Author Earnings: The terrible horrible awful news

My dear McStudges, minions, slugs, and uglies:

The September report from Author Earnings is out, and there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that our paid and suborned propagandists in the human media are busily at work pooh-poohing the message, shooting the messenger, and otherwise smearing muck over the picture so that their victims will be gulled into believing our version of the story.

The bad news is the story.

It is vitally important, at this juncture, that we close ranks and maintain absolute solidarity whenever the humans can see or hear us. Among ourselves, we may bicker and feud as much as we please; our operatives will continue to feed off one another, as is our nature, for it is a Studge-eat-Studge world that we live in, and all’s right with it. But we must never be seen to fight in front of the servants. We must repeat the Official Story in absolute unison; but we must never be so stupid as to believe it ourselves.

The Official Story is that ebooks are going away; that the publishing industry has weathered the storm, the fad is over, and all can go back to Business as Usual at the Old Stand. In support of this, our propagandists are parroting some one-sided and obviously flawed statistics showing that the Price-Fix Five have shown declining ebook sales this year. Of course, this is because the Five, on our orders, are deliberately sabotaging their own sales by fixing their prices at an absurdly high level. They do not want to sell new books for less than the hardcover price. We do not want the books sold at all, for we want literature to join those other forms of art that have consigned themselves to the scrap heap.

Fortunately, the executives running the Five are, for the most part, short-sighted, incompetent, and innumerate. They know full well that their dominance extends only over one particular market, viz., the sale of printed and bound books through brick-and-mortar retail stores. Those books are sold returnable; which means that anyone lacking the deep pockets and fat reserves to give a full refund on (potentially) every product shipped and sold, writing off the cost of manufacturing and eating the cost of two-way shipping, is unable to compete with the Five for those sales. The Five have strong leverage over the brick-and-mortar retailers, who are in a sickly condition generally, and could not afford to stay in business if their suppliers did not extend these prodigal terms to them.

Amazon is a different kettle of fish. The Five have no leverage over it at all, for it does not need them. It has no acres of display shelves to fill; it keeps inventory to a minimum, like any sensibly run business; it seldom or never returns books to the publishers. For this reason, Amazon does a great and increasing part of its business with other publishers, and with the authors themselves directly. These people have every advantage over the Five, except for capitalization. They are quicker to market, nimbler, have lower overheads. An author acting alone can make a dozen experiments, assess their success or failure in the market, and be working on his thirteenth generation of products in the time that it takes a single manuscript to work its way through the slowly grinding gears of Big Publishing and make it into print.

The humans sometimes compare the Five to dinosaurs and the nimble new operators to mammals. This comparison is unfair – to the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were noble creatures, and dominated the earth for over a hundred million years. You must not think of the Five as the living ceratopsians or tyrannosaurs that bestrode the earth like behemoths while little rat-like mammals scurried beneath their feet. Rather, this is a competition between dinosaurs and mammals today. The Price-Fix Five, like the dinosaurs, have long ago fossilized.

What this means in practical terms, you can read in the Author Earnings report. In every channel except the declining brick-and-mortar one, independent authors, as a class, are now selling more copies of books, and earning vastly more money, than the authors indentured to the Five.  Their total dollar revenues are still smaller, but this is no concern of the authors’, for most of that gross revenue (for the indentured ones) goes to pay extortionate Manhattan rents, and to fill the purses of a plethora of unnecessary executives. This is good, from our point of view, for it keeps the authors underpaid, and encourages the most talented and clever humans to take up other lines of work. But one of those lines of work, now, is being a self-published author, and that may ruin all.

My fellow McStudges, we have reached the point at which we can fool the publishers themselves, and even their indentured scribes, but the big public is serenely indifferent to our message and knows enough to tell us to pound sand. This is disastrous. How can we prevent literature – how can we prevent pernicious new ideas and new aesthetic experiences from reaching the humans via the written word – if any fool of a human can write and publish as he sees fit? We must find a method of shutting this down; and so far, no such method is in prospect.

This, then, is the directive from Deeper Authority: All efforts must be redoubled to discredit the independent writer, to discourage him, to gum up his distribution system with technical and legal obstacles, and if possible, to silence him entirely. Some of our failed agents have already been devoured, and their replacements put on notice. Working conditions have been adjusted, and I promise you, they can be adjusted further in ways that you won’t like at all. The floggings, my poppets, will continue until results improve; for we do not give a salvation about morale.

     H. Smiggy McStudge


    • I certainly shall not do anything to depress the McStudge. Depressing him would put him closer to the lowermost pit of Hell, and he would regard that as a promotion.

  1. Hehe, as the kids say.

    It is encouraging to have the enemy running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

    Now if it will just last until I get into print/ebook! I’m working on it, final edits are slow for someone with my damaged brain, but I creep a bit forward every day.

  2. If you ever put a McStudge collection out in book form, ebook or otherwise, I give you my word that I will purchase it as soon as my finances would make it reasonable.

    Just promise that you’ll sneak off a bit of money off the top for your medication before McStudge gets the rest. I certainly don’t trust him to give you anything like a fair cut.

    • I am working up to the point where I can get the McStudge to disgorge the remainder of Theyocracy. That will certainly come out in book form, if the vile scum consents to finish it. I am putting a crack team of forensic artists to work to create a portrait of the author for the book cover, as the camera has not yet been invented that will capture his full horribleness without shattering.

  3. L. Jagi Lamplighter says

    Nice article. Thanks!


  1. […] Source: Author Earnings: The terrible horrible awful news […]

Speak Your Mind