Joe Konrath has been shredding on the stupidity coming out of the Hachette/Amazon fight for a while, but with the latest behavior I feel the need to weigh in, a bit. If you support Amazon authors (most all self-published authors right now), or just the idea behind capitalism, or if you’re a writer, you should sign the petition. I don’t often mention petitions and such; I don’t think they do much good. But every bit of press will help fight the deluge.
You will start to see, from the comments of Konrath and those he is replying to, that those in favor of big publishing — the Big Five, so to speak — are those who benefit the most from it. This is common; people generally are opposed to changing a system they benefit from. James Patterson, who unfortunately does not have a black curly mustache like an old cartoon villain, has been at the forefront of speaking out for the machine that benefits him. His comments have been tone-deaf, too. He complains about benefits that Amazon is no longer extending to Hachette authors — benefits that only the top tier, the benefactors of the setup, will ever see.
Admittedly, I didn’t try too hard to get picked up by the machine. I sent off a submission packet for The Five, waited for a few months, and got the form rejection. This was just before the self-publishing boom. After that, as I was writing the first parts of Cigars and Legs, I decided to go my own way. Nobody tells me what covers to use, or what to change. I write what I want to write and hope it sells and finds an audience. I give up nothing to the machine. My rights are mine.
The machine doesn’t benefit me in any way, but Amazon does (for now).
There are many crappy books put out by the machine; there are awful authors who make millions of dollars. Entertainment is subjective — some people like Twilight. I don’t, not even a little bit, not even at all. Are those people wrong for liking Twilight? No, no more than I’m wrong for enjoying Terry Goodkind. Fifty Shades made a killing and by all reasoning is poorly written and contains flat characters. Taste is very subjective. This is one of the problems with the machine: They introduce artificial gatekeepers to give a stamp of “Goodness” to certain books. It’s not foolproof in any way; I’ve read a lot of stinkers and avoided a lot more that seemed like they would be a time suck.
Now, we don’t need those gatekeepers to push our wares. Only in the realm of writing would it be called “vanity publishing” to self-publish your stuff. If I became a plumber on my own dime nobody would accuse me of being a vanity plumber, there would be no stigma. Kevin Smith financed making Clerks all on his own, it turned out to be a success, and nobody attached this idea to him that he wasn’t a real filmmaker because he did it himself. But when an author does it… well, we aren’t authentic. Because the machine didn’t approve.
Of course giants like Patterson and the rest want to keep the machine running the show. It sprinkled fairy dust on them and now they can fly. They don’t give two damns about anything else — just their own success, their own machine. They sit on high hurling out missives about how bad Amazon is and how great their machine is.
It’s just a damn shame none of them have the mustache to twirl.