Outdated Terminology Continued…
As I said before, ew fiction writers coming in now are really torn between all the myths and hype of traditional publishing and all the myths and hype of indie publishing.
But as I said back in the first post of this series, the paperback era of big publishing is pretty much done, and the distribution of fiction is changing over to the electronic era of indie publishing, with indie writers in charge.
These kinds of major shifts in fiction distribution to the readers has happened four major times through the history of this country, with each new era lasting about 50 years and the transitions lasting about 25 years. Again, see my first post.
New writers coming in today don’t know this history, don’t realize they are coming in smack in the middle of a transition. And to make matters worse, terminology that was common in the big publishing paperback era is now just confusing or really has no meaning.
This is the second part of those terms. Please read the entire series to understand what I am talking about.
I use the term bought correctly. Traditional publishers basically buy all rights to a book for the life of the copyright.
In indie publishing, we don’t sell anything. We license our work. We hold onto all our own copyright. We can do audio or large print or whatever we want when we want.
Back not that long ago in traditional publishing, the corporations would only buy North American rights. So if you wanted your book out around the world, you had to sell it to publishers in other countries. And more often than not, the US publisher got a chunk of those sales as well. (I won’t mention what agents did and still do with this money from other publishers.)
And even to this day, those selling to traditional publishers seldom have the distribution reach around the world an indie writer can easily get.
Next Book (or Right of First Refusal)
I have watched, sadly, more writer’s careers fade away and die because of this contract clause.
When a traditional writer sells a book (again sell used correctly) to a publisher, in their contract the writer also gives away the right to the publisher of what book they can write next and when and what type.
Yes, I am not kidding. Just ask any traditionally published writer about this contract clause and watch them get uneasy or hem-and-haw or worse, not really know what they have signed away.
Indie writers create what they want to create and publish it when they want. Very simple.
Traditionally published writers not so much. And some of these clauses have been so bad that it takes the writers years to get out of them, if they ever do.
Indie writers license their work and never give away control over anything to a publisher. The indie writer is the publisher.
This clause can not be taken out of a traditional fiction contract and the reason it is that the writer is blindsided by it when they get their contract. And if they complain, the agent just says “Nothing we can do.”
There is something the writer can do. They can walk away before signing the contract. But the myth of traditional publishing is so strong, that is nearly impossible. So the writer shrugs and signs away their future.
And the writer just can’t go indie publish the next book without big corporation lawyers coming down hard.
Imprints are lines of books that publishers set up to focus some fact or another about a group of books.
Often a traditionally published writer is going with a major publisher for the bragging rights of being in a major press. (I call that fairy dust, since it has just about that much value.)
Indie writers in their own publishing houses can create imprints as well. WMG Publishing has three or four. Pulphouse Books is one.
So say a traditionally published writer sells (used correctly) their dear book to Particular Publishing. How many people is that going to impress? Sounds to me like a small press somewhere in Oklahoma. (Actually it is one of the hundreds of imprints of Penguin.)
Imprints pretty much kill the old value of fairy dust to traditionally published writers. (And I must admit, it is fun to watch them squirm as they try to explain their publisher to impress someone.)
I have more topics to cover in this series to explaining the transition from 50 years of paperback focused companies to indie electronic focused publishing.
Every new writer coming in has to battle the myths on both sides, so up next, the advertising myth. From both sides…