Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Legacy Publishers

Clearing Our Heads About Amazon

First, even though I cover Reading, Writing, and Publishing, Amazon does not carry only books.

Amazon Hachette

Image Courtesy of mantis wong ~

That may be quite obvious but, in the raging battles over the company, there are many folk who, for various reasons, forget the obvious…

If you haven’t been up to speed on the Amazon-Hachette battle, the best I can do to catch you up is have you read my past post, Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…

And, to catch you up on other important issues in the book and publishing world, check out these articles by Joe Konrath:

For the Authors Guild & Other Legacy Publishing Pundits

Death and the Self-Pubbed Writer

Konrath’s Advice to Publishers

I thought my post up there, with Almost Against My Will in the title, would be my last about Amazon, for awhile—the hoopla and grizzly name-calling is just too much…


When Joe Konrath weighs-in, reason lights up the alleys of conflict, so, I’m sharing this article:

The great Amazon debate: A leading Amazon critic and a self-publishing rock star try to find common ground

This is a communication between Konrath and Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House magazine and editorial advisor of Tin House Books.

At the beginning of the piece, Spillman refers to Konrath as an author who “…has self-published 24 novels (three of them No. 1 Amazon sellers), hundreds of stories, and has sold over 3 million copies of his books.”

Then comes Rob’s letter to Joe, then Joe’s answer, then Rob’s attempt at rapprochement…

For those of you who don’t follow links and read what they point to, I’ll give you just one excerpt of what Joe says concerning his experience with the “Big” publishers and, then, his experience with Amazon:

“I was a Roman prisoner in the Coliseum, being feasted on by lions. Those lions were big publishers. After 20 years, a million written words, and nine rejected novels, I finally landed a book contract. And I worked my ass off and published eight novels with legacy publishers, dozens of short stories with respected magazines, and went above and beyond everything that was required of me, in order to succeed.

“And I got eaten. One-sided contracts, broken promises, lousy money. But it was the only game in town. If I wanted to make a living as a writer, I had no choice.

“Then Amazon invented the Kindle.

“I first self-pubbed in May of 2009. That first month I made $1,500, publishing books that New York rejected.”

Joe went on to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from those “rejected” books…

So, if you’ve been confused about whether Amazon is an evil giant and Hachette is the aggrieved party, read that article…
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Guild vs Alliance ~ Are Authors Being Helped?

Everything I write is my opinion.

Authors Guild vs Authors Alliance

Image courtesy of jorge vicente ~

Sure, I quote others—often—but even what I choose to quote is decided by my opinion.

Of course, these days, many feel that their opinion is Truth

However, if you’re a writer who’d like to offer your work to readers, knowing the relative truth of various standpoints is probably of interest to you.

For instance, should writers still follow the traditional model—agent, editor, legacy publisher—or, strike out on their own—self-publish?

You can use the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar to find many posts about that choice

Also, should an aspiring author join an organization that purports to serve their interests?

If someone asked me my opinion about joining organizations, I’d have to warn them that I’m a maverick and really don’t like most organizations.

So, I can’t give solid evidence about the Authors Guild or the newer group, the Authors Alliance.

Both organizations are for, primarily, U.S. authors but the issues raised may well echo in other countries’ author communities

I did do a post last year that reported on two well-know authors’ opinions about the Guild’s leadership—The U. S. Authors Guild President vs Reality.

And, I will share a few excerpts from an article that begins with mention of the brewing battle between the Guild and the Alliance—On Why The Authors Guild is Wrong about the Future:

“…the fight between the two organizations illustrates the very question everyone is asking these days: What is my place in the new, digital world?

“Established writers already entrenched and successful in the traditional publishing system are telling these aspiring writers that while they must develop their early-stage careers on their own and they must build a loyal following to a publisher, they shouldn’t embrace the digital publishing tools available to them as it might undermine the traditional business.”

the problem is how to formulate a solution that enables early- and mid-stage career building that no longer exists within [the] publishing industry.

“For that, the Authors Alliance seems more inline with what those writers need.”

I have no idea if that writer is right.

I’m merely reporting to my readers on a turn of events that they may find important to track

Do you feel traditional publishing is still the best option?

Are you more likely to self-publish?

Would you consider joining a Guild or Alliance to help you in your career?

Care to share your opinions in the Comments?
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The Ethics of Publishing

Readers, Writers, Publishers… 


Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian ~

Each depends on the other two

Yet, Traditional Publishing has taken little real account of who they depend on and is experiencing no end of problems

Yesterday’s post featured a call for authors to stand up taller and demand long-overdue change in the publishing industry.

And, the Self-Publishing Phenomenon is learning to walk and may yet run rings around the Legacy Gatekeepers.

I’ve even written a post called, Are Readers Going To Be The New Gatekeepers?


Turning to an article on the Alliance of Independent Authors‘ blog—Opinion: Orna Ross asks “What is publishing for”?—we find this statement:

“Neglect of authors has never run higher in publishing, revealed in language like ‘slush pile’ and ‘list culling’. Free market ideologies run the show and supermarkets and bookstore chains dominate, deciding in advance which books will have the best chance of success, on purely commercial grounds; telling publishers what price to sell at, how many copies to print, what to put on the cover, what to call the books and even what to put inside them.”

And, lest self-publishing authors gloat, she also says:

“But this is not a trade-only phenomenon. Indie authors also talk too often in commercial, and not often enough in creative, terms. Constant checking of stats, a cyber flurry over the latest indie to make a killing on Kindle and, most worryingly at the moment, a  relentless pressure to work faster and longer, that is at odds with creative rhythms, and that is no guarantee of success.”

And, putting Readers right where they belong—as prime movers of the best promotion method in the world—she says [bolding by me]:

“An over-emphasis  on money is a  distortion of our business, of what we do and why we do it. The publishing business is a creative business. That means it’s changeable, mercurial, hard to pin down. The only thing that sells books for sure is word-of-mouth and what sets that off for a particular title is, to a large degree, a mystery.”

Reading the whole article would be educational for Readers, Writers, and Publishers—if they desire a dose of clear Reality :-)
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Does Loving Their Kindle Make A Writer A Traitor? ~or~ Does Liking Amazon Make An Author A Saboteur?

Amazon is huge—most everything you can think of is or could be sold there

Many people, bookstores, and publishers are mad as hell about Amazon.

How dare they sell books for less than they pay for them?

How dare they sell their reading devices at cost?

How dare they do business better than many other companies?

Sure, they get some things wrong—really, there is nothing perfect in this world—but, analogically, if you get a hit in baseball only one out of three times ( .300 ), your doing great—so, Amazon, imho, has a batting average of around .598.

And, even if I still like holding a book in my hands and will never tire of it, my Kindle is my literary treasure house

So, all that to build up to introducing you to author Art Edwards and an article he wrote on The Nervous Breakdown, Amazon is the Devil, and Other Reasons to Love Them.

A few excerpts from the article:

“Has a more imposing windmill than Amazon ever been chased? In less than twenty years, the online monolith has established itself as the unalterable king of the book-buying world. And isn’t every company pretty much out to destroy its competition?”

“Amazon seems to be my online equivalent of Starbucks, another bare-knuckles Seattle company going out of its way to crush the little guy at every instance.”

[ in regard to Amazon challenging legacy publishers ] “Traditional publishing has published ninety percent of the books I’ve valued over the years, books that changed my life and made me want to be a writer. But the last decade or so has seen them get undeniably safe with the books they choose to publish and promote. I would even go so far as to say much of the valuable literary talent in the country today isn’t being published by New York publishing but by independent presses.”

“As evil as Amazon is, they’ve been completely supportive of the idea that anyone can be a publisher

Do go over and read Art’s complete article—lots of details that Fair Use won’t let me copy

Do you own a Kindle?

Do you love your Kindle?

Do you buy books (or, other things) from Amazon?

Do you think Amazon is the Devil?

Do, please, share your thoughts and feelings in our Comments :-)
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The War of The Book Worlds ~ E-books & Common Sense

What happens when an online retailer (like Amazon) slashes the price of an e-book from another publisher?

* Legacy publishers act like they’re at war even though the retailer still pays them full price.

* The readers get a break.

* The authors get their full royalty.

Yet, the screaming and threats and lies in the media make it seem like something bad is happening

Suw Charman-Anderson, former Executive Director of the Open Rights Group and one of the UK’s best known bloggers, in her Forbes article, Ebook Price War Obscures Larger Problem, says:

“Price wars aren’t new to publishing, yet, predictably, various people are up in arms about what’s really just a publicity stunt.”

The war-mongers try to say that this price slashing will make readers expect the new low cost to become the norm and it might even hurt the independent bookstores.

Charman-Anderson says:

“Bookstores of all stripes do promotions and giveaways all the time, and frequently publishers are fighting to be a part of those promotions. And whilst tight-fisted readers can already find more books than they can read in their entire lifetime, your average reader recognises a deal when they see one, knows that deals don’t last, and knows that once the deal is over that prices are going to go back up. This is not a new concept… The idea that this is going to result in the death of the indie bookshop seems like a nice slippery slope fallacy which reads well but makes no real sense.”

She goes on to detail other false perspectives in this war that should be seen as quite normal marketing activity yet is being stoked into a chimerical fire

She continues her argument by bringing up an issue that self-publishers are quite clearly aware of—the Reader is a critical actor in this Drama and must be dealt with on their own terms—treated like the important people they are.

Certainly, the Author is the central character in this drama—can’t have a book world with out them.

I would say the Reader is the co-protagonist—forget their needs and the book world begins to wobble.

The Publisher?

Unless the publisher is the author (who will decisively keep the reader in mind) they’re one of those characters writers know well—changing their nature as the story progresses—morphing to support the protagonists or being thrown completely out of the story

Charman-Anderson argues that one thing the publishers need to do is create their own retail divisions:

“The main argument against publishers expanding into retail, over and above set-up costs, is that people now expect to be able to get everything in one spot.”

She goes on to detail a few of those expectations and deals the reader wants then closes with:

“But these are all deals that publishers can’t offer, because they don’t own the point of sale. And there’s only one answer to that.”

I recommend you go read the full article—this lady knows her stuff.
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