Hugh Howey’s Wool Series is some of the best indie fiction so far, and it’s been optioned for a movie and published by legacy publishers — but only after he made it a success on his own, through Amazon. J A Konrath was a successful fiction writer with legacy publishers, but has done much better by going indie in recent years, and he acribes much of the support for legacy publishers to a variant of Stockholm Syndrome. His epic post on publishing and a “declaration of Independence” for authors is here:
When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have “nurtured” them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher or retailer becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.
The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren’t properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors’ ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors’ Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They’ve failed the vast majority of authors, period.
This blog has documented nearly every stage of these Oppressions, and in many cases offered solutions to publishers, and has been answered with only silence and derision.
But that’s okay. Because now authors have a choice.
We shall never be taken advantage of again. We shall not support any publisher or retailer that continues the abuses listed above. And we demand to share in the rewards we’ve busted our asses for.
In other news, the subscription reading service a la Netflix is popping up everywhere: Scribd and Oyster have already been active, and Amazon is in test phases. For c. $10 a month you can read umlimited numbers of works from their catalog, a good deal for avid readers, and catalogs are growing more extensive. Amazon’s new service is most fully described by GigaOm:
So far, the differences appear to be that Kindle Unlimited has no Big Five titles and Kindle Unlimited includes audiobooks. One major difference is that Kindle Unlimited will likely be available through Kindle e-readers. That’s not true for Scribd or Oyster. And it would be a big reason for avid Kindle e-reader users to choose Kindle Unlimited rather than Scribd or Oyster: If they are already using their e-reader all the time anyway, and can now access more books through it via a subscription, that would be a big perk.
How do authors get paid?
It depends on who your publisher is. Publishers Lunch reported Wednesday (subscription required) that publishers participating “via direct agreement” — which appear to be Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Bloomsbury, Open Road and Workman, among others — will be paid an ebook’s wholesale price when a reader completes a certain percentage of the book. That’s the same way that Scribd and Oyster operate. Then there are those well-known “big” books also included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, like the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy: Amazon has a separate Harry Potter deal that presumably encompasses (or was changed to expand to) Kindle Unlimited as well, while in the case of the Hunger Games, according to PL, “Scholastic will get paid their full wholesale price every time one of their ebooks is opened by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.”
If you’re a self-published author participating in KDP Select, however, it looks as if your book can be included without your explicit permission simply under the terms and conditions you already agreed to: According to one poster on the Kindle Boards, “Books in Select will automatically be enrolled. Like the KOLL you won’t be able to opt-out if you’re in Select. You will be payed [sic] if you someone reads 10% or more of your book. The payment will come out of the same KOLL fund, just as if it was a borrow.” That “same KOLL fund” is a set pool of money from which self-published authors are paid each time their book is borrowed. Its amount changes every month but in July the total fund was $1.2 million.