Amazon vs. Hachette
So, funny story. Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading different articles loosely pertaining to the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute, and they were really starting to annoy me. Not the dispute itself so much as the depiction of authors who have not been published by the “big 5”. There’s a lot of disdain out there, and it’s being heaped on by people who should know better. Like this from Laura Miller (a Hachette author) at Salon:
Yet Amazon does have its partisans — specifically, the authors who use its self-publishing programs and whose books are published by its imprints. Nearly 8,000 of these signed a verbose petition at Change.org calling for Hachette to capitulate. (If there were ever a document to suggest that self-published writers are insufficiently edited, it’s this one, even though it begins with a promise to be concise.)
This is Amazon’s core constituency, one whose loyalty is fueled by gratitude for the technological innovation that has permitted them to publish their e-books and also by loathing for the publishing “oligopoly” that has denied them publication the old-fashioned way…
…These and other attempts to cast the mega-retailer as a nimble, innovative yet embattled outsider allied to “the little guy” — gestures that strike most observers as ludicrous — nevertheless ring true to self-publishers, who have been known to describe the five largest traditional book publishers as a “cartel.” Amazon, in their view, has rescued them from the obscurity to which they’d been abandoned by big-time “legacy” publishing…
Or a couple of days earlier when Ted Thompson–an author with Little, Brown (a Hachette imprint)–was asked whether being published by Little, Brown or self-publishing made more sense. He answered this on his blog, which you may be surprised to discover is being run by his publisher. His response is astonishingly naive, and mentions (twice) that publishers have money! My god, no, really? This gem is particularly priceless:
There’s just no replacement for not being broke. And an advance allows you, on a very practical level, a chance to get started on the next thing. It buys you time.
Yes, Ted, advances are AWESOME, and I would love to have one. Here’s the thing: nobody outside of the big 5 pays advances. Nobody. And it’s touch-and-go with them too. Self-published authors aren’t looking at advances and saying naaah, I’m cool. We’re looking at the best of our available options, which doesn’t include anything you have apparently experienced in your writing career.
Right, so I told you this was a funny story. The funny story is that I decided to write a Huffington Post piece on self-publishing and the morons who don’t seem to understand what’s actually happening in today’s marketplace. So I did, and then I sent it in, and I waited. Usually, I have to wait 24-48 hours for something of mine to go live there. This one went up in three hours. By then I was already out drinking margaritas because it was Friday night.
All right, that wasn’t my funniest story ever.
The article is called Please Stop:
If you are an author who happens to be published by one of the “big 5” houses, I offer you my congratulations. You are truly fortunate, and hopefully also a good writer, although one does not guarantee the other. I would be happy to hear your perspective on Amazon and Hachette, which I’m sure is interesting.
However: if the subject of self-publishing comes up in the course of this expression of opinion, you probably need to shut up. It is very likely you don’t know what you’re talking about.