Lost in the Sauce
Within every group there is a clique. With every clique lies the potential for an echo chamber. This, in a way, is a perfect way to get completely lost in the sauce.
I’d never heard of this phrase before I started working at my current job. Indeed, the opportunity (or need, really) to hang out with teens and hear the new slang was something I really could do without. I mean, who really wants to deal with whiny, petulant, complaining, self-absorbed, and entitled little turds?
…dear God, did I just really…?
Talk about unspoken comparisons and parallels.
Anyway, I watch these kids (who are mostly kids who have been placed at my work by parents as a “last chance” sort of situation) try to integrate with the local kids at the public schools here. It’s always amusing to see them, all confident and brazed in their knowledge, come back from public school on their first day, befuddled and dazed, wondering where the hell did all these rednecks come from and why they are viewed as curiosities. It’s hard to explain to these kids, who come from cities such as Philadelphia and New York, that country life is different than anything else they have ever done or will do in their lives. They were “lost in the sauce” but eventually they would either adapt or go home.
In a way, this is the current state of publishing. The advent of ebooks and the strong growth of indie sales, combined with the implosion of brick-and-mortars thanks to reckless business decisions by Barnes & Noble and Borders, has left the Big 5 in an absolute state of shock. It would be amusing to watch if I didn’t have friends who are currently contracted and/or published through said Big 5 and are terrified about their futures.
I, along with the others here at MGC, try to reassure these poor, frightened souls. I mean, it’s not every day someone comes along and punishes you for the mistakes made by others 10-15 years ago. They grasp at any chance of hope, which allows some more predatory publishers to string them along for long periods of time while they shuffle things around and try to make other things work at the house. Eventually the poor author is left to wither and die without any support, or they get fed up and start their own urban resistance and rebel against the abject tyranny of their supposed god-kings.
Damn, what was in that coffee?
*peers into now-empty cup*
Mental note: get more of that brand.
One of the dangers of cliques (I’ll get back to the urban uprising in a moment, promise) is that the echo chamber can form one hell of a sheeple mindset. To bay and scream as a group should one of them get hurt or afraid. To yell and complain when someone feels wronged. To hide and bow their heads in servitude when someone comes along in a higher position on the food chain. It’s a herd mentality, which nowadays can also mean lost in the sauce.
Publishing has not always been like this and it’s allowed the formation of big publishing houses who used to treat writers with respect to now belittle them. This is a relatively new sales strategy in the Big 5, though. Traditionally publishing houses try to treat their writers with at least some respect and show decorum in order for the writer to continue to choose them to publish their novels. I mean, if I’m a grocery store and people like a particular brand and flavor of coffee, I’m not going to piss off the supplier of said coffee because then I won’t be able to sell it anymore after the supplier decides to go to my competitor instead because I am a bellicose asshat. That’s just bad business right there.
But with the Big 5 having a virtual monopoly on brick-and-mortar stores right now (yes, that’s what it is, don’t even try to deny it), they know that they can substitute any author with a new flavor. They think “Yeah, it’s not as good as so-and-so, but the plebes will drink it.” Sometimes they do, but more often they don’t. Then the publisher cuts established midlisters from their rosters while hiring more editors and bemoaning the age of digital piracy and the lost sales because of ebooks.
Does this sound as crazy to you as it does me?
Now, a few of my publishers who distribute through the Big 5 are freaking awesome and take good care of the authors in their stable because they understand business. They know that if they take care of their supplier, then said supplier will continue to produce more word crack. Fans will be happy and everyone wins. On top of that, everyone gets paid and there is no accounting magic involved.
So will the masses rise up and rebel against their tyrannical dictators who are cruel and harsh masters? Will they find their way out of the sauce and back to the light?
One thing’s for certain: I’m not lost in the sauce.
Not anymore, at least.
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