Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Tricks From Old Publishers

Dear Fellow Writer,

Welcome to this week's newsletter.

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Story Plotting

New Tricks From Old Publishers

Rob Parnell

The latest publishing news is that Random House and Penguin are joining forces to form an Amazon type online book megastore.

If you're burying your head in the sand about the importance of online ebook sales and the Internet as the means by which you sell your books, rest assured that the traditional publishers are not!

It amazes me that so many would be authors still aspire to the fantasy - that a dream agent and publisher will come along one day and publish their books and make them famous.

This old world version of how you might achieve writing success is becoming more and more unlikely as time goes by.

Online book sales are increasing exponentially while ordinary book stores close and publishers scramble for anything that look like a bestseller - while rejecting more manuscripts than ever before.

Well, not always rejecting - but now seeing an opportunity to exploit writers (again!)

Because both Random and Penguin are also moving into vanity publishing.

Instead of just rejecting an author, they now want to offer you an alternative: pay to be published.

This is a worrying development to many writers as it seems to go against the sanctity of traditional publishing. But the fact is, with publishing houses bottom line shrinking all the time, the most logical thing to do is make money from the ever increasing hordes of wannabes that want to see their name in print - especially with such seemingly prestigious publishing houses.

But don't be fooled - these old school publishing giants just want to use the same model as the online publishers (like Trafford) who, usually for a huge fee, will simply print up your book and sell you copies - and then move on to the next sucker.

When this becomes commonplace, having Random House or Penguin on your book cover - if that ever happens - will mean next to nothing - except to you personally perhaps.

The sanctity of the traditional publisher is a myth. It has been all along - they're all just money grabbing toe-rags and always have been! At least now it's becoming more obvious.

Traditional publishing has always been about exploiting writers - that's why they see no conflict of interest in now making money from authors directly - and not bothering with the tedious affair of having to sell books to the masses.

But, if you follow my newsletters and courses, you'll know this is old news from me. I keep saying it - and it seems that nobody listens!

The ONLY way authors can, should and do survive these days is to sell their own books.


Or at least have a publishing deal that reflected reality - that is the author should get the majority of the royalties on a book sold and not the paltry 5% or 10% they offer these days as standard.

Dickens used to get 90%. At least through Amazon, self published authors can get 50% to 70%. Most Author Organizations are fighting for more like the Dickens percentage - because it better reflects the work involved in creating novels, books and ebooks.

For years authors with traditional publishers have been bemoaning the fact that you can't live on the advances and royalties you get from traditional publishers.

Yes, the bestsellers can - but they only make up a tiny proportion of the working writers, authors and novelists out there.

Most professional writers, it's been proven, make less than $10K a year from their publishing contracts. And this figure comes from the tax office - so you know it must be true!

But this is not the case for the growing band of enlightened ones who are self publishing online.

The fact is, if you know what you're doing and you know how to self edit and format manuscripts correctly, and you can write a half decent commercial book, you don't need a publisher anymore!

I have a theory.

That most wannabe authors fantasize about having an agent and a publisher because they know, deep down in their heart, they're writing books they wouldn't have the courage to publish themselves.

Perhaps the next time you send off a submission to a publisher, you need to ask yourself: would I publish this book?

Do I believe it's a bestseller?

Or do I think that somehow the sheer size of the market must mean I would sell enough to retire?

Which is not the way it works, by the way.

Publishers don't magically make books sell. No, they only promote books that would sell anyway!

And if they'd sell anyway, you might just as well sell them yourself.

Traditional publishers increasingly look at what's selling online.

It makes sense to do this. Instead of plowing through hundreds of dud submissions, why not grab a book that's selling well already?

That's why Fifty Shades of Grey got a publishing deal - not because it was a great read or because it was well written but because it was already selling a truckload!

The main argument traditionally published authors have for maintaining the old status quo is that they say, rightly, that traditional publishers protect the integrity of writing - that there's a certain standard that is upheld by having an industry that vets what ends up in the marketplace.

They also say that having lots of authors like me and few others publishing their own books somehow undermines that integrity.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys!

Seriously, the world is changing. The number of people reading is actually dropping. Less than 40% of the population ever read a book these days. Did you know that?

But, strangely, many more people are buying ebooks - PDFs, Kindles, ePubs etc. Did you know the average person, reader or not, has over 20 ebooks on their computer or mobile device? Many have hundreds.

What would you rather: to be part of many people's digital library? And part of history?

Or to spend thousands of dollars on a book that only you and your family and your pet ever saw?

Answers on a postcard please...

(It's a rhetorical question by the way.)

Okay, that's the lecture over with for this week.

I just keep trying to help you see the light!

Just don't let all this brave new world of publishing happen and get left behind. Or end up spending a fortune on something that you yourself can do for free these days.

I don't want to have to say, I told you so!

Do yourself a favor.

Go visit The Write Stuff.

 rob at home
"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You cannot try to do things. You simply must do things." Ray Bradbury
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