Author Topic: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!  (Read 3092 times)

Tom Wood

 
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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 09:17:37 PM »
I moved this out into the general public area. It's worth being more visible, and isn't really about craft, but publishing.

A good post I thought.
 
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Twolane

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2018, 10:11:13 PM »
And then there's this:

Literary agent Selwa Anthony ordered to pay author more than half a million dollars

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-10/selwa-antony-bid-for-extra-royalties-backfires/10600540

And yet the author in question now has a new literary agent. She's a million-seller. My oh my. It would seem to me as though the author needs a good contracts lawyer more than a new agent. Oh well, to each their own.
 
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Mark Gardner

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2018, 11:17:54 PM »
DWS 8 reasons are 100% accurate. Iíve personally experienced six out of the eight reasons that he listed.
 
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Cate M

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 12:30:50 AM »
Thanks for posting this, Tom. After #pitmad on Twitter this past week, I was starting to feel the siren call again. This brought me back to reality.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 01:14:19 AM »
To me, the rights grabs of modern publishing contracts are the huge no-no. Standard contracts are time bombs ready to go off in the future that can earn the publisher a fortune and the author pocket change. Pursue one at your peril. 

Every hybrid author I meet says they went indie to get control. What does that tell us about how infantilizing and infuriating being a contracted author can be? Yes, once you have a wonderful book, it is possible to get a major push by a big-time publisher. But just as people who change jobs are likely to get better salary increases than people who already work for the company, authors who have already established themselves as powerhouse indies will get better deals from publishers than ones "made" by the publishers.

I like Dean's point that we are well into the 21st century, so why are we still hanging on to 20th century ambitions to be traditionally published?
 

David VanDyke

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 03:03:14 AM »


I like Dean's point that we are well into the 21st century, so why are we still hanging on to 20th century ambitions to be traditionally published?

Why do people who are too cheap to buy a drink at a sit-down restaurant still rush to throw $10K at a vanity publisher who dangles the bait of being "published"?

They want the validation and the status of being a "published author." I still see this phrase thrown about, and we all know what it means: traditionally published. That's why vanity publishers dress themselves up as traditional publishers and emphasize the status and (thinly disguised) vanity parts in their pitches, not the profits.

Historically, authors have been icons. Many still are. The lure of fame and recognition is powerful. The route to that fame and recognition still often runs through the traditional industry, at least in the minds of many.

 
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Vijaya

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 04:26:41 AM »
I'm so glad I self-published my novel. I've already earned back what it cost to produce it. However, I am finding it very, very difficult getting it into libraries. Maybe it won't matter if my readership continues to grow, but I've written so much for the school and library market, it's upsetting that this book, which is good, if not better than some of the other books I've written, is automatically dismissed. I've applied for an ALA award and I hope it wins because that's the only way I can see it getting into libraries. It'll be vetted by one of their own. But in the meantime, writing new stories!

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
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Edward M. Grant

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 05:05:11 AM »
A large part of library purchasing is driven by what readers ask for. So you probably need to reach the point where readers are actually asking for the library to get your books. And then hope those readers actually read them, so the library order more in future.
 
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Electric Dan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 06:00:45 AM »
I am not pro or anti traditional publishing.  Whether you go with a traditional publisher or not should be based on what benefits you, as the author, and getting your book to a wider audience.

To me, the benefits traditional publishers traditionally offered were these:

1. Advance - Getting money upfront is a huge boon.  If you get $10k or $25k advance, that's money in-hand that you can use to pay bills while you finish the book.  Or, if the book is already finished, money you can use to pay bills today rather than months down the line.

2. Marketing - Selling books is the publisher's job.  They want a return on their investment.  They need you to see your books.  Maybe you have to go do book signings and stuff, but you don't need to worry about how anyone is going to find your books.

3. Editing - They pay the editor.  You don't have to find an editor and then send them money and deal with all that.

4. Cover Art - They take care of that too.

5. Legal Stuff - They have lawyers.  Is that reference to McDonald's in your novel okay or is it going to pose a problem?  As the publisher, a lot of the liability will be on them, so they'll check things out and make sure.  Plus they probably have insurance to cover themselves too.

Maybe there are more but that's all I can think of right now.

But, those advantages are fewer these days.

1. Advance - If you get an advance, it probably won't be very big.  Even a $10k advance seems uncommon these days unless you're a celebrity with a million Twitter followers.  So, the small advance combined with smaller royalties largely takes away this advantage for traditional publishers.

2. Marketing - These days, that's basically all on the authors anyway.  And if you're going to be doing most of the marketing, you ought to be compensated for it in terms of higher royalties but you probably won't be.  That takes away this advantage for traditional publishers.

3. Editing - Still an advantage of traditional publishers.

4. Cover Art - This one is a wash these days.  You won't have to pay for a cover with a traditional publisher, but you may not get a good one either.

5. Legal Stuff - Your insurance agent is probably going to stare blankly at you if you ask about publishing liability insurance.  Either that or you'll pay through the nose.  So this one is probably still an advantage for traditional publishers.

Aside from that, the rights grabs are probably the biggest issue.  I think about something like, okay, how did George Lucas get rich?  Granted, Star Wars was a good movie and made tons of money, but rather than negotiate for more money for directing Star Wars, he instead kept licensing and merchandising rights.  Back then, that wasn't as big a deal.  Movie studios made money on movies, so tie-in stuff often served to promote the movie rather than be moneymakers on their own.  But Star Wars merchandise was everywhere.  George Lucas certainly wasn't stupid.  How many millions of dollars did they make off that stuff?

So, yeah, now companies want those rights for themselves.  They want every dime they can get.

My characters will probably never be anywhere near the popularity of Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or any of the others but if they ever do catch on, I kind of think that money should be mine.  I created my characters and I should reap any rewards for them.

I think rights are an important issue.  It's one thing for a company to want the rights for characters created under a work for hire agreement.  That's okay because you know upfront you are creating those characters for someone else.  It's another thing for a company to want the rights to characters I created on my own and in exchange for a paltry (or non-existent) advance and almost negligible royalties.

For an agreement to work, both parties need to bring something to the table.  I'm bringing (what I hope is) a quality work.  What is the traditional publisher, the other party, bringing?  If (and I do mean if) I can earn, for example, $10k profit on a book on my own, what can they do to help me reach $20k in profit or $50k in profit?

And if all I would end up doing is more work for less money and fewer rights, why would I want to do that?
     
 
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Edward M. Grant

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 06:26:49 AM »
And if all I would end up doing is more work for less money and fewer rights, why would I want to do that?

'Validation', apparently.

BTW, when did fiction writers ever get an advance before the book was finished, unless they were a big name who the publisher trusted to deliver?
 

Jake

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 07:29:50 AM »
And if all I would end up doing is more work for less money and fewer rights, why would I want to do that?

'Validation', apparently.

BTW, when did fiction writers ever get an advance before the book was finished, unless they were a big name who the publisher trusted to deliver?

That does happen and you don't need to be a big name. If a publisher likes and buys your first book sometimes they'll buy a second book from you that you're working on, especially if it's a sequel to the first book they liked. I don't know how common that is but it does happen.

Personally I don't see anything wrong with going the traditional route. Self-pub isn't for everyone. And for certain genre's self-publishing isn't very viable at all (Though for the most part I agree with that article.)
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 07:32:45 AM by Jake »
 

elleoco

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2018, 09:22:13 AM »
5. Legal Stuff - Your insurance agent is probably going to stare blankly at you if you ask about publishing liability insurance.  Either that or you'll pay through the nose.  So this one is probably still an advantage for traditional publishers.

The only contract I was offered and got far enough in the process to see and read had a clause whereby I pretty much indemnified the company for anything and everything. I'm not a lawyer, but I worked for law firms for 30 years, and that clause was why I said no and walked away without even attempting to negotiate. If that's the starting point I don't believe there's any use discussing things.

Maybe a clause like that isn't common and only stuck in contacts with people pub companies consider suckers, but somehow I doubt it.

Electric Dan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2018, 10:46:18 AM »
5. Legal Stuff - Your insurance agent is probably going to stare blankly at you if you ask about publishing liability insurance.  Either that or you'll pay through the nose.  So this one is probably still an advantage for traditional publishers.

The only contract I was offered and got far enough in the process to see and read had a clause whereby I pretty much indemnified the company for anything and everything. I'm not a lawyer, but I worked for law firms for 30 years, and that clause was why I said no and walked away without even attempting to negotiate. If that's the starting point I don't believe there's any use discussing things.

Maybe a clause like that isn't common and only stuck in contacts with people pub companies consider suckers, but somehow I doubt it.

Was this a big publishing company or a small one?  I'm no expert, but if I was someone who felt wronged by a book, I imagine I would sue the publishing company or the publishing company and the author.  Probably the latter.  If I sue you and your publishing company for millions and win and then the publishing company sues you under their contract terms with you, what are the odds they will get money out of you?

They may have indemnity terms in their contracts (maybe their insurance requires it?) but I would think they would still have lawyers and/or knowledgeable editors reviewing books prior to publication in order to protect themselves.

But, regardless, maybe the Legal Stuff isn't a traditional publishing advantage after all.
     
 
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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2018, 10:59:25 AM »
And yet, I bet Amazon makes more from self-publisher AMS spends than it pays out in Indie royalties. The reality is, while we may have the freedom to self-publish, reaching an audience through the print legacy distribution model has become extremely difficult - and that's by design. My understanding is that even the mighty BB no longer guarantees a meaningful long tail. Prices are still stupid low, and 'good enough' has gained mainstream acceptability - even through traditional publishing. I'm kind of shocked by some of the sh*t being published these days, even more so by the award nominations. Search and recommendation engines suck, and even genre lists are notoriously irrelevant. On the upside, everyone wants me to join their email newsletter club. Joy...

Manning the tiller of a sinking ship isn't really autonomy, is it?

It's all a mess.

I think it's time for a better mousetrap.
 

elleoco

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2018, 11:12:34 AM »
Was this a big publishing company or a small one?  I'm no expert, but if I was someone who felt wronged by a book, I imagine I would sue the publishing company or the publishing company and the author.

Small company. You do understand that if I indemnify you for something, it doesn't matter if someone sues you for whatever I indemnified you for. You're going to bring me into the suit, and I'm going to be the one who has to defend and pay if I lose. You get to walk away laughing.

Tom Wood

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2018, 11:36:03 AM »
... I think it's time for a better mousetrap.

In a few years the most successful writers will be the ones who can write the best code to guide the artificial intelligence so it writes the best stories about the writer who writes the best code to guide the artificial intelligence...
 

LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2018, 11:46:22 AM »
Was this a big publishing company or a small one?  I'm no expert, but if I was someone who felt wronged by a book, I imagine I would sue the publishing company or the publishing company and the author.

Small company. You do understand that if I indemnify you for something, it doesn't matter if someone sues you for whatever I indemnified you for. You're going to bring me into the suit, and I'm going to be the one who has to defend and pay if I lose. You get to walk away laughing.

Yes. The indemnity clause is all over contracts these days. The big risk is that the publisher, who looks like a nice fat target to the person suing, will decide it's cheaper to settle. And the author then has to pay the publisher's attorney fees and the settlement, and can be separately pursued. This was an issue a number of years ago, and I believe publishers aren't typically trying to push their authors into holding the bag. But what's down in black and white is what rules in court, and it's a huge risk.

A good contract (seldom seen but not unheard of) will include that the publisher will buy liability insurance to cover everyone in case of a lawsuit. This I am quite sure is routinely done in hot nonfiction where the publication of the book might enrage someone with money, who then sues because of wounded ego. If an author of a major political tell-all doesn't get that in his/her contract, I'd be very surprised.

Recently I was asked to sign a contract with a clause requiring me to purchase liability insurance that would only pay the publisher. There was no way. The publisher was willing to drop that clause but not the basic indemnification clause that is boilerplate these days.

There's a lot of risk involved in our business.
 

Tom Wood

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2018, 12:51:18 PM »
Indemnity...

I'm an architect who was in the midst of my career in construction management when the infamous Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse occurred:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyatt_Regency_walkway_collapse

The fault was in an innocent-looking change to one fabrication detail that was proffered during the shop-drawings phase. For about five years after that event, we had to add HUGE disclaimers on the shop drawings that effectively rendered our review irrelevant. Many court cases later, I think the responsibility/risk was distributed. The industry changed our review process as well.

The latest version of this sad tale is the bridge collapse in Florida:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_International_University_pedestrian_bridge_collapse

The design and construction industry will change their process again.

So yeah, risk management is a thing that we all should consider whenever we sign a contract.
 

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2018, 12:55:41 PM »
And yet, I bet Amazon makes more from self-publisher AMS spends than it pays out in Indie royalties. The reality is, while we may have the freedom to self-publish, reaching an audience through the print legacy distribution model has become extremely difficult - and that's by design. My understanding is that even the mighty BB no longer guarantees a meaningful long tail. Prices are still stupid low, and 'good enough' has gained mainstream acceptability - even through traditional publishing. I'm kind of shocked by some of the sh*t being published these days, even more so by the award nominations. Search and recommendation engines suck, and even genre lists are notoriously irrelevant. On the upside, everyone wants me to join their email newsletter club. Joy...

Manning the tiller of a sinking ship isn't really autonomy, is it?

It's all a mess.

I think it's time for a better mousetrap.

I know this will sound arrogant, but I've purchased quite a few books that I thought were pretty terrible once I read them. The majority of fiction books I've read, actually. And, I regularly check out the 'Look Inside's of books across multiple genres and subs just out of curiosity, and I'm really taken aback by how bad most of them are, how amateurish, and yet many of them have tons of positive reviews and boatloads of sales.

I realize it's snooty of me to say, and I'm hardly [insert author you think is brilliant here], but I just don't get it. Have audience standards fallen? Are people less discerning than they used to be?

Same thing with the majority of film and television. Fictional content these days seems to have really fallen off a cliff into a deep vat of either mediocrity or just plain terribleness. And yet there's tons of blogs and youtube channels and social media commenters who sing the praises of these blandscapes to the heavens and back. I must be missing something.

I truly don't want to go out of my way to appear iconoclast and "above it all". I'm not a hipster like that. I'll fully admit when I think something is great, regardless of how the "masses" feel about it. I have no need to buck the system or go against the grain. But, I really do think almost everything in the fiction realm is crap right now.

Meh...maybe it's always been this way. It's possible that is the case and I'm just more sensitive to it now. Yes? No? Maybe?

Again, though, I realize someone out there is reading the 'Look Inside' on one of my books and is saying "you call that writing?" I suppose that means I shouldn't think what I'm thinking about so much of the content out there.
 

Electric Dan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2018, 01:22:27 PM »
Small company. You do understand that if I indemnify you for something, it doesn't matter if someone sues you for whatever I indemnified you for. You're going to bring me into the suit, and I'm going to be the one who has to defend and pay if I lose. You get to walk away laughing.

And if you don't have the money to hold up your end of the bargain I'm pretty much stuck holding the bag.
     
 
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Electric Dan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2018, 01:27:21 PM »
I know this will sound arrogant, but I've purchased quite a few books that I thought were pretty terrible once I read them. The majority of fiction books I've read, actually. And, I regularly check out the 'Look Inside's of books across multiple genres and subs just out of curiosity, and I'm really taken aback by how bad most of them are, how amateurish, and yet many of them have tons of positive reviews and boatloads of sales.

I realize it's snooty of me to say, and I'm hardly [insert author you think is brilliant here], but I just don't get it. Have audience standards fallen? Are people less discerning than they used to be?

Same thing with the majority of film and television. Fictional content these days seems to have really fallen off a cliff into a deep vat of either mediocrity or just plain terribleness. And yet there's tons of blogs and youtube channels and social media commenters who sing the praises of these blandscapes to the heavens and back. I must be missing something.

I'm glad I am not the only one that feels that way.
     
 
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elleoco

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2018, 08:26:24 AM »
And if you don't have the money to hold up your end of the bargain I'm pretty much stuck holding the bag.

As I said before, I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think it works that way. I think because I indemnified you, I'm the one on the line. So if I don't have the money, I'm pursued into bankruptcy, have garnishes on future earnings, etc., but you're in the clear.

Even if your scenario is true, I'm going to be cleaned out to bankruptcy first. So one way or another, signing a contract with a indemnification clause is taking a huge risk.

I think Kris Rusch wrote a series of blog posts on the terrible clauses to be found in traditional publishing contracts these days. Can't remember if this was one she featured.

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2018, 08:53:37 AM »
A large part of library purchasing is driven by what readers ask for. So you probably need to reach the point where readers are actually asking for the library to get your books. And then hope those readers actually read them, so the library order more in future.
Librarians are also influenced by a book's pedigree, though. Those who still have budgets for new acquisitions spend a lot of time looking at trusted sources (which feature mostly or entirely trad published books). Attitudes are changing, but slowly. Many librarians would resist buying a self-published book even if patrons were asking for it.

I'm not saying this is a reason to trad publish. The contract language alone would be enough to send me screaming to the exit.


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Electric Dan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2018, 09:55:24 AM »
And if you don't have the money to hold up your end of the bargain I'm pretty much stuck holding the bag.

As I said before, I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think it works that way. I think because I indemnified you, I'm the one on the line. So if I don't have the money, I'm pursued into bankruptcy, have garnishes on future earnings, etc., but you're in the clear.

I'm not a lawyer either.  But from what I understand, if you have indemnified me and I get sued, you have to pay for my attorney and you have to pay any damages resulting from the lawsuit.

If you don't have the money to pay for my attorney and damages, I'm still being sued so I would have to pay for that myself.

Then, afterwards, if I have any money left, I imagine I could try to sue you for breach of contract or something but seeing as you have no money, I'd be even further in the red.

Maybe there's a lawyer around these parts who could chime in and let us know who's right.
     
 
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Shoe

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2018, 10:01:19 AM »
There are non-monetary reasons for going with a traditional publisher. If Knopf wanted to pick up one of my books, I'd let them keep the royalties.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

elleoco

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2018, 11:50:35 AM »
But from what I understand, if you have indemnified me and I get sued, you have to pay for my attorney and you have to pay any damages resulting from the lawsuit.

If that's true, it strikes me as even worse because the person being sued could make a half-hearted defense, or no defense, and the indemnifier would have to pay.

Since I'm never going to indemnify anyone for anything, it's only a matter of mild curiosity for me, but the fact is people who still want a traditional deal need to be aware of and watch out for clauses like this.

Mammasan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2018, 01:52:05 PM »
You might want to take another look at your KDP contract.

"To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, you will indemnify, defend and hold Amazon, its officers, directors, employees, affiliates, subcontractors and assigns harmless from and against any loss, claim, liability, damage, action or cause of action (including reasonable attorneys' fees) that arises from any breach of your representations, warranties or obligations set forth in this Agreement. We will be entitled, at our expense, to participate in the defense and settlement of the claim or action with counsel of our own choosing."
 

solo

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2018, 03:44:46 PM »
You might want to take another look at your KDP contract.

"To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, you will indemnify, defend and hold Amazon, its officers, directors, employees, affiliates, subcontractors and assigns harmless from and against any loss, claim, liability, damage, action or cause of action (including reasonable attorneys' fees) that arises from any breach of your representations, warranties or obligations set forth in this Agreement. We will be entitled, at our expense, to participate in the defense and settlement of the claim or action with counsel of our own choosing."

This is but my opinion.

Pretty standard for any company contract. They also have to look after their own posteriors too, especially when they're not the ones writing the words of the book or story subject of litigation. There are a lot of pitfalls for a publishing company - libel, copyright infringement, etc. I doubt if they have the time and resources to validate or check each every fact or potentially libelous statement. But this is encouraging - "We will be entitled, at our expense, to participate in the defense and settlement of the claim or action with counsel of our own choosing." That's one cost factor out if the worst happens. The clause is basically a corporate liability shield. In the worst scenario, a "joint and solidary" award of damages would be the financial nuke.
 

Mammasan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2018, 04:04:10 PM »
"you will... defend... Amazon" means you are on the hook for the legal defense costs.

The clause you cite means that if Amazon wants to also send in its own lawyer, to protect its interest, it can.

Basically, you pay, but Amazon controls.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2018, 04:06:44 PM by Mammasan »
 

Dormouse

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2018, 10:57:48 PM »
I'm surprised to see so much fuss over indemnity clauses. They're a typical feature of most business contracts where an act of yours can incur risks or costs for the contracting party. Best protection is limited liability. Insurance never covers all eventualities.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2018, 11:21:02 PM »
Sometimes I feel that no one is reading with comprehension. Publishers HAVE settled frivolous lawsuits and then left authors holding the bag, instead of fighting the suits. This hasnít happened recently, but that would be small consolation to an author should it happen again. No matter how standard an indemnity clause may be, itís still a risk for an author because the publisher looks like a good target but the author is the one who pays. As it is, weíve seen recently how expensive it is for an individual to be involved in litigation.
 

solo

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2018, 12:17:43 AM »
"you will... defend... Amazon" means you are on the hook for the legal defense costs.

The clause you cite means that if Amazon wants to also send in its own lawyer, to protect its interest, it can.

Basically, you pay, but Amazon controls.

Yep. It's a standard clause against joint and solidary liability which is common in libel suits involving writers. Of course, your publisher can send its own lawyers, it will be a party-defendant anyway. The company, being the publisher is a necessary party, also termed an indispensable party, to any litigation. Otherwise, the case will be thrown out for the non-inclusion of a necessary party vital for the relief prayed for and for the acquisition of jurisdiction. But the clause has to be read in its entirety. The second sentence will contradict the first, if the writer is expected to shoulder the defense costs of the publisher, in view of the wording of the second statement. What the clause essentially means is if damages are granted by virtue of a judgment against the publisher, whether as a separate entity or in a joint and solidary capacity, the publisher can recover against the writer.

As an aside, rules may differ from state to state but the general rule is solidary obligations are not presumed. There is a solidary liability only when the obligation expressly so states, when the law so provides, or when the nature of the obligation so requires. Unfortunately, where writers and publishers are involved as defendants, the obligation is usually interpreted as solidary.

But the above is just my opinion.
 

S.B.Williams

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2018, 02:53:43 AM »
DWS 8 reasons are 100% accurate. Iíve personally experienced six out of the eight reasons that he listed.

Same here. I missed the early years of indie publishing when many authors in my genre were raking in the cash because I was tied up with contracts on both fiction and nonfiction books with a traditional publisher.

I got away eventually and managed to get the rights to continue two series that started as standalones for which they still have the rights. Because of those rights being tied up I've been limited in how I could market the sequels, although they sold quite well and still sell in much smaller numbers.

Those are done now though and a totally new series over which I have all control is now my main focus and main earner. It was already going well and I just got an upcoming Bookbub deal for Book 1, which is something I can never even apply for with the other first books in series simply because I have no say-so regarding price.

I will say that those books sold well in both print and paperback when they were released in 2012 and 2013, and the advances were decent. They started my transition from nonfiction to fiction and gained me a lot of readers, but knowing what I know now, I would do things differently.
 

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2018, 03:30:05 AM »
There are non-monetary reasons for going with a traditional publisher. If Knopf wanted to pick up one of my books, I'd let them keep the royalties.
I used to feel the same way, but the rights-grabby language that is becoming more and more common would force me to turn away from any offer containing it.

Publishers used to license only the rights they needed, and only for limited periods of time. Some of them got stung, though. Bloomsbury hadn't thought to license ebook rights on the Harry Potter series, ebooks not being a thing at the time. The result was that JK Rowling could publish her books in ebook form without having to give her publishers a cut. Some also got stung by the rise of self publishing. One of Amazon's success stories when I first started with KDP was an author who was incensed when his publisher declined to pick up one of his books. He self published, did well with it, and then starting pulling his other titles as each contract came up for renewal.

To avoid these kinds of situations, publishers starting drafting more and more inclusive contracts. For instance, they'd grab rights in every conceivable language, even if they had no plans to have translations done. Similarly, they'd grab rights to audio books even if they had no plans in audio. That kind of thing was a just-in-case sort of language to cover future contingencies, such as the book becoming hugely popular. However, that language did block authors if someone else wanted to do a translation or an audiobook.

That kind of restriction by itself might not have been terrible, but the extension of contract terms to cover the whole copyright period (life plus seventy years) would be a deal-breaker for me. No publisher is going to promote a book for my whole life plus seventy years, but the publisher still wanted to hold onto it so that I and my heirs would be stuck. In the recent past, a lot of authors have successfully revived books publishers had basically abandoned when the rights reverted. No more!

Even worse is the language designed to license not just the book or books but the entire world in which they exist, as well as all the characters. Not only would the publisher have my existing books but any related works I might produce as long as I live. I could still negotiate contracts for these works, but I couldn't sell them elsewhere or self publish them. That means if my publisher rejected a book, it would be deadwood, doomed never to see the light of day.

The final insult is the noncompete language that's becoming increasingly popular. That would mean basically anything I wrote, even in an entirely different world, that my publisher chose not to publish would also never see the light of day.

I might still be willing to negotiate for an individual book or books for a reasonable period of time. I can't imagine an offer good enough to get me to sell my whole career, which is the direction in which a lot of publishers are moving. Interestingly, though, the additional contract language doesn't seem to come with larger advances or other perks, at least not as far as I can tell. The deals are increasingly one-sided.


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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #35 on: December 13, 2018, 03:38:24 AM »
You might want to take another look at your KDP contract.

"To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, you will indemnify, defend and hold Amazon, its officers, directors, employees, affiliates, subcontractors and assigns harmless from and against any loss, claim, liability, damage, action or cause of action (including reasonable attorneys' fees) that arises from any breach of your representations, warranties or obligations set forth in this Agreement. We will be entitled, at our expense, to participate in the defense and settlement of the claim or action with counsel of our own choosing."
Which means essentially that, if you choose to publish, whether with a publisher or even self publish through KDP, you're indemnifying someone. Whether or not we're willing to do that is a decision we all have to make.

That said, the risk seems to be higher in certain kinds of nonfiction. Fiction writers using reasonable common sense and being careful not to infringe the copyrights of others aren't going to get sued very often. Writers of accurate how-to manuals probably won't, either. On the hand, I can see writers of unauthorized biographies, for example, being very vulnerable. However, that would have always been the case. A writer could always have been sued over his or her work. Of course, having to defend a publisher or distributor is an added burden.


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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2018, 07:17:01 PM »
And if all I would end up doing is more work for less money and fewer rights, why would I want to do that?

'Validation', apparently.

BTW, when did fiction writers ever get an advance before the book was finished, unless they were a big name who the publisher trusted to deliver?
Back in the mid eighties or thereabouts, a member of our local writers' circle was more or less told what story the publisher wanted, having only ever had one short story published in a women's magazine. They gave her £200,000 advance on the strength of that short story and a synopsis with a couple of chapters. They hyped it to death and recouped their money, possibly making some extra for her.

It was a two book deal and once that had been fulfilled, she went off to write what she wanted to write and sank without trace. So, yes, it was possible at one time to get a huge advance for an unknown. I have to say I thought the book was absolute rubbish (I didn't bother with the second one) but the publisher must have made a few bob.
 

munboy

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #37 on: December 14, 2018, 02:49:35 AM »
I think I've made it clear in another post that I'm not a fan of DWS's methods and this post doesn't help at all. It's just fear mongering. As with any business, you have to be careful who you're dealing with. Outside the publishing industry, my mom was screwed over twice by construction companies (one doing work on her house, the other paving her drive way). Inside the publishing industry, my half sister sold a book to a publisher who did some light editing, slapped a cover on it and did absolutely nothing else with it. No marketing...nothing. They were content to just sit back with their hundreds of books and let the money trickle in. She was so heartbroken by it that she quit writing all together.

So, yes there are dangers you have to be aware of, but to say unequivocally to stay away from traditional publishing because of a few bad companies is just fear mongering. YES, you have to be diligent. YES, you might even want to hire a contract lawyer. But, if you do your homework on the publisher, you'll know who you're dealing with. If Chad's Publeshing (sic) with their website still somehow on geocities offers you a contract that says "All your base are belong to us" with no advance and nothing about book tours or any track record of marketing...guess what, you can decline it and walk away to wait for a better contract. If you don't get one you like, by all means, self-publish it!

The point is, if a well-known publishing company came up to me and said "We love your book and want to buy it. Here's an advance of $$$ with a royalty of %%%." And they have a track record of book tours and promoting their authors...I'd be scribbling my name on the dotted line faster than Sonic on cocaine. In other words, I'm writing an epic fantasy right now and if Tor or Baen or another well-known fantasy publisher showed interest in it, I'd bend over backwards to get signed by them.

If you're a control freak, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I understand completely and self-publishing is the way to go. If you're willing to relinquish some control to have some of the financial and work burden taken off your shoulders, then doing your homework and signing with a trad publisher is not making a deal with the devil.

With all that said, I currently self-publish. Why? The main reason I decided to in the beginning was because of the time it takes to publish traditionally, but now that I have two series I'm self-publishing, I will be content to shop my fantasy around and wait for it to be published. In the meantime, I have these other two series to work on and release. If I can't find a publisher I'm happy with for the fantasy series, I'll self-publish that, too.

Should new authors know about publishers who will scam them out of their work? Absolutely, but there's a difference in warning and fear mongering.
 
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GeneDoucette

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2018, 02:06:57 AM »
I think I've made it clear in another post that I'm not a fan of DWS's methods and this post doesn't help at all. It's just fear mongering. As with any business, you have to be careful who you're dealing with. Outside the publishing industry, my mom was screwed over twice by construction companies (one doing work on her house, the other paving her drive way). Inside the publishing industry, my half sister sold a book to a publisher who did some light editing, slapped a cover on it and did absolutely nothing else with it. No marketing...nothing. They were content to just sit back with their hundreds of books and let the money trickle in. She was so heartbroken by it that she quit writing all together.

So, yes there are dangers you have to be aware of, but to say unequivocally to stay away from traditional publishing because of a few bad companies is just fear mongering. YES, you have to be diligent. YES, you might even want to hire a contract lawyer. But, if you do your homework on the publisher, you'll know who you're dealing with. If Chad's Publeshing (sic) with their website still somehow on geocities offers you a contract that says "All your base are belong to us" with no advance and nothing about book tours or any track record of marketing...guess what, you can decline it and walk away to wait for a better contract. If you don't get one you like, by all means, self-publish it!

The point is, if a well-known publishing company came up to me and said "We love your book and want to buy it. Here's an advance of $$$ with a royalty of %%%." And they have a track record of book tours and promoting their authors...I'd be scribbling my name on the dotted line faster than Sonic on cocaine. In other words, I'm writing an epic fantasy right now and if Tor or Baen or another well-known fantasy publisher showed interest in it, I'd bend over backwards to get signed by them.

If you're a control freak, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I understand completely and self-publishing is the way to go. If you're willing to relinquish some control to have some of the financial and work burden taken off your shoulders, then doing your homework and signing with a trad publisher is not making a deal with the devil.

With all that said, I currently self-publish. Why? The main reason I decided to in the beginning was because of the time it takes to publish traditionally, but now that I have two series I'm self-publishing, I will be content to shop my fantasy around and wait for it to be published. In the meantime, I have these other two series to work on and release. If I can't find a publisher I'm happy with for the fantasy series, I'll self-publish that, too.

Should new authors know about publishers who will scam them out of their work? Absolutely, but there's a difference in warning and fear mongering.

I agree with all of this, and it dovetails with my personal history.

I started out published by a small indie publisher that did very little for me, but was kind enough to go out of business and let me get my rights back. This time a year ago I was completely self-published, when a mid-sized publisher (Houghton Mifflin) came asking for the print-and-ebook rights to one of my books. I negotiated a deal with the help of an attorney that i was happy with, and still am happy with. It got me what I thought the book needed, going forward--access to bookstores and libraries that I couldn't get it into myself--and they got what they needed--a book with a reliable track record for a newish imprint. Without discussing details too much (I don't feel comfortable doing that) the advance was good, the royalty split is well-above standard, and I retained audio rights, which was important to me.

Demonizing all traditional publishing with the generalizations Dean applies with a broad brush in the article isn't, in my opinion, all that helpful. And I say that as someone who agrees with most everything DWS and KKR have to say about this industry.
 
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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #39 on: December 15, 2018, 11:27:55 PM »
I'm totally indie for one reason -- I get the final say. I get to write the stories I want to write, don't have to get anybody else's permission to do whatever I please. The fact that I retain all ownership is a bonus ... but control and independence is what drives me to be indie.

I honestly don't think I would even consider a trad pub contract even if a trad publisher was desperate enough to offer me one. :)
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PJ Post

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #40 on: December 16, 2018, 06:36:11 AM »
Sometimes, separating the message from the agenda can get tricky, especially when the message is a product. I'm not saying this with malice, I like both DWS and KKR, but that doesn't change the analysis.

When we discuss distribution channels in business we're discussing them within the context of a comprehensive marketing strategy. For example, some distribution channels might be more focused on visibility or penetration rather than profitability. Perma-free's are a good example of this in the Indie world.

The point is, there has never been a one-size fits all approach to business, and especially not the writing and publishing business. Never say never. Didn't Konrath go back to traditional publishing last year?
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 06:39:51 AM by PJ Post »
 

JRTomlin

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #41 on: December 16, 2018, 11:40:23 AM »
I am not pro or anti traditional publishing.  Whether you go with a traditional publisher or not should be based on what benefits you, as the author, and getting your book to a wider audience.

To me, the benefits traditional publishers traditionally offered were these:

1. Advance - Getting money upfront is a huge boon.  If you get $10k or $25k advance, that's money in-hand that you can use to pay bills while you finish the book.  Or, if the book is already finished, money you can use to pay bills today rather than months down the line.

2. Marketing - Selling books is the publisher's job.  They want a return on their investment.  They need you to see your books.  Maybe you have to go do book signings and stuff, but you don't need to worry about how anyone is going to find your books.

3. Editing - They pay the editor.  You don't have to find an editor and then send them money and deal with all that.

4. Cover Art - They take care of that too.

5. Legal Stuff - They have lawyers.  Is that reference to McDonald's in your novel okay or is it going to pose a problem?  As the publisher, a lot of the liability will be on them, so they'll check things out and make sure.  Plus they probably have insurance to cover themselves too.

Maybe there are more but that's all I can think of right now.

But, those advantages are fewer these days.

1. Advance - If you get an advance, it probably won't be very big.  Even a $10k advance seems uncommon these days unless you're a celebrity with a million Twitter followers.  So, the small advance combined with smaller royalties largely takes away this advantage for traditional publishers.

2. Marketing - These days, that's basically all on the authors anyway.  And if you're going to be doing most of the marketing, you ought to be compensated for it in terms of higher royalties but you probably won't be.  That takes away this advantage for traditional publishers.

3. Editing - Still an advantage of traditional publishers.

4. Cover Art - This one is a wash these days.  You won't have to pay for a cover with a traditional publisher, but you may not get a good one either.

5. Legal Stuff - Your insurance agent is probably going to stare blankly at you if you ask about publishing liability insurance.  Either that or you'll pay through the nose.  So this one is probably still an advantage for traditional publishers.

Aside from that, the rights grabs are probably the biggest issue.  I think about something like, okay, how did George Lucas get rich?  Granted, Star Wars was a good movie and made tons of money, but rather than negotiate for more money for directing Star Wars, he instead kept licensing and merchandising rights.  Back then, that wasn't as big a deal.  Movie studios made money on movies, so tie-in stuff often served to promote the movie rather than be moneymakers on their own.  But Star Wars merchandise was everywhere.  George Lucas certainly wasn't stupid.  How many millions of dollars did they make off that stuff?

So, yeah, now companies want those rights for themselves.  They want every dime they can get.

My characters will probably never be anywhere near the popularity of Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or any of the others but if they ever do catch on, I kind of think that money should be mine.  I created my characters and I should reap any rewards for them.

I think rights are an important issue.  It's one thing for a company to want the rights for characters created under a work for hire agreement.  That's okay because you know upfront you are creating those characters for someone else.  It's another thing for a company to want the rights to characters I created on my own and in exchange for a paltry (or non-existent) advance and almost negligible royalties.

For an agreement to work, both parties need to bring something to the table.  I'm bringing (what I hope is) a quality work.  What is the traditional publisher, the other party, bringing?  If (and I do mean if) I can earn, for example, $10k profit on a book on my own, what can they do to help me reach $20k in profit or $50k in profit?

And if all I would end up doing is more work for less money and fewer rights, why would I want to do that?
The other thing about 'advances' is that they're not that much in advance, being in installments sometimes part a year or more down the road.

The only advantage I can see to trade is being in B&M stores and how big an advantage that is might be debatable, but it is a pro for trade publishing.
 

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #42 on: December 17, 2018, 10:13:22 AM »
I self-publish because I am a control freak. LOL

That being said, if Hallmark wants to publish one of my stores, I would be okay with it.  One and done to get more readers for my other stories...that would be fine with me. :cheers
   
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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #43 on: December 18, 2018, 10:59:18 AM »
I think I've made it clear in another post that I'm not a fan of DWS's methods and this post doesn't help at all. It's just fear mongering. As with any business, you have to be careful who you're dealing with. Outside the publishing industry, my mom was screwed over twice by construction companies (one doing work on her house, the other paving her drive way). Inside the publishing industry, my half sister sold a book to a publisher who did some light editing, slapped a cover on it and did absolutely nothing else with it. No marketing...nothing. They were content to just sit back with their hundreds of books and let the money trickle in. She was so heartbroken by it that she quit writing all together.

So, yes there are dangers you have to be aware of, but to say unequivocally to stay away from traditional publishing because of a few bad companies is just fear mongering. YES, you have to be diligent. YES, you might even want to hire a contract lawyer. But, if you do your homework on the publisher, you'll know who you're dealing with. If Chad's Publeshing (sic) with their website still somehow on geocities offers you a contract that says "All your base are belong to us" with no advance and nothing about book tours or any track record of marketing...guess what, you can decline it and walk away to wait for a better contract. If you don't get one you like, by all means, self-publish it!

The point is, if a well-known publishing company came up to me and said "We love your book and want to buy it. Here's an advance of $$$ with a royalty of %%%." And they have a track record of book tours and promoting their authors...I'd be scribbling my name on the dotted line faster than Sonic on cocaine. In other words, I'm writing an epic fantasy right now and if Tor or Baen or another well-known fantasy publisher showed interest in it, I'd bend over backwards to get signed by them.

If you're a control freak, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I understand completely and self-publishing is the way to go. If you're willing to relinquish some control to have some of the financial and work burden taken off your shoulders, then doing your homework and signing with a trad publisher is not making a deal with the devil.

With all that said, I currently self-publish. Why? The main reason I decided to in the beginning was because of the time it takes to publish traditionally, but now that I have two series I'm self-publishing, I will be content to shop my fantasy around and wait for it to be published. In the meantime, I have these other two series to work on and release. If I can't find a publisher I'm happy with for the fantasy series, I'll self-publish that, too.

Should new authors know about publishers who will scam them out of their work? Absolutely, but there's a difference in warning and fear mongering.
You and Gene are making excellent points. That's why I said earlier that I wouldn't sign a trad pub contract that contained the language we're talking about.

However, I'll also add that such language is not confined only to small publishers. Remember the Random House Hydra imprint? https://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/06/note-to-sff-writers-random-houses-hydra-imprint-has-appallingly-bad-contract-terms/ I'm just about to run out the door, so I can't check, but I think RH changed the terms subsequently. Still, RH tried to get that kind of deal on the table.


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JRTomlin

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #45 on: December 18, 2018, 11:32:10 AM »
I think I've made it clear in another post that I'm not a fan of DWS's methods and this post doesn't help at all. It's just fear mongering. As with any business, you have to be careful who you're dealing with. Outside the publishing industry, my mom was screwed over twice by construction companies (one doing work on her house, the other paving her drive way). Inside the publishing industry, my half sister sold a book to a publisher who did some light editing, slapped a cover on it and did absolutely nothing else with it. No marketing...nothing. They were content to just sit back with their hundreds of books and let the money trickle in. She was so heartbroken by it that she quit writing all together.

So, yes there are dangers you have to be aware of, but to say unequivocally to stay away from traditional publishing because of a few bad companies is just fear mongering. YES, you have to be diligent. YES, you might even want to hire a contract lawyer. But, if you do your homework on the publisher, you'll know who you're dealing with. If Chad's Publeshing (sic) with their website still somehow on geocities offers you a contract that says "All your base are belong to us" with no advance and nothing about book tours or any track record of marketing...guess what, you can decline it and walk away to wait for a better contract. If you don't get one you like, by all means, self-publish it!

The point is, if a well-known publishing company came up to me and said "We love your book and want to buy it. Here's an advance of $$$ with a royalty of %%%." And they have a track record of book tours and promoting their authors...I'd be scribbling my name on the dotted line faster than Sonic on cocaine. In other words, I'm writing an epic fantasy right now and if Tor or Baen or another well-known fantasy publisher showed interest in it, I'd bend over backwards to get signed by them.

If you're a control freak, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I understand completely and self-publishing is the way to go. If you're willing to relinquish some control to have some of the financial and work burden taken off your shoulders, then doing your homework and signing with a trad publisher is not making a deal with the devil.

With all that said, I currently self-publish. Why? The main reason I decided to in the beginning was because of the time it takes to publish traditionally, but now that I have two series I'm self-publishing, I will be content to shop my fantasy around and wait for it to be published. In the meantime, I have these other two series to work on and release. If I can't find a publisher I'm happy with for the fantasy series, I'll self-publish that, too.

Should new authors know about publishers who will scam them out of their work? Absolutely, but there's a difference in warning and fear mongering.
If you can find a major publishing house that offers new authors or even established midlist authors promotions (beyond being in their catalogue) and book tours, do grab it. But you are going to be looking a very long time.

If you want to know the truth about how that works for a midlist author, read JA Konrath's blog written BEFORE he went indie about the money and effort he put into book tours. This is typical and it is how the publishing business works. That large publishers put lots of money into publicising and setting up book tours for the typical author is a fantasy. Telling the truth about the problems with trade publishing is not 'fearmongering'.

There is an argument to be made for signing with a trade publisher at least for some authors, but it is worthwhile to be sure you are listening to realistic ones.

ETA: Why do I stay indie? It has nothing to do with being a 'control freak' although I do enjoy the control. Even as a small-fry in the indie publishing world, I have made more money than 99% of the published authors out there and I mean trade published authors who can rarely make a living at it. It pays the mortgage and has done so for some years now.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 11:39:07 AM by JRTomlin »
 
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Dormouse

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #46 on: December 18, 2018, 11:38:17 AM »
The Hydra contract isn't one I'd sign, for numerous reasons, but I don't think it is as relatively dreadful as painted. Advances often don't add up to much now anyway. You would hope that the other costs were larger, because otherwise what's the point of a publisher anyway. So then it's a simple calculation. A higher % minus costs, or a lower % and no cost deductions. They'll lose less money on books that don't sell, but make less, much less on big successes.

I wouldn't be at all keen on them being in a position to decide costs that you will pay but that's not very different to KU.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 11:44:19 AM by Dormouse »
 

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #47 on: December 18, 2018, 12:10:28 PM »
For me, suggesting that this is 'fear-mongering' misses the mark - things like that list and others things like it that attempt to provide an accurate picture of the industry for vulnerable (new) writers, are never bad.


I've worked in both publishing modes and I don't see the problem with experienced writers making a decision that suits them. There's no single path to any one's goals.

But both generations upon generations of romantic myths about writing and big business each have a role in clouding the truths about the industry. And that's the key word I guess - industry. Most giant publishers (and Amazon really) are interested in making money, not 'publishing art'. They don't operate like the (ofttimes) more friendly and flexible small press publishers.

Again though, for me, any one who has been fully informed about all the options on the table should be able to make any decision they like without folks bursting in swinging elbows... but I can't take aim at the reasons to be wary of big trad houses such as those outlined in the OP, or other reasons in posts below.

Such contracts exist, have done so for a long time, and will continue to do so as long as we have naive/vulnerable writers willing to sign them.


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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #48 on: December 18, 2018, 01:01:55 PM »
In the interest of completeness, here's RH's response: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/56244-rh-responds-to-sfwa-slamming-its-hydra-imprint.html
And here is how RH reworked the contracts in response to authors' concerns: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2013/03/random-house-announces-new-terms-at.html

So, not as strong an example as I thought, but still worth noting that RH's initial position was probably exploitive in some ways.

I've read a lot of posts in which people complain about trad publishing contracts they've received or been offered, but almost never is a publisher named. I can understand why, but it does make it hard to tell whether the current issues are primarily small press issues or whether they have to some extent infected larger ones as well.


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JRTomlin

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #49 on: December 18, 2018, 01:11:11 PM »
No, the problems are most definitely not confined to small presses. If you want a name named, look at what Harlequin did to their authors.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/romance-novelists-sue-harlequin-book-700448

What any author needs if they are considering signing a contract with a publisher, whether large or small, is not an agent but a good intellectual properties attorney. It is your work, your name, your rights, and it is your responsibility to protect those. Do all publishing companies try to cheat authors or take advantage of bad contracts? Of course not. Neither do all agents. But it happens often enough that authors need to take due diligence.
 
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EdmunddeWight

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #50 on: December 18, 2018, 02:11:32 PM »
I've been reading Dean's blog for a while and that combined with his wife's insights helped me decide I didn't want to hop on the Big 5 bandwagon.
It's really a personal choice for an author. For me it was control of my product, maintaining my vision and a bigger piece of any potential profits. Plus I don't have to worry that if I don't sell well enough in the first few months I will never get another book and  be consigned to the back shelf.
I see publishing as a long term game, I can take my time and work on building my fan base rather than hope that I will make it in a few months or disappear.

 

cmstafford

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #51 on: December 19, 2018, 02:21:22 AM »
I think there's room for both at the table, per se. Right now, I'm entirely self-published, but I started out with a small press, and later signed a contract with Kindle Press when a book I wrote won a Kindle Scout contest. I've gradually become indie when I bought out my rights from my publisher and requested my rights back from KP because of a lot of the reasons other posters mentioned: the long publication timeline, covers, editing, and control over the pricing/marketing being the biggest one. However, there are places I can't get into as an indie, and for that reason I've debated looking for an agent and signing on (eventually) with a trad publisher.  It wouldn't be with my new series that I'm releasing next spring, but with a future standalone that I can afford to sit and leave alone for the 1 1/2 -2 years it would take to publish.

Dean Wesley Smith has a lot of good points, but like a pp said, the fear mongering is there, too, and you have to look past that. Are there bad publishers/agents/contracts/etc out there? Yeah, but there are a few good ones, if you care to look. It all depends on your long term game.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #52 on: December 19, 2018, 05:09:27 AM »
Authors doing everything the traditional way frequently find that if their books do not sell as well as the publisher expected, the publisher is not interested in hearing new story ideas from them. At that point their agents try to interest other publishers, but if the next idea doesn't sell, the authors are back to almost square one, but in a worse situation because they now have a non-selling track record. Distributors pay attention to those track records and refuse to order in as many copies as they did of the first, failed books. And other publishers won't offer terms as good as the first.

An indie might consider the "failed" number a success because the indie author gets to keep most of the income from sales, and that skews the profit margin in the indie's favor.

But if you want to be able to tell your mother, your friends, and strangers that your book is on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, the trad pub route is the straight way to get there. Not the only way, but statistically more in your favor than with self-publishing. Problem is, it's more of an uphill battle to get traditionally published than ever before.
 

David VanDyke

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #53 on: December 20, 2018, 06:12:58 AM »
Taking a step back, this is a matter of once bitten, twice shy. DWS and KKR have been screwed by the trades, they are down on the trades, though KKR is a bit more balanced in her printed views. But, it's very much a caveat emptor situation. In fact, we do this every day in our personal lives, though it's often not PC to say so.

I know a guy who's been victimized by criminals several times, who always happen to be Hispanics (due to location and demographics, mostly). But now, he's unabashedly anti-Hispanic, not able to psychologically separate out the criminal element from the general population.

I only say this as an example, so please let's not get off track too much talking about social issues.

The point is, people often reason from the specific to the general, and there's some truth to it, though less truth than instinct indicates. If I always have a bad experience at (say) my local Burger King, I may avoid Burger Kings entirely, even in another city, and that may make sense. How much is the local issue, and how much is the franchise food itself?

If I was bullied by football jocks in high school, maybe I'll hate football, jocks, or both.

And, getting screwed by agents and tradpubbers might, unsurprisingly create an anti-trade blogger-author.

Same thing if people happen to read too many crappy indie books--they think all indie books are crappy. And, there's probably statistical truth there, if only because anyone can self-publish.

What's ironic is, we all tend to do it, and justify it, when we're the "discriminator," but we decry it when we're the target of the discrimination. It takes some self-examination and thought to step back and try to be fairminded in all situations.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 06:15:45 AM by David VanDyke »
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Joe Vasicek

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #54 on: December 20, 2018, 09:22:13 AM »
It's a good post, though I remember a time when Dean was telling would-be authors that all you need to create quality covers is Powerpoint. :lalala Good to see that he's graduated up to InDesign.  :hehe
 

dikim

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #55 on: January 31, 2019, 09:45:33 PM »
Non-competing works clauses are a nightmare. I once challenged one in a contract from a big children's publisher because I thought it would prevent me writing any other books for my target age group without their permission. Their answer was that I was right and that was what they intended. I walked away and have never regretted doing so.

The other issue that made me go indie is covers. You have no control with a traditional publisher and they don't always get it right. At least, when I mess up a design, it's my fault and I can change it.

That said, the cost of production for fully-illustrated children's books and the difficulty of marketing of them means that I'd still take the traditional route for younger children's books. But I'd prefer not to be published than to sign my career away with an overly restrictive non-compete clause.


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notthatamanda

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #56 on: January 31, 2019, 10:49:28 PM »
I'm so glad I self-published my novel. I've already earned back what it cost to produce it. However, I am finding it very, very difficult getting it into libraries. Maybe it won't matter if my readership continues to grow, but I've written so much for the school and library market, it's upsetting that this book, which is good, if not better than some of the other books I've written, is automatically dismissed. I've applied for an ALA award and I hope it wins because that's the only way I can see it getting into libraries. It'll be vetted by one of their own. But in the meantime, writing new stories!

Are you on overdrive? 

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Vijaya

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #57 on: February 01, 2019, 12:18:43 AM »

Are you on overdrive? 

Amanda (Happy to self publish but I'm still not getting a smartphone)

Yes, through Draft2Digital.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #58 on: February 01, 2019, 01:46:46 AM »
It's a good post, though I remember a time when Dean was telling would-be authors that all you need to create quality covers is Powerpoint. :lalala Good to see that he's graduated up to InDesign.  :hehe
How do you even make a cover in PowerPoint? :icon_eek:


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Tom Wood

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #59 on: February 01, 2019, 02:43:48 AM »
I'm so glad I self-published my novel. I've already earned back what it cost to produce it. However, I am finding it very, very difficult getting it into libraries. Maybe it won't matter if my readership continues to grow, but I've written so much for the school and library market, it's upsetting that this book, which is good, if not better than some of the other books I've written, is automatically dismissed. I've applied for an ALA award and I hope it wins because that's the only way I can see it getting into libraries. It'll be vetted by one of their own. But in the meantime, writing new stories!

I don't know how it applies to eBooks, but it's my understanding that you need a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) for your best print version before most libraries will consider shelving your book. The LCCN puts you in their national search database, and if you don't show up in the list there, they can't easily acquire your book. The LCCN has to be acquired prior to publication and is available only to US residents/imprints.
 

ilamont

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #60 on: February 01, 2019, 02:57:40 AM »
I don't know how it applies to eBooks, but it's my understanding that you need a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) for your best print version before most libraries will consider shelving your book. The LCCN puts you in their national search database, and if you don't show up in the list there, they can't easily acquire your book. The LCCN has to be acquired prior to publication and is available only to US residents/imprints.

There are several other things that will help:
  • Availability through wholesalers that serve libraries. Ingram works, but Baker & Taylor is important, too.
  • Having a CIP record in the front of the book, which helps librarians with shelving. The LoC can create them, but they are so hopelessly backlogged it will save you a ton of time using a private service (usually run by private librarians). It costs $60-$100 for a single title in my experience.
  • Being in the OCLC Database used by many librarians. This also helps with books that don't have a CIP block, because it tells the librarians where to shelve it and other cataloging info. Some books get in this database when a librarian somewhere manually adds it, others are created by the private PCIP-creation services mentioned in the previous bullet.
  • Reviews in the professional journals read by librarians - PW, LJ, Foreword, Kirkus, etc.

Good luck!
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.

Disclosure: I am a board member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
 
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DmGuay

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #61 on: February 01, 2019, 03:05:33 AM »
I'm part of a pretty serious writers group. Some are trad pubbed. The rest only want to be trad published. Only two out of about 50 of us have gone the self-publishing route and everyone has tried to talk us out of it, even though we are perfectly happy!

The few who trad pubbed have never earned out their advances and have seven or more finished novels sitting in drawers rotting because no one in trad bought them. They're constantly shopping for new agents and new publishers. One even loved my novel so much she wanted me to keep submitting it because it was only a matter of time before it got noticed. She said I should be willing to wait years.

I don't have that kind of time. Literally.

You really only have to earn $3,000 to $5,000 per book to equal an advance for a new unknown author, and you get to keep the rights!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 03:52:31 AM by DmGuay »
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Tom Wood

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #62 on: February 01, 2019, 03:17:31 AM »
...
  • Having a CIP record in the front of the book, which helps librarians with shelving. The LoC can create them, but they are so hopelessly backlogged it will save you a ton of time using a private service (usually run by private librarians). It costs $60-$100 for a single title in my experience.
...

An alternative to going for the CIP block is to register a LCCN through the LoC PCN process:

http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/faqs/#cost

That at least gets you into the national search database - I think.

If I understand the process correctly, you can then submit the book for official inclusion in the LoC, which presumably acquires a CIP block(? - not sure)
 

Vijaya

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #63 on: February 01, 2019, 08:05:16 AM »
I just got my copyright registration in the mail!!! It only took 3 months so I hope this year BOUND gets into more libraries.

DM, I know so many writers who will not consider anything but traditional publishing and their stories are languishing. They don't realize that self-publishing quality books is within their realm.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
Vijaya Bodach | Personal Blog | Bodach Books
 

okey dokey

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #64 on: February 04, 2019, 07:48:48 AM »
I've gotten a book in libraries without an LCCN
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #65 on: February 05, 2019, 01:52:01 AM »
I've gotten a book in libraries without an LCCN
Via donation, or did the library actually purchase the book? If it was a purchase, how well do you know the librarian?

(I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I have just observed that sometimes librarians on tight budgets will take donated books that they might not otherwise have bought, and knowing the librarian makes the person more receptive. (Unsolicited communications from self-published authors, even including copies of books, are often ignored.)


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LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #66 on: February 05, 2019, 01:50:20 PM »
I've gotten a book in libraries without an LCCN
Via donation, or did the library actually purchase the book? If it was a purchase, how well do you know the librarian?

(I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I have just observed that sometimes librarians on tight budgets will take donated books that they might not otherwise have bought, and knowing the librarian makes the person more receptive. (Unsolicited communications from self-published authors, even including copies of books, are often ignored.)

That's true. I've participated in a local library book club for years. When I started self-publishing, the librarian who runs the book club kindly bought my first novel from Amazon. Since then, it has been a mixture of outright gifts by me and the library purchasing copies. We might be about even at the moment. 

I would not bother to attempt to donate my self-published books to a library where I wasn't a known quantity. I'm only marketing to the people who don't hold onto prejudice about self-published books. In the past, that negative opinion usually was valid. Today, indie books have to be considered book by book--and no librarian has time for that. Thus, getting into a trusted review source or otherwise navigating the established methods of gaining notice is crucial if you want to get into the library market as a whole.

Some scholars are taking to self-publishing, too, and interestingly enough, are getting cited in other scholarly works. That may snowball eventually, but for now, using a small press may be an easier way to gain entry to areas otherwise closed to self-published authors. 
 

okey dokey

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #67 on: February 06, 2019, 10:31:51 AM »
Bill:

I have had 3 libraries PURCHASE the book without the number.
One library bought 4 copies for their branch libraries.
The other 2 libraries ordered copies by using the ISBN.
The ISBN provides the info needed to purchase.
 
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Joe Vasicek

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #68 on: February 06, 2019, 01:23:27 PM »
Bill:

I have had 3 libraries PURCHASE the book without the number.
One library bought 4 copies for their branch libraries.
The other 2 libraries ordered copies by using the ISBN.
The ISBN provides the info needed to purchase.
Did you buy your own ISBNs?
 

The Bass Bagwhan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #69 on: February 07, 2019, 06:42:54 AM »
Any decent trad publisher will negotiate the hell out of deal for an author or MS they feel is promising. With care and good advice, a good TP contract is more than possible when both parties want it bad enough. If they're not willing to negotiate, likely it's because the publisher feels there's an element of gambling on your MS and it's covering for losses.

A lot of mediocre books are published for a variety of reasons. Larger publishers will have "publishers" working within departments who will commission and push through pet projects. And plenty of TP books are actually funded by government grants, applied for by the publisher, which fulfil obligations to release all kinds of minority or niche genres. There isn't a kind of "overall" quality control that checks every book that goes to press.

As for crap films, it's common for most of the creative contributors for movies to be paid on the first day of filming. A bad movie might hurt their reputation, but not their bank balance. It's been a blight on the Oz movie industry for decades.

As a midlist author I used to get 2 or 3 book deals with half the advance paid on starting, and the rest on completion (for each book). That was before the Great Midlist Cull of the Naughties. Ah ... those were the days.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #70 on: February 07, 2019, 01:18:08 PM »
Any decent trad publisher will negotiate the hell out of deal for an author or MS they feel is promising. With care and good advice, a good TP contract is more than possible when both parties want it bad enough. If they're not willing to negotiate, likely it's because the publisher feels there's an element of gambling on your MS and it's covering for losses.

A lot of mediocre books are published for a variety of reasons. Larger publishers will have "publishers" working within departments who will commission and push through pet projects. And plenty of TP books are actually funded by government grants, applied for by the publisher, which fulfil obligations to release all kinds of minority or niche genres. There isn't a kind of "overall" quality control that checks every book that goes to press.

As for crap films, it's common for most of the creative contributors for movies to be paid on the first day of filming. A bad movie might hurt their reputation, but not their bank balance. It's been a blight on the Oz movie industry for decades.

As a midlist author I used to get 2 or 3 book deals with half the advance paid on starting, and the rest on completion (for each book). That was before the Great Midlist Cull of the Naughties. Ah ... those were the days.

I can't think of a major U.S. publisher who gets grants to publish niche books, but it's possible that authors or small presses do apply for such grants. Or are you talking strictly about Australia? 
 

The Bass Bagwhan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #71 on: February 07, 2019, 03:00:41 PM »
Quote

I can't think of a major U.S. publisher who gets grants to publish niche books, but it's possible that authors or small presses do apply for such grants. Or are you talking strictly about Australia?

Sorry, yes my experience is mostly Australia. And about ten years since I was bought lunch by a publisher, so everything could have changed... but back "in the days" publishers would do it, because of course the government arts department couldn't - or didn't - actually publish books. It was a means to put non-commercial or literary works into the market.
 

okey dokey

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #72 on: February 07, 2019, 06:47:20 PM »
Joe:

Bought my own ISBNs

 
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solo

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I'm part of a pretty serious writers group. Some are trad pubbed. The rest only want to be trad published. Only two out of about 50 of us have gone the self-publishing route and everyone has tried to talk us out of it, even though we are perfectly happy!

The few who trad pubbed have never earned out their advances and have seven or more finished novels sitting in drawers rotting because no one in trad bought them. They're constantly shopping for new agents and new publishers. One even loved my novel so much she wanted me to keep submitting it because it was only a matter of time before it got noticed. She said I should be willing to wait years.

I don't have that kind of time. Literally.

You really only have to earn $3,000 to $5,000 per book to equal an advance for a new unknown author, and you get to keep the rights!

Thanks for the info. Didn't know about those figures. Are those amounts for the first year or the lifetime of the book? I am a newbie indie, by the way.
 

LilyBLily

I'm part of a pretty serious writers group. Some are trad pubbed. The rest only want to be trad published. Only two out of about 50 of us have gone the self-publishing route and everyone has tried to talk us out of it, even though we are perfectly happy!

The few who trad pubbed have never earned out their advances and have seven or more finished novels sitting in drawers rotting because no one in trad bought them. They're constantly shopping for new agents and new publishers. One even loved my novel so much she wanted me to keep submitting it because it was only a matter of time before it got noticed. She said I should be willing to wait years.

I don't have that kind of time. Literally.

You really only have to earn $3,000 to $5,000 per book to equal an advance for a new unknown author, and you get to keep the rights!

Thanks for the info. Didn't know about those figures. Are those amounts for the first year or the lifetime of the book? I am a newbie indie, by the way.

It used to be that the advance was followed by royalties, but in recent years, trad pubbed authors have reported that advances are where the significant money is; royalties have dried up drastically. The common wisdom--if you are in a position to follow it--is to get as big an advance as possible because that's probably the only money you'll see on that book.
 
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solo

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Thanks, LilyBLily. I was fortunate enough to have readers for my very first book (Sept-Oct 2017), the first of a series. I think I reached five figures for its first year. But I am trying out other genres/subgenres, taking advantage of the readership base, hoping that it would draw in readers for other stories. I still have a lot to learn and trying out other fields is one way. But I guess I'll stay indie. Not that any tradpub company had expressed any interest. LOL