09 November 2011

Bottom line? Or talent?

I sorta stepped in it. Didn't mean to. But it was one of those discussions that once I was in it, I wasn't going to back off from it.

But the discussion was because of a blog post and spilled over onto Google+. The blogger says, "So what if Snooki got a writing deal. She outsells and therefore she's a money maker so it doesn't prove the system is broken."

I remember a publisher flat out telling me once that "I don't care of someone buys a box of books to use as a boat anchor. At least they bought the box of books." I remember being rather shocked about that. What? I said. Doesn't talent mean anything? "Nope," he said. "It's all about the bottom line and what I can sell." And the sad fact is, no one thought there was anything wrong with that.

Not that there completely is. I mean yeah, publishers are in the business to make money. And call me naive, but I seriously expected a little more faith and belief in the talent of the author. Not just the "name" factor. When I started my own publishing company, I swore--and who doesn't--that I wouldn't make those mistakes. That talent had to be there, that just getting books for the "name" value wasn't going to cut it. 

I mean, I agree with the blogger that Snooki didn't break the system. Snooki's just one a long, long line of "writers" that got picked up because of a celebrity obsessed society. And if Twilight sells a bazillion books, then people will want to read vampire novels and they'll buy ANYTHING that's vamp oriented. And that's not really my problem--make money, okay. 

My problem is what happened to putting out a quality product? What happened to signing and supporting good talent? What happened to making sure those books/stories going out the door were supported by the marketing department just as seriously, just as hot and heavy, as dear Snooki? What happened to making a decent royalty rate that was fair? What happened to the author's story, not the cut up version that your editors decided to write and title? And maybe sometimes it's a good thing to do that last bit. But the author's book is held hostage--don't do it our way, book doesn't go out, that's just how it is. Get over it. 

The system is broken. Authors and writers are getting the shaft daily. And you have to ask why we're all moving to indie publishing?

Perhaps I'm being a bit naive here. I'll go so far as to admit it. But at least I know my books are the best stories they can be and they're all mine. I'll take my chances with the readers as my gatekeepers and the publishing system can go hang. Or change. Adapt. Or die.

1 comment:

Angelo Mysterioso said...

Oh, it's not just books, e- or otherwise. Who thinks the most popular singers are really the best singers? Are the most popular actors really the best at their craft, or just the hottest-looking? (Many of our so called "reality" stars have NO ACTING TALENT WHATSOEVER.)

And jumping completely away from the arts, is Starbucks coffee any better than our local shop can make? Nope.

Popularity and skill appear to have little relationship with each other, and that's really sad...