Time to bury the Hachette…?


I haven’t really been following the Amazon/Hachette dispute that closely except for the comedic (well, kinda) treatment of the issue provided by Stephen Colbert, who I honestly believe to be one of the most brilliantly hilarious and dead-on-target political satirists I’ve ever witnessed. So a week or so ago, after listening to him spew a rather lengthy stream of venom spiked with laughter detailing how powerhouse traditionally published authors such as himself are now essentially being screwed by Amazon in all sorts of twisted and nasty positions that would make a pretzel blush with envy, my overpowering first instinct (after catching my breath from laughing) was to punch my middle-aged indie fist into the air and scream “Amazon must die! Save Hachette! All power to the people!”

Because anybody who screws with Colbert and Malcolm Gladwell (even though I haven’t read any of his books) must, without question, be an enemy of the greater good. I mean, that’s just automatic.

Then again (and this is sometimes what happens when I allow myself to take the time to think for a minute or two), maybe there’s a bit more to this. Or at least another way of looking at it. Which is where J.A. Konrath stepped in…


I’m not an advocate of self-publishing because I know better than anyone else. I’m an advocate of self-publishing because I’ve been on both sides of that fence, and my experience isn’t unique. Many authors got screwed by the legacy system like I did. Many authors have benefited from self-publishing like I have.

Maybe this Hachette/Amazon dispute isn’t bringing out the stupid in people. Maybe it is forcing authors to defend themselves, because they’re scared. And when you’re scared, you lash out without thinking. You defend yourself rather than consider new ideas. You find scapegoats. You rally with others who feel the same way because there is safety in numbers. You defend your oppressors. You fight the future because it’s either that or risking everything.

But there is no reward without risk, and no change without outrage.

I was outraged by the legacy system. The unconscionable contracts. The low royalties. The indecipherable royalty statements. The bi-annual checks. The many mistakes my publishers made that hurt my sales. The unbearable waiting.

Amazon allowed me an opportunity to not only escape from that, but to thrive for the first time in my career. And I’m not the only one they’ve allowed that opportunity.

Authors need to stop thinking of Amazon as the bad guy, because they feel bad about the contracts they’re stuck in.

Worrying Amazon is a monopoly that might someday lower royalties makes no sense, when the Big 5 already function as a monopoly and have low royalties.”

I will likely always be a huge fan of Colbert, but in this instance I believe it’s Konrath who’s making the stronger argument that takes a more realistic look into the future we’re already living in. Sure it sucks (especially for Colbert fans) that Colbert’s books may now take nearly three weeks to get delivered through Amazon, or that this may put a huge dent in advance sales, a marketing strategy that is pretty much critical for traditional publishing. But I’m thinking that’s only the first half of the headline. Maybe this is still more writing on the wall for Hachette, and for all the other so-called ‘traditional’ publishing houses in general.

Change isn’t always out to get us. Sometimes it opens doors.

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Writer and musician.



2014-10-02 20:53:17 Reply

I believe that it can be a Golden Age for tridataonil publishers as well as for certain self-published authors. Traditional publishers can reinvent themselves and still be profitable. Self-published authors can also be successful and make a living from their creative efforts. But the ones that will make it are the 1-percenters. The 1-percenters are the ones that are more industrious and creative than 99 percent of authors. I have been self-publishing for over 20 years and have achieved a measure of success at this game (with over 750,000 copies of my books sold). I know better than to criticize and slam tridataonil publishers like a lot of the authors who are so gleeful about the “indie revolution.” This I know: Traditional publishers and the 1-percenters of self-publishers will be publishing for many, many years after the Pollyanna authors excited about the “indie revolution” have gone on to the next latest craze, where again they be failures. For those who keep achieving success in the publishing industry, of course, it will be the Golden Age. Ernie J. ZelinskiInternational Best-Selling Author”Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”(Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working'(Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)


    2014-10-02 21:57:54 Reply

    Thanks very much for your insightful commentary Pantura. Very sound words.

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