Friday, June 28, 2013

Guest Post by Shantnu Tiwari

Joe sez: If you've missed the last few guest blogs, they are worth reading and the comments are still open:

You can read Patrick Balester talking about how he learned to love e-publishing here:

You can read Marcus Sakey talking about cover art here:

You can read Dakota Madison talking about finding success as a romance writer here:

You can read CG Cooper talking about his Rule of Three here:

You can read Todd Travis talking about fear here:

So here's today's guest blogger, Shantnu Tiwari...

Greetings folks!

When I was given a chance to guest blog here, I wondered what to write about. Unlike many people who visit Joe's blog, I am a rank amateur, so giving advice to anyone would have been cheeky.

One of my favourite Indie blogs is the Passive Voice, and I remember sometime ago, there was a comment by William Ockham, saying something to the effect that most legacy publishers, when they were trying to trash Indie publishing, used the same few discredited tropes. I can't find that post now, but after having read hundreds of these articles, a clear pattern begins to emerge.

So I will try to compile the list of hackneyed over used excuses legacy publishing uses. Next time you read someone trashing Indie publishing, you can go, “Ahah. S/he used cliché number 1, 3 and 4, but the article would have been better with cliché number 2 as well.”

So without much further ado, here are:

10 Clichés Legacy Publishing Needs To Stop Using

1. Tsunami of Crap

One of the most used clichés. “Oh noes! All this self pubbing means we will drown in a poo of poor self published works! What shall we ever do?”

Also known as Tsunami of Swill, a more alliterative version (thanks to the PG crowd for this!)

2.  Amazon is the Great Evil

Have you ever noticed something? Ever since Amazon became a huge corporation, the amount of sin in the world has grown? So has global warming, and the number of terrorist incidents. Think this is a co-incidence? What are you, stupid? Soon a Great Holy War will be fought, with Amazon on one side, and virtuous and pious people (read: Those who work for legacy pub) on the other. Which side will you choose?

For bonus points: Konrath is the son of Satan. He will be frying you in oil when the Satan daddy takes over.

3. Writers need to be taken care of

And the best way to do so is by taking them hostage. Lock them up with a contract. Take their family hostage. After all, it's for their own good, and for the good of SOCIETY.

Corollary: A corollary of this rule is in agent blogs. There the thinking is:

Oh, look how hard the publishers work to take care of you! Such nice people. So why won't you shut up and sign on the dotted line already? Remember, when the publishers have you between their knees and are whipping you, IT IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”

4. Readers need to be taken care of

Related to the above. Readers also need to be taken care of. We need to tell them what is good for them. They must not read any of this genre nonsense. They must only read what is approved by the Committee of Preserving Culture and Morals.

This is to protect society, of course. Most people are stupid baboons, who if left to themselves, would read stuff they enjoy, rather than the masterpieces the MFAs and English Professors fart out. We need to protect the readers from their own stupidity, so our culture can survive. It is for the children. The children, I tell you!

5. Legacy Pub has done so much for the industry!

You are required, by law, not to give any examples here. Just wave your hands in the air and repeat the statement three or four times.

6. Digital publishing is a fad

Ebooks aren't even books. You can't even smell them. Well, can ya? Unless you can smell it, it's not a book. My two day old underwear is more of a book than your fancy Kindle will ever be.

7.  Ebooks are slowing down

Related to above. Ebooks have slowed by 0.000002% this year. At this rate, they will soon vanish from the world. We will be back to the good ole times soon! In your face, Self publishers!

8.  The only way to do “quality” is to spend years and large amounts of money, that only big pub can provide

Unless you are willing to spend three years writing a book, three years busting your head with agents, and then another two years before the book is published. Books are like wine-- they are better the longer you spend on them.

And you have to spend a gazillion dollars to make your book successful, that only the big publishers can provide. Even God agrees with this:

Thou shalt spend a gazillion dollars and many years preparing thou book. Or thy book shall be a steaming pile of shit.”
The Legacy Pub Bible.

If only these ugly, smelly self publishers knew how hard publishing was.... If only....

9. There are no freelancers

None at all. No freelance editors, cover designers, layout designers, none at all. All freelancers went extinct with the Dodo. You want quality, you come to us. Capiche? If you even think of hiring your own editor, we break your legs, 'k?


Indie publishers will destroy the world.  DESTROY THE WORLD! Civilisation is on its knees, and it is the fault of all those hippy self publishers! We have no time left. We must do anything to stop them. Anything. The survival of humanity is at stake...

If we don't, the world will end.  Zombies will take over, the sun will set permanently, nobody will get a BJ.  EVER.

If you want to save the world, and still get BJs, you must fight with us! You must join us, or perish, Luke!

Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Anyway, if I missed anything, feel free to add anything to the comments.

My book, The Princess of Persia, is free from 28 June – 2nd July. My other book, the Zombie's Life is in Danger, is also free  28 June – 2nd July.

Come say hello at

Joe sez: Thanks, Shantnu, for making me spit beer on my monitor while laughing. I'm sending you the clean-up bill.

While I've blogged about many of these topics before (and so has Barry Eisler), it's nice to see a humorous take on the current state of the industry.

Remember: when people start making fun of things that those in power say, those in power don't keep their power much longer. And the publishing industry right now has become so predictably irrational it is now a parody of itself. 

So here are my...

10 Ways Legacy Publishing Can Save Itself

1. Get bigger

In times of economic upheaval, disruptive technology, and loss of market share, the smart people start upsizing. You need to spend money to make money, so I recommend hiring more middlemen and gatekeepers, and doubling office space (in Manhattan of course. If you aren't paying at least $40k a month in rent, you might as well move to Jersey...)

2. Lower royalties

It takes dozens, if not hundreds, of people to bring a book to market. So why is the author getting a whopping 17.5% of that?!? The royalties should be divided equally among everyone who has input, from the editor to the editor's intern to the FedEx guy to the FedEx guy's intern (it's NY--everyone has an intern.) If 50 people are involved in making a book happen, the author should only get 2% royalties. After all, without a publisher, the writer has no other options.

3. Raise prices

History has shown that people will pay $25 for a hardcover novel. Since ebooks are an exciting new technology, readers should be willing to pay double for that. If only there was some way for all the publishers to somehow simultaneously agree on setting prices and then forcing Amazon to accept them...

4. Protect paper sales

Even though ebooks are an exciting new technology, they're just a fad. Like pet rocks. Or fast food. Or breathing. Soon paper books will have a resurgence, and the way to hurry that resurgence along is to print more books. It's simple supply and demand. The more you supply, the more people will demand. So print, baby, print!

5. Resist innovation

Research and development costs money--money that could be better spent on printing more paper books. It's a well-known fact that most innovations fail, so it's a much safer and wiser choice to stick with the same business model from 100 years ago. 

6. Advertise more

Everyone knows the only reason people buy books is because they see print ads in the New York Times. But those ads could be cost prohibitive; they are expensive and The Big 5 puts out thousands of books per year. So the simple solution is: buy the New York Times, then cram every page with book ads in between the well-reasoned unbiased press coverage. And because newspapers are a growth industry, it's win-win.

7. Merge

When Random House and Penguin merged to become Random Penguins, the Big 6 became the Big 5. They had the foresight to understand that in a world where indie authors are claiming up to 25% of ebook sales, the way to survive is to combine debt and reassure one another that "everything is OK." Because nothing can quell doubt about the future like joining forces with someone who has the same doubts about the future, and, like you, no viable plans to survive.

8. Keep nurturing

Always remember that authors don't care about being compensated monetarily for their efforts. Writers don't write to earn a living. They do it because they are prima donna artists who need to be validated. Signing a deal with Random Penguins is a lot more important to them than selling a lot of books, because getting the stamp of approval by industry gatekeepers is all writers care about. Some nurturing tips include:
  • Occasionally returning emails
  • Letting the writer see the cover art
  • Insisting on editing changes
  • Allowing no more than ten typos in the final book
  • Discussing marketing options (such as how the writer needs Twitter and Facebook)
  • Discussing advertising* (*a discussion in no way implies a promise)
  • Sending review copies to PW and Kirkus, because we all know that every ebook reader subscribes to those industry magazines
  • Paying authors twice a year* (*unless they haven't earned out their $2000 advance yet)
  • Inviting authors to BEA where they can see how much money publishers are spending to resuscitate a dying industry. And it's lots, brother.
9. Make contracts longer

Everyone knows the longer the contract, the better the deal. And since agents aren't lawyers, publishers can slip in some beneficial clauses that will likely never be spotted or questioned. Publishers are doing authors a favor, and should be properly compensated for their efforts, which means having contracts heavily favored toward their interests. Some clauses could include:
  • Owning book rights forever
  • Owning all subsidiary rights
  • Owning the writer's first born child
  • Owning the writer's organs after death
  • Owning the writer
  • Owning the entire world
10. Destroy Amazon

Amazon sells more books than any other bookseller, and for that reason it must be stopped. After all, publishers are the ones who sell most of their books on Amazon. So it stands to reason that any entity responsible for most of the Big 5's profit should be stopped by the Department of Justice. There is a well known DOJ law that allows the government to intervene when a company like Amazon becomes successful by being better than its competition. Publishers need to get the US government to recognize that Amazon is hurting legacy companies who embrace the time-held traditions of: archaic business practices, zero innovation, tremendous overhead and waste, and the malevolence to nurture tens of thousands of authors to severe depression. 

I believe, if the Big 5 just follow my simple rules, they'll be around for eternity times ten.