Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Traditional Publishers

Still Hoping to Get a Book Published by the “Big 5”?


If you’re not sure what the title of this post means and you’re a writer, you just might be safe from a maelstrom of difficulties. Myths of Traditional Publishing

Regular readers of this blog know I lean toward self-publishing; and, to edge toward full transparency, I would only let a traditional publisher near my book if I could hire a lawyer to write the contract—a contract that most of those publishers would immediately laugh at and throw in the waste can…

So, Traditional publishers, the Big 5…

Different folks will define those terms differently…

But, one recognized aid is, The Big Five US Trade Book Publishers.

The first thing I must tell those who are not well-informed about traditional publishing is that you should run away from anyone who tells you, “You must get used to having your manuscript rejected.”; usually, supported by the wobbly evidence that so many of the great authors had to be rejected 8 or 25 or 132 times…

There may be certain reasons to get published by a traditional publisher; but, every day that passes shows another reason to go the self-published route. (for proof, scroll down the left side-bar to the Top Tags widget and click on “traditional publishing” and “self-publishing” to read many articles on each…)

So, I found an article link in one of my emails about a half-hour ago, and knew I had to immediately blog about it rather than just add it to my very long bookmark list of possible posts…

It’s on the HuffPost site, was written by Ken Lizotte, and is called, The 4 Great Myths of Book Publishing.

I’ll list the bullet points from the article; but, leave it to you to go there and read what Mr. Lizotte says; and, for those who want to dip a toe into the lake of 1,942 posts on this blog, I’ll link to a bit of what I’ve said about each of Mr. Lizotte’s bullet points

Here come the 4 Great Myths (by the way, Mr. Lizotte does have “remedies” after each Myth… {for those intent on Big 5 publishing…}):

Myth #1: My book publisher will aggressively promote my book to the widest possible readership

My article: #BookMarketing ~ Making Sense of #AuthorPromotion

Myth #2: A publisher will ensure my book gets on the shelves of all the nation’s bookstores

My article: Self-Published Books & Bookstores

Myth #3: My publisher will print my book’s text in exactly the way I conceive and arrange it

My article: The Publishing (And Editorial) History of Some Extremely Famous Fiction

Myth #4: My publisher will provide me with a sizable monetary advance, allowing me to take time off from my regular work so that I can focus exclusively on my book

My article: Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing

I welcome Comments from writers who are still considering the chore of getting published by one of the Big 5

And, for those who can’t deal with what the Big 5 stand for but aren’t quite ready to jump into Self-Publishing, here’s an article on the Independent Book Publishers Association
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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 Publishingsee the Top Tags widget, down a bit 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 down in the Top Tags widget) 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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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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Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…


I write my blog to help folks explore Reading, Writing, and Publishing.

I often cover various hot topics in the news but, more often, lead people toward valuable information.

I’ve covered the Amazon–Hachette battle a number of times (links at the bottom) and, the last time, I almost didn’t do the post because I’m plainly disgusted with the way “business” intrudes on the smooth flow of the river of creativity.

There’s someone at Amazon who maintains that the only players necessary in the Book World are authors and readers.

But, the big publishers are frightened by self-publishing and the retailers (especially Amazon) are “just” businesses trying to make a buck.

I pity the folks who depend on the publishers and retailers for their living—the well-established authors as well as those writers attempting to emulate them and make a living by selling books…

There’s bound to be major change in the book market—probably bigger than what’s already happened—and, authors and readers may just work out methods that make the retailers and publishers act with more consideration…

So, I’ll give you two links to articles that display the most rationality I’ve seen yet in this Amazon–Hachette thing:

Making Sense of Amazon-Hachette

More Fights About Terms

And, with the hope that I never feel I have to write about this convoluted mess again, here are a few of my past posts about it:

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

Making Certain Authors Eat Their Own Words . . .

The Corporations and The Writer ~ Who’s Winning?
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Two Words Left Out of Most of The Book World’s News . . .


So much news about e-books, traditional publishers, and Amazon—so little about libraries and bookstores…

Libraries and Bookstores

Image Courtesy of Brenton Nicholls ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/bjn

It can seem like words, no matter how well strung together, are just some commodity—market them aggressively—package ’em up and ship ’em out…

And, even though libraries and bookstores are attempting to integrate e-books into their offerings, more creativity and commitment are necessary…

I’ve posted quite a bit about e-books and libraries—not so much about bookstores; though, “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores” is probably worth a read :-)

So, what do you think or feel about bookstores and libraries?

Do you still use them?

Do you think they’ll disappear?

I found two articles about e-books and libraries that are not focused on the U.S.A.:

Report: Libraries Struggling with E-books

European Library Bureau Campaigns For eBooks in Libraries

Do you think libraries should have as much access to e-books as the retailers have?

Will libraries become all-digital?

I also found a fascinating article about bookstores—Let’s Reinvent The Bookshop.

One telling excerpt from that article—“Curious to explore this territory, we asked four leading architecture and design practices to create a shop. Specifically, in the age of Amazon and e-books, a bookshop to save bookshops.”

Do you think all brick-and-mortar bookstores will disappear?

Do you think bookstores can save themselves by integrating e-books?

When’s the last time you visited a bookstore?

Would you be happy if they all went away?

It’s always a gamble trying to predict the future; though, there’s nothing wrong with holding a vision of the future and working hard to bring it into reality…

Are we doomed to a future that’s only digital?

Do you know people who are envisioning a future with “real” bookstores and libraries?
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