|Speaking my independent mind on Bloomberg TV|
The publishing wars seem to be gathering more media attention these days than Israel's current war with the terrorist organization Hamas. More specifically, the ongoing tug of war between Amazon Publishing and Hachette. You can browse the web and find dozens of articles written about the situation that are chuck full graphs, numbers, charts, and more mathematical and statistical equations than I was besieged with in high school (I was never more than C+ math student).
The simplest way to understand what's happening is this: Amazon Publishing wishes to offer great books to all readers for far cheaper than more traditional publishing companies like Hachette are willing to offer. At the same time, AP wishes to pay their writers a bigger profit than the old traditional New York houses (what's left of them) are willing to dole out. Hachette has big rents to pay in the Big Apple and more than enough mouths to feed. So they need to keep prices high while keeping author's wages as low as possible. Unless you're James Patterson of course. But then, Mr. Patterson doesn't write is his own books anymore, which means he's gone from writer to sort of corporate cog in a giant machine filled with many cogs and wheels that must constantly be greased and oiled by guess whom, the consumer.
I entered this business as a writer and I intend to stay a writer until the bitter end. When I have a publisher who is willing not only to aggressively market me but also tell me things like, 'Vince, we just want you to write,' and who, at the same time cuts me (and my agent) monthly royalty checks, well then, I need look no further. However, I don't take sides in the Amazon/Hachette situation because it doesn't really involve me directly as a writer. I don't want to see any one publisher gain a monopoly share of the market any more than I want to see authors (and readers) continue to be subject to an antiquated publishing system that not only steals control from the writer, but also places him at the bottom of the totem pole. Authors and readers deserve a healthy and competitive publishing market in which many publishers compete for the privilege of publishing a great writer. Taking sides will only work against that and continue to fuel the war.
In a word, I'd like to see what's left of the big new York Publishing system wake up to the reality of the new publishing paradigm which includes e-Books as the dominant method by which we will all be reading books in the near future. Paper won't disappear, it will always share the podium with e-Books. But just take a look around you. The digital format is here to stay, and it is an inexpensive way to get great books to readers for low costs while at the same time, allowing authors to make more money. In the end, it's not AP that's putting the big publishers out of business. What's putting big publishers out of business are the big publishers and their inability to adapt.
But I'll say it again. I'm not going to take sides. I run as an independent politically, religiously, and I run as an independent as a writer. Hell, I even consider myself independent from those who writers who publish "independently." The recent New York Times piece that featured me got one thing wrong. I don't just publish with AP. I maintain a healthy mix of publishers that includes not only AP, but also Down & Out Books, Meme Publishers in Italy and France, and more. I've also started my own imprint, Bear Media. In the old days, I had one publisher, Delacorte Press. And when a corporate consolidation caused my mid-six figure contract to suddenly take a nose dive, I found myself without a job or a future. Sure they honored the contract by paying me all my money and publishing my books, but they did so with all the enthusiasm of a condemned man shuffling to the gas chamber. I vowed never to allow that to happen to me again. Never again would I or my family be crushed by a big publishing corporate mandate. Trust me when I say no one up in their big corporate offices were crying for me, and I'm not crying for them now.
This is a good time to be a writer. For the first time in decades, we have control over what we do and how we want to do it. We're no longer slaves. We're no longer forced to live from advance to advance. No longer at risk of being terminated during a corporate consolidation, no longer forced to kiss up to marketing departments that really have no interest in promoting our books. This alone, frightens the traditional houses more than anything else. Writers taking control of their careers. Because what happens then? Writers no longer need the traditional houses in order to get their books out there to a public who wish to devour more and more novels for reasonable prices. Amazon Publishing is dedicated to giving both the people what they want and their authors what they need. It's a the free market system working at its best and thank God for it.