The role of publishers in the Internet age

The publisher’s fantasy:

The reality:

Despite all our best efforts to educate them, consumers are not actually as stupid as all that. They know how to ride around. Alas.

Writers, on the other hand, can frequently be bamboozled into paying the toll. You just have to convince them that it will bring them Fame and Prestige. They want to brag to their friends and relations about being found worthy to pass the gate. They imagine that these persons will be impressed; whereas in actuality, the friends and relations will only respond with a hearty horselaugh. But by then, we have the writer in our clutches. Our minions’ contracts are for life and the afterlife; they are signed in the awful covenant of the Copyright Law, which is far more enduring than blood.

     H. Smiggy McStudge


  1. Or, as various people have been saying as of late, self-publishing used to be the vanity option. Now traditional publishing is the vanity option. And you can see it all too easily in the haughty attitude of editors. “You’re not a real writer if you haven’t gone through me! Huff!”

    I kind of feel sorry for these old people. Some of them are my friends after all.

    • I like that: ‘traditional publishing is the vanity option.’

      I have a dear friend whose book was accepted by a lower tier mystery publisher that put books into LIBRARIES. It’s a thriller. She rewrote 130K words to 80 or 90K on spec, got the contract, was told it would come out in May 2016. She sold it directly to someone in the publishing company. She was planning a book tour at her own expense (she wants to see her books in ‘real’ stores). For THREE MONTHS.

      Then she was told it would come out in September 2016. Sometime soon after that, she was told they would not option her second book in the series, regardless how well the first did, as they were getting out of the thriller/mystery category.

      She sensibly bought her rights back (not cheap – I’m sure they charged her for the kitchen sink the editor used to wash her hands in). She procured an agent through a friend, based on the fact that the book was accepted, who has not been able, after three months, to find her another publisher.

      She writing another book. She is frustrated – she had the Holy Grail in her hands, and they stopped manufacturing them for the tourists.

      But she won’t even consider self-publishing – that’s for amateurs. Whereas I published in Oct. 2015, put out the trade paperback in Dec. 2015, and have sold a few and have a few nice reviews.

      I keep my mouth closed around my friend.

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