Publishing Notes, 2/13/14
Just a couple for the day:
One: Today someone who had pirated editions of my work very nicely came to find out how to compensate for my work, noting that he wanted to pay me directly rather than publishers, who he felt didn’t add much value to the process. I told him I disagreed and why, and in the process offered him a point of view he’d not considered before, which he appreciated. The exchange, and further commenting from readers and authors, is available for your perusal over at Reddit’s SciFi subreddit.
The takeaway: I actually like my publishers, and they add value to my work and don’t rip me off in the process. Please don’t consider them evil (at least in their involvement with me), or try to cut them out of the pay loop. Thank you.
Two: Lots of people asking me what I think of Hugh Howey’s look at author earnings via Amazon. My thoughts about it essentially boil down to this: It’s highly anecdotal (which Hugh to his credit is up front about) and based on suppositions that are speculative at best. This is an issue for me; at the end of the day I like my book sales data like I like my UFOs: Verifiable.
So, it’s interesting and will no doubt feed some polemics for the folks who think there’s some deep ideological battle going on for the soul of publishing, but it seems to me it should be approached with the understanding that regardless of intent it’s a murky, inexact representation of what’s going on in the publishing world.
Which, to be clear, is not entirely on Hugh as the author of the report. He’s working with what he has and is, I think, making a good faith effort to make educated guesses when he doesn’t have useful data. But there is a lot of useful data he doesn’t have, because so much of the data one would need is incomplete and/or highly decentralized and/or not always in the author’s power to share –or, alternately, if the author is not happy with their sales, something they want to share. It should also be noted (as Cory Doctorow just has at Boing Boing) that Hugh’s data is limited only to Amazon. As much as it would like to be, Amazon is not the entire of the publishing retail world. I personally sell a ton of books on Amazon. But I also sell a ton of books off of Amazon, too.
What I would say is that more data sharing is good. It’s why I shared Redshirts hardcover data last year; it’s why Jim Hines talks about his writing income. In that respect, Hugh’s doing a mitzvah for writers; good on him.