Thursday, July 26, 2012

Going Indie - Day 8: Charlatans

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A year and a half ago, I discovered a blog that would later change my life. At the time, I had no idea that one could actually make a living selling e-books. After going back and reading all the sales numbers that J.A. Konrath was kind enough to provide, I realized that e-publishing had finally arrived, and eventually I'd make the leap from part time to full time author.

Though I try to keep up with his blog, I often fall behind. His most recent post (about a week old) deals with the class action lawsuit against Harlequin, and it makes me sick to my stomach. In a nutshell, Harlequin agreed to pay authors 50% royalties from e-books sales (it's in their contracts), which sounds like a sweet deal, but "…then they took those rights and sub-licensed them to another company for 6%, which means the author got 3% of the wholesale price, not 50%."

It's screw the author all over again, the standard operating procedure that's been going on since dawn of print. I'm sick of reading these horror stories about royalties being incorrect or not being paid or dishonest agents and publishers trying dupe authors into signing their rights away.

Thank God I'm an indie writer; I don't have time for this garbage! I've got books to write, bills to pay. I've seen what happened to my own mother when she was basically told what she could and couldn't write. I don't care if I'm kept out of bookstores; I earn a better living than a lot of traditionally published authors. Writing should be about hard work, creativity and trusting your instincts; not games, deception and legalese.

Perhaps in the future I will try my hand at traditional publishing, but I don't see it going well. If a publisher or agent tries to get me to sign away 'the life of the copyright' to any of my works, I'll swiftly give them the finger and walk out the door.

For those who aren't familiar with the terminology, the life of the copyright is the rest of your natural life plus seventy years, standard verbiage in contracts these days. Your family should be ones benefitting from your work when you die, not these parasites.

So why do they do this? Because they don't want you to know what you're worth.

You are the content creator. Without you, they have nothing. The longer they can keep this from you, the better; otherwise, their goose is cooked.

Take me, for instance. How much could I hope to make as a children's book author through traditional publishing? Let's say I sold My Little Pet Dragon to them, what would they pay me? I've heard that you’d be lucky to get $5,000 for a debut novel these days. But this isn't a novel, it’s a children's book.

So what could I really expect? $500? $50? $5? 1,000 query letters, along with 1,000 rejections? A publishing date in 2015?

No thanks.

I made over $5,000 in January from my children's books, and then another $6,000 in February. I have all my rights, and I will continue to reap the benefits of my hard work until the day I die. I've already sold over 17,000 e-books this year, which is beginning to look more and more like a respectable print run.

And I'm only making a fraction of what other authors make.

So before you sign your heart and soul over to a group of charlatans, consider the indie path first. It might not initially get you into bookstores, but you might find yourself earning a respectable living.

Scott Gordon
Indie Author, and PROUD OF IT!

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