Publishing Misconceptions Leave Me Shaking My Head

Yesterday, I made a foray onto Facebork and a post caught my eye. It had a screen cap of a tweet made a year or so ago. The tweeter (or more appropriately the twit) was complaining about how hard it is to get shelf space in her local bookstore. She was outraged because shelf after shelf was filled with books by “dead guys”. You know who I mean: Tolkien, Jordan, et al. According to her, it was time for these bookstores to start supporting living authors. Wah-wah-wah. What she failed to take into account were current publishing business models.

First of all, it isn’t up to the bookstores to do anything except stock books that sell. If those books were written by men and women who no longer walk this Earth, so be it. Too many folks today think the world owes them something, including a free ride. I recommend they read Heinlein and learn what TANSTAAFL means.

In case it needs translating: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

What this author either didn’t know, ignored and simply overlooked is that not only are bookstores in the business of making money but they also are at the mercy of publishers letting them know what is available to display as sales stock. Publishers are going to push those books they know will make them money. They will pay extra for end cap and special displays for books they are pushing as the next best thing or are best sellers. If you are a new author or mid-lister, you’re lucky if a bookstore orders more than a handful of your books and, if they don’t sell–not just in that store but overall in the region–they will not be automatically re-ordered.

This is why so many authors, even traditionally published authors, spend so much time promoting their books. Gone are the days when publishers paid for anyone save best sellers or the newly designated rising star to go on promotion tours. Publishers have proven time and again that they are short-sighted and slow to adopt to changes in reader desires and demands. The sooner the industry AND trad published authors accept this, the better.

Related, on The Passive Voice this morning, I saw a post from a trad published author announcing that her publisher has made the decision to no longer buy any more of her books in a particular series. I feel for her, but I also agree with PG when it comes to her decision that going indie isn’t feasible. Her concerns were that her readers wouldn’t follow her for ebooks and that print books would cost $35. As PG pointed out, she would probably sell more–possibly many more–e-books as an indie because they could be more reasonably priced than they are as trad published e-books. As for the $35 price for POD, I have to wonder where she went to get estimates.

And this is the problem with a number of trad published authors when they find themselves in a position where they are no longer being picked up by trad publishers or when one of their series is no longer being picked up. They are so used to pricing, pacing, etc, of the trad world, they find it difficult to envision doing it any differently. They see how a number of indies publish every other month or every quarter, they look at the length of books–often shorter–and they think this is the way it is in the indie world.

They couldn’t be more wrong. The joy of indie publishing is that you can do pretty much whatever you want. All those goat-gaggers trad publishing moved away from publishing in all but fantasy are now fine for indie publishing. If you can find a market, you write it.

Sure, it helps if you bring something out every few months but it isn’t mandatory. That’s especially true if you already have a built-in fanbase like this particular author does. Instead of focusing on her worry about not being able to write fast enough to meet the every 2 month release date fiction, she should relish the fact she has a fanbase that would follow her and write for them. Tell them when the first indie book would be out and then give herself a reasonable period of time to write the next one and announce when it will be published. Put them both up for pre-order.

And promote the hell out of them. Get her fans talking about them. Even it if sells some of her trad published books, that will still be money in her pocket eventually and it will help build the momentum for the new books.

It’s hard. I get that. It’s a change of mindset. It’s dealing with the idea that you’ve been “fired” from your employer (the publisher) and, in most instances, the failure wasn’t yours but theirs for not adapting to the changing market. But the question this author and others have to ask is if they are going to sit there and lick their wounds or do something about it.

I sincerely hope this particular author does something about it. I haven’t read her books but I know others who have and who will be very upset to hear the news the series in question isn’t being picked up. I wish the author all the best and hope she reconsiders. Honestly, I hope she reads PG’s comments on The Passive Voice because he has some good advice for her.

Besides, I have no problem admitting I want trad publishing to see the authors they’ve kicked loose doing well and succeeding on their own. That is the best vengeance these authors can have on an industry that is mired in a business model that hasn’t really worked in 50 years or more.

*

It’s hard to believe, but Victory from Ashes is little more than a month away from release. You can pre-order your copy from most major e-book retailers. The exception is Google Play and mainly because I haven’t figured out that process yet.

publishing - pre order coverVictory from Ashes

Release date: Sept. 7th

War is hell. No battle plan survives the opening salvo. When the enemy is set on the total destruction of your homeworld, how far will you go to protect it and those you love?

This war has already cost Col. Ashlyn Shaw too much. She has lost friends and family to an enemy that doesn’t know the meaning of honor. Marines under her command have died doing their duty. Her enemies at home conspired and brought her up on charges, sending her and members of her command to the Tarsus military penal colony. But they didn’t win then and she won’t let them win now. She is a Marine, a Devil Dog, and they can’t take that away from her.

Ashlyn is determined to do all she can to protect her homeworld and end the war. She will lead her Marines against the enemy, knowing that if they fail, Fuercon will fall. But will it be enough and will those who have conspired behind the scenes to destroy her and all she stands for finally be brought to justice?

Duty and honor. Corps and family. That is what matters. It is all that matters.

Featured Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

11 Comments

  1. Amanda, small quibble with your remarks. Is trad pub’s focus really still on making sales?
    From an outsider’s viewpoint with some insights to the inner workings, it appears to me that increasingly the major publishing houses are putting wokeness and virtue signalling far higher on their list of priorities than their rather feebile attempts to supply what the readership wants.
    And the motivation behind all that is fodder for a bunch a ton of discussion far beyond today’s blog.
    As for POD back when I was managing an author’s business activities real paper volumes in trade paperback format in the 80-120 k word count were running about $6.50 per copy shipping included.
    Side note, companies recently advertising they can take your manuscript and turn it into a published book strike me as at most one step about the old style vanity publishing houses, in other words almost invariably a ripoff designed to overcharge the customer for at best poor services. Anyone thinking of going indie can do much better for themselves by either do it yourself, or buy specific services by the yard.

    1. Oh, it’s to sell. The fallacy in their approach is they think they know what sells and they don’t. We’ve seen examples of this long before we got to this “woke” generation of publishers. We saw it when they ditched who knows how many good books for poor rip-offs of the Da Vinci Code. We saw it again when they pulled books from their schedules to “rebrand” them with new covers so everything coming out looked like 50 Shades. And in each of those examples and so many others, we saw the publishers lose money and authors being dropped by the publishing houses for decisions the publishers made and not the author.

      1. I love the taste of Death Wish Valhalla Java, but my body is betraying me. I can’t handle that much caffeine. (Aging sucks, but it beats the alternative.) But I can still drink ‘ordinary’ caffeine level coffees. I get several different single origin types from CoffeeAm.com.

        1. I forgot to include that I am currently rotating through 13 different coffees right now. My upright deep freezer door holds a dozen and the coffee of the day is in my kitchen fridge freezer.

        2. I hear you. I have to be careful with Death Wish. If I drink too much of it, my stomach lets me know. So I tend to alternate with Nine Mile Sunset and a couple of others.

  2. I have tried Kona grown and once on a whim a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain.
    I’ve determined that my palate is simply not sophisticated enough to appreciate those rather expensive beans so every six weeks Amazon ships me another two pounds of Don Pablo medium roast whole bean.
    I grind enough into a small canister to last about a week, and brew in a Keurig with refillable carafe pods.
    Currently drinking 4 or 5 mugs every morning with one pink, two blue, and a splash of whole milk.

  3. Missed your comments on this yesterday; thanks for directing me over here!

    I think the big DAW thing was that they pushed the House War prequel trilogy (which is now up to Book 8 without any of the intervening books showing up in any physical bookstore I’ve seen) for the Michelle West books, in hardcover, to people who either weren’t familiar with the world, or who weren’t necessarily enthusiastic about reading about Dickensian street kids rising to power. The books came out at a time when I think people were looking for “happy books,” and a lot of the fans of the Michelle Sagara books don’t know about her Michelle West books. Her publishers aren’t friends, they didn’t seem interested in cross-promotion, and basically DAW didn’t do the obvious things (like “by Michelle Sagara, publishing as Michelle West”).

    The whole thing is a typical annoying waste.

    Now, obviously Amazon has a publishing wing, and might want to snap up the Michelle West books. But it’s also possible that one of these agent-run publishing companies will snap her up.

    I do think she might be much better off in indie. There’s obviously a doorstop market in indie, and the wuxia webnovels cater to that market.

    I ran across one wuxia book, not terribly well translated but with good momentum, that runs to 22 volumes in print/ebook. I don’t think they expect people to buy all the ebooks, because they priced the series at over 100 dollars and the target market is young kids. But I think they do expect the kids to read the wuxia in Kindle Unlimited.

    (Mind you, “not terribly well translated” usually means “somebody ran this through a machine, and they call every female character a he” levels of translation.)

    1. Her situation simply shows one of the big problems with publishing. The publishers are being driven by the wrong folks with the wrong priorities and the only ones really paying for this mistake are the writers.

  4. I’ve not read any of her books under either the Sagara or West names. I probably should at least check out the latter since that’s also my last name. I considered the Sagara books a few times when I’ve browsed B&N, but they were all later volumes in the series without any of the earlier titles and so passed on them.

    As for the twit, I think of her whining every time I see her book (I think she is up to two now) at B&N and move on to some other author.

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