No, I’m not going to investigate this beyond “some random shit I remember and this post from yesterday.”
What can I say? I’m not a frakin blogger – it’s not my job to keep you informed. I can say this: only click that link if you are VERY interested in the publishing world and have some extra time on your hands (it’s looong).
I can also summarize (kinda) what’s in that long blog post, because I think it’s interesting. Here goes:
Like most everything else about “big publishing”, those companies (for the most part) use an archaic and mysterious accounting/royalty system. In most cases, the author never really knows how many books they sell. Instead, there is some wacky formula that results in a check. The publishers use techniques such as “basket accounting” and other measures to (purposefully?) obfuscate numbers and (really?) rip off their writers.
Can I use such a harsh term as “rip off?” I dunno… read the whole article above. This is from 2007 (NY Times). This is from 2010, author sues for failure to pay royalties. This is from 2012, among the claims: undercutting royalties. What I find interesting about the countless articles I found while “researching” this blog post, is the common theme: publishers (and sometimes agents) are ripping-of the writers. True, sometimes they take care of their bestselling writers, but “the rest” are often left to the courts and lawyers.
And, of course, this, the DOJ lawsuit against the “big six” publishers for price-fixing. While it doesn’t directly point to royalty “funk”, it does suggest there is damning proof that the publishing industry colluded to fix prices. If they’re capable of breaking the law in that fashion, what else are they capable of? I know that’s wild conjecture, but if you read the long article I posted at the top — is it just conjecture?
A prominent blogger/writer had been tracking her royalty statements and believed there to be discrepancies or flat-out lies from the publisher & agency. She blogged about it (the post I linked above) and her website was attacked. Staged? Who knows. Coincidence? Maybe. It’s hard to put anything past a struggling industry that would gouge their customer-base to save themselves. Fuckers. I know for a fact some nice people work for those publishing companies, but the douchebag execs (or whoever) in charge are asshats. I hope their actions bring them down, and I wish our laws were stricter regarding jailing individuals within a corporation for their illegal activities.
Okay. Maybe it’s naive of me to think a huge corp would “care” about their customer base. I’m sure every large company makes decisions to benefit themselves, at the expense of others. In this case, the “others” happens to be “the reading public” and my fellow writers. And that just wrinkles my panties. Why? Because these people are my clients & peers as well. They are my partners in storytelling and it hurts me to think they are being ripped-off by some engorged, out-of-touch ”old boys” network.
Fuck “big” publishing.
I know I’ve never come out and said those exact words before, but enough prancing around my views. Yes, there are honest, awesome people in publishing. I’m not angry at those people. For those agents/publishers with integrity, I say this: keep doing what you’re doing. You guys/gals rock!
To the rest of the publishing industry: see above, fuck you.
To my fellow self-pubbers: we have a unique advantage and you should embrace the business-side of things. Now, I know many writers don’t want to deal with numbers and such. But I think you should. Just like a small-business owner, you must wear many hats in the beginning, and this will include financials. True, when a small business grows, perhaps someone can be hired to handle finances. But those first few years of doing it yourself will give you amazing insight into the “whole picture.” As a self-published author, we have the advantage of full visibility into our sales (by the minute on the Kindle platform). We can run our own metrics and nothing is hidden. It’s not too hard, embrace it, enjoy the freedom & clarity you have.
Unfortunately, many people still honestly believe a book coming from a big publisher is better on face than a self-published book. I do read other blog posts (usually by traditionally published authors) on this topic quite often. And they make some nice points. One such author claimed the quality is better with trad-published books and then went on to state his latest novel published by a big house had at least 30 typos in it. Check out the negative reviews for the top Kindle fantasy book (Game of Thrones): the reviewers claim there is a typo “on every page.”
And don’t try to argue that trad-published authors tell a better story than a self-pub just because some agent/publisher put their stamp on the book. You are beyond reason if you believe that, and may other people’s Gods have mercy on your worthless soul.
Unfortunately, some other self-pubbers don’t put the “right” amount of time & effort into polishing their work/image in the ways they should as a writer (grammar, style, content, responses to criticism, etc). And this has led to a damaging rep for self-published works. So, I’ll keep shouting from the rooftops on this topic to my comrades in arms: FIX YOUR SHIT AND ONLY RELEASE FINISHED PRODUCTS!
Damn… if you made it to the end of this expletive-laced post, kudos! You have more stamina than most.
updates on Alexandria soon!