As the opportunities to ignore or bypass the gatekeepers of traditional publishing and retail, if they don’t offer authors and readers great value have grown (with e-books and POD )so of course the traditional publishing industry and retail have responded, sensibly, and rapidly, by getting more competitive. You can be sure now, of getting a query reply within a day (after all that’s 24 hours more than you would have to wait with Amazon or Smashwords – and their answer is always yes) and multiple queries are not only permitted but encouraged. After all how else can the budding author really see who is offering the best, and in a competitive marketplace, the best is what publishing and retail have to provide. The quality of editorial support you can expect has really leapt ahead, with publishers now rewarding great editors, copy editors and proof-readers with a small cut in the success of the book. Covers of course are now something you as an author have an input into, and their market research into what sells and what doesn’t is comprehensive and scientific, which like their absolutely fantastic publicity and marketing effort means books can really fly on merit. Yes, gone are the days when it was a case of the poor, unpaid, untrained and unskilled author would have to wrestle with blog posts and blog-tours, Facebook and twitter to sell their books. How anyone can imagine a return to the bad old days where publishing and retail took 94% of the income and the un-resourced, untrained author still did all the promotion for their measly 6% beggars the imagination. After all, it was one of the single stupidest failings of the non-competitive landscape. Professionals, with the money and skills have to do this better than authors who seldom even have aptitude. Only a moron could ever have thought getting the writers to do this was a good idea. It’s as stupid as imagining wasting money that could be paid to authors and make the business flourish being wasted on NYC rental, or expense account dinners for the fellow who used have the corner office, or editors publicly engaging in political debate, or replacing slush-readers with agents. A competitive industry can’t afford that sort of nonsense. It adds no value to readers or writers and has no place in the industry.
Of course the fact that it’s merit that sells books, with the great effort that is going into them by our highly competitive publishers, means advances have disappeared, but royalty rates – considering what you get in great service and promotion – are competitive with Amazon’s 70%. Naturally this means the lion’s share goes to the author, and with all the publishers trying so hard to be competitive they’re doing that on a slim percentage, with well over half (increasing with sales) of the money coming to the author it’s a great time and reason to stick to Trad. They’ve really learned, and the service they’re providing now is just wonderful, painless for an author, and as they pay monthly by direct deposit, and have absolutely transparent accounting so you can see your book sales on a moment-by-moment, authors are better off than ever going Trad. It’s not like the old days when 18 months was good, and the accounting could have been Schrodinger’s cat. And retail bookstores have really come to the party. It doesn’t matter where you come from they’re making sure they’re the place to go to, offering great hand-selling and availability of books tailored to the local market, and speedily getting anything requested that they don’t have on hand, at least as fast as an online delivery. They have to, as every traditional publisher is now selling their authors online themselves, and paying their authors a handsome referral fee and better royalties if they sell through their shop.
Well, yes. A bit late for April the first, not that it would have fooled anyone, being measures that are too close common sense, and a realistic response to competition. But maybe in some divergent (certainly NOT parallel) universe the traditional publishing and retail booksellers have responded to independent publishing and online competition in ways that… benefit everyone, writers, readers, and incidentally themselves, ensuring best outcomes and a long future. However in this one… we desperately need competition (particularly in retail) and we do need to warn authors of the real response of traditional publishing which seems to a whole new push at restrictive terms (and naturally grab-all terms, even ones they will do nothing with). They’ve always been keen on ‘you shall publish with no-one but us’ – despite the fact that they pay you $3000 for a book (you can live on that, can’t you? You don’t have NYC rents to pay like us) and won’t do more than one a year (despite that being really bad for readers AND authors), but I gather in the last while, they’re now trying various ‘stute tricks like insisting on publication BEFORE you sell anything to anyone else. (Publication at their convenience – which could be years into the future…) And sometimes reluctantly agreeing to generous terms like other non-competing genres but no indies. The worrying thing about such restraint of trade trends is they can become a norm if too many people accept them.
So: Always fight for a complete fold. Traditional publishers are no longer in a position of strength, and honestly it would be better us, readers, writers and eventually them too to not nurture this folly any further. Always remember you do have alternatives. Doing it yourself is hard, but it does have rewards. And if you’re a reader, well, buy indies from your favorite authors. It helps us to be independent.
And the picture is a link for doing so.