Author Topic: Why Publishers Hate Writers...  (Read 1247 times)  

Offline VincentZandri

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Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« on: July 30, 2016, 10:35:38 AM »
What follows is now appearing in slightly different form at The Vincent Zandri Vox:http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/2016/07/why-publishers-hate-writers.html


Okay, I'm exaggerating here. Perhaps even grossly.
But maybe it's more accurate to say, publishers need writing, not writers. And to a degree, editors enjoy terrific relationships with their authors, the big sellers and the dogs included. I have several editors with at least three separate publishers at present and I consider them friends. Same goes for my agent (we laugh at our stupid ass jokes more than we talk actual business. Life is short after all).

But the point here is that publishing houses, especially the big ones, need content and lots of it, that will drive sales (only about 10% of the titles make 100% of the profits). They don't need writers per se. In fact, when the day comes where writers, like waiters at McDonald's who are slowly being phased out for the cheaper robotic equivalent, aren't required to produce high quality literature and thrillers, there will be quite a few of us trying to land a new occupation.

Or will we?

I've been preaching for a quite a while now that writers, like stockholders, need to diversify. They need to tap into many different forms of publishing, including traditional and indie. Therefore, when one opportunity dies because of any number of reasons, the writer can then rely on his income from another source. This is what the hybrid model is all about.

I learned the hard way. Back in the late 90's and early 2000s I went all in with one publisher while cutting ties with the rest of my writing and publishing venues, and when the publisher went through a consolidation and kicked a bunch of editors and writers out into the street, I suddenly found myself starting over. The publisher really didn't care very much about me as a writer, or a human being with a family and little kids. The publisher already got its writing...its content...and while I, the writer, was kicked to the curb, the publisher hung onto the writing, until many years later when, through careful and expensive negotiations, I was able to yank the rights back. Thank God, because the books I'm talking about would go on to sell a few hundred thousand copies under new management.

Publishers may not actually hate writers, but no one is going to put the tender loving care into a manuscript like you the writer can. No one is going to push your book in the marketplace like you will. It's probably more the case that an overburdened publisher will choose to ignore it, or toss it up against the wall to see if it sticks. Only you can take control of your own work and promote it to the best of your ability. Which is why every writer should publish a significant amount of titles under an indie label.

Going indie was something I resisted for a long time. But when I started realizing the financial results that can come from publishing just a few indie titles, I began to change my mind. Today I have maybe eight novels and some short stories published under my label, Bear Media/Bear Pulp, but I hope to double that over the course of the next twelve months, doubling or even tripling my monthly take in the process. Sure, I'm still working with publishers (I'm currently in contract negotiations for two books). But I always keep in mind the fact that the publishers are interested in the content, not the man.

Like they say in the Godfather, it's nothing personal, it's just business.

But that's all the more reason to go hybrid, to build up a personal list of books alongside your traditional titles. A couple of days ago, a writing colleague asked me what I foresee for the next five years of publishing. I told him, I see many more books being published by many more writers, and that discoverability will be the key. I also envision traditional publishing giving way to more and more indies who build up a significant subscriber list and who eventually will sell their books primarily out of their own website, which will act as their own personal bookstore. Many authors are doing this now, and even selling works from other authors as well.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, the secret to greatness isn't in knowing where the puck is on the ice at any given moment, but where the puck is going to be. The same can be said of the writing and publishing game.

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« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 10:41:10 AM by VincentZandri »

Offline doolittle03

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 01:23:19 PM »
Your post reminded me of something Doris Lessing wrote in book two of her autobiography published in 1997: Walking in the Shade 1949-1962

She has some brilliant, cutting insights but this stood out for me: "Publishers, even the best of them, have moments when they find it irritating, even unbearable, that that quality in a writer which produces good work is uncontrollable. Everything else can be controlled but not that."


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Offline VincentZandri

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 03:02:43 PM »
So very true...I recall my editor at Delacorte telling me, "Authors are a#$holes."

Offline Carradee

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2016, 06:22:10 PM »
So very true...I recall my editor at Delacorte telling me, "Authors are a#$holes."

Considering that, in general, you get what you pay for, maybe they'd have better experiences if they actually valued the writers?
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Offline TellNotShow

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2016, 06:55:22 PM »
In my experience, it's well deserved. While the Writer Me sometimes has good cause to be annoyed by the Publisher Me, I can assure you that the Publisher Me has to work harder, less enjoyable and longer hours, for less reward, goes generally unappreciated, and has many valid reasons to hate the Author Me, who is an airy-fairy arty-farty time-wasting nuisance who should just write better and faster and stop making Publisher Me's job more difficult.

Still, we're trying. Very trying. Well, I would say that, wouldn't I? Oh yes, and I suppose you think I'm better than me! Grrrr - why can't I just get along?
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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2016, 09:45:51 PM »
In my experience, it's well deserved. While the Writer Me sometimes has good cause to be annoyed by the Publisher Me, I can assure you that the Publisher Me has to work harder, less enjoyable and longer hours, for less reward, goes generally unappreciated, and has many valid reasons to hate the Author Me, who is an airy-fairy arty-farty time-wasting nuisance who should just write better and faster and stop making Publisher Me's job more difficult.

Still, we're trying. Very trying. Well, I would say that, wouldn't I? Oh yes, and I suppose you think I'm better than me! Grrrr - why can't I just get along?


Loved this. It can be a jungle in there.

Offline Barbara Morgenroth

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2016, 06:25:30 AM »
"I'm not your friend."--D.S., my former agent.
Believe her.

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Offline Nic

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2016, 08:18:17 AM »
Quote
But I always keep in mind the fact that the publishers are interested in the content, not the man.

Whatever made you think that a publisher could be interested in you, as the man? That's about as otherworldly an idea as believing that MacDonalds cares one fig about the farmer they buy their lettuce from.

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2016, 08:50:32 AM »
I'm always being asked to fill out surveys in which a typical line is: "____ company has my best interests at heart" or "I trust _____ company to care about me."

Give me a break. Does anyone actually believe that?

Want to know if your publisher values you? Run a test. Ask for a favor. It has to be something that can't be granted instantly, but could be arranged if the person you ask bothers to ask someone else. Doesn't matter what the favor is. Try it out. If you don't get your favor, you know this publisher thinks you are unimportant. Be ready at all times to cut your ties.

Offline AmpersandBookInteriors

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Re: Why Publishers Hate Writers...
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2016, 01:22:14 PM »
Want to know if your publisher values you? Run a test. Ask for a favor. It has to be something that can't be granted instantly, but could be arranged if the person you ask bothers to ask someone else. Doesn't matter what the favor is. Try it out. If you don't get your favor, you know this publisher thinks you are unimportant. Be ready at all times to cut your ties.

My wife asked me to make her tea one day and she never got it. I'm officially a real publisher now!


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