Sunday, March 17, 2013

Big Publishers Expanding into New Territory

Pearson (Penguin's parent company) bought the self-publisher Author Solutions.  Random House started e-book only imprints that read (until very recently) like a self-publishing contract.  A publishing house in the UK is expanding into writing courses.

I get it.  The economy isn't flowing like a breached tanker of honey down a highway hillside anymore.  Money isn't there.  Creativity now, more than ever, is needed to keep revenue up in all business.  But, really, I am not sure if these are good ideas for authors.

Why not?

Well, Pearson is drawing you into shelling out your money for a self-pub by using the power behind its name.  Even if they make it clear Author Solutions isn't with Penguin, what are authors going to draw from it?  Pearson (Penguin) wants to publish me!  Yay!  I don't care if I have to give them money like a normal self-publisher because, OMG, it's Penguin!!!
 Uh huh... 
I'm NOT dissing self-publishing here.  There are plenty of reasons to self-publish that are legitimate.  But it is the feeling of "Big Name Publishing" that I don't like.  They're tossing around things to make authors salivate without ever giving them anything remotely like the steak they're waving.

Random House HAS changed the wording on their new imprint contracts that make a lot of people more at ease including a regular royalty contract instead of just a take-or-leave split-profit model.  Others though, say they still have very dubious wording and it hasn't helped; part of the argument is that some authors are getting second-class treatment by being picked up with odd terminology instead of by the legitimate contracts already in place. 
Random House has some of the same problem here that Penguin does.  If they aren't the same, they should clarify things so authors won't be starstruck.  Also, if they ARE in tandem, make contracts more comparable to what's already in place.  Simple.

But how could writing courses be bad?  Everyone gets something!
Ummm, yes.  I suppose.  They are basically inviting people to shell out fairly heavy fees for (it seems) very basic beginning courses.  It WILL give them access to people inside the publishing house but really doesn't give enough specifics to make me comfortable.  Afterward, if a book shows promise, it can get the chance of being taken by the publisher.  Wow, who wouldn't want that opportunity?
Well, if they are truly beginner and the people signing up for them really DO need them, I don't know how many WILL be picked up for publication.  It sounds like another steak being waved because there is no concrete figure or promise anywhere, just a vague dream-like wording that whirls writers' heads around.

See a common thread here?  The thread coupled with sometimes-dubious wording and/or different clauses in contracts (at times) make me a bit skeptical.  But, honestly, I could be wrong.  This COULD be the wave of the future with everything above-board and beautiful.  But, for now, the rock in the pit of my stomach stays.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, the publishing business is totally in a flux right now. It will be super interesting to see what happens.