We Need to Stop With the End-Zone Dancing

PASSIVE GUY POINTS to a column by David Gaughran at Indie Reader. The title of the piece is “The Future Is Indie.” Which may be true. But…

Just as (and I think I’ve said this before) it’s foolish to write a scene in which your protagonist breezes through and knocks down all the challenges facing him like they were so many flop-over targets in a shooting gallery — paraded before him in sequence, at pace, to give him the best opportunity to look good, so, too, is it foolish to anticipate that trad-pub will, on being “called” as in a poker game, simply fold its cards and slink away from the table. There will be counter-action, and chances are things will get ugly. The future may be gravid with promise, but so, too, is it fraught with risk.

But even so…

A dear friend of mine — a fellow OWW-er — has recently sold her first novel. Now, she has pro credits in shorter media, and I know NUSSINK about the contract, but still… Knowing the state of play, we can guess that she will be getting a paltry advance in three chunks, and, with a probable pub date almost two years off, she’s not going to see any real remuneration (if at all) until long after her next two or three books are written.

Meantime, I’m well within striking distance of having an e-novel out and up at Amazon well before Christmas. And a follow-on for early next year.

In his notes on the column PG relates…

One of the ways Big Publishing responds to these trends is to lock its authors up tight. Passive Guy regularly sees publishers pushing for more and more control over their authors and all books those authors may write, including books that are not under contract.

Publishers do this with restrictive contract clauses. Under some publishing contracts, once you sign, you’ll need to take down your indie books. Even after you deliver your manuscript for publication, you will be locked out of any indie publishing or contracts with other publishers for an extended period of time.

If you’re trying to make a living from your writing, this indie royalties blackout period will mean living off your advance for a year or two. When you consider that possibility, also consider that payments of portions of your advance due upon signature, manuscript acceptance, publication, etc., may be delayed for months after the contract says they will be paid.

Anticipating a thought that will immediately pop into your mind: No, your agent may not protect you from clauses like PG has described.

Per David’s column, as financial pressures on publishers increase, PG expects restrictive clauses to become worse rather than better.

And that, I suspect, is going to hurt the trad pubs more than anything else — all the good ones will want more independent. In my most-private midnight fantasies…

Well that’s the end of that.

Eh…?

Not private any more.

Oh. Well.

Late at night, when the cats have settled in for a long nap, I dream of a time when I might have reason to negotiate with a trad publisher. And I really think I would simply refuse to agree to any such terms. The only way, I think, I would want to do business with a publisher would be if one were to offer to print, publicize, and distribute works I have already published in e-format, on my terms.

But I know better than that. That would never happen.

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