Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Authors United Strikes Again

Writers need to learn business.

Willful ignorance by writers who should know business is downright embarrassing.

Authors United, a little group of writers headed by Douglas Preston, is showing their willful ignorance.


Even worse, they display elitism and racism at its most horrible. I'm terribly ashamed that one of my favorite authors, Ursula Le Guin, signed a letter vilifying blue collar workers and Asian workers. Feel free to contact her or any of the other writers.

I will.

As soon as my blood pressure lowers enough for me to write coherently.

So what's going on?

Many of the AU authors are published by Hatchette Book Group. Hatchette's contract with Amazon expired last March. Amazon has been trying since January to work out a new contract with Hatchette, who ignored all communications until May.

That's when the PR war started. News media issued story after story of how Amazon was deliberately trying to kill traditional publishing. Anonymous tips came from unnamed sources close to Hatchette.

When that didn't work, James Patterson and Doug Preston took to the airwaves. Interview after interview claimed that Amazon was 1) refusing to sell Hatchette books, 2) refusing to discount Hatchette books and 3) slowing delivery of Hatchette books.

In reality, 1) Amazon is selling all published Hatchette books, but they aren't putting pre-order buttons on un-published books, 2) the same people had been bitching when Amazon WAS discounting their books, and 3) Amazon wasn't using valuable warehouse space to stockpile Hatchette books because they couldn't be guaranteed of returns due to no contract with Hatchette.

So AU published a letter in the New York Times re-stating Preston and Patterson accusations.

And nothing happened.

Well, that's not true. Only 900 writers rallied to their cause. Readers didn't care. And 8,000 writers and readers signed Hugh Howey and J.A. Konrath's letter thanking Amazon and readers for supporting them. [Disclosure: I signed Hugh and Joe's letter.]

So AU issued another letter Monday morning, this time to the Amazon board of directors. The Amazon BOD is going to care about as much as the readers do where the petty whining of a bunch of millionaire authors are concerned. Their responsibility is to their stockholders, and from the price of the stock, the stockholders like what they are doing ($322.57/share as I write this)

These authors' contracts are with Hatchette, not Amazon, so why aren't they nagging Hatchette to negotiate with Amazon?

Because if the writers do that, their contracts won't be renewed and they'll be blacklisted by the Big Five.

Or that's their fear anyway, because they can't conceive of forming their own companies to publish themselves. Therefore everything is Amazon and Chines blue collar workers' fault.

And they can't see that while they fight Hatchette's imaginary war for the publisher, we indies are taking over their market share.

Instead of fighting someone else's playground battles, Preston's group needs to take a hard look at what's happening around them. This isn't a war they can win.

In fact, the war's already over except for the dying.

[Note: If you want an really funny take on the AU letter, go read Jen Rasmussen.]

[Note 2: Apparently, the bitching by me and several other bloggers about the racist comment concerning Chinese blue-collar workers made Preston rethink his words and change the letter to the Amazon board. Now instead of insulting 1.5 billion people, he insults 7 billion. *rolls eyes* You would think someone who makes a living by writing understands how language works. Thanks to TPV regular Claire Ryan for the link to the original version via the WayBack Machine. LOL]

[Note 3: Oh, and he STILL hasn't fixed they typo in the first paragraph of the letter. So much for being the greatest authors in the U.S.]

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