, many authors speak of the “long-tail” on sales—letting the book continue to sell as its reputation”matures”…


  3. cmmarcum November 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

    The price of dead tree books will continue to rise, and traditional publishers will enter the ebook market. Perhaps they will wait too long, but even if they do crawl over the finish line, traditional publishers will have to do more than switch from paper to e-publishing.

    Traditional publishes have the ‘gates’ closed too tight, opting to work with a few select writers, charging too much for each book and not offering enough choices. Independent sites have the gates flung too wide and belch out too much trash to capture the readers.

    So neither one has the correct formula. Perhaps, someone will ‘get-it.’ When they do, I hope they offer stock options.


    • Alexander M Zoltai November 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      I think the “stock options” are being grabbed-up by the authors who are riding the crest of the change-wave—the folks doing the right research and making the most informed decisions on which direction to turn and when to execute each turn


  4. Pingback: Every Which Way But Traditional « The Write Transition

  5. Pingback: Publishing News Is Having A Crisis « Notes from An Alien

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