From Thought Catalog:
Everything is changing amazingly fast for writers. Procedure; publishing patterns; “best practices” that won’t be best in 10 more minutes; broken rules; and lady-or-tiger options—say the secret word and you either get kissed by an online promotion or eaten alive by an algorithm.
It’s one of the reasons that authors spend so much time reading each other’s blog posts. They’re searching for answers no one has. Never has so much wisdom been offered to so many by so many others who knew so little more than the first many. (And thank God Churchill didn’t live to read that mess.)
It’s almost preposterous how many writers are writing books about how to write a book—the #bookbooks, I call them. Is it a bit cannibalistic, writing these things to sell to your fellow writers? Yes, it is. We had enough #bookbooks ten years ago. They’re all here, thank you. “Why do all the ladies of my parish bake cupcakes once a month and sell them to each other?” asks Rev. March in John Updike’s The Centaur. Maybe because it’s easier to sell to each other than to strangers. And maybe it’s more comfortable to sell books to other writers than to readers?
. . . .
The idea is that as an author, you are neither all-self-publishing nor all-traditionally publishing. You are both. You’re a “hybrid.” Case-by-case basis. If your agent turns up his nose at your latest masterpiece, you just publish it yourself. So there. But if your agent likes it and can sell it to a publisher, then that’s great: all those “author services” (editing, cover and interior design, formatting, and no marketing) are done for you by the publishing house.
Authors have learned to make sure their traditional contracts allow them to moonlight in this way.
. . . .
The hybrid=good formula has looked so stable that it may come as an unsettling surprise to some that North Carolina cozy queen Elizabeth Spann Craig now is questioning how the hybrid birdbath looks in her own backyard.
In Must a Writer Go Hybrid for a Higher Income?, she writes:
Maybe my main point is that you don’t have to remain a hybrid writer. You could start out as a hybrid author, soak up all the knowledge you can, and then self-publish afterward.
Uh-oh. What new heresy is this? Actually, it’s considerably well thought-out stuff and has drawn some 50 comments to Craig’s blog (“Mystery Writing is Murder”), which is well-read but not always so heavily yakked up.
. . . .
Somewhere in an office in Manhattan, coffee just paused on its way across the desk. An “I Heart Books” mug is being set back down.
I feel that the benefits that I’ve received are winding down. I’ve gotten a great education from my talented editors.
Craig has written a Dear John letter.
And if anything can make the publishing establishment listen up, it might well be this: a highly successful, dependable, cozy-writing champ near the line between North and South Carolina announcing that she’s had just about all she needs, y’all, from the industry! the industry!
Dean & DeLuca coffee is cooling fast as Craig goes on:
I’ve received exposure in physical bookstores and libraries and an introduction to a dedicated reader base. I hate to sound like I just want to take my ball and go home, but that’s likely the ultimate direction I’m heading in.
Coffee now? Ice-cold:
Mainly, now…I feel as if my self-publishing production is slowed down because of traditional publishing. I wince as I say that, but it’s the truth.
Link to the rest at Thought Catalog and thanks to Randall for the tip.
PG says the article points out an uncomfortable myth Big Publishing has sold itself about hybrid authors. They’ve regarded it as the literary equivalent of an open marriage. Sure, an author will go for a weekend fling with self-publishing, but, after a little playtime with Amazon, will return to the welcoming bosom of tradpub.
PG warns that the tradpub contracts can be more of a problem than the article implies if the author isn’t careful, but Elizabeth Craig is far from the only author coming to this conclusion. People who are selling very nicely for tradpub are coming to the conclusion that there are diminishing returns to staying there.
Reputation built? Check. Faithful readers in place? Check. Library patrons can find some of your books? Check. Nothing new that Big Publishing can offer? Check. Want to permanently trade ebook royalties of less than 15% of selling price for royalties of just under 70% of selling price? Check.
First known pattern of authors exploiting big publishers instead of the other way around? Check.
Somebody will think PG messed up his royalty numbers. After all, it says in all Big Publishing contracts that the author will receive a 25% ebook royalty. Knowing PG quit taking math classes after advanced algebra, a numerical error might not be a bad assumption, but he’s not wrong in this case.
When an indie author deals with Amazon, he/she receives 70% of the ebook selling price (less delivery charges). When a tradpub author deals with a publisher, he/she receives 25% of what the publisher receives from Amazon, not 25% of the ebook selling price.
Here are the numbers, assuming the publisher is selling the ebook for a 70% royalty from Amazon (not always a good assumption):
|Amount received by Publisher||$6.99|
|Author’s gross royalty %||25%|
|Gross royalty to Author||$1.75|
|Author’s royalty received||$1.49|
|Author’s net royalty %||14.88%|
PG hasn’t included Amazon’s delivery charges, assuming they’re likely to be pretty much the same for tradpub and selfpub.