I’ve been wracking my brain all damned day about the new dramatics facing Amazon. The more I research indie publishing versus legacy publishing, the more inclined I am to urge fledgling authors to consider publishing independently. I also advise all authors to follow Barry Eisler, one of the most respected traditional to indie published authors I know.
I met Barry on Myspace roughly ten years ago. At the time, I didn’t know who he was-I was just networking and ran across him by chance. I was shocked to find that this NYT Bestseller actually talked openly and directly to me-not something that had ever happened to me before. It was nice, too-talking to a real live human and not a cursory exchange that I would otherwise expect from a famed author.
After I started speaking with him on occasion about writing, I was more inclined to buy his books. After I bought and read his books (The John Rain series), I began following his work. I lost my internet connection, began writing my own novels, and eventually lost touch as Myspace was bought out by Facebook and morphed into the mess that it is now. I found Barry’s page and sent him a friend request years later (sadly, though he was already at his limit, damnable Facebook). I started following his page, and that’s when I learned that he regained the rights back to his books and republished them independently.
Why would a big name like Eisler, a man whose book was made into a movie starring Gary Oldman bug out like that!? *gasp* Gary. Oldman. Let that sink in for a minute.
His reasons are quite simple: He didn’t like his hard work morphed into something he hadn’t intended it to be. He didn’t want to ‘suckle at the teat’ as a lot of these big named authors have.
I remember when I first wrote my novel, I dreamed of having it published by one of the major houses-Random House, S&S, etc. Like a lot of authors, I dreamed of book signings, being discovered, going on tours, and scheduling readings all over the world. I dreamed of starring as an extra in one of the adaptations. At first, I’d send out manuscript after manuscript, query after query. I would wait months sometimes with no answer. If I did get an answer, it was a rejection. One of the worst feelings and discouraging facts of trying to go legacy with your novel is the waiting-but there’s more than just waiting involved.
A. Your manuscript has to be sent in through a literary agent (boo, unsolicited manuscripts).
B. You have to have what’s called a ‘platform’. If you don’t have one of these, you’re screwed. No one wants to publish someone who hasn’t published before. So you bust your tail to try to get published, but since you haven’t been published, you can’t be published. Whaaaa?
C. You have to know someone. Gotta love those friends in high places. How do we get those? Well, money helps and so does busting your ass sucking up to the right people who will probably see right through your intentions. Who wants to compromise their integrity to get ahead? There is too much of that in the world already, why force intellectuals to do it?
D. Your submission should be an exclusive one. This means you have to wait until you are rejected by one publisher before you can move on to the next. Try and wait four years to hear back from agents or publishers, and then tell me how fair that is. People complain about Amazon’s exclusivity? Amazon is nothing compared to traditional publishers on that front.
Life is short and I will reference a common idiom of one of the great and powerful memes of internetland:
Amazon put the power in our collective hands and like a great literary messiah said, ‘Come forth! Be fruitful and multiply!’ and thus we have.
What do legacy publishers have that Amazon doesn’t? Well…our respect for starters. The constant rejections are a kick in the pants, to say the least. My respect has diminished due to the incessant capitalistic entitlement complexes and whining from legacy clientele pissing on business practices that are beyond their control. Amazon cannot be dictated other than by those who make the rules in that particular business, much like no one can tell me how to run my own business. I’m willing to take suggestions and I’m willing to work with the authors and help them out, but I’m not about ready to cave to demands. Especially when the client is being underhanded and shifty.
As I had stated in the commentary on Christina Rozelle’s post-follow the link above. “It would be like K-mart bitching about how Walmart’s everyday low prices and convenience/business practices are impeding on their ability to sustain their own clientele. JFC…” I strongly urge you all to follow Christina Rozelle’s work and her blog. She is positively brilliant and such a breath of fresh air!
Back to the topic at hand pertaining to James Patterson’s ‘rant’; I couldn’t help but feel a bit infuriated at the God complex that Patterson clearly displayed on CNN. What makes him better than myself or other indie authors who pour their soul into their work? Money? Success? NYT Bestsellers? Sure, I’ll give him that. But does he display the same brand of camaraderie with fellow authors as I’ve seen in my experiences with indies? I have seen more support, love, and respect from my independent peers than I could ever hope to have with the big named authors. Why? Well, considering Patterson voiced his concern about ‘quality versus quantity’ when it comes to Amazon, I believe that he thinks little of independent authors. I am not saying that all notable NYT bestsellers believe this, rather; I think they should stop and think about how they felt when they first started. How hard was it for them to break into print? How long did they have to wait? If Amazon was around when they first began, wouldn’t they want to take advantage of having full control of their writing and have the opportunity to publish their work without the stringent guidelines that legacy publishers put into play? Maybe they’re jealous of the freedom that indies have? Maybe they resent the royalties we get from Amazon. Sure, we have to work harder, foot the bill ourselves, sometimes put more into the book than what we earn- but our work is ours and will forever belong to us. Most importantly, our work won’t be the property of a conglomerate or other entity who holds the puppet strings.
Literature is literature, and readers have such a broad spectrum of tastes that they grow tired of the same ol’ schematics in writing. They crave their favorite authors, sure, but they also crave the unexpected. What better way to give the readers what they want than to give them the opportunity to read the works that would have otherwise spent eternity rotting in a slush pile somewhere.
You know, if the traditional publishers hired readers to go through the slush pile and focused their energies on the turnaround, they wouldn’t have this problem. If legacy publishers didn’t sign authors and make them wait two years for their work to see the light of day (if it ever does) they wouldn’t have this problem. If legacy publishers gave their authors higher royalties and paid them more often than twice a year, they may not be in the position they’re in. Indie authors would hold out for them, knowing that they wouldn’t have to wait months for a response. Worse yet, not receiving a response at all because our hard work was pitched into the trash along with the SASE because the agent or publisher was far too busy placating their money machines to give some of us a chance.
Legacy publishers: you made your bed, now sleep in it. Get off that gilded little throne you made and actually prove yourself worthy of our consideration, because we have options now! Amazon has our back because they gave us the opportunity that you never did. If you’re as great as you have claimed to be all these years, prove it by stepping up your game instead of having your authors sit on the sidelines, sign a petition, and bitch. Swim or get out of the freaking pool.