More brilliance from Joe Konrath on Wednesday.
He points out, as he did initially sixteen months ago, that the publishing giants have begun a predation process from which there is no return. In short, they’ve been robbing and cheating and keeping down authors, who provide them with the source of their income. Gatekeepers are there to keep the gates safe from the unwashed masses. If you’re an aspiring writer trying to get into that legacy system, that’s you. This is akin to a snake swallowing itself from the tail. This cannot sustain itself.
But now it’s even worse, and the system has just seen the first major crack run through the façade of the failing gatekeeper tower. A crack which runs all the way through the superstructure as is bound to be the fatal fissure upon which the system will finally, and deservedly, collapse.
One of the Big 6 – Simon and Schuster, to be precise – has signed John Locke, the first man to sell a million ebooks via Amazon’s Kindle platform, to a print book deal.
But the big news isn’t a Big 6 publisher trying to cherry pick a successful indie author. The big news is, they let Locke retain his electronic rights.
That’s right; he and his agent (who is also Joe Konrath’s agent) got a deal with a Big 6 brokered in which the author retained his e-rights.
While that may not seem significant to you, at first glance, it’s an indication of how desperate the legacy publishers have become. (Not desperate enough to try and find you, oh mere struggling wannabe, in their slush pile, though.) They’re desperate enough to let a heavy hitter who is completely unproved in the print world retain his e-rights for the duration of the book. Which means, because the ebook already outsells the print book and shows no sign of slowing down, the print portion of this may bomb. And S&S are going to eat that bomb. It’s coming right down their throats and they’re not really going to be able to stomach it. They get the tiny portion of the sales, while the lion’s share of both sales and royalties – a whopping 70% — will stay with the author.
Where they belong.
This is a sign of things to come. Gatekeepers will continue to try and get the crème-de-la-crème from indie authors, like Amanda Hocking and John Locke, but more and more midlist authors are getting into self e-publishing and finding the level of success there superior. So is the royalty set up through publishers like Amazon and PubIt (Nook). And as those two situations diverge, and gatekeepers let those indie authors retain their e-rights, there will be a wider and wider gap between the indie success and the number of sales in the now-niche market of print. The print sales will be the tiny portion of that – and already is the minority portion – and the bigger block will come from the e-book side. When they don’t have access to that, and have to give that up, they’ll have no way to survive. One last big push this holiday season, Joe says, and you can look for many more bookstores to go the way of the Borders.
And I saw this coming. I’m not riding the wave as well as I’d like, but I’m on it for sure. I’ve never liked the gatekeeper system and never will, I don’t believe it’s another “valid” way to publication and won’t say it is, and I don’t think any writer worth their salt should continue pursuing that dead horse to suck up its rotting a$$, and I won’t say they should. There aren’t any “professionals” in that industry, and maybe never were, and we – the authors who made them what they are, give them the product they peddle and need, and carelessly gave over power to them which they now lord over us – don’t need them. I won’t say otherwise. Never.
I’m glad this system is failing. I’m so happy I could puke. I want every writer I know to go their own way and take their chances with indie publishing, but so many are still out there banging their faces against that brick wall. I see them all over Twitter and Facebook and everywhere else I go, and it’s just sad.
I hope they wake up soon. Or not. Either way, this is happening.
Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved