As a preface to this post, let it be known that I really enjoy hitting my thumb with a hammer, pushing forks into electric toasters and tripping over things in my bare feet in the dark. It is that very masochistic tendency that prompted me to write this blog.
A favorite book for me in the last decade was Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat, published in 2005. It simply made me think differently about everything.
It is a complicated book to explain in a few words, but the basic premise (for me) was that much of our modern everyday world is interconnected and interrelated, where an action in one place has a reaction in another place…basic physics and an apt description of life in the 21st century.
For example, Friedman uses an illustration (pre-Affordable Care Act) that the consumer in him loved the low prices and the stockholder in him loved the corporate profits at Wal-Mart, but the good citizen in him didn’t like that most Wal-Mart employees were not covered by health insurance. Low prices for consumers and good wages and benefits for retail employees most often do not coexist.
I will make a further application. In our everyday lives, low taxes are a good thing as long as you accept the implications of those low taxes. But you absolutely cannot demand low taxes and excellent schools, plenty of police, nice roads, working street-lights, spectacular fireworks for the 4th of July and great public libraries. The two issues are connected.
Consider the issue of public libraries. You can get a library card for free and check out books for free. But they were not free. Someone else paid for it or you simply paid for it indirectly and think of it as free. Physical books (and even digital downloads) in a free public library are paid for by tax dollars and donations from benefactors.
Nothing is free. Ever. It is simply a question of who pays for it.
Traditional publishing has “flat-world” issues every day with actions and reactions.
Do you know anyone who works at a book printing company? The printing industry is surviving through consolidation and merger. As eBook use grows, the need for paper decreases and loggers and paper mill workers are laid off because everything is connected.
Communication technology has made location far less important. Fewer and fewer employees of publishing companies (and for that matter, literary agencies) actually work in the building of the publisher or agency. Many telecommute from their homes in another city.
As buying habits shift to online, the physical location bookstores suffer, people lose their jobs and on and on it goes, because everything is connected.
Consumers love Amazon (I love Amazon) and have shifted almost half of all book purchasing to them, but not without casualties. Amazon is a great company, but their growth coincides with the demise of something else and not the expansion of a market.
Bookstores cannot survive selling books. Today, any Christian bookstore sells far more Bible covers, gifts, greeting cards, framed art and church supplies than books and Bibles combined.
Cause and effect happens all the time in every industry and is not unique to book selling. Every retail segment experiences it at some point. It is a natural reaction to the shifting of distribution channels from one to another. A hundred years ago, the Sears catalog devastated small retail shops. Starting fifty years ago, the big box retailers dealt the small independent retailer another body blow.
Even indie publishing has flat-world issues. Indie authors quickly discover that there are a lot of moving parts to publishing a book and is neither easy or devoid of risk. There are cause and effect decisions to be made at every step along the way.
For example, if you hire a really inexpensive editor or proofreader, the good steward in you liked the low price you paid and you spoke about your wise use of money to friends, but the good citizen in you should probably not feel too pleased about having someone work for close to or less than minimum wage. A traditional publisher will have their work edited and proofread multiple times and spend thousands of dollars to get it right…and they still will have errors or problems slip through.
You can always find someone to do all sorts of things for you inexpensively, but generally those costs are not sustainable or fair long term to the one doing the work. A buyers market is great for the buyer, but not so great for the seller.
The same principle applies for inexpensive cover design, photos, illustrations, eBook formatting and any of the other myriad costs that go into making a book.
Let’s be honest. Books from traditional publishers are more expensive than indie published books because publishers employ people, pay for health insurance and other benefits and provide a stable place to work so people can support lives and families long term. Publisher employees like getting cost-of-living raises each year and being able to take sick days. Someone needs to pay for those.
The aspiring author in you might love the idea that thousands of people downloaded your book for free or next-to-free. But the good citizen in you should wonder if too many inexpensive or free eBooks will have a cumulative effect of training readers that the written word should be inexpensive or free.
The legacy of indie publishing should be one of giving art a chance. But I am afraid what the publishing industry will look like in a few years when millions (and billions) of readers have been conditioned to believe author hard work is worth no more than ninety-nine cents.
Yesterday a lady came into the drug store where I work with a prescription for a blood pressure cuff. Not many pharmacies are licensed to bill insurance or Medicaid for items like blood pressure cuffs or other durable medical equipment. She was completely shocked when I relayed this information. She said she thought Obama Care paid for everything, and she shouldn’t have to pay for the cuff.
As I read your post today, this woman’s comments came to mind. I can see how many readers will grow used to expecting free or 99 cents books.
Every day we risk change. It’s a part of life. The horse and buggy replaced a machine with hundreds of horse power. Now we pay more than horse feed for that change – the horses went out to pasture. The buggy builders were fired. Ford hired them in his factory and we moved into a consumer industry. We consume. We cannot turn back, but with people like you who make us realize that no matter what we must be accountable for the change then maybe we will move into those areas of change with a little more responsibility. Thank you for making us think, Chris~
A cogent presentation. Whichever way we choose, someone will think we should have done it differently. Another sleight of hand is to give a negative name to a process, ex: “vanity press” instead of “pay to publish”. (Please don’t batter me with the explanations of why it is the “bad” way – I know them – its just an example).
As believers with a purpose – we need to pray through all things, trust Jesus in the other believer, be kind and responsible with our gifts. And as always – “the worker is worthy of his wages” I believe that also.
Thank you for a thoughtful blog.
A thought provoking post, Dan. Physics wasn’t my favorite subject in school, but you’re right. There is always a reaction to an action. I’ve heard mixed reviews about offering free books. It seems good for an author in the immediate term, as far as increased numbers and downloads. But what about when they actually want to make a little money off their books?
To know we as writers have an impact in training readers is a responsibility . . . I hadn’t considered this issue with this perspective before. Our actions and decisions will cause a reaction, and it may not be the one we desire.
Thanks for making me think about this.
Thanks for the comment.
Even if an individual author doesn’t change the course of the industry with their pricing, they most certainly will train their personal readers that their work should be inexpensive or free.
Any time someone sells something and price is the only motivator, it is a bad situation. A low price is supposed to increase use so in the future you can sell at a higher price.
One of my favorite Dilbert cartoons mentions that based on their company marketing research, customers want more and better products for free, to which the boss remarked, “Well, let’s just keep doing what we are doing and call it a strategy.”
The sad reality is that the readers have already been trained. That boat sailed. The sails are so far out to sea the boat is a dot on the ocean. The question is, what do we do now? The wind will die down. The sails will droop. But the boat still needs to move… What will the propeller be?
I think it will be what it has always been.
Author writes a book and a few people read it.
People recommend that good book to friends who read it.
Those friends recommend the book to friends who read it.
Those friends recommend the book to friends who read it.
No author or business can sustain itself without making readers or customers happy and having those people return for more and recommend to their friends.
Customer satisfaction trumps price resistance every time.
The boat has definitely gone out to sea. I, who didn’t bat an eye twice at spending $75-150 bucks on print books every weekend (my vice, that was) won’t do that anymore. When it’s an ebook, I expect value. I know they don’t have to warehouse, deliver, shelve, handle an ebook. I expect it to be WAY cheaper. Psychologically, I am now trained to expect that. Whereas I used to routinely pay 10-25 for print books (or much more if it was an oversized or art book), I will not pay more than 5.99 for an ebook unless it’s uber-compelling (a fave author or “must have” series). And I think TWICE if it’s more than 3.99. I’ll probably still buy it; but I hesitate.
That hesitation says a lot about the new reality of the modern book shopper.
And I”m not a casual book shopper getting fewer than a dozen books a year. I buy 200+ books a year. When the ebook is above 5.99, I go into comparison/budget mode: I find the used book for 1 cent or 1 buck + 3.99 at times. Still cheaper than the ebook or I put it in my Amazon cart and wait until I get a notice that the price went down. One way or another, I can wait–sale or cheap used. I can wait till the price is the one *I* want.
Want me to pay $10+ for a book: be one of my top fave authors or write something so amazingly compelling it loosens my wallet. It’s like any other commodity. Be amazing and you can command a higher price or that amazingness. Or be cheap.
So, all those folks working in bookstores pre-Amazon were making 15 or 20 bucks or more bucks per hour, from the janitorial to the sales assistants? When buying books in bookstores, the customers added extra to the bill top make sure everyone was getting paid fairly (not just publishers/authors/graphic artists/editors?)
Any industry that undergoes revolutions has upheaval–some lose their jobs, some make less, some have more opportunities, some make more, some who never were able to play in that field get a chance to do so.
I have spent more than 75K on books in the last 3 decades (rough estimation I made). I have a separate apartment just to keep my book collection. That will change. I’m getting rid of most of my books and transitioning to ebooks–to save space, money, and be able to save more fore retirement. Ebooks that are less expensive and don’t take up house space are a boon to many of us (I don’t hae to have more square footage to have 3K+ books.)
And the editors and graphic artists who offer high value for time/money will get paid better. Those who are building portfolios and asking for less (or who have less skill) will get less. It’s made all of this more competitive, yes, and that is good for the buyer. But unless those who are talking books and preserving bookstores/publishing in the “old ways” think it’s about fairer pay, I want to ask: are you offering to pay more for veggies so farmers get better income? More for coffee so global farmers aren’t living in tird world conditions? More for clothing, so the Chinese and Indian and other workers are able to move up in life and educate their kids?
Once the standard is: pay more than you have to in order to support a middle class or better lifestyle for some, then it must be consistently applied. Pay the person cleaning you house more. Pay the person washing your car more. Pay your babysitter more. Pay the person delivering your newspaper a bigger tip monthly. Tip 50% or 100% instead of 15 or 20 to the gal in the diner, getting low wages.
If one won’t feel free to enjoy low cost books–or one won’t take advantage of free when authors/publishers have promotions–then one can’t shop at Walmart or CostCo or anyplace where folks are being paid pittances. It’s all or nothing.
There is not legitimate way to demand authors not price their works at the lower price- point. Just as there is no wayfor readers to demand publishers never price above 10 bucks. We vote for what we want with purchases and conscience.
Perhaps there should be a “donation” button: Pay 1.99 and donate a tip to the author. I’ve seen that in places (FIVERR, for example). LAST DAYS MINISTRIES would sell records, and offer free ones to those who could not afford (talk about walking in faith even in business). Maybe that’s an option: buy for 5.99, and tip extra for the author remuneration only.) I might be tempted to do that if I knew it would go to the writer who isn’t a bestseller and might be getting low returns and isn’t getting health insurance, 401K benefits, and vacation pay from a publisher.
I am less inclined to do that for a corporation. In fact, I’m not at all inclined to do that for a corporation. For a person: yes. 😀
I guess since I have worked in publishing for 30+ years that I don’t see “corporations” as much as I see the people. Be careful not to dehumanize the discussion.
A lot of us have worked for corporations. But I’m not gonna donate money to one. I do give money to people (and have) who are going through rough times. I don’t send donations or tips to GE for that appliance or SONY for that radio or Amazon for that Kindle or Amy’s for that soup.
If I love a book or piece of art and I want to give extra, I want to give it directly to the creator–the writer, the painter, the comic strip creator, etc And, btw, I do a monthly donation to a Christian comic strip author/artist. And I’ve given to crowdfunding for writers. And I’ve donated to support art contests and writing contests.
But no, I’m not gonna send Walmart a tip.
Speaking of dehumanizing, where are the trad-published authors in your equation? Are they getting sick days, health care, paid vacations and annual cost of living increases? Or are they getting a dollar a book with no value added in terms of extra marketing or extra distribution?
That’s why some authors go indie. They discover that they are marketing and selling more than the publisher.
Good publishers know that and are doing a much better job valuing what an author brings to the table.
I find it interesting how you omitted the trad-published authors and their income from your piece. If we’re talking about paying a fair value for our consumable goods, then the author should be right in the forefront.
As your post stands, and your comments, you’re saying readers are supposed to donate their money to support the publishers’ infrastructure, but it’s morally wrong for writers to allow freelancers to set their own prices.
Also, by implication, that writers are the only ones in the equation who aren’t entitled to a living wage.
Does this dichotomy bother you? Because it bothers me.
It’s interesting you lay the conditioning of readers at the Indie author’s step. What about traditional publishers who priced ebooks at the same price as print books or gave the ebook for free?
If we’re going to talk about cause and affect in publishing– the traditional vs indie published book debate is tired.
Traditional publishers are pragmatic. They might offer a free eBook as a limited promo, but then watch the effect on sales of other editions. They do it in a very limited manner and some not at all. They’ve also changed their pricing to be more in line with consumer expectations.
There were more Indie titles published in the US in 2013 and 2014 than traditional titles…the first time that has happened, so yes, along with the sheer quantity of titles goes the responsibility of price conditioning at the feet of the Indie authors.
I think more about what publishing will look like in 5-10 years. I doubt many indie authors are thinking that far out, but should.
Oh, yes, the training of the consumer has consequences, but the music industry has had to deal with that. The trend was eventually gonna hit books. Digitalization/technology changed this game but good.
However, I know several indie authors who do the same as you describe: they have Excel charts, they have trackers, they use 99cent and free promos and look at the results. They compare this ad to that ad to this promo to that promo and see what makes more sales for them.
These indie authors are not chumps. They are trying to work out how to be their OWN publishers with a lot less overhead, but still all the work. I rather admire that pioneering gumption–and the incredible lot of varied work they have to do, when most don’t make even the average US income. But then, they are doing it independently, their way, and they learn as they go along. It’s a fascinating thing to watch. So very “ruggedly individualistic” that as an American, I admire it.
Heather Day Gilbert
Dan, I would just have to say that most indie authors I know are thinking years in advance. We are constantly changing our prices to meet consumer demands. Lately, that price point has actually been trending UP. We charge what our readers want to pay, bottom line.
I would argue that indie publishers are far more in tune with readers and pricing trends than publishing houses, who are slow to change. I really think this is an advantage and I’ve seen trad. pub houses adopting indie strategies in the past couple years.
Authors and artists will always exist, no matter what we’re being paid. But indie publishing has opened doors for us to reach demographics we couldn’t have reached otherwise. Must like Walmart opened doors for you to buy food and shoes and books in the same place, for a low price.
But I do agree that quality writing and word of mouth will drive readers to authors. I would just urge you not to dismiss the fact that many indie authors have built strong readerships who continue to come back for more. And that is the point of publishing, it seems. Bringing excellent stories to the readers who want them.
If “someone needs to pay” for sick days and vacations and such for traditional publisher employees, then the traditional publishers need to ensure there’s sufficient value added that customers don’t think twice about shelling out full price for an ebook.
But if customers have decided that traditional publishers aren’t giving them a value equal to the amount they’re charging (and we’ve all read some traditionally-published stinkers; as you yourself said, errors get through even with multiple employees looking over the product) then customers are going to go where the value is better.
I’m not running a charity for impoverished publishers. If the publishers want to continue making sure their employees have vacations and sick days, they need to figure out how to improve the value of their product.
Dan, how many indie authors have you spoken to? I can give you the links to several indie publishing groups where the state of the market is a regular topic; where people are tracking their promos; where they’re planning several years out.
Discussions like this are difficult because one party is speaking in generalities and responses are given in specific cases.
I communicate with about 20 Indie authors per week who are eagerly hoping I can represent them to traditional publishers. Agents are probably the one group sitting squarely between the two worlds and so I think we can offer a perspective.
Of course you are right with publishers offering value. They have been forced to think that way by changes in the market. They are no longer the sole gatekeepers. Some respond quickly and “nimbly” and others are slow to adopt new ways.
If the indie authors you’re speaking to are eagerly looking for representation, then they’re a self-selecting group of indies who may not be comfortable working independently, and therefore it’s not surprising your experience would be that they aren’t forward-thinking and don’t track sales.
Sorry, should have clarified: I mean that if your experience of indie authors is only the ones who are seeking traditional publishing, then you’re not getting the full perspective: the overwhelming number of indies who are perfectly content to remain indie forever.
That’s not sitting squarely between two worlds. That’s seeing individuals flowing only in one direction and developing a skewed perspective based on that self-selecting group.
I have mixed feelings about this. As a young boy a paperback book was my airline ticket to different places and wild adventures. Just the feel of a shiny new book cover exicited me. I hate to see that pass.
But as an aspiring author, I’m also excited feeling I have a realistic chance with Indie & e- publishing to get out there. I can finally bypass the gate-keepers (agents and publishers) who had to be satisfied with not only my work, but the markets, timing, volumes expected…etc., before they would take a chance on me rather than someone else.
Now, I can try for my ‘success’, which might be much smaller that what a big house would require. Especially since I will have to do all the marketing, pushing, tracking no matter which way I publish. 100 yrs from now wanna-be authors might look back and think this was the golden age of e-publishing.
Regarding the business, I imagine the candle makers felt very much the same when electric lights came around and bulbs could outlast candles 10 to 1. Fewer makers of bulbs, a few maintenance men at electric plants and New York city has light. Yet candles still exist as a niche market and I think publishers will too. Some people will always want paper books.
But just as the economies in farming and ranching let 10 men produce the food it took 100 to produce, the resulting abundance let new restaurants and food chains flourish. Perhaps some new industries will arise out of the e-publishing morass. What about software to track book genres; store vast #’s of books; AI (kindle) libarians to recommend books and print lists; books read in character voice; programs that illustrate (and later derive videos) from e-books on the fly; Kindle covers that change with moods or genre; are all possibilities.
My point is other innovations will provide new jobs. It’s just a matter of all of us readjusting.
Love this, Brad! I think you’re exactly right. Nothing lasts forever. The world changes, industries change. Venture stores close (remember those?) and Walmarts come along. Someday another company will outdo Walmart, (please let it be in my lifetime), and if they keep their aisles clear of clutter, I’ll be there. 🙂
I think publishers will always exist. Maybe not to the extent that they did ten or twenty years ago, but there will always be publishers and print books. There are just other options now too–and that is not a bad thing. Indie authors are not the evil people causing the demise of traditional publishers. If we flip the viewpoint of this post and write it as an indie, we could say that traditional publishing had, for so long, stymied other writing opportunities and careers and that once the indie option came along, so many more people had opportunities to create a living. So many, many, many more people. For the first time in… forever, maybe, numerous writers are making good money publishing books. I see it in numbers shared in my indie writing group, and when that’s compared to stories from traditionally published friends who are struggling to do basically two full-time jobs because they can’t make anywhere near a living off their writing…
Indie publishing isn’t bad, just like traditional publishing isn’t bad. They’re both very good options which will probably be around for a long time. The old era of publishing houses only is gone. For good. So it’s time to move forward and figure out how we all fit–and make a living–in this new, wonderful publishing era.
“Today, any Christian bookstore sells far more Bible covers, gifts, greeting cards, framed art and church supplies than books and Bibles combined.” – This is because they didn’t have the foresight to see what was coming and keep up with the growing demand for eBooks. So much could have been done by bookstores to capture some of the eBook market, but none of them but B&N did anything about it. And they would sell more books if they had more than 10-20% of their floor space set aside for books.
“For example, if you hire a really inexpensive editor or proofreader, the good steward in you liked the low price you paid and you spoke about your wise use of money to friends, but the good citizen in you should probably not feel too pleased about having someone work for close to or less than minimum wage.” This is such a Socialist idea. No one should have to start out in life earning anything less than top dollar? If I hire a new editor, of course I’m going to pay them less than I would if I was hiring someone who’d been doing the job for years and had a proven track record. And no, I’m sorry, I don’t feel bad for paying them for their services at that price. When they get better they can start charging more. This is the same logic that has raised the minimum wage in my state to the $15.00 range. I’m sorry but someone who flips hamburgers for a living should not make the same amount per year as someone who put in their due, attended years of college and works their butt off at whatever they do. That same hamburger flipper can work hard and rise up the hamburger flipping ladder and get raises, maybe become a manager, and then a regional manager and start making more money. But they should have to work hard to do that.
“Books from traditional publishers are more expensive than indie published books because publishers employ people, pay for health insurance and other benefits and provide a stable place to work so people can support lives and families long term. Publisher employees like getting cost-of-living raises each year and being able to take sick days. Someone needs to pay for those.” – And what about the authors they “employ”? Shouldn’t those authors be able to afford health insurance, and sick days? Yet the terms offered in most traditional contracts give the author – the one who’s provided most of the value of the product – a pittance. So yes, a change was bound to happen and I for one am so glad it did. When I first jumped into indie publishing I was told by an editor at my former publishing house that I would never be taken seriously as a writer. But now that I’m out on my own, (and I might point out, working harder than ever) I’m making a living as a writer for the first time in my career.
Yes, as an indie author I do give away some of my books for free. Why? Because I trust that the quality of my product will pull the reader on through the series to read the rest of my books – books they pay for.
Low price does not equal low quality as you seem to imply. A new editor might be just as good, or better, as an established one. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to prove themselves. You can get just as good or better quality covers for less money than some that cost thousands of dollars. And as stated, you can get just as good or better quality books for much cheaper than a traditional book. And maybe you can even feel good about the fact that you are supporting an artist who poured their heart and soul into that book.
There’s so much more going through my mind about all the other economies that are boosted by indie publishers. But I will stop there.
Change happens. Industries have long had to learn to roll and morph with changes. And the publishing industry is in the process of doing that now. It will survive. Probably because indie authors will be leading the way through it and trying and testing new strategies.
Christian retail did make a substantial effort to bring eBook sales to their stores years ago. It failed because it created complexity for the consumer. One friend of mine explained it to me this way…”Why should I get dressed and drive five miles to the store to buy an eBook when I can do the same thing in my pajamas and slippers from home?”
B&N Nook made a valiant effort but has been in sales free-fall and will probably be gone in a couple years. Amazon is simply too powerful a competitor and you can access it from your couch.
Without being too glib here about money issues, there are a lot of numbers between $100 and $3,000 for covers or proof-reading or photos. We shouldn’t take advantage of others just because they let you.
I dispute that it’s taking advantage of a cover designer to pay what she’s charging. Same with an editor or a proof-reader. The irony here is that the burst of activity by indie publishers has enabled cover designers and editors to go into business for themselves, and yet the trad publishers are weeping that it’s taking advantage of these people who have decided to work freelance.
I so agree with Jane. Sorry, but it is NOT taking advantage of someone to pay what they are asking for a product. That’s like saying we should feel guilty if we go into Starbucks and pay the asking price for a cup of coffee.
On B&N and the NOOK–and I say this as someone who years ago got the NOOK COLOR and loved it, and got it a year before I got my Kindle Fire:
B&N’s website and user experience SUCKS A DOZEN DOZEN ROTTEN EGGS. I am not alone in this. I’ve seen comments on social media/blogs in the last two years saying the same. They did not make it EASY and comfortable and useful to shop for the ebooks at B&N. Perhaps because they didn’t want to have a top-notch experience and take away from store sales (ie, protecting print over investing in having a better site).
It got so bad that there were books I had to try and download more than once. When I wanted to search for a book, I had to go to GOOGLE to put in the exact name or author to get the B&N url for it, because using the on-site B&N search engine yielded bupkiss. When I wanted to review something I bought, I had to try to enter the review multiple times or edit it down or etc. At Amazon, I had NONE of these problems. Easy downloads. Easy reviewing. Exceptional search engine.
So, people can lay the blame on Amazon, but ebibliophiles know this: B&N didn’t get the job done online.
And I really loved my Nook Color and WANTED to get more Nookbooks. But with the lousy UX and the lack of faith after a while that they’d continue to invest in the ebook infrastructure and Nooks, I transitioned to the Kindle Fire series and have not regretted it at all.
Make me happy and you get my money. B&N did a lousy job with the e-experience and let down the promise of their Nook. Whose fault is that? Not Amazon’s and not the buyers. B&N’s.
I agree with this, too. Apple’s site is no better. Every time I go into the iTunes store I feel a little like I’m in a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Only it’s “Can You Find the Genre You Want.” Their category trees are terribly organized and it’s always hard for me to find my favorite Christian fiction genre lists.
I very rarely go to iTunes. I could count on one hand then number of times I’ve visited iTunes in the last year or two.
And we’re an Apple-loving family: two iPhones, our second Mac Mini since 2009, an iMac, a MacBook Pro. We really like their products.
I hate iTunes. Again, UX. So, I buy my digital music and reading at Amazon (occasionally Smashwords/Kobo/B&N). Why? Ease, convenience, customer service.
In response to: “Books from traditional publishers are more expensive than indie published books because publishers employ people, pay for health insurance and other benefits and provide a stable place to work so people can support lives and families long term.”
In the past most authors had to work some other job to afford a living wage because publishing provided a living for the machine that shucked out the physical book.
Now editors, book designers, etc. may have to work a second job to make ends meet because Amazon has made a way for the author of the book to make a living with their work.
It’s an interesting shift, that.
The person who creates the fiction gets to support their family.
I kinda like it.
Dan, you made some quite pertinent points.
“an action in one place has a reaction in another place”
“Nothing is free. Ever. It is simply a question of who pays for it”.
“Let’s be honest. Books from traditional publishers are more expensive than indie published books because publishers employ people, pay for health insurance and other benefits and provide a stable place to work so people can support lives and families long term.” –
Has anyone noticed just one of the many elephants in the traditional publishing room. I was wondering if Andy’s $700,000. dollar book advance would be accounted for as “other benefits” as quoted above. I pray that the many new, sincere, honest authors wishing to publish something that glorifies God and works toward a greater society playing by the rules will not be taken advantage of and be unknowingly required to “donate” most of the rightful earnings on THEIR traditionally published book to cover this “overhead” or, in other words be “the reaction in another place”.
In some cases, supporting traditional publishing as a Christian author and putting profits in their coffers to continue their not always Christian agenda runs counter to that authors beliefs without out them realizing it. Some of these traditional book companies are owned by huge conglomerate corporations that the author would in no way shape or form support, IF THEY WERE AWARE OF IT.
Modern traditional publishing seems to have relegated the author to being the least important, least respected, least valued component of a published book. Heck, in many cases an author doesn’t even rate a reply to their query. Many agencies won’t even look at a proposal unless you attend an expensive conference they are part of. In other words if YOU PAY THEM they will give you the time of day even though that may amount to only a 10 minute pitch. Others will review your proposal by submission with the caveat of “If you haven’t heard from us after 60 days assume we don’t want it.” Its like saying we can’t be bothered with even emailing a boilerplate “No” back to you. An author doesn’t rate even those few seconds it would take to extend a basic common courtesy and at least let them know it was received.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Some places and individuals are more egregious than others. Not everybody has the expertise to self publish. Indie publishers are improving those folks chances by not submitting to traditional publishers..
If an agent or other traditional publishing insider REALLY wanted to know what an aspiring author experiences pick up a pen name, don’t let anyone know who you are or your connections and submit something, spend your money on a conference, calculate how much time you have left in your life and try to figure out whether or not your book would have to be published posthumously if it ever got published at all.
Traditional publishing has been experiencing an “embarrassment of riches”, a bubble, too many authors chasing too few deals for a past number of decades. Authors, for a large part, were taken for granted, disrespected, unvalued. INDIE PUBLISHING IS THE LONG AWAITED MARKET CORRECTION. How important would authors become if they all quit “chasing the dream” or waiting for “the call” and dove in and published their own works. Its not near as daunting as some would make it out to be. I can guarantee that they are going to sell more than never being published.
This is another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into. (Said as I flip my tie towards you in a “Hardy” fashion.) 🙂
Steve, Dan, Tamela, Karen and the Steve Laube company in general. MY CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ALL. I would have bet money that my post, which was not flattering to traditional publishing but, in my opinion, was completely truthful, would not have made it past the blog’s moderation filter.
I WAS WRONG! (seems like I recently heard that somewhere)
You have the courage to let points of view that may be somewhat different than your own be heard. Out of an honest discussion regarding both routes of publishing new opportunities and much good will come for everybody.
STEVE LAUBE for president!
Thank you. We are not designated defenders of traditional publishing despite assumptions to the contrary. Thus we are not afraid to have diverse opinions expressed in the comment section. It is part of the exchange of ideas.
We do however seek to help everyone understand that there are many sides to the story and the economics of publishing are complex.
I, like many, have studied the challenges/opportunities in the ongoing publishing industry evolution. I have identified TOTALLY NEW circumstances birthed of this evolvement for diligently astute authors, agents and others that, as far as I can tell, haven’t been discovered yet. These are exciting times presenting immense new and immediate opportunities. Greatly anticipating the blog on Monday.
I worry about “cheap” ebooks, indie or traditional. My concern is that we place less value on our words, therefore we give the illusion that the words are no longer valuable. I know indies who work very hard to put out a quality product and pour a lot of money into editors and cover designers so that their end result is one of quality. I also know some indies who crank out a book a month and don’t even bother to edit before they offer it up for sale. Both are selling for low price points because the market we’ve set up demands it. Readers have no idea who put the work in and who didn’t and, many times, readers don’t even know traditional from indie anyway. I fear the “you get what you pay for” isn’t working here, and that we’re going to have to wade through a whole lot of rocks to get to the gems in both traditional and indie. As a reader and a writer, I don’t want to see words become cheap. I don’t want to see society reach a point where we don’t know the difference between a Picasso and muddy dog prints because we’ve valued them both the same.