Publishing And Misplaced Punishment

Why was I up at 6am this morning? Oh, yeah. Getting the morning run out of the way so I can hit an early open climb at the rock wall. Yes, I am going to be attempting my first open climb. I hope nobody laughs at me and I hope I don’t embarrass myself. It’s bad enough that I’m going to be wearing capris. LOOK, I HAVE TO, ALL RIGHT? They allow freedom of movement and don’t interfere with my foot and toeholds the way jeans or my yoga pants do.


John Scalzi, as usual, hits it out of the park with Why “Punishing The Publisher” Usually Doesn’t:

So, on one hand, the attempt on the part of the potential reader to send a message to the publisher via the refusal to buy a particular work has succeeded. On the other hand, the message the publisher has received is “this author can’t sell.” To be fair, this has more to do with the publisher than with the reader. But that doesn’t change the result for the author. (John Scalzi)

YES. *points at Scalzi* What he said.

I wish I could make some people–including some people who have recently tried to take me to task and explain to me “how publishing REALLY works”–read this. Of course, it probably wouldn’t do a lot of good, for the simple reason that a lot of people who try to tell me “how publishing REALLY works” have no fricking idea; they have an emotional hobbyhorse to ride and it involves blaming Big Bad Publishing (which, like most straw men, doesn’t really exist) for their various ills in one way or another. I’d be a lot more likely to believe them and listen if they had, oh let’s say, any real publishing experience. And no, vanity press or one self-published missive full of typos does not count as experience that qualifies someone to be nasty or condescending to me about publishing.

But I digress. Moving on.

Scalzi highlights something I wish more people understood, and I know plenty of authors try to educate their readers about: that the publisher is generally consistently trying the best they can, but they are also hedging their bets. When bets are hedged and a reader decides to “punish” a publisher by not buying a certain author (especially when this “punishment” is aimed at something like a distribution problem that is not the publisher’s fault), what happens is that the author gets screwed. Which means that the reader has shot him/herself in the foot, because it’s now harder for the author to bring you those stories you love.

I’m not saying that readers shouldn’t be angry. What I’m saying is that readers need to direct that anger at the companies that are actually to blame–companies like Amazon, or distributors of ebooks who don’t like the agency model. Those are the institutions that deserve a reader’s ire in the current brouhaha over ebook pricing. Not the author, who ends up getting the full force of the misplaced “punishment”.

If you will, allow me to suggest to you another course of action in situations like these: Rather than “punishing the publisher” by not buying a particular book you would otherwise buy, support the author by purchasing the book. Why? Because the support you give an author allows that author to have a better bargaining position with the publisher the next time the two of them negotiate a contract, and you know what? Generally speaking, authors like being able to make potential readers happy, and thanks to that there thing called “the Internets,” authors are often aware of the wishes and desires of their readers and will try to make them happy whenever possible. (John Scalzi)

I know I do, dear Readers. Every other writer I know does, too. We want to make you happy. We like you.

Over and out.

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