*forgive the late post. I have a valid excuse… there was this big old HURRICANE and I am out of town on the North Carolina coast, and, well, you know how it can be.
My foster dad has a saying that he is extremely fond of and has been using it on my foster brothers and I for years. I always laughed at him because he was one GHH away from getting some lecture on sexism or whatever -ism is the flavor of the week. If you are goofing off and not doing what you’re supposed to, he would shout “Quit dicking around!”
I really, really want to tell some publishers that right now.
I’ve been following the Amazon v. Hachett case, though not as closely as Kate Paulk, and I get this underlying sense of unease welling in my gut. Not what the decision will be, but something that worries me as a writer. And it makes me wonder: Why? Why do people even want to try to be published by these houses if this is how they view their authors? Why would I want to try and break into something where writers are treated as easily replaceable and publishers can continue to make horrid decisions without major repercussion? It’s enough to make an author throw their hands into the air and say “Indie publishing here I come!”
Now, I’ve worked with quite a few publishers, and none of the ones I have worked with treat their authors as replaceable (well, don’t treat them as easily replaceable). But the “clinging to the past” methodology that seems to haunt traditional publishing continue to operate under the idea that they can treat their authors like mushrooms. You know, kept in the dark and fed a lot of sh… right. PG-13. I forget sometimes.
Technology has brought in a new awareness for the author on methods in publishing, and has brought them into better contacts with authors and, in the case of Amazon, distributors. Terrified by a sudden loss of control, I think most publishers (not all) are desperately clinging to the past. This, in turn, has led to them becoming the Kings and Queens of Yes and No. The Lords and Ladies of hem and haw. The definitive meaning of the word “maybe”. The Wafflers, if you will. And it would be hilarious to watch if it weren’t for the fact that these companies affect thousands of authors lives with their wishy-washiness.
(I’m excluding publishers like Baen in this, because Jim was a smart man who jumped on technology and rode it to the top while everyone else dithered and DRM’ed their way into insolvency)
Quit dicking around.
The world no longer moves at the speed of leisure. Technology has made everything move faster than ever, and everything around us is “go go go!” Yet, like a tenacious bulldog, traditional publishing has clung to their methodology. “Moving at the speed of a glacier” is a common joke you hear in publishing. And yet… this statement is truer than one would normally believe. You think the political process of passing a bill is slow? It has nothing on getting a book published.
So watch the Amazon v. Hatchett decision. See what happens. Just don’t stop being an author.
I need something to read.
Starting July 5, Jason’s book Murder World: Kaiju Dawn will be on sale on Amazon for $0.99. You should probably buy it, lest the cats believe that he is shirking his responsibilities as their subject.
You know, I was thinking about the speed of publishing this morning, checking sales statistics. And it occurs to me that the Big Houses are used to shutting down for 3 months in the summer to go lounge in the Hamptons, or whatever they do. Their justification was that sales always went to pot in the summer, because everyone’s on vacation.
But the more folks I talk to, and the further along the indie revolution gets, the less I find this is true. Three years ago, the summer sales slump was shocking and massive; indie writers were trying to figure out what happened. Given publishing never reports monthly sales (before indie), it took writers who had also been publishers like KKR pointed out it always happens in Jun-Aug, and thus publishers never release any of their major names then.
But this morning, I checked our sales stats and kindle rank (which lets me know how well kindle books are selling as a whole, once you get enough “this rank moves that many books” data points), and I realized that the summer sales slump has been a lot more gentle this year for a lot of authors. And when I checked my email, Amazon wanted me to know that If I liked Kaiju Dawn, I’d probably be pretty interested in Kaiju Apocolypse II by Jason Cordova & Eric S Brown, released less than a month ago.
As indies compensate for the slower sales by releasing new books, readers are also now looking for new books in the summer. (And Amazon, not being slow about making off with a happy customers’ money, is apparently pretty keen about making sure customers know there are more good books just in case they weren’t paying attention.) The world isn’t moving at the speed of leisure – and publishers still stuck in the habits of the past are going to take years to figure out they can’t quit paying attention to the market for three months and expect everything to come back unchanged when they start putting up their beach clothes.
I saw more of a slump in Mar-April, then sales soared and are still higher than in all of last year. I anticipate a drop in August, like last year, but I’ll be curious to see what happens after that.
I have been uneasy for a long time now. I drink my coffee, read, write and do my escape pod. It helps some. 😉 TG for Amazon is all I can say.
The only problem with indie is it’s a lot harder to get into the hands of people who treat paperbacks as disposable entertainment to take to the Beach. You either have expensive POD, or a valuable device you don’t want to risk. That’s the one advantage Dinosaur Publishing has, and it’s a huge market.
Strange as this’ll sound to you, POD isn’t actually that expensive. Publisher-forced retail inflation, and the pulling of the mass market paperback from the shelves in favor of trade paperback means… if you go to the store and look around, while the POD trade paperback seems horribly expensive compared to the indie ebook, it’s right about the price demanded by publishers for trade paper.
As for getting into bookstore, that is a slog. Not impossible, but a slog. I agree with you on that! (I’m thinking of setting out to do it just to say I have done it. Not because I think it’ll be particularly good for ROI, or reaching readers, but because it’s a challenge, and I like challenges.)
As more folks have “smart” cellphones, they’ve got access to Kindle at no additional cost from something they always have on them anyways– and a lot of libraries are pushing ebooks. (which, I found out recently, are fulfilled via Amazon)
You know, technically, the PG-13 rating allows you to use the S-word a couple of times, and the F-word once, so if you want to get salty, the MPAA will understand. 🙂
Great post, Jason. Unfortunately, I think most of the traditional publishers will not “quit dicking around” until something comes along and kicks their legs right out from under them — like say, some indie author coming along out of nowhere with a blow-everyone-away bestseller that is selling so well that Amazon has to bring extra Kindle servers online just to keep up with the demand… While all the big publishers are standing on the other side of an eight-foot fence watching that revenue stream flow on by, unable to get so much as a drop from it. Though, for some of them, even that won’t penetrate their thick skulls and produce some introspection. No, they’ll blame the internet in general, Amazon specifically, and continue to fall even further behind on the curve.
So, I’m sure traditional publishing is going to continue to whine and moan, while they do everything they can to shove the genie back in the bottle and go back to the “good old days.” After all, that’s worked s-o-o-o-o well for them in the past. (obligatory eye-roll) In short: they’re going to keep dicking around until this silly little e-book thing blows over, and we great unwashed finally outgrow this passing fad known as the In-Ter-Net.
Happening as we speak. H.M. Ward is still getting offers from trad pub houses for her (16 NYT bestsellers in a year, multi-million dollar making) New Adult Romances.
She has a pretty simple criteria. “Show me a marketing plan that’ll do better for me than I’m making right now.” They fail. Every time.
As for the weather, we were supposed to have three sunny days this weekend, and as soon as I applied paint stripper to the rusty hood of my van, rain.
They don’t call it the Pacific NorthWet for nothing.
No, I think that’s the nature of weather. I spent several hours poisoning my yard for weeds… and suddenly a storm comes out of nowhere and pours rain for days. I’m in the midwest. We don’t get rain in July. Usually, the weather has the decency to wait until August to shower us with gully washers.
But this is not a normal year, I guess.
My husband doesn’t believe me when I tell him that the Pacific North West is usually overcast and rainy. Every time he has gone there, the sun has come out and stayed out for the whole time he is there. Often he is there for longer than a week at a time. This, and his favorite weather is overcast. GO figure.
I wonder if the weather would have fundamentally changed if we’d moved there.
Somebody, either Douglas Adams or, I dunno, Tom Holt had a character who attracted rain wherever he went, and holiday destinations paid him a fortune to stay away.
Bwahahahahaha~ My hubby grumbled recently that the rain ALWAYS seems to wait til he’s out on manoeuvres, field exercises, or sent out to the outback for some reason or another. He noticed it tends to stay dry when he’s home, but if there’s even a whiff of an exercise…
He’s away again, and the radio today mentioned a chance of rain on top of the single digit degree weather. Oiii.