It’s December and time for everyone to start panicking because the holidays are just around the corner and there’s still shopping to do and meals to plan and relatives to visit. It’s also a time when most of us seem to forget there are those out there who are more than willing to separate us from our money by whatever means necessary. No, I’m not talking about all those shops in the nearby mall. You know the ones I’m talking about: those that started playing Christmas carols the day after Halloween, completely skipping Thanksgiving. I’m not even talking about the fake charities that are willing to play on the increase in good will most of us feel this time of year.
Unfortunately, yet another scammer has decided to try to prey on authors terrified because they don’t have a broad enough public platform. Let’s face it, promotion is something most of us would do just about anything to avoid simply because we don’t really know how to do it and, frankly, because we’d rather spend the time it takes to blog, facebook, tweet, etc., writing. Promotion is one of those necessary evils we’ve had to undertake because publishers aren’t promoting books like they used to. Oh, if you are a “best seller” or “the next best thing”, they’ll spend the money to get better placement in a bookstore or to take out ads in the paper, etc. But if you aren’t, or if you are self-publishing, you don’t get that sort of promotion from a publisher. If you have an agent, you might be lucky enough to be mentioned on their blog or twitter feed, but just how effective is that?
So authors have been looking for alternatives to doing the promotion themselves. As a result, there has been a rise in PR firms dealing with promoting authors and their books. With a hat tip to Chris Kelsey for bringing this particular “misrepresentation” — if not outright scam — to my attention, I want to warn you against The Albee Agency. You can read a great breakdown of problems with this agency over at Writer Beware. But the quick rundown is this: the Albee Agency claims endorsements from authors who have never used it and have not agreed to have their so-called endorsements used. That is enough, for me at least, to steer clear of them. Please, before considering this agency, read the write-up at Writer Beware.
Then there is this article from Slate, published last month, that basically says we aren’t reading if we read a novel on our e-book reader. You see, reading is something we do not only with our eyes and our mind, but with our bodies as well. If we can’t hold a book in our hands and turn a physical page with our fingers, we aren’t reading. So, following that logic, you really aren’t reading this blog. Yes, I am rolling my eyes and I am shaking my head and, yes, I’m laughing hysterically. I have a vision of the article’s author sitting in a rough hewn chair by a fire, an oil lamp at his elbow as he writes his article using a quill dipped into an ink pot. I guess he then attached the article to his carrier pigeon to be flown to the Slate headquarters where some poor clerk inputs it into the computer. After all, the author wouldn’t be writing an article for digital format to be read because, duh, that’s not reading.
Oh gawd, my head hurts now ;-p
All kidding aside, I still love my physical books. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy reading on my Kindle when I first got it. After all, there is something about holding a book and curling up in a chair to read. Well, I can still do that with my Kindle. Once I’m into the story, it doesn’t matter if I’m reading a paper book or a digital book. The book itself disappears and I’m immersed in the world the author has created. THAT is all that matters: not the medium which it is presented in.
On the agency pricing model front, a third member of the Big 6, Simon & Schuster, has announced a new pricing agreement with e-tailers. This agreement is in response to the Justice Department’s price fixing suit. S&S is the third of the five publishers named in the suit, along with Apple, to reach this sort of an agreement. The other two publishers are Hatchette and HarperCollins. This agreement will allow retailers to sell e-books from S&S for a discount: a win for buyers because it means we can now shop around for the best price for a title. Yes, it might mean we’ll have to break DRM to do so, but that is possible for those who want to do it. However, in this day and age of tablets and smartphones, apps are available that will allow you to read multiple formats on your device without having to break DRM.
Whether or not Penguin and Random House will continue fighting the allegations by the DoJ remain to be seen. I have no doubt Apple will.