|Preston, an admitted wimp, talks tough via the NYTimes ...|
I've been in the limelight recently with my take on the Amazon/Hachette situation. My opinion on the matter is said to be somewhat unique in that I don't support one side or the other. I would like to see a healthy publishing environment where many publishers compete for the right to publish great books for low costs to consumers. Seems like a no-brainer to me. I said as much on my interview this week at Fox News.
Recently The New York Times featured me in an article that was pretty much balanced in its take on the publishing war situation, if you want to call it that. The reporter, David Streitfeld, and I have become professional friends over the years we've corresponded via Internet, telephone, and more recently, in person. But the latest article the journalist penned regarding and his encouraging 900 authors to sign a petition against Amazon and its practices is so off base as to be not considered journalism, but instead, an attack on a company that has treated me, my books, my family, and my career, far better than the corporate giants who make up the Big 5.
(Me, taking a breath, ...)
Questions and more:
--Why do I feel like The New York Times, and Mr. Streitfeld in particular, take an opinion of Amazon Publishing that is not far different from Jimmy Carter's take on the terrorist organization Hamas, which utilizes little children as human shields to protect their missiles which they indiscriminately lob at Israel? Amazon Publishing wasn't born with the sole purpose to destroy Big Publishing anymore than Israel was created to crush Palestine. AP was born as a result of Big Publishing's mistakes, greed, and mismanagement. They have thrived out of a reader's basic need for good books at low prices. They have thrived out of an author's need to make a living without being a slave to an antiquated system that places writers at the bottom of the totem pole.
--What is wrong with a major publishing company that wants to treat its authors like human beings and offer books up to its readers at low costs, and willing to take a huge loss as the same time? It's easy for the Times to select an author like Preston to give them the cocaine they need for their anti-Amazon fix, when said author is speaking to them from a cozy writer's cabin on a golden pond only feet away from his mansion. Of course Preston doesn't want to see change, folks. He's swimming in Hachette loot. Do you think he gives a rat's ass about the mid-list author barely making a living? Trust me mid-list author, you have about as much chance of being invited to the Preston's for dinner as Nancy Pellosi does of housing all those poor south-of-the-border kids who were dropped off at the border.
--Have we, as a country, become so disenchanted with "winners" and "doers" that we want nothing more than to see success become failure? Have we become jealous and bitter over someone else's success? Preston describes himself in the NYTimes piece as a wimp and a boy who used to run from fights. That's pathetic. I prefer the company of strong people who stand up for strong values.
--I was treated so poorly by a Big 5 publisher that I nearly had a nervous breakdown. For certain, their dropping of me and many other authors over a corporate merger, resulted in my wife and I divorcing when I nearly went bankrupt. People in the business whom I thought were my friends turned out to be morally corrupt and concerned with saving themselves.
--It took me years to battle back to my level of success when none of the Big 5 would touch me because I hadn't earned out my advance (Of course I didn't earn out my advance. I was dropped before I had the chance!). Because in the publishing business in NYC, if you don't earn out your advance, it's not the publisher's fault. It's the author's fault. But when you score, it's because of an awesome publisher marketing program. Later on, when I was able to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of these same books via Amazon Publishing, suddenly, I'm not only back to making a living, I'm building up an audience that my Big 5 Publisher prevented me from establishing by not only dropping me, but by holding my book rights hostage for 8 years ... Hey Hachette and the Big 5, if you're gonna drop an author, then how's about releasing their books rights immediately!!!!????. Perhaps Mr. Stretfield would like to write an article about that.
--Listen up Hachette Authors, it's not Amazon Publishing that's holding you and your books hostage. It's Hachette Publishing's corporate giants and their Hampton's beach house mortgages and their Park Avenue rentals. Wake up, you are being used in a ploy meant to dismantle a success story, when in fact, reporters like Mr. Streitfeld are not only championing an antiquated and author-unfriendly system (and this goes for you too bookstores and your "returns" policy), they are doing so not with true reporting, but with propaganda. This isn't journalism, it's butchery.
--I still support a healthy publishing environment, and I hope to God that publishers like Hachette wake up and realize that by trying to fabricate a bully out of another publisher is really just a maneuver to tug at the heartstrings of those who are ill informed. Let's all get on the same page and create a new New York and a new publishing world with lots of publishers who offer great books at low costs. Come on David Streitfeld, you are so much better than this! And sorry, Big 5 New York, this might mean that you have to give up the Broadway location, move to Jersey, and buy a metal building for both publishing and distribution. Instead of lunch at Les Halles, you can eat at Franks' Diner. Costs less, the savings of which will be passed on to authors and readers. And you authors out there who are drinking the NYTimes and Preston Kool-Aid, save yourself now. You are being used for their own profit, for their own agendas, and as a palliative for something that is seriously missing in their souls and in their lives.
But don't take my word for it. Berry Eisler has written far more eloquently about this matter than I ever could in a response to today's NYTimes article. Get Berry's blog here: