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…?

Wow. 

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.

Promo time: Jason Cordova was a 2015 finalist for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Author. What does that mean? Nothing, quite frankly. However, he has quite a few novels and short stories out in print right now, and his latest novel, “Wraithkin”, is available over at Amazon. You should buy it. Be the trend setter. Be the hero you were meant to be. Click the picture below and BE THE HERO.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00045]

 

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Lost in the Sauce

  1. Being a New Kid, I have no idea how things used to be done. I hear tell that people used to make decent money doing this writing thing, but that the money ran out a while ago.

    Fine, there is no money. Figures.

    I’ve had a blog forever, there’s no money in that either. I still have one. Ultimately, I don’t care. Books were written, they need to be published.

    I’d love it if I could see my offspring on the shelf of the bookstore, but that seems increasingly unlikely. All publishers so far contacted have replied with radio silence. I can’t even tell if they are still in business or not. Time is stretching on, and the pile of unpublished work is growing. The no-responses pile is also growing.

    Therefore, I can either pay a lot of money to print at a vanity publisher and try to move thousands of copies myself, or I can put it on Amazon. Go e-book, or have boxes of books slowly going yellow in my basement.

    I’ve got enough crap in my basement now, and I am a terrible salesman. It would be nice if somebody who knows what they’re doing wanted to lend a hand for a share of the profit, but that sort of arrangement is not on offer.

    Perhaps a miracle will happen, and a publisher will offer me a reasonable contract. I think a flock of swine flying past my window is about as likely. Or Elvis Presley and Marylin Munroe crash-landing a UFO in my pond.

    • Might it be time to start publishing?

      • I’ve got a luau to write. Publishing soon come, I hope, maybe a month or so. If radio silence continues, there will be a whole series.

        • You do get bonus points for the luau, but that is otherwise the correct answer.

          • A lot of publishers are letting the Great Unwashed do their slush reading these days, buying the top selling ebooks. And even if you don’t sell enough to catch their eye, at least you’ll be selling. And it builds. I’m not quite doubling my income every year. Mind you, as a complete unknown it started from a very low level, so I’m not impressive . . . yet!

    • Well, in my experience there is money out there (I’m currently making more from writing than from all my previous jobs and businesses), but digging it out requires a combination of preparation, skills in things other than writing, and plain old dumb luck.

      But for Ghu’s sake, do NOT spend money on a vanity publisher; that’s worse than useless. You can get a paperback printed via Createspace for nothing, and get author’s copies at cost, if having a physical copy of your book is what matters to you.

      Waiting for a publisher to pick you up is an option, but requires a lot of patience. Self-pubbing doesn’t have to be expensive. Buying pre-made covers and such, it can be done for as little as $80. If you want a professional proofreading job, it can run anywhere from free – if you have a support network – to $1,000 or more. That’s still a damn sight better than burning cash at the altar of vanity publishers, and with a far greater chance you’ll get some return on your investment. Not a great chance, mind you, but a chance.

      The marketing part is tougher, yes, but doesn’t require any salesman skills (if it did, I’d be SOL). Reading a couple of books on the matter (I heartily recommend David Gaughran’s work and blog: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ ) should give you the basics. If you already have more than one novel written, you’ve got a leg up on most newbies.

      Easy? No. Guaranteed chances of success? Not even close. But it’s a lot better than waiting for a rejection letter to finally show up so you can start the process all over again, IMHO.

  2. paladin3001

    Reading this site is inspiring and terrifying all at once. I had an idea of how publishing worked years ago. At one point I was looking at writing and working on the rejection letter file. Then a friend stepped on me, I realized that I was putting too much of my beliefs into my writing and backed off. Now, I am starting to get hopeful and writing again. I don’t have to worry so much about the gatekeepers anymore or getting ” lost in the sauce”.

  3. I freely admit, when I saw my nonfiction book on a store shelf next to classics in my field, I quietly squeeeeeeeed and took pictures. But not seeing my fiction on a shelf doesn’t phase me.

  4. I have been thinking a lot about cliques and interest groups and such. I think that the risk of an interest group becoming an echo chamber is greatest when the group encourages the belief that members are superior, either ethically or intellectually, or both, than non-members. And one of the hallmarks of a group that has that mindset is the existence of a term for non-members. “Mundanes”, “Muggles”, “Normies”, “Vanillas”–what have you.

    In a discussion that I was reading on this subject someone pointed out that Metal-heads don’t have a term for non-Metal fans. To which someone else replied that the Metal fans tend to think of others as “potential Metal fans”.

    I think that’s an important distinction–those who think, “This person isn’t interested in my interest–he must be stupid or prejudiced” and those who think “This person doesn’t know how awesome this stuff is–here, let me share this!”

    • A very cogent point – thank you for bringing it up!

    • That’s a really good point. Instead of, oh, the fen and the mundanes we need to think about fans and proto-fans. Changes the equation by a good bit.

      • I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind while writing, as well. I think a lot of genre authors tend to think only in terms of readers who are already familiar with the conventions of the genre.