I thought I’d revisit this whole Random House/Hydra issue one last time. Mostly because John Scalzi has an awesome post up on his blog: New Writers, eBook Publishers, and the Power to Negotiate. But, because I don’t want to just cite to that post (since chances are if you follow my blog you follow his), I have another few links to share below.
But first, a few choice quotes from Scalzi:
“But, these publishers and their defenders may say (and have said), the publisher takes all the risk in producing a book! Yeah? Hey, to publishers and their defenders who say that: Fuck you. Fuck you for asserting that the author has shouldered no risk, when she’s invested the time, opportunity cost and material outlay required to create a manuscript. Fuck you for asserting the the author sees no risk to her own career from the choices that the publisher imposes on the publishing process that the author has no control of: everything from cover art (which, if horrible and/or out of step with the market, can sink a book) to the size and distribution of the initial print run, to the marketing plan the publisher has for retail.
Fuck you for lightly passing over the risk that the author has if the book fails — that any additional books in the contract might be cancelled or put out with the bare minimum of contractual obligation, that the author might not be able to sell another book to the publisher or other publishers because of a track record of poor sales — and for lightly passing over the fact the a publisher mitigates its own risk of the failure of a single book by having an entire portfolio of releases. If one single book fails but the publisher’s line holds up generally, then the risk the publisher encounters to its livelihood is minimal. The risk to the author, on the other hand, is substantially greater. Yes, to all of that, ‘fuck you,’ is probably the politest thing to say in response.”
A long quote, but I think it sums up the risks an author is taking quite nicely. Here’s another good one:
“So when a publisher comes to you and says ‘We like your book, can we buy it?’ do not treat them like they are magnanimously offering you a lifetime boon, which if you refuse will never pass your way again. Treat them like what they are: A company who wants to do business with you regarding one specific project.”
Now, to add a little extra value other than reposting what Scalzi said, here is another very useful link: Common Misconceptions About Publishing from Charles Stross’s blog.
Some good articles in there. For the purposes of this discussion, especially check out: CMAP #3: What Authors sell to Publishers. It’s long, but if you haven’t really delved into what goes into a contract before, it’s worth the read.
I also got distracted and read CMAP #8: Lifestyle or Job? The whole thing is good to read through, but I particularly identified with this bit:
“So here’s the truth about the writing lifestyle: it sucks. It is an unstable occupation for self-employed middle-aged entrepreneurs.”
Pretty much sums me up. Theoretically, I’m right at that age where this should start to happen. Unfortunately, I have not been plugging away at this for the last ten years. Hmm. (Note to self: Be more enthusiastic about day job…)
That post also led me to one by Jim C. Hines that I’d read before but forgotten about that ties in nicely to yesterday’s post about networking. Novel Survey Results Part II
“My conclusion is that connections can certainly help. Agent referrals in particular — it’s always nice to check with other authors to see who represents them, and if you can get a referral, so much the better. But the idea that you have to have a connection? Or even that most authors knew someone before they broke in? That’s totally…[busted]”
So there you have it. If you’re a writer, you have something of value to sell and you should treat it as such. The big boys at the table are nothing without the content generated by you and others like you. And, as always, writing is a solitary existence (less so, perhaps, thanks to the Internet) and not easy. (But rewarding in its own quirky little way.)