Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beyond the Wall

As I was reading an article in the Huffington Post by attorney and bookseller William Petrocelli, I kept thinking this guy is in his own cubicle world and can't see beyond the wall. He feels that writers and readers see publishers and bookstores as a hindrance and they would prefer to cut out the editors, designers, distributors and promoters, and make more money.

He does say that "alternative publishing" is "an essential corrective for authors who feel shut out of mainstream publishing." But he feels this is not an alternative to traditional publishing and those writers going their own way don't understand all that publishers do. He also puts forth that eliminating publishers and booksellers would "run the risk of discouraging authors and leaving many future books unwritten…. Without the services of publishers and bookstores, the books that readers want to read are not likely to be available to them in any reasonable fashion."

He believes that publishers are the key because "they make it financially worthwhile for authors to spend their time and energy writing books." And the publishers' and the bookstores' okay on a book is the only way buyers can become aware of books they might want to read. "Without such a system, only the very famous or the very wealthy would be able to write books and reach a wide enough audience to sell those books and make a living. And without such a system many, many writers would be discouraged from spending the time to write books that they knew they would have no reasonable prospect of selling."

His rant is aimed at those who feel publishers and bookstores are obsolete. Personally, I think he would have done better at getting his point across if he had NOT attacked indie authors. I don't think publishers and bookstores are in danger because of writers publishing their own books. I think it's because publishers have for so long relied on certain authors to sell large numbers of books and readers waiting months for the next one to come out. And now readers have many choices to read while they wait on their favorite author. I think they're discovering some poorly written e-books, but also some great writers. And they're coming back to download more and pay less.

I think both publishing systems can survive. For now. And perhaps forever. We can cherish our print books while we embrace e-books.


What do you think?

9 comments:

  1. I think you said it exactly right. I hope print books are always around but I love my ebooks too.

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  2. Well stated and written, Helen. There is room for a variety of publishing vehicles, and everyone needs to keep an open mind. I think the goal is to keep people reading. The "good" stuff rises to the top while the "bad" stuff dwindles in sales - the system does work.

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  3. Yep, there's room for both. I'm reading a print book right now. Before that, I read an e-book. I have an e-book out now. I'd have it in print, if I could just find the right (for me) cover artist.

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  4. Hi Helen .. the world seems to be taking publishing of books all which way - and success comes from many directions ... so there's hope for us all.

    The most important thing for self-publishers is to make sure our editing is 100% and to make sure we get our book set up (formatted) correctly for ebook formatting ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Yep. Editing and formatting are essential. Next on my list would be a compelling cover.

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  5. Thanks for posting this, Helen. I am getting so tired of people one one extreme side of the fence not giving any respect to those on the other side. As to the comment by Petrocelli that publishers are the key because "they make it financially worthwhile for authors to spend their time and energy writing books." That is so far off the mark I had to laugh. Yes, that works for those lucky few authors on the top of the publishing pyramid, but for the rest of us in what used to be the mid-list, the publishers do not make in worthwhile for us to spend our time and energy writing. We are expected to be another arm of the marketing department, and the royalty rates have not improved in 30 years.

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    1. Totally agree with you, Maryann.

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  6. I think he took an odd stance with that one. Indie authors don't want to do away with editors or bookstores. If the publishers want to keep cranking out Sookie books, let them, but they're no help to the majority of us.

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    1. Having one of the big publishers doesn't make you a legitimate or good author. Look at all the books by awful reality show people.

      You're right, Laura. Just about all the indie authors I know would still like to have their books in bookstores. And they can get them there. It's just not easy when you don't have a representative to pitch your book to the stores. But "indie" is short for independent ...

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