I happened to read (for the first time) The Hindu interview I did on August 7, 2015, and was aghast. The writer, obviously, has no clue what self-publishing is all about, despite the long email interview I typed up for her explaining how it all works. Here’s part of her article (obviously her interpretation of the state of publishing):
“We are all familiar with the story of an unpublished writer. He has spent a year or more writing a book, keeping it a secret from almost everyone. Then, he spends another year writing to all the publishers he can find. Soon after, snooty rejection letters start trickling in, and the story ends slowly with the writer getting himself a job.
However, the onset of self-publishing has pierced a severe dent in this clichéd story. Though the “serious” breed of writer will never want the ignominy of having to publish his own work”
Only ‘serious’ work from traditionally published authors? Really?
There are excellent books that traditional publishers have published; that goes without saying. But how do you explain the 50 Shades trilogy, all the ‘campus lit’ books penned by ‘serious’ authors?
I might be wrong, but I don’t recall them being complimented on the quality of their writing (or editing).
Serious Indies (Independent/self published authors) spend serious money on quality editing. To call us ‘non-serious’ is not only elitist, it is derogatory: not the kind of ignorant/disparaging comment I would expect from a newspaper like The Hindu.
I need to put in a note here: I *chose* to self-publish. I declined a traditional publishing contract in order to do that. So this downgrades me from serious to non-serious? Wow! Imagine that!
I have been noticing more and more that these reporters ask for interviews, then cut and paste things out of context. One of the interviews I did with The Times of India talked about self-publishing in the same breath as vanity publishing. This, despite the fact I took the time to explain the difference. That paragraph was just hacked off, probably because it didn’t fit in the word count prescribed for the article.
I don’t want to turn this into a battle between ‘us’ (the Indies) and ‘them’ (the traditionally published). All of us work hard on our books and deserve to be judged by the quality of our writing, and not how we chose to be published.
I’m seriously ticked off. I think it is time ‘serious’ Indies in India talked about this. I’ll be at the Publishing Next conference in Goa, Sept 11-12. If you want to discuss this, please find me at my panel and we’ll connect.
Here’s an extract from a must-read article on HuffPo:
“One of the things I learned is that publishers often change their contracts to give themselves more favorable terms. Agents who are paying attention pick up on the differences and understand the ramifications. Agents who aren’t, don’t.”
“… … a few year ago, Simon & Schuster removed four sentences from the end of the rights reversion clause. These sentences defined the sales threshold, which states that rights will revert to the author if the number of sales drops under a specified amount. Removing these sentences meant that if the publisher also bought digital rights, the book would in effect never go out of print, and the publisher would own the rights to the work in perpetuity.”
The article states that you can’t necessarily depend on your literary agent to catch these for you, so be vigilant about what you’re signing away.
Click here for the rest of the article.
Lately I’ve been getting lots of invites from “Traditional Publishers” offering to publish my books for me. I’m always leery of such ‘offers’ because many of these outfits are self-publishing scams dressed in traditional publisher clothing.
Some quick and easy ways of checking if the traditional publisher is legitimate (though they are getting smarter by the year):
* Is the publisher’s website geared to the reader (as it should be), or are they in the business of selling you, the writer, services or ‘packages?’
* Is it a digital-only publisher? Frankly, I don’t see how this is beneficial to the author. Instead of a one-time payment to your editor / book cover designer / ebook formatter, you’re now paying a lifetime of royalties. If you have also been asked to pay for these services (in addition to the royalties) definitely stay away. Self-publishing is so easy – create an account on Amazon, smashwords etc and upload your book. Why would you hand over your rights to someone else for this effort?
* Are they asking you to pay for publishing your book? Stay away.
* Typically, traditional publishers have provided the author access to in-store distribution, which was what authors wanted / needed. But things are in such a flux now that it is hard to know whom to trust.
I wish I could say only scummy self-publishing outfits are demanding payment for publishing a book, but I find that (in India, at least) traditional publishers – the big established-for-decades ones – are also selling services on the sly. I’ve heard of a few of them offering to publish a book and provide in-store distribution for these books, provided the author ponies up hundreds of thousands of rupees. Not only that, these established traditional publishers are then pressuring the author to buy up the entire print run so the publisher can declare the book a success. If this isn’t smarmy, I don’t know what is.
Jane Friedman also deal with this on her own blog. Click here for her take on it.