Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are Cheap as Dirt eBook Prices Creating Devlaued Authors & Their Works?

Short Answer: NO....long answer is a debate between authors who have taken the plunge and other authors who are sticking with what they've always known. Here is my take on the subject but before I say Publishers are Devaluing authors who are setting prices low on ebook platforms, let me say this: There is no integrity in this so-called business. Like any other job, when they target you for a raise or an upgrade, you get it and you are happy with The Company - whatever its name. When they target you as simply one of the work force as in "the stable" folks who they draw on to fill spaces with paper or books in this instance, you are pigeonholed as surely as when you could never, no matter what, get anything above a C from Mrs. C, your English teacher at H.G. Wells High Schooooool. The company, school, publisher always demands loyalty from you, the worker, but they offer zero loyalty to you in the end--Zero. That said and posited in your mind, know that the illusion that publishing is somehow above such behaviors and is a "gentlemen's game" -- well maybe in 1890 but I doubt that even then a publisher had anyone working for him that he could not cut loose.

Now know that I believe I hold the record for number of Series characters, and so have had a lot of my characters and storylines CUT.  So this is where I an coming from when speaking of loyalty to the job and the job display loyalty in return and such shocking things as integrity and the lack of it found anywhere in publishing.

So here goes:

Dee-Dee Doit says: I am not saying that the individual readers devalue the work of individual writers.
I am saying that the downward trend in pricing devalues our work in the marketplace at large and makes publishers see us as a lesser commodity.

Rob: I object to the word commodity but let us get to the point. Publishers already devalue our work as example: We do our own damn advertising and such groups online as MMA (Murder Must Advertise...Mystery (writers) MUST advertise, so by the behaviors of publishers - specifically the big six - giving no advertising budget to 99& of their 'stable' of authors devalues our work.

No support for midlist authors, no decent income, below living wage income devalues our work. When publishers persist in rewarding gimmick writing rather than quality writing, this devalues our work as when no dollars go to a lifetime professional author because those funds are budgeted to the latest Pamela Anderson's Dress for Success for Little Girls.... and they did it to Mark Twain before us...have since the printing press came into being. Devalued. Readers do not do this when they pay for a 2.99 ebook but publishers do?

Mark Sureshot: I think advances are the only thing—other than a huge inheritance—that makes it possible for a writer to work full time instead of having to struggle with a day job all their life, and ebooks offer no advance.

Rob --A hundred thousand dollar advance for four books = 25,000 a year...subsistence living unless you live in a cardboard box.  And since the publisher devalues you and your writing by the time you finish the book (giving it no support by the time 9 months to a year and a half rolls around (pub date) as they are busy with their latest PR campaign for a dead author like VC Andrews who has a greater budget than many thousands of live authors), this devalues your work. Your publisher is busy entertaining the idea of publishng OJ Simpson's "How I Would Have Done it Had I Done it" -- so too busy to be reading your novel...this devalues your work. Condescendingly telling an author that a Stephen King blockbuster creates a trickle down effect that rains down on all of the writers in the house (nonsense), this devalues you.

Ariana Selfassured: I’ve heard some writers say that it does not matter that major publishing houses like Random and Simon and Schuster and Penguin devalue your work if you are willing to sell it for 1.99 or 2.99.  But it does to me. I don not want the major houses thinking I sell my work cheap!
Rob: After thirty years of being a slave to the system controlled by a few hundred people called agents (the front guard), editors (the gatekeepers), and publishers (King of the fiefdom or thiefdom), I for one am enjoying the fact that technology has caught up to my childhood dreams of being my own damn publishing company in need of no King or Thiefdom. No longer an indentured servant, and the freedom from all the nonsense I have endured over these many years, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is.

There are many rivers to the ocean, but as to devlauing you and your books? The readers value your writing far, far more than does the typical publisher who is going to choose the Lady Gaga biography over your literary thriller or historical thriller any day. It is kind of like how everyone talks a big game of how teachers ought to be paid what they are worth but never are. Niether teaching for teaching's sake, the art of it, nor writing quality for quality's sake is rewarded, not in the main most certainly.

It has otten to that point for me (when a publisher apparently does not know what he/she has in hand because of the distractions of the gimmick books bound to make huge profits in the marketplace) that I have had it up to here and I ain't gonna take it anymore!!  OK but you may disagree and fine. To each his own but my personal "bestseller ever" appears to be the novel turned down by every agent, editor, and publisher in New York City and in fact anyone who looked at it who was in a position to purchase it but for inane remakrs on rejections like "Sorry but, etc...not right for us...been done...etc." -- Children of Salem is rubber-stamped REJECTED.

But...Same book... but Kindle readers have made their voices heard over what I feel is a novel that ought to have been valued but was not--along with my Cuba Blue and Dead On Writing and now Titanic 2012 (which by this time, I didn't bother as it was REJECTED once long ago when Cameron's movie came out). Now it's me and my partner not my publisher putting out quality books for readers who respond to quality NOT to pricing. Kindle readers and ebook readers in general are far smarter than NYC publishing tells us writers all the time..."Write to the 4th Grade level...No one would be interested in a heroine in Cuba in a one wants to see another book about witches....or the supernatural...or a psychic detective..."  All to do with dictating what readers should be reading.

Sara Serenade: Holding a full time job added stress and frustration to my life. I am grateful I can write full time.

Rob: I personally as a professor gain so much for my writing from my students.  They inspire me every bit as I inspire them and so they grant me energy and do not steal my strength.  I would never quit my day job, not after what I have been through in Dead Tree Publication biz wherein you never know when they decide to cut you off at the knees. A good six or seven of my characters were cut off and I have had to find creaive ways to continue working and developing the characters I want to develop as in ressurecting Inspector Alastair Ransom of Chicago to become Constable Alastair Ransom aboard the Titanic...a character killed off not by me but by my publisher.

This does not even go to the money in the author's pocket.  I have in the past three years pocketed far, far more money from my ebooks (cheap as they are) than I have in paper and hardcover books. In fact, this year have made enough to move into another house. So you can keep your so-called integrity, your so-called loyalty, and your so-called "value" of publishing with those in control conglomerates.  I will take my small business and quietly sail down my river like Huck and Jim's Moon River.

Robert Walker
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