Why Some Don’t Do It

One of the chief reasons, that has been sighted over and over again, for writers to willingly keep their careers trapped in the dogmatic, narrow-minded, and outdated box known as, traditional publishing, is they needs are ‘taken care of’ for them in the publishing process.  Publishing mid-list writers seem to enjoy this perceived comfort and are unaware – or don’t mind – being taken advantage of by the industry.

Make no mistake, a writer that just signed that first multibook deal more than likely let their agent do all the talking and didn’t once have their contract looked at by an IP lawyer to make sure they weren’t getting screwed down the line. 

J. A. Konrath has a great post on his blog about Big Pub’s screwing of the writer and should be looked at by anyone still on the fence about this issue.  He breaks it down by the numbers and anyone still unsure will at least have solid information to consider.  Check it out here:  http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/exploited-writers-in-unfair-industry.html

Two blog posts from writers stating they don’t self-publish are prime examples of the mentality that Big Pub banks on to keep their control of writers.

I quote speculative fiction writer Kat Howard from her post:  http://strangeink.blogspot.com/2012/05/overnight-success-thousands-of-nights.html

“But for me, right now, it’s not the right choice. I don’t want to learn how to convert my manuscript files into ebook files, or to learn how to make those files readable across a variety of platforms. (And no, I am not asking for advice on how to do this or reassurances that it is easy.) I don’t want to have to find and pay for content editing, or copy editing. I don’t want to have to find and get permission to use cover art, or commission cover art. I don’t want to have to research pricing, or worry that my book is suddenly going to be discounted or given away free without my knowledge or permission. I don’t want to immerse myself in any of the business parts of being a publisher. I want to put my time and energy into writing.”

Keeping in mind that I do not know Ms. Howard, have never spoken to her, or read any of her work, it seems there is a lot that she wants someone else to do for her.  She seemingly has put complete faith in an establishment that is long accomplished in looking out for itself and not the writers who create the material they sell to stuff their coffers every year.

The telling part of this quote is: 

I don’t want to immerse myself in any of the business parts of being a publisher. I want to put my time and energy into writing.” 

This looks good on paper, but unless your J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or James Patterson, this qualifies as pipe-dream, IMO.

For Ferret Steinmetz, the reasoning is a little different but its worth mentioning.

In his post:  http://theferrett.livejournal.com/1722391.html, he says:

“I write better for publishers.

I’m inherently lazy, and I’m pretty sure if I was just writing for people who already liked me, I’d do two or three drafts and call it a day.  I’m not in competition with anyone but myself, and revising is a real pain in the ass, so without that pressure I’m pretty sure I’d slack off.”

At least, in this case, writing is being treated as a job.  But how is self-publishing not the same competition?  Mr. Steinmartz goes on to say that he may only revise two or three times if he was self-pubbing versus revising five or six times when writing for a publisher!!!  He says this yields a better story.  Possibly so, but again, why is the NY gatekeeper required in order for someone to put that much work into a story?  The same amount of revision would suck the same amount of life out of a story no matter who it was done for.

The answer, of course, is validation – the other big crutch writers lean on with it comes to rationalizing why they stay with big pub.  If a NY gatekeeper says to make so-and-so edits and its a good story, then it means something, right?  Wouldn’t feedback from some good beta readers produce the same result?

In the post, he says his publisher has told him there is an uptick in traffic when he mentions his books in his blog.

And why would this not work if he self-published???  Of course it would.  It works the exact same way.  The only difference?  15% of net (at best), vs. 70%. 

The only part of Mr. Steinmartz’s reason that makes any kind of sense is he thought that when submitting to Asimov’s or one of the other professional level publications he can is in competition with the best in the industry.  Of course, we all want to know where we stand when our work is side-by-side with others, but that is no reason writer’s to keep themselves shackled as ‘house slaves’ (see Michael Stackpole’s post:  http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=2887)

I do have to be perfectly clear here:  I’m NOT saying don’t sign a traditional book contract EVER.  I AM saying don’t let yourself get screwed.  If you sign a deal, make sure it is a GOOD deal that serves you.  Remember that MONEY FLOWS TO THE WRITER.

We are so fortunate to have a choice now.  Exercise that choice to its fullest.


About Thomas J. rock

Writer of Science Fiction

Posted on May 20, 2012, in The Daily Grind and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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