Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Dean Wesley Smith

The Conversation Continues ~ the Issues with Traditional Publishing . . .


Recently, our Conversation here has had a focus on Publishing, in the post on March 14th—The Conversation Is Still Fizzling . . .—and the post on March 19th—Back to Our Conversations ~ What the Heck Is Privishing?… Traditional Publishing

And, a regular reader (and poet) had this comment on the post of the 19th:

“Does it ever make sense for a book publishing company to suppress a book, not to mention that it is contrary to their very reason for existence? It speaks to the arrogance of such companies and individuals who think that they know what will sell, and more importantly, what the public wants to read. They have been proven to be completely wrong in many cases and will continue to practice their arrogance despite this fact.”

Very strong words, yet easy to back up…

For instance, from the post here in November 2017—Why Traditional Publishing Is Not for Serious Writers . . .—excerpts from author Erica Verrillo, critiquing a senior literary editor at Random House:

“We think editors at publishing houses edit. The truth is they spend most of their time responding to memos, developing profit-and-loss statements, figuring out advances, supplementing publicity efforts, fielding calls from agents, attending meetings, and so on. They edit on weekends and evenings, and on the train as they are commuting.”

“Privishing (where the publisher quietly suppresses books, whether intentionally or not) has become the norm for publishers for various reasons, the first of which is that there are limitations on budgets. The second is that editors compete for those budgets.”

“The negative attitude that editors develop about manuscripts and proposals is in part because budgets are limited, and is in part driven by competition. But mindless rejection is also an inherent feature of publishing….Editors are not only competing for budgets, they are engaged in what may be described as a pissing contest in snark.”

“…publishers identify writers as ‘outsiders’, as ‘them’, even though their income depends on the people they publish. This, I believe, is a significant component of the attitude that is shared almost universally among publishers…”

Then, in a post here from March 2016—How Close to Insanity Is the Traditional Publishing Industry?—I excerpted Gene Doucette (who’s been traditionally and self-published); but, rather than include those excerpts here, I’ll share the link to the article my post excerpted—The Collective Insanity of the Publishing Industry

And, finally, I present to the jury information from a post here in August of 2015—Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing—and, this time, I’ll first share this info from that post:

“…there’s an author named Dean Wesley Smith who spent 40 years with traditional publishers, then did it all himself, then helped start a mid-sized publishing company. He’s written the article, The New World of Publishing: The Real Price of Traditional Publishing.”

Here are a few excerpts:

“In the last two years I have seen a couple dozen author contracts from various traditional houses. ‘Life of Copyright’ is always a non-negotiable contract term in the United States if you are a normal-level writer.”

“The ‘life of a copyright’ at the moment in the US is the life of the author plus 70 years.

“An example: I finish the book I am working on. I am 65 years of age. Say I live another 30 years to 95. Then add 70 years and the life of the copyright for the novel I just finished will be 100 years.

“That’s what the ‘Life of Copyright’ term in a contract means.

“That’s right, your great-grandkids might be able to get your book back that you sold for a few thousand in one hundred years or so. But at that point the book will drop into the public domain and not be worth anything to them.”

“The real price of traditional publishing is total loss of control over your work.”

Now, I’ll give you a link to the archive of posts on this blog about Self-Publishing

If you want to keep this Conversation going, just share your thoughts and/or feelings in the Comments… :-)
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Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing


With this post, I’ve written 29 articles dealing with what’s called Traditional Publishing.

The Real Price of Traditional Publishing

Printing Press Image courtesy of Tracy Olson ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/designkryt-45681

For those who haven’t had to find out about different types of publishing, “traditional” involves finding an agent (who usually gets 15% of whatever you make) who shops your book to the publishing companies—when accepted by a publisher, an advance against possible royalties is given and the author is then pretty much kept out of the loop for the rest of the book’s life

By the way, those advances against sales have been getting smaller and smaller.

Also, nothing beyond the advance is paid to the author until royalties from sales pays off the advance.

Plus, if the book doesn’t sell well, it can be yanked from the stores within two weeks.

Then there are all the wicked things that happen behind legal language in author contracts.

And, the marketing of the book (unless you’re already famous) is minimal

Naturally, some folks have made a lot of money with traditional publishing; yet, many more have been cheated out of earnings and bullied into concessions they should never have had to consider

By the way, I’ve written 126 articles about Self-Publishing… 

However, there’s an author named Dean Wesley Smith who spent 40 years with traditional publishers, then did it all himself, then helped start a mid-sized publishing company. He’s written the article, The New World of Publishing: The Real Price of Traditional Publishing.

Here are a few excerpts:

“In the last two years I have seen a couple dozen author contracts from various traditional houses. ‘Life of Copyright’ is always a non-negotiable contract term in the United States if you are a normal-level writer.”

“The ‘life of a copyright’ at the moment in the US is the life of the author plus 70 years.

“An example: I finish the book I am working on. I am 65 years of age. Say I live another 30 years to 95. Then add 70 years and the life of the copyright for the novel I just finished will be 100 years.

“That’s what the ‘Life of Copyright’ term in a contract means.

“That’s right, your great-grandkids might be able to get your book back that you sold for a few thousand in one hundred years or so. But at that point the book will drop into the public domain and not be worth anything to them.”

And, then, after going through some examples of money-making with traditional vs self-publishing, he says:

“The real price of traditional publishing is total loss of control over your work.”

If you’re looking to someday publish, or you have friends who are, Dean’s article is a must read

Another author who’s been in the traditional trenches and is doing very well with self-publishing is Joe Konrath.
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Writers Becoming Their Own Publisher


I’ve written a lot about “self-publishing” and I need to, finally, clear up a misconception.

I haven’t actually “self-published”; I’ve used a Print-On-Demand publisher rather than a Traditional publisher.

Right now, the grades seem to be: Traditional, Independent, “Aided”, and Self-publishing.

Pure Self-publishing is done through places like Smashwords and Amazon; “Aided” is through companies like FastPencil (what I use).

But, the ultimate gig for highly industrious writers is to Be their Own Independent Publisher

This is something I will never do; and, the man I’m going to point you towards has enough experience to prove that only the most energetic writers are capable of being their own full-blown publisher.

It’s one thing to use Amazon to publish an e-book; it’s quite another thing to produce print and e-books and distribute them yourself to Amazon as well as other Web companies, then go on to distribute to bookstores, handle returns, and a thousand other tasks.

Dean Wesley Smith, according to Wikipedia, “is a science fiction author, known primarily for his Star Trek novels, film novelizations, and other novels of licensed properties such as Smallville, Spider-Man, X-Men, Aliens, Roswell, and Quantum Leap.” And, according to his own Bio: “Over his career he has also been an editor and publisher, first at Pulphouse Publishing, then for VB Tech Journal, then for Pocket Books. Currently, he is writing thrillers and mystery novels under another name.”

He’s created his own WMG Publishing House as well as chronicled all the considerations and tasks necessary to be one’s own publisher in the workshop, Think Like A Publisher.

Here are the various sections:

1… Early Decisions

2…Expected Costs

3…Projected Income

4…Production and Scheduling

5…Basics of Production

6…Covers and Publisher Looks

7…Sales Plan

8…Prices, Discounts, and Sales

9…Selling to Independent Bookstores

9.5…The Secret of Indie Publishing

10…The Returns System

11…Electronic Sales to Bookstores

12…The Time It Takes

I hope Dean’s information and experience will help the brave writing-souls who feel they can be their own publisher.

Are you one of those people?

Do you know one?

Actually, there are many other resources on the Web for folks who want to become their own Independent Publishers; but, Dean’s articles are friendly and full of his personal experience.

And, perhaps, every writer could benefit from reading and understanding this process

If you’re a writer, are you considering Traditional, “Aided”, or Self-publishing?

Have you already been published through one of these Paths?

I’m hoping this post gets some Lively Comment activity :-)
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