Friday, February 15, 2013


You still hear people talking about how of course any real/good/whatever writer would want to be signed with one of the big NY publishers. After all, that's being really published, being a real writer. It's all about working with professionals who know what they're doing. I've heard indie writers called selfish for wanting control over their own editing and covers and such. Because of course that's the classic definition of a selfish person -- someone who doesn't want to fob the work off on others. Clearly that makes perfect sense.

But mostly all the snarky criticism of indie writers is about the belief that no mere writer can possibly do as good a job publishing and promoting their book as The Professionals can. Despite many, many anecdotes to the contrary.

Here's another one, from Lawrence Block's blog, in a post aptly titled Great Moments in Contemporary Publishing:

An independent bookseller I know landed a major bestselling author for a rare in-store signing. He got the word out, took advance phone and interent orders for signed copies, and called his sales rep at the publisher to make sure the books would reach him in plenty of time.

“You’ve ordered 450 copies,” the rep told him. “I’m afraid we can only ship you 200.”

Why, fort God’s sake? Hadn’t they printed enough?

“No, it’s policy,” he was told. “Two hundred books is our maximum order. We can’t take the chance of huge returns, or credit problems.”

“But the copies are sold,” the store owner said. “I’ve got prepaid orders for them, and I’ll pay in advance myself, and take them from you on a non-returnable basis. There’s no risk, and there won’t be any returns, and that’s 450 copies of a $30 book at the usual 40% off, which makes it an $8100 cash order. So what’s the problem?”

He got nowhere.

“But the author’s gonna go crazy when she hears this! You think you guys’ll ever get another book from her?”

Nowhere! Rules blah blah blah. Policy blah blah blah. “And be grateful we’re sending you the 200 books.”

Click through for more, including what the bookstore owner did to get around the publisher's idiocy.

All I can say is, this kind of professionalism I can do without. [sigh]



Charles Gramlich said...

Incredible short sightedness, and no focus on the author who is providing the income.

Suzan Harden said...

Yeah, I laughed my ass off when I read Lawrence's blog yesterday. And NY publishers wonder why they're bcoming irrelveant.

Angie said...

Charles -- ignoring the author's needs doesn't shock me, but ignoring their own bottom line does. :/

Suzan -- yes, I'm sure they have Top Men investigating their inexplicable decline. Top. Men. :P