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The Debate is the Distraction

In one of my seminars, I make the blanket statement that publishing is not changing. It has already changed. The new paradigm is still working itself out in many ways, so in that sense, many things are still changing. But many more have already, and will never go back to the way they were before. Did you read that? Read it again: will never go back to the way they were before.

The Hachette-Amazon debate is a great distraction from the real truth here. So let me present it here for you simply, in a few points:

  • Few traditional, Big 5 published authors are making a living. Perhaps the top 1% We are the 99%. Stop asking us to support your obsolete model because it works for a few of you.
  • Amazon Publishing and small presses have resurrected and begun the careers of several mid-list authors. Bookstores can afford to ignore them, because not selling those titles will do them little harm, at least for now. But they do so at their own peril. Where are the next bestselling authors coming from? Mid list. Do retailers think those authors will forget mistreatment, or will leave their lucrative deals with their current publishers for inferior traditional ones to get their books carried locally?
  • More authors are making a living today from small press and self-publishing than from traditional publishing. This is clearly illustrated by data recovered by authorearnings.com and released by Smashwords. This has turned the Author’s Guild on their heads, and left them wondering what their future role is.
  • Amazon Unlimited, Oyster, and Scribd have become, as some of us predicted, the next outlet for authors, like a Netflix for books. This is where we should be focusing our attention: on authors being treated fairly and assuring income from such services, rather than battling the single largest source of writer income (at least currently)

Hachette is right. Booksellers and publishers have every right to price their products (books) at whatever level they desire. Amazon is also right: booksellers and bookstores can choose to carry whatever books and products they like. They are under no obligation. In fact, many Indie and local bookstores boycott Amazon Published writers and self-pubbed titles printed by Create Space already. There’s no outcry over that inequity.

The debate is a distraction. Most readers don’t care any more who publishes a book or how, as long as the story or content is good. Writers and publishers are fighting for their literal lives and livelihood, many with no idea where the real battle is, raging and tilting at windmills.

Writers, it’s time to get back to work. Write more, not about the debate or the industry we all know has changed, but more books. Stories. The things your readers want.

Publishers, it’s time to adopt a new program. Many small presses have. Survival means you will follow suit. Pay reasonable royalties. Offer readers content at reasonable prices. And don’t snub, and ask authors to snub, the biggest retailer on the planet.

Published inAdvice for AuthorsOpinion