Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War.

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.

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Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War

10 thoughts on “Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War

  1. Well stated. Amazon needs more people that are vocal about being in support of them. They need more articles that publish facts instead of spun words that breed into biased articles. I saw one by the NY Times that made me shake my head and after their misinformation packed article about net neutrality awhile back it has me convinced they’re either a.) not doing research properly or b.) getting paid by someone to say certain things. It’s appalling on a whole the way Hachette, and “traditional publishing” especially in regards to the fate of the big 5, is being made to look like a victim who is in the right when they’re actually in the wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doesn’t it seem like that’s the way it always goes? People have been concerning themselves far too much on headlines than facts. I have to laugh, especially when the individuals doing the research are ones who have earned a BA or higher. I’m still in the academic mindset: having to write a 2,500+ research paper every single week for the past three years of my life has taught me a thing or two about citations (I should use APA standard citations in this thing as well, for funsies and its also good form). I think some people get out of practice with it. People want information now, now, now, that they’re willing to take bs answers to satiate that need.

      I am predicting that the fate of the big five will be a magical experience to say the least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Largely they’re not paying attention to where that information is coming from that they’re spitting out in response to the Amazon vs Hachette “war”. As yet it’s coming from biased news organizations(it hurts me to say NY Times is biased, but given I saw an article not long ago where they tried to spin getting rid of net neutrality as net neutrality. . . I’ve lost any respect) or authors that are with Hachette/one of the big 5. I enjoy Stephen King’s work, but am still ignoring his opinion on this matter cause he’s with S&S who has been shady for a long time. Of course he’d be against Amazon if it meant possible danger to the model of trad publishers that’d refuse to change cause that means it could put them out of business which put him in a spot given the money he makes and his books. It’s like the accusations of Amazon being a monopoly or trying to become one. . . That fuel has been dumped on the fire by those that are afraid of the changing model and refuse to get with the times, and everyone eats it up. They don’t look for the source. Honestly, this seems like the same behavior seen back in the day. There were complaints when serial novelization became a thing, there were complaints when paperbacks came into existence, etc. cause it meant a change and people are always resistant to change.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are so right-and in my mind, progress is progress. There are some innovations within technology that are embraced that conflicts with the standard, traditional means of technology that we’re used to. I imagine the Big 5 are going to go by way of Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster was one of the most prevalent DVD and rental chain and fell by the wayside as soon as Netflix, Redbox, and Amazon Instant Video reared their ugly heads. Blockbuster had no choice other than to bow out and resort to another means of competing with the new technology. Same goes for any other conglomerate. I imagine a merger of the Big 5 with Amazon would be a big fat no-go (such as what happened with Charter and Time-Warner, if I’m remembering correctly-I wrote a research paper on the subject about six months ago.) If a business gets too huge and swallows enough companies, there is no room for smaller businesses to compete. From the looks of it, comparatively, I imagine The Big Five are concerned about becoming one of those ‘small’ companies in comparison. The problem that I see is that instead of legitimately competing, The Big 5 has resorted to nitpicking and complaining, participating in illegal business practices, and basically cheating their way to maintain their stance and profit. They’re still surviving-making money etc…if they were going bankrupt, I imagine people would be far more concerned.

          I’ve had a bit of an up-in-arms debate with another individual on a different forum who was completely against Amazon and all that they stood for. The media has, within its history of its implementation (think of the first newspaper!!) has always been biased. What isn’t biased is the research and facts while weighing an objective opinion on the matter. People are far more concerned about ‘taking sides’ and the ease with which to gain more information. Thus, they resort to reading headlines and synopses of stories rather than researching the topic themselves. So, their opinions become biased either because they read biased information and are swayed in one direction or the next instead of spreading out and researching the information directly at the source or legitimate publications whose focus is upon facts and providing legitimate references to back up their argument.

          Anyway, I have to get back to work, would love more of your input, if you have the time. Thanks again for discussing (if I haven’t thanked you before, that is.) 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’ve seen similar comments circulating other places around the ‘net lately too. So many are really downing that Hachette Kool-Aid. The thing about Blockbuster closing is that they could’ve had better success if they had changed their ways. Their late fees would get more and more ridiculous. Their “New Release” costs made no sense since half the films they listed under that category weren’t new ones. And so on and so forth with their refusal to change their marketing. There was a chain of bookstores this happened too not long ago, a big one, and everyone blamed B&N and Amazon, or anyone that sold books via the Internet. However, that store shot itself in the foot when they hired someone not familiar with anything they needed to be over someone actually qualified for that role and refused to allow online ordering which means no e-books, and therefore weren’t selling e-readers too. There were other examples of that nature. I understand wanting people to come into your stores, but not having a way to order online isn’t helping profits. If a place doesn’t have a way for me to order that way it doesn’t make me go “Oh, I’ll just go there since I can’t buy online from them.”, but instead makes me go look for another place that has that option. I live with chronic pain and illness, and there are days I just don’t have the energy or I hurt too much or I can’t move from being so stiff that going out isn’t an option. Even some grocery stores have online ordering now. Some of them even do the delivery part while others you may have to go pick it up. Yet they still offer that service. It’s about changing with the times so if you don’t then it’s going to put you out money. . . and put you at risk of going out of business to boot.

            Thank you for the topic and the discussion as well. It’s awesome.

            Like

  2. “Patterson voiced his concern about ‘quality versus quantity’ when it comes to Amazon.” I almost choked when I ready this. Jeez, what a poltroon.

    I’ve already published via KDP, and there is not change of my turning back, but it is nice getting one’s decision confirmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a writer (creator of stories) Patterson spins a pretty good yarn, but I had the same reaction you did. Ugh!
      I’m glad my post helped you out. Feel free to post the link to your book on Amazon in the comments here. 🙂 I’d love to read it!

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on Tokyo Exile and commented:
    Here’s a well-stated, strong argument in favor of self-publishing. If you’re new writer, there simply are no good reasons to go with a traditional publishing house. That’s right. Zero. Zip. Nada. self-publish, expressed very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War « Christina L. Rozelle

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