anghara (anghara) wrote,

And the dance goes on.

You may have already heard all about it from other sources - the giants are fighting in the playground again, and everyone else is scrambling to get out of the way and hoping they don't get trampled in the process. You can learn more abou it from various blog posts by other authors, affected by the whole kerfuffle - Stephanie Burgess has wept over it, Di Francis has links, Laura Anne Gilman has a summary and comments, and there are more out there, and there will be even more - but let me put it it in a nutshell for you, in a grand old saying which has never seemed more apropos than when applied to the publishing world: "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" (apologies about the required accents, Francophones, don't know how to do them in LJ...)

Or, in plain English, the more things change the more they stay the same.

The basic bedrock on which the publishing industry rests - what is it, do you think? The publishers? The booksellers?...


Without the writers, there are no stories. WIthout the stories, there is no raw material. Nothing left to publish. Nothing to see here, folks, just sit back and watch the tumbleweeds. But the people whose jobs involve getting those stories to those who wish to enjoy them are quite simply taking an unholy advantage in the fact that they think there will always be more patsies... er, new writers... waiting in the wings to take over if anyone they already have in hand falls by the wayside, so it's perfectly fine when those people DO fall, usually through no fault fo their own but through a lack of support in terms of marketing and publicity (mention publicity to any mid-lister, and be prepared for the howls that follow...) and distribution.

Yes, it is true that there are other writers always waiting. But people, people, people, WRITERS ARE NOT FUNGIBLE. We are not widgets. If you don't get story-widget produced by writer A that is NOT directly solvable by simply slotting in story-widget by writer B - even if they tell the exact self-same story they will inevitably tell in in different wise and make it their own story - and if you WANT writer A you will never be satisfied by writer B's take on it. Period. And yet, you cannot go buy writer A's books and support writer A's career... if you cannot find their books. And out of sight of out of mind, who goes to a bookstore to ASK FOR A SPECIFIC BOOK IF IT ISN"T THERE, very few people will go hunting for a specific story or a specific author if they have to ask for it and then wait for it, and browsing is increasingly limited to bestsellers - which then remain bestsellers because they are the only thing available and therefore the only thing that sells and tehrefore their sales numbers grow exponentially while that OTHER book - maybe just as good, maybe better, but not by a name you recognise on sight - vanishes like the Boojum Snark. Because nobody knew about it. Nobody bought it. Nobody looked for it because they didn't know it was there to be looked for. And if it's a second or third book in a series and it vanishes from the radar, just how well do you think the previous books in that series are going to do, and how long they are going to last?...

Look, I know we can't all be bestsellers. I understand that completely. I just don't think that the industry which is supposed to be taking care of this business knows that. Because they seem to be stuck in a world where there is a single switch - EITHER you are an instant bestseller OR you're out, over there on the slag heap please, now, and would the next person who MIGHT be the next big thing step right up to the guillotine, please?

It's been said before, but it's worth repeating. In this current day, in the current climate, a writer sells books if that writer's readers talk about those books. If there is no talk, the writer dies, the stories die, no matter how hale and hearty the publishing INDUSTRY is the unique components on which it is built are fragile and can vanish without trace. Very easily. Very fast. I've known perfectly wonderful writers whose contracts have been cancelled practically on signing because the previous book didn't sell up to expectations (no matter what the circumstances were - like, for instance, the inevitable drop in sales via B&N because they are simply not ordering the relevant books and therefore will not be selling same because THEY WON'T HAVE STOCK - go read Stephanie Burgress's blog again, and weep.)

Readers, I am talking to you. If the writers are the bedrock of this industry, only you can provide the necessary support for them - they cannot rely on the industry whose only motive, these days, seems to be squabbling about how much money THEY can make off of the books that they handle. Readers, I am talking to you.

IF YOU LIKE IT, SHOUT ABOUT IT. Talk about it. Love a book? Buy a copy for a friend who may not have read it. Or get the friend to buy it for themselves. Play games - get a friend to promise to buy a copy and to get another friend to buy a copy and THAT friend gets to get a friend to buy a copy, and... things snowball from there. But it starts with a single person, a single voice, a single reader who loved a story. IF YOU LIKE IT, SHOUT ABOUT IT. Have you posted a review of your favourite book by your favourite author? (somewhere - anywhere - Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, your blog, SOMEWHERE, just DO IT...) How many of your friends know about a particular author because of you? How many have become fellow fans, because of you? How many of their friends?

START AN AVALANCHE. Start one now. Tell people about the fact that the last book in a trilogy has been dynamited by a publishing industry squabble, and then go out and find Stephanie's books. Go out and find a few of mine. Go pick your own favourite and spread the word. Just spread the word. Talk about us all behind our backs. The writers of this world will be grateful for it.

If you are a reader who loves a partciular writer's work, in this day and age more than ever it is up to you to make sure that writer gets to keep writing. Go tell it on the mountain.
Tags: publishing, rant.

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