Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Gene Doucette

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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#Authorship and #Publishing ~ “Tell Me I’m Pretty”

Should authors decide how their book should be promoted?


Image Courtesy of Marinela Prodan ~

Are the agents and editors of traditional publishing (and their industry cohorts) the only people on the planet who know what’s best for an author?

To begin to answer those questions, I’ll share excerpts from an article by Gene Doucette—best-selling author, screenwriter, and playwright—but first, I’ll quote from one of my own articles—Are Readers Going To Be The New Gatekeepers?:

“Should more readers demand that authors forget about genre and write what the unique combination of theme, plot, and character demands of their creativity?”

“Is it conceivable that the reading public could select books based on plot characteristics or character interactions or theme arcs?”

“I do believe that, eventually, readers will have an exceedingly easy time in finding exactly what they desire; and, that they will become the primary ‘gatekeepers’ in the Book-World.”

Gene’s article is oh, so appropriately called, Tell Me I’m Pretty.

Here are a few excerpts:

“The argument is that the gatekeepers in the traditional publishing path are important because they know what’s actually of good quality, but the industry they man the gates for is interested in what will actually sell.”

“They’re there to pick books they think will sell, and it turns out ‘quality manuscripts’ and ‘books that will sell’ aren’t always the same thing.  And that means the marketplace itself makes for a better gatekeeper.”

Here comes the part where authors want someone to tell them they’re “pretty”:

“Writing can be terrifyingly feedback-free, and we’re not necessarily the best ones to ask if we have talent.  We want someone else to tell us, and we want that someone to be a person whose opinion actually matters.

“In traditional publishing, the people whose opinions matter are called agent, editor, or publisher, and it wasn’t so long ago that theirs was the only opinion that mattered, because if they didn’t think you were pretty, nobody else got an opportunity to weigh in.

“That’s no longer true, because self-publishing doesn’t require the advance opinion of anyone in the traditional publishing industry.”

Any author who’s agonizing over whether to (very likely) suffer through massive rejection from the traditional gatekeepers or learn what’s necessary to self-publish needs to read Gene’s full article.

Also, you might want to check out the 145 articles on self-publishing that I’ve written—this article will also be at that link since I must tag it with “self-publishing” :-)

I’ll end this post with a powerful statement from Gene:

“What I’m saying is, let the marketplace tell you you’re pretty.  In the end, it’s the only opinion that matters.”

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How Close to Insanity Is the Traditional Publishing Industry?

As of this writing, I have 11 posts about Traditional Publishers <— that link includes this post… 

But, I also have 33 posts about Traditional Publishing—see the Subject Index Links in the left side-bar, for other Fine Distinctions :-)

Usually, my GoTo person for explanations about the inane activities of traditional publishers is Joe Konrath.

But I’ve found another author who can eloquently explain the actions of an industry that’s being severely challenged by the opportunities created by digital technology

Before I share some insights from this author, I need to reference two posts I wrote back in 2014 about a fracas between one of the Big 5 traditional publishers and Amazon:

Financial “Entitlement” Morphs Into “Legal” Outrage ~ Amazon & Hachette

Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…

I want you to be able to access those when you read what I’ll share from an article by author Gene Doucette, called The Collective Insanity of the Publishing Industry.

I should interrupt myself and give you a link (even though it’s also in the Subject Index Links) to all my posts on Self-Publishing, in case you’re a writer and what I share today makes you wonder where you can get published—in a sane manner

Also, I urge you to actually go read the full article by Mr. Doucette because he’s been Independently Published and Self-Published

A few excerpts from Gene’s article:

“In 2014, there was a drawn-out dispute between Amazon, and Hachette.”

“The essence of the dispute was that Hachette—and all the other publishers we affectionately refer to as ‘the Big 5’—wanted more control over the list price of their e-books on Amazon.”

“…if Hachette wanted to charge $15.99 for an ebook, and Amazon marked it down to $9.99, Hachette was still paid their cut of the full price of the book.”

Note: people tend to by more copies of a book if it costs less…

A few more excerpts:

“Hachette fought for, and won from Amazon, the return to something called the Agency Model, whereby they set their price and Amazon wasn’t allowed to reduce that price.”

“Soon after that contract was signed, the other Big 5 contracts came due, and they all asked for the same Agency Model arrangement.  Thus, the finest minds in publishing—or one might assume—negotiated themselves out of an arrangement whereby they sold more units at a lower cost without suffering the financial impact that comes with a lower unit cost.

“On purpose.

“This isn’t even the crazy part.”

Part of the crazy part was that the Big 5 then made their e-books even more expensive

Gene goes on to describe how, after 6 months of the Big 5’s reduced e-book sales, they proclaimed that print books were making a come back

You really should go read Gene’s description of these events—he writes extremely well; but, for me, the upshot is that traditional publishing, under pressure from the wild success of digital self-publishing, shot itself in both feet

And, this whole story doesn’t even approach the sick “games” traditional publishers play with the lives of their authors

Perhaps things like this were one of the reasons I published a novel that has a completely insane Corporate World
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