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Scott Turow And The Politics of Cowardice

11 April 2013

From Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath on A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing:

Barry: There are a lot of substantively interesting aspects of “Authors Guild” president Scott Turow’s April 7 New York Times op-ed, “The Slow Death of the American Author.”

. . . .

Ask yourself, in fact, whether Turow’s latest cri de coeur might more accurately have been called, “The Slow Death of Legacy Publishing.”

In fairness, in misleading readers right from the title, Turow is doing no more than following the lead of the organization he represents, which given its consistent advocacy for the interests of legacy publishing has no business pretending it fundamentally concerns itself with what might be best for authors.

. . . .

Once upon a time, technology was such that the Great Guardians of Rich Culture and All That Is Good (AKA, the Establishment) could pontificate to the unwashed masses and there was no effective way for the masses to respond. In those days, anyone with access to a platform like, say, the New York Times had tremendous asymmetrical communication power. It’s hard to argue that this kind of one-way communication was a good thing — unless you believe that a lack of accountability, a lack of peer-review, and a lack of diverse pressure-checking is good for society.

Obviously, the Internet has in many ways leveled the communications playing field, and now, when the high and mighty speak down to the masses, the masses can — and do — respond. What’s fascinating is watching the reaction of people like Scott Turow, who act as though we’re still living in a world where two-way communication isn’t a real possibility and the masses can be safely ignored.

. . . .

Joe sez:

. . . .

1. The vast majority of authors have gotten screwed by legacy publishing. The legacy system has treated authors like you well, but most of us have been taken advantage of. This includes most of the members of the Guild you represent. Listen to their stories of rejection, poor royalties, broken promises, unconscionable contracts, rights grabs, terrible covers, orphaned books, undereported sales, shrinking advances, and how the legacy system you endorse is treating them worse than ever.

. . . .

Also, while I certainly understand and respect rushing to the defense of those who have done you a solid (in this case, the publishing industry that helped you earn a lot of money), that should be your agenda as Scott Turow NYT Bestselling Author, not Scott Turow President of the Authors Guild.

The Guild purportedly exists to help authors. For over a year, I’ve seen you do the opposite, spreading BS that hurts those very authors you and the Guild are supposed to

Link to the rest at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing

Big Publishing, Joe Konrath

10 Comments to “Scott Turow And The Politics of Cowardice”

  1. Cowardice? That’s a nice word for it. 🙂

  2. So that’s what an online kneecapping looks like…

  3. This makes Scott Turow sound like an ambulance chaser type lawyer.

    in misleading readers right from the title

    Imagine, if you will, a courtroom, the judge in front, the jury to the side, an armed bailiff standing watch. Scott Turow stands, shoots his cuffs and begins
    “misleading the jurors right from his opening statement…”

    • Not throwing stones at lawyers (luv ya PG) but I was always under the impression a good defense lawyer does exactly this. Especially when they know they have a losing case.

      • Funny tangential story: In my first mock trial, my opponent objected to my opening sentence. Granted, had I continued on the apparent path it was setting, my statement would have been improper. That was not my plan, but to be honest the guy was a friend of mine and I think he was a little bit scared of me. When he thought he had a gotcha, he pounced.

        The judge sustained (Incorrectly, in my opinion, but of course I would say that wouldn’t I?) the objection, so rather than rephrase it, I looked at the jury, rolled my eyes, and said, “My apologies, ladies and gentlemen. Let us proceed.”

        I had them eating out of my hand after that and he came across as an uptight priss. He never recovered their sympathy and out of 12 trials with identical facts, we were one of the two defendant’s teams that won. 🙂

  4. You know, one good thing has come out of Scott Turow doing what he’s doing, and that is a growing number of people who are emboldened to call him (and people like him) out on it. It’s kind of like an unofficial, fee-less union composed of pretty intelligent people. As those numbers continue to grow, maybe some real, positive change can eventually take place.

    Plus, it’s just fun to rage sometimes. 😀

    • What was good about this time is that it wasn’t just self-publishers calling him out and there were also articles in places like Forbes and PaidContent (as well as that great piece in TechDirt).

  5. I can’t help but chuckle and join in of course. Not to take anything away from the betrayal and the…questionable ethics, it also demonstrates how Turow’s wailing and gnashing of teeth inspired many to respond in several ways, some more melodramatic than others.

    (Apologies, I mucked up my linkage – how embarrassing)


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