Okay, okay, the title is a little harsh. And clickbaity. I apologize for that. And this isn’t even written as a letter, either. So I apologize for that, too.
The truth is, I don’t hate traditional publishing. I think it’s just fine, albeit fraught with its own set of problems. It’s kind of like Marvel movies. Some people prefer to watch Marvel movies over anything else. Some people think Marvel movies are a dark pinnacle of corporate greed. But most people don’t think about it either way.
Most people aren’t authors, though. Most people haven’t looked into the processes of self-publishing and traditional publishing as a means to get their stories to the masses.
But honey, I have. And I have some things to say about traditional publishing. You guys are great, but you’ve gone a very long time without feeling any real sense of accountability for the things below, and eventually, it will come back to get you. I’m just saying.
Problem 1: It takes too long
The traditional publishing process takes way too long because there are way too many hoops to jump through. First, you have to find an agent. That can take months or years. Second, that agent finds a publisher. Again, that can take months or years. Third, go through the process of editing your manuscript and prepping it for publication. This can also take years.
An author like me could have self-published a series and built an audience in the same time that it takes one measly book to hit shelves through you guys. There are too many gatekeepers to your fortress.
Problem 2: “We know what sells”
Do you, though? Do you?
Harry Potter was turned down by fourteen publishers before it found a home in a small imprint of Scholastic. Frank Herbert went to twenty different publishers before he found someone to accept Dune, then it won a Hugo, a Nebula, and become one of the most influential novels of the 20th century.
The truth is, most of your books don’t “sell.” We know that because most authors don’t make any money past their advance. You print a bunch of books, kick them out to bookstores, and whatever sticks… sticks. You’re shooting in the dark every time you bring on new talent, because when it comes down to it, you only have a vague idea of what actually “sells.”
Problem 3: eBook prices
This is where you guys are straight up robbing people. Why on earth would you ever think of pricing an eBook for ten dollars or more?
There aren’t any costs for printing, distribution, formatting, or inventory. It’s just the front cover and the interior of the book, which sits on a server somewhere until someone clicks a Buy button and downloads the 1MB worth of content directly to their phone. Charging more than a mass market paperback for the same content is unreasonable.
The price for an eBook should never reach double digits. And I stand by that.
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