Tuesday, May 7, 2013
James Patterson Wants Government to Help Publishing; Barry Eisler on Digital Denial; Agent Rachelle Gardner and Non-Compete
Author James Patterson didn't exactly say there should be a government bailout for the publishing industry, but he did make it clear he's worried about traditional publishing, brick and mortar bookstores, and how the press doesn't mention e-books with any significance. And to show how strongly he feels about this, he took out an ad in Publishers Weekly and The New York Times Book Review. When asked to go into more detail, this is how Patterson replied:
I don’t think it’s a question of bailing out, necessarily. In Germany, Italy, and France, they protect bookstores and publishers. It is widely practiced in parts of Europe. I don’t think that’s outlandish. But people have mixed feelings about the government doing anything right now… There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business… I’m not sure what needs to happen, but right now, nothing’s happening.
The article to which I'm linking then goes on to mention a few more things that seem to support Patterson in a way I found somewhat peculiar.
The idea that we may be creating a future generation that doesn’t have ready access to books (of whatever format) is quite a frightening one, don’t you think?
What I think is there are people like Patterson and the author of this article who have not been paying attention to what's been happening in publishing in the last five years. In my lifetime, I have never had more access to books before since I switched to digital reading completely. And, I pay less now, too. Tony and I have younger nieces and nephews who all have access to e-readers and we did NOT have anywhere near the access to books or reading that they have right now.
Granted, they don't go to the local bookshop anymore. They buy their books online in digital format. But does this really call for a government intervention? And should any government be responsible for bailing out something that's becoming obsolete?
The fact remains that publishing is changing, whether we like it or not. The world is changing, like it or not. And from what I've seen with these changes, especially with kids and young adults, we're creating a generation that has access to books like no other generation before it. But I doubt Patterson or the author of this article has ever bothered to read a novel on an iPhone like my nephews and nieces...and like me. Hell, kids aren't even being taught to write in script anymore. They print.
I'm a fan of Patterson's work. I respect everything he's accomplished ten times over. But if Patterson thinks the publishing industry needs a bailout, maybe he should take some of his millions and open a few brick and mortar bookstores of his own and see how that works out for him.
Barry Eisler Talks About Digital Denial
In an article author Barry Eisler wrote for Outskirtspress.com, he talks about how his recent speech at the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference went over...and how some publishing professionals received it.
And yet, when I offered these fairly axiomatic observations during a recent keynote at the 21st annual Pike's Peak Writers Conference, the reaction among some editors and agents in the audience (and elsewhere) was extremely negative, with some walking out; others taking to Twitter to urge others to leave, to boycott my talks, and to boycott conferences where I'm talking; and a fair amount of name-calling.
Interesting reaction. You can read more here where he talks about the "truths" of traditional publishing.
As a side note, Eisler has also released a novel that some think it is "disturbingly pro-gay." I haven't read the book, but you might want to check out this post to see how he responds to that comment. I can't seem to find a direct link, but if you click the link above and scroll down the post is titled, That Power of Accurate Observation Is Called Political By Those Who Have Not Got It
Agent Rachelle Gardner and Non-Compete
In this recent blog post, the comment thread went berserk when agent Rachelle Gardner talked about how published authors should take heed to the non-compete clauses. Then she goes into a polite discussion about self-publishing in a blog post that's titled: Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish, too?
I swear I'm not making this up.
More does not always equal better. More books in the marketplace might mean more money in your pocket, but it also means less time available to pay attention to high quality writing, and less time available for giving each book the full weight of your marketing efforts.
First of all that doesn't even make sense, because if you're a writer who is lucky enough to have more money in your pocket you are doing something right and why in the hell would you need to focus on more marketing? Second, I'd like to know who left her in charge of what is and is not considered quality writing. You know, I've been seeing a lot of that quality of writing sort of thing on literary agent blogs for years. I've always wondered who put them in charge of quality control.
In any event, the comment thread is interesting, with comments from people who don't seem to agree with Gardner. And The Passive Voice blog has a few interesting things to say about Gardner's post, here. The comment thread over there gets even better.
I'm starting to think I really need to dig deeper to find a few more literary agent blogs that are offering writers some positive advice in these changing times, because I'm getting tired of the same old song and dance routine. Don't they think we know any better?