Just When You Thought

it couldn’t get any worse, this hits the news.

Here we have one of the major traditional publishers joining up with known scam artists to run a self-publishing scam under its own alleged imprint. I’d ask if they’re that desperate for money, but I already know the answer. These people, after screwing the reading public in the name of ideological purity and their authors in the name of something else, are now looking for more people to screw over.

Having seen the kinds of things they put in their contracts, and a level of failure to meet contractual obligations that would send anyone else down the s-bend with attack lawyers hounding them all the way, the industry appears to be bent on suicide in search of easy money. The obvious answer: cut your costs by moving out of the expensive real estate, buy things that match with public tastes, push ebooks for all they’re worth because the marginal cost of each copy sold is damn near zero (meaning that once costs of editing (which largely doesn’t happen anymore), copyediting (ditto), advertising (excuse me while I laugh hysterically at the thought that anyone outside the tiny handful who don’t need it get any of this), and media creation (much cheaper for ebook since no paper is needed) are covered it’s damn near all profit, since the storage cost might perhaps work out to a few cents per book per year. If that.) and move to a print on demand model for hard copy, bring the accounting into the 20th century (the poor dears are still somewhere in the 19th century at best. We mustn’t ask too much of them).

Of course, the obvious answer is anything but from inside the rotten tree of traditional publishing, or they’d be doing it. Instead they’re poisoning their own wells, then they’ll wonder why they continue to languish. The authors in their clutches have been conditioned to believe that all good flows from the font of trad publishing, so there won’t be mass revolt from that front. After all, until recently authors were trapped in the business equivalent of an abusive marriage. They had nowhere else to go because all the options were equally abusive, and trying to expose the rot or take the whole shabby setup through RICO proceedings (which, frankly, would not be difficult) would end their chances of someone other than their nearest and dearest seeing their books.

I doubt that anything will change: the industry will keep flailing around unable to work out why no-one wants their tripe until it implodes. The rest of us will go around the thrashing corpse via independent publishers or self publishing.

Please reset your sarcasmometers, because I probably just blew them out. I’d use a sarcasm font if WordPress provided one, but then, I doubt anyone really wants to read stabby red letters bleeding onto a black background. Not for any length of time. It hurts the eyes.

In other news, the Next Big Thing is Next Big Thinging along. Chris M. will post his in a week, and he’s tagged me, Amanda, Sarah, and Dave Freer (so it’s a very Mad Geniusy Big Thing). I have two volunteers to be tagged, and I need a few more, so if you don’t want to comment on the sad state of the industry, please volunteer yourself as a tag-ee so I can Next Big Thing you when my week happens.

9 thoughts on “Just When You Thought

  1. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. This is just another step down the path to self-destruction legacy publishing has been on for so long. It’s amazing that there are any authors at all, save the best sellers, who are still defending these publishers. I guess I can’t help but wonder which of the Big 6 (Big 5 if Random Penguin does come about) will pair with Publish America. Won’t that be fun to watch, especially the mental gymnastics those authors who still say legacy publishing is our friend will have to go through to justify that sort of action?

  2. The only rational reason for these sorts of pairings is that the /s/c/a/m/m/e/r/s/ vanity publishers are the only ones making money these days.

    1. I think it’s one of those cases where the scum finds its own level. The ones that openly charge are at least screwing authors honestly.

  3. Application of Clue-by-4 required, “Next Big Thing” I thought I’d read all these posts but this one leaves me stumped. No, *subtle check* I still have all my limbs, but not a clue. As for the merger, um, Well, yeah.. Not that desperate. NR Press is a good model, or if your’e technically inclined (or just brave and dumb like me) might try going it alone with -lots- of quality checks on the way past as it were.

      1. Yes, you do need to be mentally impaired to think this kind of nonsense is a good idea. The clue-by-four to simulate mental impairment can be helpful, but is not recommended for long-term use.

        1. Oh, and if you want to be part of the chain, feel free – Chris McMahon’s Next Big Thing is going up on Wednesday, and googling “next big thing writing” will get you a bunch of samples.
          It’s one of those memey things that goes around, but one of the better ones, which is why I said I’d play.

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