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October 28, 2011

Barry Eisler on Legacy Publishing

by Michael Langlois

Barry Eisler, bestselling author of the Rain series, has a fantastic guest post on JA Konrath’s blog today.

He often speaks about his shift from legacy publishing to self publishing, and exposes why so many other well-known authors are going a similar route.  Check out this damning list of behaviors that characterize the lack of competition between the Big 6 publishing houses:

• An identical, lock-step, onerously low 17.5% digital royalty rate
• The practice of forcing readers who prefer digital to wait, sometimes for over a year, until a title is also ready to ship in paper
• Digital retail prices equivalent to paper ones despite the obvious lower costs of digital distribution
• Byzantine and opaque royalty statements, delivered twice-yearly as much as six months after the end of the applicable reporting period
• Non-compete clauses that attempt to preclude authors from meaningful control over their own professional and artistic destinies
• Morbidly obese contracts delivered months after agreement on high-level deal points, written in unendurable legalese and drawn up in nine-point font on 14-inch legal paper, the only purpose of which is to intimidate authors into not reading the document, and to obscure the meaning of what’s written just in case they do
• Payments tendered months after they’ve come due
• A refusal to share sales data with authors, even though authors have long clamored for such information and the web technology to provide such access was already old a decade ago.

The article addresses the fear mongering from legacy publishers that as soon as enough power shifts to Amazon in the publishing space, they’ll become a monopoly and cut royalties.  His response?  They would have to go a long way to become as bad as the current crop.

Go here for the full article.

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