Challenge,  publishing

An Interesting Opinion…

From a Very Surprising Source…

Some of you may be familiar with Mike Shatzkin, the great traditional publishing apologist for the last decade or more. I honestly stopped paying much attention to his Shatzkin File posts four or five years ago. But I still sort of follow his comments at times.

It seems lately he just can’t ignore data anymore with indie publishing and with the blocking of the merger of two of the big five traditional publishers, he seems to be a little clearer on their position. And indie publishing and smaller publishers in general.

Mike spends a bunch of the November 2nd letter talking about how Ingrams is becoming the one major distributor (ignoring, of course, that we all most distribute our own books in our own ways, but can’t ask him to really wake up completely all at once.

I wanted to just quote him on one paragraph from his last post. He said, and I quote Mike Shatzkin,

“The inherently advantaged position of a title issued by an established publisher is diluted to near meaninglessness.”

Might want to read that twice.

Now the context of that was that traditional publishers used to have what he called “a moat” to protect them because they had the ability and money to put inventory in positions for quick sales. But Ingrams now has over 20 MILLION and growing titles in their Print on Demand program, mostly from indie publishers, that can be delivered in a day to anyone or any store.

With that, who cares about inventory in position. That just costs warehouse space and money. Oh, my… You would think that if traditional publishers would catch a clue their warehouse costs might drop. (grin)

So for those of you who still think that you need the fairy dust of approval of a traditional publisher sprinkled on your book, I think Mike just helped pull the wings off that magical creature.


  • T Thorn Coyle

    I love that quote! It put a big smile on my face.

    Was just talking with a local bookstore owner who wants to stock my novels. I asked if they used Ingram, because my books are in that system, and he said he can’t stand Ingram, that their West Coast shipping is a delayed mess. He buys directly from publishers like Penguin and now *me.*

    He can do this because he’s small, independent, and hand curates a select group of books from various sources.

    It’s a big wide world out there, and indies of all types are doing business in our own ways.

    The gatekeepers hate it because we’re disrupting their precious status quo. But reality is? We’re the new normal.

  • Vincent Zandri

    Sorry late to chime in on this one but I’m in Italy for the rest of the fall. Anyway, semi-related comment regarding the “new normal.” So last month I get a Linkedin email from this kid (he’s maybe 38), who is a top agent at Tri…that’s as far as I go with mentioning the agency’s real name but they’re in NYC and you’ve probably guessed it by now. He says, “Vincent, I’ve been following your career for years and congrats on all the success. Would you consider coming back to major trad publishing?”

    Now, I know damn well that what’s left of the leg system all have Vince rooms in their offices where they toss darts at my author photo and burn upsidedown crosses in my honor since I write and publish way way way too much, plus I’ve been to the show too many times and I’ve called them out on their shyster ways. But I decide to have a little fun with the kid, who by the way, is the owner’s son and heir apparent. He asks me numbers, which they all do. I tell him 1.25 Mil sold and around 100 to 125 novels, novellas, and stories in print, that I can think of anyway. He says, We need to hop on a call. Meanwhile, I’m still in NY and he’s in Germany at the conference. He calls me at 3 in the morning. I wake up and ignore his call. If he can’t get the time difference right, how’s he gonna sell a novel?

    I do a little research with some of my NYC writer friends and they tell me he’s daddy’s boy and all that…Okay, whatever. We talk a few more times, and finally I tell him, in 2023 I will be putting out at least a novel and a novella per month, not counting short stories. This is where I’m definitely starting to lose him and I’m laughing on the inside.

    He finally asks me, what were the numbers on your last tradtionally published novels. I answer, “They totally shit the bed,” which was a lie but a fun one .

    Never heard from him again hahahahaha….Now I do have an agent who is my friend…probably more friend than agent, so I would never leave him anyway. When he retires I won’t have an agent any longer. But it was fun messing with this NYC kid stuck and if not panicked in legacy world.

    • dwsmith

      Oh, way, way, way fun. The old 1990s system just doesn’t know what to do with modern writers. Thanks for the story. Sadly I know exactly who you are talking about. (grin)

      Great fun!!!