Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Authors Guild Shows Where its Loyalties Lie

Paul Aiken, the Executive Director of the Authors Guild sent a letter to John Read of the DOJ addressing the DOJ's suit against Apple and five publishers.  It's rather lengthy, but if you wade through it, as I've been doing from time to time (when my blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels and I need something to raise it), you'll find the following quote:
"Amazon’s vertical integration of on-demand printing eliminated the ability of iUniverse, PublishAmerica, XLibris and others to offer authors better royalties when selling through Amazon.  CreateSpace appears to have thrived ever since."
Now what's interesting about this is the list of publishers named.  I'm not familiar with all of them, but PublishAmerica has been shown to be a vanity press with little to no editorial oversight.  If you aren't familiar with the hoax manuscript some members of SFWA submitted, start reading here.

To put it bluntly, what we have here is an organization that purports to speak for authors attacking an organization which has made it possible for numerous authors to publish, some quite successfully, their own work while defending other "publishers" at least some of whom have documented records of mistreating and scamming authors.  Publishers whose authors don't meet the Authors Guild's standard for membership, i.e., an author who is published by these publishers won't be accepted into the AG. 

This double standard flies in the face of how things should be to the extent that I keep expecting Rod Serling to show up at some point.  It's been suggested by numerous people that AG authors who are so offended by Amazon's efficient business model pull their titles from Amazon.  Or at least give the royalties from Amazon sales to charity.  Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know, that hasn't happened yet.

What little credibility the AG had up to this point it seems to have jettisoned out the window.  Not surprising, since the AG tends towards the writers who have the most to lose with a level playing field and is a pretty elitist organization.  One that is opposed to indie authors.  If you've been paying attention over the last few months, it's obvious that the AG's lyalties don't lie with the majority of authors.

I'd suggest a boycott of AG authors except I doubt there are any I read.  I gave up on Turow years ago.  In the meantime, I'm going to order some books from Amazon and wait to see what Konrath has to say about this. 


  1. Those three named are all vanity press's that I personally would not have ever signed with (for my own nefarious reasons). But I am friends with several authors who have and so far as I know they are happy with iUniverse.

    That said, the Aiken quote above is still true. I expect those press's to be deceased within a few years simply because who needs them? They never did advertise their authors (outside of their own in-house catalogs) And unlike actual indie press's they charge the author for printing their book.

    It comes back to "Money Flows To The Author" those press's don't equal that ethic and while they may have a had a few glory years milking the naive and hopeful, the ebook revolution will put them on the chopping block even faster than the dinosaurian Big 6.

    Don't misunderstand that by any stretch I am defending the AG either, I totally agree with your comments on their elitism as well. And now that I think about it, I'll bet a whole lot of the AG types signed with Big 6 pubs are getting hosed on ebook royalties-because those contracts didn't exist a short time ago.

    1. Well said. Money always flows to the writer. Never the other way around. The only exception is if the writer is also the publisher and is paying a flat fee for editing/copy-editing/art/etc. and never a percentage.

    2. Exactly Keith, I am currently investing in my own project (cover art, editing etc).

  2. Still more fallout from the digital revolution. Inevitable I imagine.