Home » Big Publishing, The Business of Writing » An emerging meme in publishing?

An emerging meme in publishing?

19 February 2013

Yesterday, Passive Guy replied to an email from a law student who wanted to become a publishing attorney upon graduation and asking for advice.

After bloviating a bit, PG wrote the following:

There’s an emerging meme that says traditionally-published authors are stupid to keep dealing with traditional publishers. It doesn’t have a great deal of traction at the moment, but I think it’s going to grow. In the nature of these things, it’s liable to float around for awhile before suddenly growing to immense proportions.

Of course, if such a meme becomes widespread, it upends the traditional social/prestige hierarchy between traditionally-published and indie authors and puts the indies on top.

PG suspects that more than a little of the vitriol directed toward Amazon and scorn toward self-published books by trad authors is driven by insecurity and fear that a new world is coming, one for which they are almost entirely unprepared.

But PG could be full of beans.

Big Publishing, The Business of Writing

42 Comments to “An emerging meme in publishing?”

  1. “Faster Please”–Michael Ledeen

  2. Traditional publishing offers two things that are still too scarce in independent publishing: distribution and professional editing. When those two things become de rigueur for self-published books, I believe we’ll see exponential growth in that new world.

  3. I’ve seen that meme already. Mainly online, but I’ve also encountered it in person from non-writers who are genuinely puzzled about the generally poor business sense in the publishing world.

    I know I tend to have a knee-jerk reaction when I see folks nattering on about how much they love their agents and publishers and how their career couldn’t possibly survive without them. I usually bite my tongue, because nobody wants to hear “Yes, it could. You just don’t know how.” I also don’t trust myself not to get snarky, because that wouldn’t help.

    I don’t even have an objection to getting an agent or going with a major publisher if it suits your goals and you do it with your eyes wide open. Shoot, I have some projects on the backburner for which I might seek a major publisher and possibly an agent.

    And I get just as irritated by those who are on the extreme of “Self-publish! Nobody should ever go with any publisher, ever!” *rolls eyes*

    So maybe I just take issue with extremism.

  4. Putting my “full of beans” hat on too, I think what you’re really going to see is a widening or population of the existing spectrum…up until relatively recently (in the history of publication) you had four points on the spectrum only, and if you plotted it like a graph, it would have nothing in between with four giant spikes:

    1. Publishing with big publisher
    2. Publishing with small publisher
    3. Publishing with vanity publisher
    4. Not publishing

    Now we’ve started to flatten those peaks and add a bunch of smaller peaks — POD, self-publishing, commission-based small-publishing, small-press/full-service providers, etc. Mostly we’ve done this through breaking the economies of scale on the rest — when you had huge investment required to actually print and distribute, you only had big guys who could afford the cost. We brought those costs down and now you can break them into smaller chunks and go digital.

    Eventually though I think you will see the model “spring back”…nodal points will remain along the lines of above but with vanity replaced by two big points — fee-based service-provider publisher and DIY self-publisher. There will be lots of little points in between, but I think those five are still going to be there … 1&2 for the person who doesn’t want to do anything but write; 3&4 who are more entrepreneurial in outlook.

    Or, I too, am full of beans.

    P.

    • 5. Self-Publishing.
      People have been doing it for centuries.

    • “1&2 (big publisher or small publisher) for the person who doesn’t want to do anything but write”

      I don’t think that holds true any more unless you are JK Rowling, George RR Martin or similar.

      Almost everything I see from agents or small presses emphasises that the author will have to have a platform, a blog and spend time marketing themselves and their book, all of which takes time away from actual writing.

      • And even JK Rowling and GRR Martin do book signings and things like that. Author events can be a blast, but they are also draining and take away time from writing.

  5. Beans are good for you. I’m glad I’m not the only person full of them.

  6. PG, I think you are absoulutely right, and thank you for being bold and stating it upfront!

    It IS completely idiotic to deal with a traditional publisher.

    They take advantage of writers on every level. The only possible exception is if you get a ‘print only’ deal, but even then, you’re dancing with a business that has made its living off of exploiting authors. Why would you want to do business with a corporation that has proven itself repeatedly to be unscrupulous? With a business that you can not trust?

    And as print fades, the reasons to deal with traditional publishers also fade completely to nil.

    But I think you’re are also right about how truth tends to float around and then suddenly take off. Writers have traditionally been trained to be grateful and subservient, to believe that Publishers are all-wise and kind. It pervades the culture, and it will take time to shift.

    It’s not just fear and insecurity, although that is there too, of course. But it hurts to realize you’ve been hoodwinked and taken advantage of. That’s painful to face. Especially if you like the people you’ve been working with, agents and editors, it’s hard to really take in that they system has been exploiting you. That’s painful.

    It’s also hard to let go of the idea of a ‘loving’ corporation that will nurture and support you while you write.

    Of course the corporation doesn’t, and it will suddenly occur to everyone that Publishers do the opposite. They feel disdain toward writers, and have and will exploit them terribly. I agree, it will take off like a brush fire.

    And posts like this help ignite it – thank you!

    This quote comes to mind:

    __

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.


    Arthur Schopenhauer

    __
    p.s. And for the record, Publishers treat agents almost as badly as authors, and hold them in secret disdain as well. That truth will also spread soon.

    • While I agree that sometimes (probably very often) what you’ve said does happen, I think it’s a little extreme to say “It IS completely idiotic to deal with a traditional publisher.” That’s only one step removed from calling the author an idiot. And if we speak to each other like that, pretty quickly people are going to stop listening, but keep shouting. Personally, the moment someone starts calling me names (I know that was not your intent here. I’m not seeking to be trade published, so I’m not taking this part as personally as I would if I were.), I leave the conversation. Spreading knowledge doesn’t have to be done in a negative way.

      It all depends on what an author wants. Some DO want to be on bookshelves, and the easiest way for that to happen right now is to go through a trade publisher.

      Now, more than ever, I think is better for the author–trade publishing-wise. Mainly because authors have power. They don’t *have* to accept a bad deal or not be published. More and more information is getting out about the horrible contract clauses–as well as the information that you can, and should, negotiate them out or be willing to walk away. Now, more than a few years ago, I’m seeing people discussing their writing career long-term as opposed to yay! I got an agent/book deal! Now what?

      I think it’s important to remember that we all have different aims, and we’re all willing to compromise different things to reach those aims. As more and more authors move over to self-publishing, publishers will either have to come up with better contracts and more incentives, or die. From what I’m seeing of the newest generation of writers, many are not all that eager to try trade publishing first. While we still have a ways to go changing attitudes culturally (I agree with you 100% there), I see this as a sign that we’re at least making some progress. :)

      • Danyelle,

        I’m sorry. I really like your comments, and we agree alot. And I agree with what you said here, in terms of the changes you see in the industry.

        But I stand by what I said. It is completely idiotic to deal with a traditional publisher.

        I don’t think authors are idiots. Far from it.

        You know, indie publishing is 5 years old. Publishers had decades to brainwash authors, while they held an absolute and unbreachable monopoly on publishing. They manipulated, they controlled and they exploited. The beliefs they instilled in authors are very entrenched in the entire culture of the Industry. That is not the author’s fault.

        I think there is a place for diplomacy. But there is also a time to state the truth baldly. To try to break through.

        Any author who chooses to publish with a Traditional Publisher, even with the best of intentions, is making a choice that will hurt them in the long run. You can not dance with a wolf without getting bitten.

        The Big Five Publishers treat authors terribly. There is no exception to that.

        • Danyelle,

          I tried to edit my comment, but it wouldn’t let me.

          I want to clarify – I think there is a need for both ‘voices’: diplomatic and blunt. Diplomatic to reach, blunt to break through.

          If you’re advocating to change something as massive as an entire Industry, I think you need both.

        • My own opinions of publishing are very closely aligned with yours. :) I have not ruled out trade publishing, but I’m fairly certain that the things on my list of deal breakers would preclude me from it on the basis that the publisher would have to shift their perspective so radically on The Way Things Are Done that it’s very unlikely they would be willing to grant me those things.

          I agree with you–we need both types of voices, because some people only hear the diplomatic tones, while others only notice things if they’ve been put bluntly. What I was commenting on was the danger of becoming so extreme on either side of the issue that we stop seeing people as people and are unable to tolerate that other people have different opinions. I’m not talking about you here, but I have seen it online more often than I would have cared to. There is a danger in over-generalizing. Not everyone has the same goals or means.

          I think framing is very important here: Do I think publishing with a trade house is idiotic? It depends on what you want and what you’re willing to give up. Some look at sacrificing one book with the trades kind of as a loss leader. (Which underscores the importance of reading and understanding your contract, because that loss leader could end up costing you your career.) On the other hand, do I think it is, in general, *wise* to go with a trade publisher? No. I am grateful daily for places like here that are working to get Truth and Reality out there, and that I stumbled upon them before I got an agent and/or a book deal. I have not necessarily ruled those things completely out of my future, but now I can go in with my eyes wide open, and walk away if I need to. And be okay with that. :)

          There are some publishers who seem more willing to negotiate than others, so there is the possibility of hope there, but I do agree with you in general re: wolves.

          I do agree that the way the publishing industry is set up is horribly adversarial to authors, and I’m hoping that as more authors realize they have power and seize that, that this will change. Publishers and agents have had too much control over an author’s career for too long. To the point that authors have been, in many ways, infantilized. This is wrong, and the change to authors being equal business partners can’t come soon enough for me, even if I never choose to go that route.

          The best thing about now is information is more available than it’s ever been, and that authors have choice. And with that choice comes both responsibility and power. All good things in my book. :)

        • Mira, it’s really better to avoid extreme words like “always” and “never” and “idiotically”.

          If a publisher that needed a novelization of a current movie, pronto (like, in four weeks), offered you $10,000 to write the story, I presume you would take it.

          If you had the right connections to traditionally publish a gorgeous coffee table book of your daughter/husband/mother’s original photographs, I presume you would take that too. (Indies don’t do glossy photos very well.)

          These are but TWO examples of times when it’s worth dealing with a traditional publisher. You may not encounter these situations, and neither may I, but please try to see both sides of the fence.

          • “If a publisher that needed a novelization of a current movie, pronto (like, in four weeks), offered you $10,000 to write the story, I presume you would take it.”

            No way, no how. That’s a $50-100K job. :)

            • I was about to say the same thing. :P

              Definitely not a $10k job. Bump that figure up a bunch!

            • Seriously, Marc. I have done a couple dozen novelizations of major movies, including the first X-Men movie. They give you a script with all the dialog, the plot and some scene direction. All you do is climb inside the character heads and make sure your words sound like the actor’s speech patterns. I can do a novelization in five or six days even at my advanced age. $10,000 for five days is about $2,000 a day for filling in the blanks. Sorry, I’d take it and walk away laughing.

              • I have never participated in a novelization and didn’t realize they gave you quite that much to build on, though in hindsight it should have been obvious.

                Obviously I was in error. Listen to him, not to me.

                That being said, in my defense I *have* done licensing work for movies which were about to be released, and it was a total clusterpanic. A lot of it depends on how many people have to approve the licensed material. This was for toys and games related to a major children’s movie based on a licensed property itself: there were a LOT of spoons in the pot. Nothing happened fast and nothing was easy. It just didn’t click for me that a novelization would be a bit more streamlined process.

          • Jason,

            Of course I wouldn’t take those deals. There is not enough money in the world that would even tempt me to work with a traditional publisher. Not even 100K. No matter how many zeros you put after that ’1′. I will not work with them. Ever.

            I think that publishing with a traditional publisher is hurtful to the author involved and to the writing community as a whole.

            I believe Publishers have exploited authors and will continue to do so until authors, as a community, say: “No”.

            I am saying “No”.

            I could be wrong, Jason, but I believe I am looking at both sides. I don’t fault people for making what they believe is the best choice for themselves, but I feel that I have enough information to say that the Big Five Publishers are not in the author’s court, and dealing with them will not work out well.

            • Ah, Mira, now I understand. You are neither an artist nor an entrepreneur.

              You are a Crusader.

              • Jason – that warmed my heart. Thank you. :D

                I like to think AM a Crusader. But I do think I’m an artist too.

                And I want to add, that I believe I am advocating for both the artist and the entrepreneur.

                I want writers to have artistic control and freedom. And I want them to be able to reap the financial benefits from their work.

                As things stand, they will have neither of those things if they publish with the Big Five.

    • I note that PG didn’t say that the meme was *true.* He just said it was going to spread.

  7. I think you’re right, PG.

    I’ve noticed this War Between Publishing mostly online, but attitudes do carry over to real life. (I also think this “war” is directly related to the stupid writerly hierarchy system we’ve–writing community in general–created for ourselves.)

    I think it all stems from fears and insecurities–on both sides. Why writers care so much about how *other* people have chosen to pursue publication, I have never understood. We all have different goals and different ways of reaching those goals. That’s a good thing.

    Regardless of *how* a person gets published, the important things to be aware of are the same:

    write a good book
    treat this like the profession and business that it is
    read your contracts
    understand your contracts
    negotiate where you can
    know what you want and what you’re willing to compromise to get it
    know what you aren’t willing to compromise on
    you’re going to have to do at least some of the marketing
    be a decent person
    *write the next book*

    Imagine what we could do if, instead of tearing one another down*, we embraced the people in the community regardless of how they’ve chosen to be published and help build up one another instead.

    * I’m not talking about spreading good, correct information. There are conversations the writing community has needed to have for years, and is only now beginning to talk about–contracts being a major one. Thank you for all you do there, PG. :)

    • The reason writers care about what other writers do is that having other options is threatening in one main way:

      What is I become the minority – and MY option DISAPPEARS?

      Don’t think it can’t happen. Remember the Sony Betamax? Everyone agreed it produced better VIDEO quality, but VHS had better marketing/distribution – and Beta went away.

      As writers, we have a window of opportunity: IF you want your book to come out in Barnes and Noble, and be featured on an endcap, your timing is extremely critical: get the book finished. Get it polished. Find an agent. Get a publisher. Wait two years. Hope and pray Barnes and Noble doesn’t disappear. Get a great launch. Hit the talk shows. Be rich and famous. Repeat. (Whether this is a realistic opportunity – or the writer’s equivalent of winning the lottery – isn’t relevant here. This is what you WANT.)

      So: anything that is tearing down the system is going to be interfering with YOUR DREAM.

      There is the equivalent dream on the indie side (for the record, I will probably be making virtue of necessity and self-publishing): publish it MYSELF. Get huge returns on Amazon. Be rich and famous. Repeat. So we watch anxiously anything that could affect Amazon (substitute here your e-book distribution system of choice): anything the publishers do to make Amazon irrelevant.

      So the problem is not that the other side EXISTS. It is the the mere existence of the OTHER SIDE might affect OUR SIDE.

      • That is definitely one perspective, and from what I’ve seen, the most popular. :)

        But we don’t have to perceive things that way, and can make the conscious choice to look at things differently. There is so much effort and energy wasted in trying to keep other writers in their places. For me, personally, I’m not competing with anyone but myself, so it doesn’t become a personal matter of honor if some others choose to follow trade or others slap something up on Amazon. I’m starting to work on finding and cultivating *my* audience, so to be honest, it really doesn’t bother me that other authors have their own audiences and that sometimes they overlap.

        I agree there is a window of opportunity. But I also believe there’s likely to be more open windows the more an author develops their craft and the more novels/short stories/what-have-you an author has available.

        I agree from the perspective you presented that “So the problem is not that the other side EXISTS. It is the the mere existence of the OTHER SIDE might affect OUR SIDE.” is truly a problem.

        From my perspective, it’s wasted time, angst, and energy. :) It doesn’t make sense to have sides at all. Publishing is a brutal industry, and it’s illogical for so many of us to be adding to the brutality by putting each other in “their places” and falling prey to the writer hierarchy.

        So, from my perspective, it is a problem that sides exist. It is also good to remember that this is a business, and as such, publishing isn’t special. I can’t control what other authors or doing or if the algorithms are favoring me at the moment or not, but I can focus on thinking outside of the box, having a plan, and not stressing over things I can’t change or control. (Still working on that last one. :p)

        Personally, I would rather spend my time and energy on writing the next story and making it the best story I possibly can, than policing and politicking what everyone else is doing. :D

  8. ”There’s an emerging meme that says traditionally-published authors are stupid to keep dealing with traditional publishers.”

    As with many sweeping statements, this is an oversimplification yet with some truth to it: where the relationship between an author & a publisher should be more of a partnership, with traditional publishers it is more of a employee-employer relationship. And over the last generation, employers have been treating their employees less well; it’s not just between traditional publishers & authors.

    With new sales channels provided by the Internet, authors should reasonably expect to be treated more as partners & not employees.

    Concerning traditional publishers, I think they are faced with two (roughly speaking) choices here: either they can continue their current practices & go out of business (as their sales channels dry up & better-informed authors stop submitting publishable manuscripts to them), or they can improve their contracts & compete for those publishable manuscripts. And I suspect a lot of decision-makers at the traditional houses know they have these two choices, only none of them are eager to be the first one to take the second one: it’s always safer to go with the familiar than to try something new.

    I don’t know what you told this law student, P.G., but IMHO this would be a potentially rewarding time to practice literary law, & pressure the traditional publishing houses to change their ways. The first person who is successful at offering better terms to authors will be seen as a visionary & a genius to the rest of the industry — just as Henry Ford was seen as a visionary & genius for the idea of offering all his workers enough money so they could buy the products they built. This student could also fail at this, but the odds are better for her/him to succeed than for someone who starts writing a book will produce a best-seller.

    • As with many sweeping statements, this is an oversimplification yet with some truth to it: where the relationship between an author & a publisher should be more of a partnership, with traditional publishers it is more of a employee-employer relationship. And over the last generation, employers have been treating their employees less well; it’s not just between traditional publishers & authors.

      There is not, and has never been, an employer-employee relationship between publishers and authors, except in the specific case of staff writers retained on regular salary to contribute to work-for-hire projects.

      If you ‘work for’ a publisher, you get no hourly wage or monthly salary; you get paid by a variation of piecework — a price per project of their choosing, framed as an advance against royalties that will, in most cases, never be earned out — so that you are always technically in debt to the company. You are legally classified as an independent contractor, which means that you receive no benefits, no protections against termination, and are not even provided with a place to work. Your operating expenses are entirely your own concern and come out of your advance. Unless your work sells unusually well, or you work exceptionally quickly, it is highly probable that you will not earn minimum wage for the time you spend working. And if you have signed a typical publishing contract, you are subject to a blanket non-compete clause which forbids you to do similar work for anyone else in any jurisdiction, or even for yourself, without the publisher’s written permission; and this term may be written in such a way that it endures at the publisher’s pleasure, indefinitely, even after you have stopped working for the publisher and it has stopped publishing your work.

      To the best of my knowledge, none of these conditions are permitted in employment contracts under U.S. law — nor in any civilized country. Together, they amount to sheer exploitation of suckers; the only worse terms you will find on an industry-wide basis are in the music industry.

      To say that employment terms in other industries have got worse in recent years is a red herring. An actual employment contract that imposed terms comparable to the average publishing contract would be likely to run afoul of the Thirteenth Amendment.

      Concerning traditional publishers, I think they are faced with two (roughly speaking) choices here: either they can continue their current practices & go out of business (as their sales channels dry up & better-informed authors stop submitting publishable manuscripts to them), or they can improve their contracts & compete for those publishable manuscripts.

      What they are doing is just the opposite: making contracts even worse, and making them so long and complex that even trained IP lawyers have trouble locating and identifying the worst terms. When they can’t get writers to sign those contracts, they are, in many cases, simply claiming rights not contractually theirs, or pressuring agents to talk their clients into accepting changes to the existing contracts in the publisher’s favour. Major publishers are also getting involved in vanity-press scams at an alarming rate.

      The first person who is successful at offering better terms to authors will be seen as a visionary & a genius to the rest of the industry — just as Henry Ford was seen as a visionary & genius for the idea of offering all his workers enough money so they could buy the products they built.

      I can think of a better example from the auto industry: Preston Tucker. Tucker was a visionary, every bit as much as Ford; and his practices were such a threat to the established auto manufacturers that they combined to deny him access to parts and distribution, and ran him out of business. I say this because there have already been numerous publishers that offered better deals than the exploitive and steadily worsening contracts so often offered by the major New York publishers. These publishers have been pressured in many of the same ways Tucker was; in particular, the major publishers put heavy pressure on both distributors and bookshops not to carry their products. Until about the 1990s, they were largely successful in this. Since then, technology has lowered the barriers to entry until it became impossible for any oligopoly in the field to keep out new firms. But this hasn’t done any good for writers still inside the system and under contract.

      While I would not say that it is foolish for a writer to sign with a traditional publisher in all circumstances, it is foolish for a writer to sign a contract from the Big Countdown exactly as offered, or to rely on an agent to improve the terms. There is an old Armenian proverb that applies, with a single word changed. Here is the altered form: ‘After shaking hands with a publisher, count your fingers.’

  9. If this is spreading, I think it’s unfortunate. Authors shouldn’t divide themselves over things like this. Especially if we do want to exert some pressure over the publishing industry to change its author damaging practices.

    And especially since it’s NOT stupid to deal with traditional publishers. It is pretty stupid to continue to believe in all the myths of trad publishing and to go after agents and editors as if they’re God’s gift to writers. But you can certainly deal with traditional publishing while being smart about it. They still have some things to offer.

    And I just don’t see how calling anyone stupid is going to help anything at all.

    • I agree on all counts. :)

    • Sarah,

      I really want to clarify – There is a difference between calling someone stupid vs. saying that a particular choice is not intelligent.

      As for exerting pressure on the Industry, I believe the only thing that will work is if authors take their business elsewhere. Calm, rational discussions won’t do it.

      There is a very calm, rational discussion going on right now between agents and publishers. Agents are advocating for a higher e-book royalty rate, and it’s been going on for months.

      The result? Royalty rates are the same.

      I want authors to be united, but I want them to be united in a way that empowers them and stops them from being exploited.

      • How many agents are prepared to walk, though? I think it would be a mistake to compare a calm, rational discussion that doesn’t denigrate anyone involved with one what has no teeth.

        Honestly, I’m not sure how agents could win that conversation with publishers, because where else are they going to take their business?

        I think it’s important to remember that empowering authors means that they have more control over their own careers and have the freedom to make choices with regard to how they are published–even if we don’t agree with that opinion. The fact that they even have a viable choice at all is a huge step forward.

        • Danyelle,

          Right. That’s exactly my point. Calm rational discussion won’t do it. The only thing that will work is if the group negotiating with them has the option to walk.

          So, I agree with you that it’s excellent that authors have more options now. You’re right. That change alone is incredibly liberating.

          I respect and applaud my fellow writers, and want the best for them. I absolutely agree with you about empowerment.

          However, if I see an author making a choice that I believe is akin to plopping themselves down on the ground and repeatedly hitting themselves on the head with a hammer, I’m going to point out that there might be a better option.

          • It’s not the calm, rational discussion that’s the problem, it’s the fact that walking really isn’t an option, and everyone knows it.

            Oh, yes! I agree about pointing out better options, but the effectiveness is going to depend on a great many things, one of which is how the discussion is framed. I’m a fairly blunt person, but I take special care online because it is so easy to misinterpret tone and intent, not to mention some of the problems associated with being anonymous.

            But at the end of the day, some are simply determined to plop and only through experience will they be able to see those other options, if they’re willing to see them at all. And honestly, I’m more likely to listen to people who are trying to instruct me for my own good if I don’t feel like I have to be on the defensive. And that’s definitely how I would feel if someone informed me that the choice I made was stupid. I’ve had it happen on writing boards, particularly one that is generally supportive. They didn’t use the word stupid, instead they used phrases like “participation trophies.” As I’m feeling more confident about myself and my ability to publish my own work, those kinds of remarks matter less and less. But, having been on that side of the fence, while I will offer my opinion if moved to or asked, I do all in my power to *not* make someone feel horrible or stupid or ashamed of making the publishing choices they have. It’s their path, and not mine.

            • Danyelle – I hear you. So, I’m glad we talked about this – it’s good for different perspectives to be clearly represented. My sense was we agreed on alot, and, of course, disagreed on some other stuff – but ultimately, I felt like we were definitely on the same side.

              You gave me some food for thought – I appreciate it. And I hope we can come out of this debate still friendly. Like I said, I like what you have to say, and like your thoughts here at PGs. We don’t always have to agree – in fact it would be wierd if we did! :)

              • Definitely, I believe we’re on the same side, Mira. :D

                There’s no need to worry about friendly levels changing. :) I’ve long admired your thoughts both here and on Nathan’s blog, so no worries there. Something that drives me crazy is how many people seem to believe that we must all agree about everything to be friends. Disagreements make life more interesting, and they reflect that we all have different life experiences, perspectives, and expectations. It also means the Borg haven’t won yet. :p

                (I think the times when debates end unfriendly is when there is the need on one side or the other to *change* the other person’s opinion. Such debates usually have a distinct lack of respect, and I’ve never gotten that vibe from you, Mira. :D)

      • “I really want to clarify – There is a difference between calling someone stupid vs. saying that a particular choice is not intelligent.”

        Well, Mira, PG’s wording clearly falls under the first. Not that he’s calling people stupid, but he’s saying that’s what the meme is doing. And if that’s the case, then it’s not going to help anyone.

        • Sarah, I hear you. If people go around calling other people stupid, it’s not likely to be very helpful.

          But I will add that PG’s wording is an interpretation of a meme – which I had to look up on Google, because I clearly need education – so I get the sense, it’s not so much people will go around saying it. It’s more the community as a whole will just start to realize it. It will dawn on people.

          That’s the sense I get anyway.

  10. Does anyone know the royalty/advance rate the top names get? That would be an important factor in considering stupidity.

    • There are fewer unchangeable standard terms for the top 1%. The size of the advance is usually the main thing because many of these contracts never earn out the advance.

    • I believe Stephen King’s contracts run for only 10 years and then need to be renegotiated. And I know other bestsellers who have all kinds of ‘elevator’ clauses in their contracts, giving them better royalties the more they sell.

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