C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

#Giller Prizewinner gets screwed: UPDATED

Scotiabank Giller Prize

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s the story from The Globe & Mail.

UPDATE: Gaspereau worked out a deal with one of my old publishers, Douglas & McIntyre.

And here’s my furious take:

Johanna Skibsrud won the Giller Prize and her publisher is holding her back. People pay attention to book prizes and make Christmas gift decisions based on that information. For any publisher and author, the Giller is an opportunity to sell more books and make more money for the author and for the publisher. Obvious stuff.

So, in the name of integrity, a small press that can’t handle a larger production run, isn’t working to put out more books to meet the demand. Are they trying to create more demand and get more publicity by enforcing scarcity? Maybe, although if that’s true, it won’t work.

First, it sends a message to your author and any future authors that they are expendable.

Second, if people can’t get the winning book, they won’t wait. They’ll just buy something else. There are plenty of books on the shelf.

Third, there’s Bobby Mcferrin. When Don’t Worry, Be Happy hit it big, it was a huge surprise and the record company only had 5,000 records out there. They worked furiously to get the record into store while it was still hot. Bobby did okay in the long ruin because that song went huge, but he still lost a truckload of money because of the long logistical lag in production. 

The publisher is “mulling.” And losing time and sales. Authors are paid pennies an hour as it is! How galling it must be to Skibsrud that her publisher isn’t capitalizing on the opportunity The Sentimentalists won. (And will this small press be her publisher next time? Doubtful.)

So far two large publishers have stepped up to help out the small Nova Scotian press. Instead, Gaspereau Press is worrying about the look of their medium. How quaint. And how utterly stodgy and old world in its thinking. No, the medium is not the message. The book is words on the page or words on a screen.

If they want to be a successful press that survives, they need to get the product out there before the market fades away. Successful books fund a list of less successful books (and the outright dogs, too.) Gaspereau prides itself on the look and feel of their books. Okay. If they want to be around long enough to make more precious books—birthing and blessing each one individually apparently—they need to step up for their author and for their own future. The story has it right. They have to decide whether they are printers or publishers.

If you’re thinking of submitting a manuscript to a small press, go ahead. They aren’t all this obtuse. After reading the Globe story, would you submit your baby to Gaspereau Press?

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Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, , , ,

#Publishing Links: Bad News for Publishers

harry potter quote

I attended a writers’ conference where a keynote speaker criticized a former publisher. The publisher was small, and Canadian, and there had been a dispute over the author’s electronic rights (though the publisher wasn’t selling any digital versions of the author’s work anyway.) That’s when things got ugly. “Small publishers aren’t interested in selling books. They make their money with government grants.” He walked back from that statement and mentioned several small presses he revered, but he had reason for his venom. He bought the rights back at great expense so he could use them properly.

It is true that if you’re a small Canadian publisher, you’re eligible for grants. The big publishers have some margin for error in their budgets. The mid-sized publishers are walking a financial tightrope. That’s the general point of a recent Globe & Mail article on the dangers waters publishers sail. It’s worth reading when you’re trying to choose whom you should send your precious manuscript.

In other news, if you check yesterday’s comments, you’ll see Sue Kenney, author of My Camino, stopped by for a comment about how she wrote fast to fit her publisher’s schedule. (Thanks for commenting , Sue! Check out her site and her wonderful story at www.suekenney.ca.) I mentioned in my reply how many traditional publishers are losing book sales because they don’t have the electronic version available and people are looking for those titles. When you don’t find the titles you want, you buy a book that is available for your iPad.

How do I know this? Because I’ve visited this link: Lost Book Sales | Every day an author and a publisher lose a sale. These are the stories why.‏ Publishers? If you haven’t embarked on your e-book program yet, you don’t have much time left to make the switch before you are irrelevant. (Yes, JK Rowling is the exception. She’s refusing to allow Harry Potter to go digital. Good for her. However, her amazing success is atypical in the industry and shouldn’t be the basis for sales decisions about the rest of the market.)

As if that weren’t enough to make a publisher knock out a window and crawl out on a ledge, I ran across this post on the wave of piracy that’s coming to my favorite industry: Your time is up, publishers. Book piracy is about to arrive on a massive scale – Telegraph Blogs – The BFF‏.

Don’t worry though, friends!

This isn’t a wake.

It’s just a call to make the choice to adapt.

It’s a hope the industry is willing to change.

Happy Tuesday! I’m off to NanoWriMo.

Filed under: links, Media, publishing, self-publishing, , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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