Kerfluffle!!! In Publishing

So this author posted about how much money she made with her debut traditionally published novel. (TL;DR: Not very much) Rumor is her publisher immediately asked her to remove the post, which she did.

Then Courtney Milan posted about how (in Romance) the performance of books with non-white protagonists is blamed on the non-white protagonists when, in fact, books with white protagonists have had the same poor performance. She provided print numbers and pointed out some facts about the apparent value of a print deal.

Also, Steven Zacharius of Kensington Books wrote an article for HuffPo where he trotted out a lot of misinformation and bad statistics about self-publishing. He also appeared in the comments at a noted site-scraper and defended his position. Kudos to him for mostly keeping a cool head in a highly charged environment. He also appeared at Joe Konrath’s blog and did much the same.

::hand waving and babbling!!!!:::

Traditional Publishers LOVE to trot out bad studies and then make the wrong conclusion from them. A recent poll (by either Writer’s Digest or the ALA, I can’t remember which, though they both suffer from the same issue…) concluded that most self-publishers make less than $500.

::more hand waving and babbling!!!! Authors should be not leaving us!!!!!:::

Well, one of those studies included authors who have yet to self-publish anything.

Edited to add: Annnddddd, here’s a link.

Digital Book World interviewed almost 10,000 traditionally published authors,self-published authors, authors who are both traditionally published and self-published, along with aspiring authors. (Emphasis added.)

Carolyn’s projection: Writing income for an author who has nothing on sale: $0

Edited to add: WHY the hell would you include aspiring authors in a “study” on author income?

Neither study managed to reach a single Romance author. Everyone on the major email lists for self-publishing Romance authors had this reaction: What study was that?

Zacharius asks, among other things:

1. If self-publishing is so great, why aren’t the big authors leaving?

Answer: Where they can, they are. (Stephanie Laurens, Theresa Maderios, Lara Adrian to name just three.) Besides, a lot of authors, big and little, are constrained by the terms of the contracts they signed. Some of them can’t leave. Yet.


Carolyn’s thought bubble: That YET should scare the pants off NY.

2. What do self-publishers have to do to promote themselves? (With the usual implication that a traditional publisher will do MORE and BETTER!)

Answer: EXACTLY the same thing we have to do when we traditionally publish, which is just about ALL the promotion. Furthermore I was present at a Kensington RWA panel where the Kensington employees actually said they don’t so the same promotion for everyone. Already best-selling authors get MORE promotion.

God, this is just so tiring. Publishers continue to conflate print distribution and reader reach with income. As an author, naturally I want readers to find me. But as a self-published author I make more money on fewer sales.

I give up.

If they want to hold tight to bad math, bad statistics, and this belief that what they do for best-selling authors applies to ALL their authors, they can go right ahead.

And lots and lots of Romance authors will continue to self-publish and make a hell of a lot more than $500.

Carolyn’s Thought Bubble: Watch the hell out if offset printing becomes cost-effective for self-publishers.

Edited to add:What’s the old saying? If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Traditional publishing is busy baffling us with bullshit.

Jan/21/13 Edited to add: The lastest DBW nonsense is this $295 report “What advantages do Traditional Publishers Offer Authors” which was described thusly in my daily “get carolyn enraged email” :

The author community is abuzz with news of self-published authors who are making very good money by going indie. With the stigma diminishing, this alternative mode of publishing has become increasingly attractive to both new and seasoned authors. However, the 2013 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey found that despite the excitement about self-publishing and complaints about traditional publishing, authors held a strong preference to publish with traditional publishers.This report seeks to understand why.

What advantages do traditional publishers offer authors? The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest author survey was designed specifically to compare the perceptions, experiences, and economic returns to authors associated with traditional publishing and self-publishing respectively. In this report, we take a close look at the case to be made to the author community in favor of traditional publishing as well as the areas where traditional publishers might enhance what they offer their current and prospective authors.

When I saw that today, I tweeted this: Because they don’t know any better. #MotherofAllSubtweets

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6 Responses to “Kerfluffle!!! In Publishing”

  1. Landra Graf says:

    This is an awesome recap! I especially like the ::wavey hands::

    Thank you for sharing all the links, I’ve been trying to catch up on this whole she-bang.

  2. Amazing, Carolyn. Thanks for the hilarious recap.

    “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

    That’s gold, right there.

  3. Kate Pearce says:

    I actually did get an invite to participate in the Writers Digest DBW survey and, as a hybrid romance author, I was more than happy to mention how well my relatively minor self-publishing efforts were doing. In fact, my SP income has now taken second place to my NY income and digital first publishing is now coming in third. I suspect that can only increase as I move toward more SP projects this year.