In the face of industry changes, many authors are being left out in the cold. The trend of e-book publishers falling to the wayside can be varied, but none of this matters to a writer who has worked so hard to get their labor of love out to a willing public. Publishers discounted the growth of the E-book markets, and they were forced to contend with digital piracy on a grand scale, as well as those lost shares to the secondhand online portals, which seemed to occur practically overnight.
And sadly, it seemed that everyone was affected in the same crushing manner.
Probably the hardest hit were niche publishers—MM Romance and LGBT science fiction and fantasy publishers in the indie markets, where most of this was already sparse and fragile even before the collapse. As many of you know All Romance eBooks recently announced they were closing their doors; with little fanfare and not much notice to the litany of angered authors who were forced to get their books back into the mainstream and to supplement readers who recently purchased their books from ARe. Add to that, that recently the E-book subscription service Oyster announced their closure as well…so, who are we left to blame now?
Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins and many other big name houses had previously turned to subscription streaming services like Oyster or Scribd as ways to generate new revenue. But, like a prize fighter attacking a bigger opponent in the ring, they were all but destroyed by the bigger and more impressive Kindle Unlimited Program which is offered by Amazon. Bestselling novelist Jonathan Franzen went as far as to issue a scathing broadside against Jeff Bezos of Amazon in The Guardian, outwardly flaunting the use of their aggressive business practices. He claimed that although Bezos may not actually be the antichrist, he surely looked like one of the four horsemen to him. He went on further to say that Amazon seems to want only self-published books or books published through them. And in such a fluid industry as mainstream literature, they may just yet attain that dark goal.
Add to this, when small niche houses simply forget their ethics…forget the common rules of business, and then casually announce that they are closing their doors due to shrinking margins of profitability. This, of course, being after they’d successfully collected royalties for months, and sometimes for years, that would turn into a fight; and an unending financial quagmire for the angry authors and publishers alike.
Personally, I can only speak from my own experience. And I know there are fine publishers out there, those who go above and beyond the call to keep their stable of writers happy, who promote and encourage, who work diligently to keep the industry from evaporating under the weight of new technologies and soulless scammers of the honest and forthright.
But we’ve all heard the horror stories, have we not?
So what’s a starving writer supposed to do, you ask? Well, for one, we all need to share our knowledge a little better than we do currently. We need to lift and support our brothers and our sisters, especially those who have just penned their debut novels, spilling their tears and blood on the white screens of their monitors, and sitting aimless as to where to go next. And, there are places we can go to this: chat rooms on the internet, roundtable discussions at your local library, even over a cup of coffee with someone who has been there already, someone who has taken the steps that you’re about to embark upon.
If self-publication is your route of passage, then offer yourself as a beta reader for a good friend. I’ve found this article helpful in understanding beta etiquette
If they are signing with a small house, encourage them to research the company, its principals as well as the editors who work there. Yes, even I’ve released a debut novel that carried one absolutely glaring misspelled word sitting stingingly noticeable on the cover, right below the title and my name. And no one in their offices ever even caught that mistake. Writing it off to a sad, drunken and ineffectual editor, I tried to move forward, quickly dropping myself from the company and beginning a search for a publisher with a better reputation. However, when that company closed their doors without warning, I was once again forced to scramble to get my books back out there, as so many of us have had to do recently. Now, I will admit writing is not always an easy endeavor, and the promise of fame and fortune is rarely a tangible thing for the majority of us…but you have to write anyway. Write for yourself, then cross your fingers and try to dine on the hopes that your book will be a success somewhere, or at least one person out there will smile as they close the cover, nodding to themselves in that satisfied way that says, “Damn that was one Helluva good story!”
Lastly, I might suggest that if you do find a publisher you like, someone who proves they are not only reputable but a company that pays on a timely basis, and folks who love what you do and want only the best for you, then announce that to the world. There’s been far too much written about company closures, publishing principals, embezzling profits from an author’s hard works, and pirated companies popping up around every shadowed corner. We all need a little good news right about now, don’t you agree? We also need to hold those honest companies up as a reflection of what to attain, too…to that higher standard we currently are placing on their corrupt counterparts who are stealing nothing but space on our social media timelines.
About the Author
Rodd Clark is a writer of M/M Romances with a twist. His recent release Ash and Cinders is out now in paperback and E-book and is the third in the critically acclaimed Gabriel Church Tales series of books. He is finishing up a mainstream thriller at the moment titled Tigers on the Sudan and hopes to have it released soon. He writes surrounded by his multitude of cats and two elderly dogs in Dallas Texas. If you wish to contact him you may check him out on Amazon, or his website or social media such as Facebook.