Saturday, April 10, 2010

Know Thyself!

A wonderful sentiment, a brilliant piece of writing, and as usual I'm talking about something else. Something simpler, which makes a change.

You are the writer.
You are not the publisher.

Yes, this post is the result of another snarl with PublishAmerica defenders. I've been talking to a few writers who insist that PA's business model is much smarter and that PA is more likely to prosper than is any given commercial publishing house. Well, yeah, they're selling books back to their writers at exorbitant prices, jacking up shipping costs, eliminating editing, using clipart covers, and even forcing their writers to call a 900-number to place orders. This is to say nothing of the "we'll send your book to fill-in-the-blank for only x-hundreds of dollars!" Of course they're making money. They "published" 234 books last week. If I kept selling you the Brooklyn Bridge I might be rolling in dough, too. And if you kept buying it, well, you haven't researched my activities very thoroughly, have you?

My publisher went bankrupt at the end of 2008, in the thick of the economic meltdown. They lost a lot of money trying to publish books the right way. And they did everything right. It ended badly, and I feel sorry for them. But I had a great time. I got paid, my book is beautiful, any mistakes in it are mine alone because they edited and copyedited the bejeezus out of it. I got to go on a great book tour. I've walked into bookstores and found my book on endcaps. Good times.

If my publisher had spent less on my book (they spent $25,000) and those of the other writers they published, they might still be in business. PublishAmerica spends about $300 per book, according to one calculation. Should that be celebrated? No, folks, it should be shut down. The one thing that absolutely should not happen is that PA writers should defend PublishAmerica.

You are a writer. Your job is to preserve, protect, and promote your writing and your career. Not to do the same for your publisher at the cost of your work. Publishing is a business relationship, not friendship, and not family. You may not even have the same publisher next time. Heck, I know I won't!

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