Carolyn Chides NBC for Incomplete
Research on Publishing
An Open Letter to WNBC’s Asa Aarons:
article may have served the purpose of warning some authors of bumpy
trails ahead and that you used Jenna Glatzer as a resource was very
smart for she is a professional and has the interest of authors
at heart. Trouble is,WNBC picked on the wrong company to diss or
maybe even the wrong entity.
America is a traditional publisher (Using a Print on Demand Press
does not make them fly-by-night any more than using that kind of
a press makes big-name publisher into shysters.) Books should not
be judged by their covers and publishers should not be judged by
the kind of press they use. PA is a traditional publisher because
authors pay nothing to the company for pubbing their work. In fact,
authors are given advances just like the big traditional publishers--albeit
smaller ones. Further, even traditional publishers do little or
nothing to promote so, in some ways, they, too "take advantage"
of poor authors who go into a contract with expectations that will
never be met.
both PA and traditional publishers OWN the manuscript, once the
contract is signed--something many who prefer subsidy or self publishing
consider anathema but if a business finances something, they expect
something in return. In the case of both PA and traditional publishing
houses, it is the rights or ownership of the manuscript they have
purchased. If authors want to retain those rights, they shouldn't
"sell" them to PA or any other traditional publisher for
that matter. That’s what an “advance” is. Money
taken in exchange for a product--in this case a manuscript. A business
expects to make money; even some charitable organizations in the
US pocket more money than they care to admit.
often complain that PA sells their books back to the authors. So
do traditional publishers. PA gives much higher discounts to authors
when they buy in bulk than is often reported--as high as 55%. Layered
discounting is a time-honored practice in a capitalistic society
such as ours--businesses can and do give better prices to those
who market so well that they can buy in greater quantities (witness
the practices of the companies who sell to Penny's and Wal-Mart).
Glatzer is absolutely right (pun intended for she is the editor
of absolutewrite.com). Both kinds of publishers "take advantage"
of authors. They couldn't do it, however, if authors didn't enter
into these contracts without doing their homework. Whether signing
a contract for a car or a publisher, buyer beware. We must know:
a. What we
b. What we're buying.
also helps to know only a little about economics starting with,
"there is no free lunch."
much has been written about Publish America by authors distraught
over their choices that these reports have become urban legend.
It seems that a news agency as trusted as NBC would check their
facts before singling out a business that may not be as ill-conceived
as it is ill-understood.
Back to the
readers of this column:
you are an author looking to be published, buy some books. You’ll
want others to buy yours once you’re published and you will
find you are in a better position to make a decision you can live
with if you know something of the publishing world before you take
Here are some
suggestions for learning more:
Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn and Tom Ross
Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson (Yes, that’s my book--the winner
of USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book 2004”)
- Go to a
reputable writers’ conference like San Diego State University’s
Writers’ Conference or UCLA’s Writers’ Studio.
I can vouch for these because I have participated in both.
- Take classes,
online or bricks and mortar, at equally reputable colleges or
believe what you read on the web until you’ve done your
own in-depth research.
Each month in this box, Carolyn lists
a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a
tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books
or a sapphire among the newly-published.
demand for my the Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What
your Publisher Won't has been so great I started a free
newsletter called “Sharing with Writers” that
will continue to feed tips and resources on book promotion
and writing to authors long after they’ve read Frugal.
Send an e-mail to HoJoNews@aol.com
with “subscribe” in the subject line
Tip: Newsweek called Leora G. Krygier’s
new novel “poignant.” When She Sleeps
(published by Toby Press) is a story about sisters who dream
each other’s dreams. It is about love, language and
the human condition. Oh, by the way, Krygier’s first
book, First the Raven, was published by Publish America
and is an example that this publisher has found some very
fine literary authors indeed.
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