Sunday, December 02, 2012

Crying Wolf

A colleague of mine recently sent me a link to a NY Times article about how the publishing world is so pissed off at Amazon because they supposedly stack the deck against—who else?—publishers. Oh my, I almost wept when I read how abused and put upon we all are.
But I only wept a second. Well, maybe it was a microsecond. Whatever.

The reason I didn’t weep too long is because I really, really know that the deck is NOT stacked against anyone who isn’t a huge foreign-owned, multi-national publishing entity. Let me explain what I mean when I say huge. Huge is those publishers like Random House, owned by German media empire Bertelsmann A.G., along with Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, which owns Henry Holt, St. Martin's Press, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. They have little room to call Amazon names as they have hogged book markets for years, churning out crap and making superstars out of half-assed authors. My definition of crap would be anything they call a hit. Readers know those to whom I refer.
During the times of Twilight, that sweet romance about supposed youth finding themselves, adults where exploring romances with a little sex (and sometimes a lot of sex) mixed in, which, by the way, is much more interesting and enlightening for adults than reading about fear of having sex because your mate might kill you.

Romances of the extremely spicy type were, and still are, sold by very small, American-owned, online houses. These small houses have also become the launching pad for many new authors who had more to offer than what was, and still is, coming out of New York. I’m not advocating those novels in which there is sex and little else. What I’m referring to are those books that are very well written and have adult content mixed in.

The e-book has always been the true realm of erotica and erotic romance. Finally the majors have discovered that these types of stories sell, though it took the publication of 50 Shades of Grey, a tome that pales in comparison to what readers of e-books have been enjoying for years. So in this respect, major publishing is a little late to the game. In the past, the reads that brought e-books to the forefront of publishing were works the majors considered contemptible at best and beneath their dignity to produce.

Then, five or so years ago, the beginning of something awful happened to major publishing houses.

OMG. Almost immediately large publishers could see their demise written on their prestigious penthouse office walls. By listening closely, one could hear actual whispers of their whimpering and quavering followed by mass firings, reorganizations and cutting backs, all because of one lil’ ol’ e-book reader.  

Distribution, controlled for years by them, was all lost in a matter of weeks. Why? Because e-book publication cost almost nothing compared to print, and worst of all, Amazon opened its arms to that pond scum that large publishers’ agents had turned down for years. They had tried to keep out the unclean and now they had to compete with them—“Oh no! I see the end of publishing as we knew it. We’ve lost control,” was the cry heard up and down Midtown Manhattan. “That damned Amazon has figured a way around our dominance of our, I repeat, OUR industry. How dare they allow this to happen?”

When that bugger Amazon opened its doors wide to any everyone who could  type two lines into their word processor, it also allowed small guys like us to gain a leg up on them, too. The archaic, brick and mortar distribution protective walls came crashing down. There are no gatekeepers. For the first time ever, small publishers and single title authors can compete on equal footing with the big boys. It’s readers who now choose what is readable instead of someone else doing it for them. A new day has arrived and now big publishers are saying that Amazon has stacked the deck against them. So no, I don’t weep for them. Actually, I have a hard time each morning wiping the grin off my face, especially when I’m processing royalty payments. Competition’s a bitch, isn’t it?

Come visit us at  We’re always looking for writers we can cultivate and partner with in the publishing game. It’s a new era, and an exciting time for all of us.