Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Few Cantankerous Thoughts on Publishing... no particular order. (Although they are numbered, that's strictly serendipity.)

1. Book publishing is not dead. Paper books are not dead. And paying an author for content is certainly not dead, assorted screaming meemies to the contrary. How it will all be paid for in the future remains to be seen, but there is still such a thing as intellectual property, and the truly wise "forecasters" among us know that.

2. Editors, agents, and publishers don't get up in the morning and ask themselves, "How can I make an author's life miserable today?" They like things to go well just as much as you do. And they like discovering your brilliant work even more than you like them doing so.

3. Some people will never, as in ever, be convinced of this. This is their loss. 

4. There is truly no such thing as "traditional" publishing. People who use that adjective know little about the publishing industry except in terms of bashing it.

5. You're not actually self-published unless you have personally seen to every detail of the publishing process. Subcontract some, yes. But you're either in charge or you're not. If you've paid someone else to see to these details for you, don't call yourself "self-published," even if your publisher calls you that. It's misleading and unfair to those who truly are.

6. Small presses are not automatically virtuous simply because they're not the monolith on the corporate corner. All they are, in the end, is small. With all that that means.

7. Yes, we all know, e-books are the future. They're all that's going to exist in 20 years. They were all that was going to exist in 20 1980, too. Forgive some of us for being a bit slower and more cautious about jumping on the bandwagon that many of you have apparently just discovered and/or think you have invented. We've seen this movie start before...we're waiting to see the end before we applaud it too raucously.

8. Those of us who love print would be much more favorably disposed toward e-book advocates if they'd stop talking down to us, belittling us, calling us "dinosaurs who can't adapt," accusing us of clinging to a publishing model that "doesn't work," and screaming the assertions in #1 at us over and over again, just to make sure we hear them. Volume doesn't equal veracity. Enough, already.

9. It's no coincidence that the people who protest the loudest about how publishing shouldn't have "gatekeepers" are the people whose work needs gatekeepers the most. This is true approximately 101.999% of the time. So if you think you're the exception, think again.

10. If you're truly excited about publishing my book and "being my partner in publishing success," then pay me an advance against royalties. If you don't think you'll make enough money off me to cover even a small advance, you don't believe in my book or in me nearly enough to be my partner, and you should pass on it.

11. There's an odd notion in some circles that publishers should practically give away e-books because "it doesn't cost the publisher anything to do them." Whoever started this nonsense knows nothing about either publishing or economics, and less than nothing about the combination of the two. Don't give this lie credibility by perpetuating it.

12. I still believe that I can beat the odds and be the one who sells the story people will talk about for 100 years after I'm gone.  If that makes me a fool, so be it. I'm at least a fool who believes in something, rather than being the one insistent on dumping cold water on others' dreams. I know which person will be remembered in 100 years, too. Just sayin'.

Okay, I feel much better now. :-)