Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Further Considerations On Traditional Publishers

traditional publishing Yes, the publishing world is getting as mad as the Hatter.

Yes, there are major risks and opportunities out there.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the changes, check out a few topics in the Subject Index Links in the left side-bar

Also, reading an article from Kristine Kathryn Rusch can help. She’s also published under a number of different pen names.

The article I’ll be referencing says some clearly harsh things about traditional publishers yet they seem to have earned the comments.

I originally used a Publishing Aid company, FastPencil, for my novel. You can get a feel for my reasons for using this company in the post, Writer, Agent, Publisher ~ Changing Hats…

I really don’t think I’d ever sign a contract with a traditional publisher and Kristine Kathryn Rusch gives amply reasons in her article, The Business Rusch: Competition.

Knowing that many blog readers don’t click through on links, I’ll give a few excerpts from the article:

“Just a few years ago, traditional publishers had a monopoly. They controlled the distribution of books. This meant that the publishers dictated terms to booksellers and they dictated terms to writers. What resulted was what happens whenever anyone controls a marketplace: lots of nasty business practices, lots of unfairness, and lots of take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.”

She goes on to detail many of the worst business practices, then, mid-way through the article, she says:

“I’m a realist. I know that most writers will never go indie, even if it is in the writer’s best interest. Writers rarely make the hard choices for their best interest. Writers—established or not—are desperate to be published, and will probably sell their grandmother (for one-one-thousandth her worth) just to get their novel published by a regional press….if I had my druthers, I would indie publish and traditionally publish. I don’t like having all of my eggs in one basket, even if I own the basket myself.”

Later, she says two things she feels all writers should agree on:

“We should be willing to walk away when a traditional publisher offers us terms we don’t like.”

We should never ever ever ever sign a blanket non-compete clause.”

She goes on to explain, in detail, the dangers of that kind of contract clause.

I’ve wanted to reference one of this woman’s posts for quite awhile—she’s been there, she knows the pitfalls…


Do you feel traditional is the Only way to go?

Do you know a writer who feels that?

Are you an Indie only person?

Are you completely confused about what to do?

If you have no other resources you trust, you might want to read posts on publishing here.  Don’t forget to notice the “older posts” link at the end of each page :-)
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10 responses to “Further Considerations On Traditional Publishers

  1. Simone Benedict March 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I’m still of the mind if a traditional publisher offered me a gazillion dollars, I’d probably cave…


  2. Jane Watson March 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Actually, I may be wrong but, at least in Australia… if they give you a gazillion dollars in an advance ( let’s hope they do;) they can never take that away. That’s your cash…You just don’t get any more money until the amount you have earned in sales equals that gazillion and then you start earning royalties :-) So no sales, no royalties. How much is a gazillion anyway? – enough to live in a forest, by a lake with a dog and write for the rest of your life? I’ll take the gazillion…. for now;)


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 29, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      In an essay from The New York Times, this is said of the term “earn out” on an advance:

      “As a payment to be deducted from future royalties, an advance is a publisher’s estimate of risk.”

      Also, from another site:

      “The amount of advance paid is based loosely around the number of copies the publisher expects the book to sell: higher projected sales usually equals a higher advance (and a correspondingly higher promotional budget). When a book earns out, that projected number has been exceeded: from this point on, its writer will receive royalty cheques for every sale made.”

      So, when I said “lose every penny”, I wasn’t being clear enough; “lose every penny of potential royalties” might be better??


  3. Jane Watson March 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    However may I just add on a more serious note that many traditional publishers here offer very bad terms and many writers I know have to fight tooth and nail to get a contract that seems in anyway reasonable…it is a power game and they have the power – that can’t be good.That would be a powerful reason to cut free….


  4. ksaugustin March 30, 2012 at 1:52 am

    I’ve read contracts from traditional publishers and from small presses and it’s depressing how rapacious both types are. The fairest contracts appear to come from digital presses that also release POD editions of their longer books. They seem to understand that their own bottom lines are enhanced by good relationships with their stable of authors, something a lot of print presses seem to have forgotten.

    I’ve committed to self-pubbing for the next 3+ years (have only been at it for 8 months now), so am not considering a trad deal but I’m greedy enough to consider any deal that comes along. If it comes along. Which it probably won’t. It’s true that I might end up sinking into the seas of obscurity after this entire experiment is over, but I hope not. We’ll see.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 30, 2012 at 1:59 am

      Thanks for your differentiation of legacy & small presses from POD.

      Also, the despicable nature of, especially, legacy publishers is captured quite well by your use of the word “rapacious”.

      Here’s hoping you don’t sink and that your raft of promotion stays strong but limber :-)


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

  6. Pingback: Publishing News Is Having A Crisis | Notes from An Alien

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