Monday, August 18, 2014

The Amazon/Hachette Battle Continues into the Realm of Ideas

The Dread Pirate Roberts, it seems, has indeed come for our souls.

The Orwell kerfuffle aside, the battle between Hachette and Amazon is boiling down to ideas.
First, Amazon’s, as presented by Russell Grandinetti in an article from The Guardian:

Amazon claims its power in the market is exaggerated and publishers, ever on the lookout for a good storyline, are in love with a plot that ends with their own demise. "It's always the end of the world," Grandinetti says. "You could set your watch on it arriving." But, he adds, the publishing industry is going through a dramatic shift. "The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity."

Next, the viewpoint of 900 authors who feel their livelihood is harmed by Amazon’s position in the battle – a position they say is nothing more than Amazon pushing publishers out of the writer/reader picture not to the benefit of either, but so they can supplant the publisher in the picture (also from The Guardian):

As writers – most of us not published by Hachette – we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want. It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation.

I’m on the fence on the issue, as I’ve written before. In a battle of behemoths, it’s the little guy who gets squashed no matter who wins, and no matter what the rhetoric on either side is. As an unpublished author competing with many, many other unpublished and published authors, it’s easy to fall into Amazon’s camp as a way to get past the gatekeepers at traditional publishers. And yet it’s those gatekeepers – editors and marketers and others – who could help an unpublished author hone his or her craft and turn what could be a good book into a great one. Free marketing aside, there’s something to be said for not sniffing at the expertise traditional publishers can offer new writers.

If they can get in the door, that is.

So it begs the question: What am I doing with Doleful Creatures?

I finally have a beta reader who’s working through the book. And I’ve given it at least one cold assessment since I finished the fourth revision.

Hopefully, I’ll have a dog in this Amazon/Hachette battle before too long . . .

And here’s the bigger question: Is there a beast slouching toward Bethlehem that’ll supplant traditional publishers outside of Amazon’s coily embrace?

There’s a new wave of services, ranging from freelance editors to things like this, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting would-be author/publisher.

For the mere cost of $35, have your EPUB tested to see if it’ll meet the quality checks set forth by ebook publishers. And – bargain price – have 500 books tested at only $10 a pop. Buy in bulk to save.

Or learn how to do it for free by yourself, you know, to eliminate that new snake oil middleman.

Sounds like the purveyor of ISBNs, doling them out as if they were a scarce commodity, not a mere series of numbers generated in miliseconds by computers. These are hand-crafted ISBNs, people. Accept no substitutes. Because there aren’t any.

Some gatekeepers are disappearing, while others rush to fill that gap where many an author will know, as de the shubs and zuuls, what it is like to roast in the depths of a sloar.

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