Apr 21, 2011

Posted by in My Life's Quirks | 41 Comments

Why Do Authors Have to Wreck Everything? (and other bullshit)

I am not one to use my blog to rant and vent.  I think I actually said that I would never do that because I want my blog to be a light and fun place to be.  Well, something has been bothering me lately and I can’t not say anything anymore.  But don’t worry…it’s book related. *g*

This issue I have started a short while ago.  I was working on my blog and reading the occasional Tweetdeck pop up window when I noticed people were chatting with a few authors about eBook pricing.  This topic intrigued me so I minimized my review and opened Tweetdeck to follow this conversation.  I was amazed at some of the things that were being said to the authors involved.  The language and the tone the readers were using made me embarrassed for their mammas!  Did these tweeters actually think the authors have any say in the pricing of their books and subsequent eBooks?  Apparently yes, yes they did, and they were livid about it!  What did these authors do when faced with this abuse?  They just took it!  They listened and even commented back with charm.  Let me tell you, I’m usually someone who tries to avoid confrontation, but if I was one of the authors, I would have started saying “What the hell do you want me to do?!  I just write the books.  I pour my heart and soul into my work but then someone else takes care of the bits and pieces of getting my book out to you.  Why are you complaining to me about the price of my book?”  I may even have sneaked in a couple colorful words…  But then again, if I was an author and I wanted someone to buy and read my stuff ever again, I’d have to be more careful.  So with further consideration, I think I would have ended up smiling and nodding like these authors were doing, all the while cracking open a bottle of rum and drinking it straight from the bottle.

Another time, I ran across a Twitter conversation between a few bloggers and an author and the bloggers were complaining that the Advance Review Copies (ARCs) they received from a publisher had a spelling mistake in it and it was hindering their enjoyment of the story which in turn made them want to rate the book lower.  SERIOUSLY!?  We bloggers should feel honored that we receive ARCs or Review Copies.  Do publishers need to send us these books weeks if not months before release date?  No.  Does it help them with marketing the book?  Yes.  But do they have an obligation to send these out?  No.

Bloggers should think of it this way: When you receive a review copy to read, you are a) receiving it at no monetary cost to you and b) you are receiving it before most of the world.  You are holding in your hands something people would knock you down for!  And you’re complaining?!  It’s even stated, right there on the ARC, that it’s an unfinished copy with possible errors in it!  Publishers who are printing these ARCs are not hiding that fact.  They are just printing something as quickly as they can so they can get the review book out almost immediately and get the buzz going.  And if you are one of the lucky people who get their hands on one of the few copies they send out, you should be ecstatic!  That anyone complains about spelling mistakes in these advanced books is just off beam.  And what’s worst is complaining about it to the author!  Did the author print this advanced book in her basement using out of date printing materials?  NO!  If it’s bothering you that much, stop requesting review copies and go buy the finished book like everyone else on its release day.  Bloggers need to learn to be appreciative that they are one of the few who get to read the book first and to stop whining.

Now if you must bitch and whine and complain about eBooks vs. print or publication dates or foreign edition or spelling mistakes, at least take the time to do it to the person who actually has control over the issues you are so eloquently bitching about.  And 99% of the time, your issues lay with the publisher.

In preparation for this rant, I spoke to a few authors to make sure I was getting my facts straight.  (Nothing worse than ranting about something then finding out you’re full of shit…)  I tell you, I learned a lot!  And to help you guys out, I’ve compiled a sort of FAQ list so everyone’s clear on who is responsible for which aspect of publishing and writing.  That way if you still feel compelled to complain, you can aim it at the right person.  Here we go:

Who is responsible for writing the book: The Author.  But there are editors involved and they can strongly suggest the authors change certain things, but ultimately it falls on the author’s shoulders.  So when it comes to the content of the book (plot, characters, setting, twists and those damn cliff hangers we love to hate) it’s all on the author.  But when it comes to the title, that is usually the publisher and the editor’s doing.  Authors usually have little to no say in the title of their book.

Who is responsible for release dates? The publisher.  The author has NO say in this matter.

Who is responsible for the cover art? The publisher and art department. Some eAuthors have some flexibility over their covers, and I’m sure authors like Nora Roberts have some little influence too, but generally the author has little to no say in this matter.  In fact, some publishers post the cover for an upcoming book before even showing it to the author!  This also translates to the title’s font size vs. the author’s name size.  If the author’s name is a little larger than the title of the book, that’s not because the author came into the publisher’s office sitting on her high horse demanding that her name be the cover art’s main focus.  It’s because the art department decided to “sell” the author instead of the title.  That’s it.  It’s the art department’s doing.  Not the author’s.

Who is responsible for selling Foreign Rights for books and authors’ works? The publisher and their foreign rights department…but sometimes the author. Okay, bear with me as this may get a little complicated.  For the most part, when an author sells the rights to his or her book to a publisher, they also sell its foreign rights to the publisher.  If that is the case, it is then the publisher’s responsibility to try to sell this book to foreign markets.  (And yes, the UK is considered a foreign market even though it’s English speaking)  Sometimes though the author decides to keep the foreign rights therefore making selling the translations his or her own responsibility.

BUT whether foreign sales fall on the publisher’s or the author’s shoulders, one thing remains consistent: if no one wants to buy it, it won’t sell.  A foreign publisher needs to want to buy the book.  And if a publisher in a certain country doesn’t think there is not enough demand for a certain author or book, they won’t look to buy the rights – no matter who is selling them. You can’t make anyone buy something they don’t want.

Same thing applies for audio books.  If the demand is not there, they rights won’t sell.

As for foreign eBook Rights and Geographical Territories and Restrictions…well, that’s just a whole n’other batch of complicated crap.  (What I’m talking about here is why you are able to buy a certain English eBook in India but not in Japan, etc…)  Well, essentially, you are looking at a bunch of agreements and contracts and laws made ages ago between different distributors and publishers in different parts of the world, all over the world.  These contracts and laws say “You can sell here but not here and I can sell here but not here and they can sell here but not here.”  There are a few worldwide eBook publishers/distributors out there, but if an author has sold his/her rights to the publisher, they no longer hold to rights and therefore can’t approach these companies.  But if the author has kept his/her rights, he/she can go ahead and give it a try.  But ultimately, it boils down to the same thing as with foreign rights for print editions:  You can’t make anyone buy something they don’t want.   The author and the publisher could be literally going door to door with their digital books on a flash drive, but if no one is interested, no one will buy it.

Who is responsible for the pricing of both print and eCopies of books? The publisher. The author is as confused as the rest of us when it comes to why their books are priced a certain way and they have no say and no control over this matter.  NONE!

Who is responsible in deciding whether or not a print book will also become an eBook and when said eBook will be released? The publisher. The authors have no say in this matter.  Once again, it’s the publisher and NOT the author.  Pu-bli-sher.

The authors write the books, but once they sign on with a publisher, they entrust their works to their new employers and hope they will do best by it.  Do they always agree with what the publisher is doing?  No.  It’s just like you and your boss.  Do you agree with him 100% of the time?  Hell no.  Can you suggest things to make your work life a little better?  Well, yes!  Will he listen?  Not necessarily, because he is the boss.  He looks at the whole picture and not just your little one.  He must think of all of the cookies in the jar and not just your favorite ones.  The same thing goes for a publisher and an author.

One final little point.  Imagine what all your bitching does to these authors.  Sure, they can and do relay your messages to their publisher, but what they tell them will most likely fall on partially deaf ears.  You are probably thinking “Well, why doesn’t the author just leave that publisher and go somewhere else?”   Because they are all the same…and there is usually a little thing called a contract.  Again, think of your employment.  Would it be easy to leave your job right at this moment and get a new job in the same field receiving the same pay by the end of next week?  Most likely not.  Same goes with an author.  Leaving and complaining will only screw them over…in turn screwing us, the reader, over.

Instead of yelling and calling authors names that would make your daddy blush, we should be thanking them.  They have given us hours and hours of entertainment!  They have given us characters who have stolen our hearts and worlds to get lost in.  They have given us great endings to our crappy days.  They have even managed to turn our frowns upside-down.  So say thank you to the authors…and when it comes to price or format or release dates, vent to the publishers.  Because they are the ones you should be griping to.

p.s. I want to say a big thank you to the authors who helped me out while I was working on this post (especially one in particular, you know who you are).  I learned a whole bunch from you.  My hope is that this rant will teach others as much as it taught me so they can quit pestering those who are not at fault.  *hugs*

  1. Danielle (lush26) says:

    Well said *claps hands* woo hoo! These people that complain are outrageous. To be honest I am excited to get ahold of arcs and spelling is the last thing on my mind. I want to read them damn book not correct ones spelling. The nerve of some people.

  2. THANK YOU for posting this, Julie! I couldn’t agree with you more and probably would have been one of the ones to jump into those twitter conversations in defense of the authors (probably making an ass out of myself in the process.. lol). So many people don’t really know how the process works and don’t even bother to try to figure it out before they start complaining. Great post and hopefully, it will open some eyes.

  3. I think the big problem is that readers have no idea how publishing is run, which makes sense since they’re only the consumer and want the best product for their buck.

    As an epublished author I have some say such as the title of my book (unless my publisher comes to me with an idea for a story and has a title in mind), and cover. As for the price, that’s already set and can be viewed on the publisher’s website. As for the date of release, once you hand in your work the epublisher will schedule it in, but again, it can be flexible. This is my experience with the epublishers I work with.

    If you have a problem, don’t take it out on the author, but contact the publisher.

  4. WOW! great post… but that title was very misleading… LOL I thought OMG… what the hell happened?!

    I feel the same… I can gripe about costs, but it is what it is and it’s NOT the author’s fault. and ARCs… I still swoon when I get one (you should see me stroking Hawke’s chest each night when I go to bed!) I think that most of the authors I follow do a great job handling themselves in the public eye – and I constantly thank them for making themselves available to fans via email, twitter and blog… it’s a tough place to be – out there in the public eye, and many do with such grace.

  5. Danielle – The fact that people were griping about spelling really surprised me.

    Theresa – You are right. People should at least take the time to find out who is responsible before complaining.

    Katie – Thanks for letting me know a little more about e-publishing!

    Twimom – I do commend the authors and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for them. They almost need to be out there to promote themselves but that leaves them wide open to ridiculous criticism.

  6. Wonderful post Julie. I get so angry when I see 1 star ratings for an author and every one of the reviews say the same thing-reader was upset with book price. KB hit the nail on the head. Most do not understand publishing. There are, of course, that small amt who are just plain stupid. :P

  7. Vicki Casso says:

    Well said! Someone needs to slap them on the side of the head and tell them to sit down and shut up!

  8. Great post Julie.

  9. tori – I’ve learned that publishing is complicated but not so complicated that not everyone can at least grasp the basics. :)

    Vicki – LOL. And there you go.

    Nurslings – Thanks!

  10. I have such a girl-crush on you right now. Thank you for being our voice since we have to nod and smile.

  11. Loved this post, Julie!!! Very well-said and absolutely true! smiles…

  12. Get ‘em Julie! Sometimes people need to be put in their place.

  13. Great post! Sadly the people who most need to read and understand this probably won’t. :( But it’s nice to know some bloggers/reviewers do get it.

  14. Wonderful article, Julie! (And wonderful site!) I hope this will help educate some of those folks who give the poor author 1 star because they felt the ebook was priced too high. Too often in this industry, the problem originates somewhere else, but it’s the author who pays the price ultimately. Bad cover? “Whoops, sorry,” the publisher says. “I guess it was a little misleading. Our bad.” But the author still “owns” it when it tanks.

  15. Yay for clear thinking! Great post Julie.

  16. Oh, such an awesome and thoughtful post! Thanks, Julie!

  17. Sometimes a rant is needed. Nicely done, Julie!

    I’d add one more pet peeve related to others’ behavior regarding ARCs. I hate seeing other bloggers complain about not getting an ARC. I see it a lot more with NetGalley. People complaining publically that they were denied an advanced copy of a book. You’re not entitled to free books just because you ask for it. Also, just because they are digital versions of the book, doesn’t always mean there is an unlimited number. It’s OK to be disappointed, or to contact the publisher privately and request again, but don’t be a bad sport. It’s just tacky.

    …and there’s my rant for the day. See what you started?

  18. I’m sure there are several authors out there right now ready to name April 21st “ST. JULIE DAY”

    …I’d support that movement. ;)

    <3 you

  19. Excellent post. Thank you! :-)

  20. I think I love you, Julie. Rant away. All awesome points and there are authors out there with their tongue pinched painfully between their teeth (because public image is everything) inwardly shouting … you tell ‘em girlfriend. (yes, I would be one of them)

  21. Great post! I think the same thing about ARCs. I get a few Uncorrected bindings to review and while I notice mistakes, I know they most likely won’t be in the finished product (hence the name of the finished copy). That’s why it’s called an uncorrected copy!

  22. Ava (Ann) – Anytime!

    Christi – It needed to be said, I think. And smiles back!

    Jen – “Get ‘em Julie” LMAO!

    Shannon – I know they won’t. I wish they did, but I know they won’t. I wanted to try at least. :)

    Norah – Aug! The one star thing over pricing drives me bonkers!

    amy and Bonnie – :)

    Carolyn – Thank you so much!

    Chelsea – I totally agree. Yes it sucks when you get turned down for an ARC, but it’s not just about getting a free book. I find shiny new bloggers don’t realize how much work you need to put into your blog before and after you get one. I liked your rant!

    Jess – I just literally snorted at your comment. You’re too cute. <3 you too!

    Heather – Thanks!

    Nina – “You tell ‘em girlfriend” I am and I will! lol

    Aimee – Exactly!!!

  23. Great post Julie, I agree with it 100%.
    I hate when people complain about ARCs, or give a book a low grade because of its price and not its content. Very well said.

  24. Great post Hun. I’m proud of you for putting a voice to a growing concern in the book blog community. You’re one amazing gland I love you. :)

  25. And by gland I mean “gal” lol damn autocorrect on the iPad lol

  26. LOL…I am glad that I am not the only one with issues with the auto-correct! smiles…

  27. *fucking high-five*

    I’ve seen so much animosity between authors and bloggers lately and I just don’t understand it. We need to appreciate EACH OTHER! As bloggers, we’re being done a huge favor by getting free copies (be them final or ARC) of books that everyone else has to pay for. We’re being given the opportunity to make ourselves known in the literary community and to make our opinions count. It’s stupid and selfish to ruin that by being demanding or petty.

    Authors have to primarily rely on bloggers to help create buzz about their books because unlike TV, movies and music, WE are their media! So again, we need to remember that we’re a TEAM :)

    I’m totally with you on this! Great post chica :)
    ♥Isalys

  28. Good rant. I got so annoyed when I read about the ARC spelling drama, I mean it says on the cover they have mistakes!! Arghh, it drove me insane, sure it can be annoying when this one sentence didn’t have any spaces between the words. Would I complain? Never since the book was not finished.

    And the prizing, oh sigh, posted this review on Amazon and there were 4 1 star reviews, all cos they complained that the ebook should be less.

    And then they complain to authors

  29. FANTASTIC, FABULOUS, AWESOME, AMAZING, GREAT, EYE-OPENING, WONDERFUL POST JULIE! I love the fact that your blog is light and fluffy and fun but I think that you deserve to speak your mind to help others out whenever you need to. I love my authors, I love to have a good relationship with them, I love to let them know how much I appreciate what they are doing for me…even when things confuse me or irritate me (like spelling and grammer in a book) I do not get mad at the author! Everyone makes spelling and grammer mistakes. I had an author visit my gradeschool a LONG time ago and they had said that the editors will edit your book but for each edit it costs money. You can’t keep editing a book until all of the mistakes are gone because you will end up losing a lot of money. You just have to take those mistakes in stride and even when they are annoying you have to look at the story as a whole and realize if you liked it or not. If you want to down-grade a book just for editing then I don’t want to know you! I am HUGE on grammer and spelling mistakes and I have NEVER degraded a book because of any grammer or spelling issues! And the whole ARC bashing just annoys me! I would give my left, and sometimes right, arm to get an ARC copy of a book that I am highly anticipating…for those readers who want to bash the ARCs: Stop asking for them, turn them down if it’s offered and let others who will completely appreciate it get the opportunity!

    Julie, thanks for asking the authors all these wonderful questions and I’m happy they could help you in answering them correctly. :-D

  30. Bookaholic Cat – Ratings should always and only go according to content! Great point!

    Stanley – Aw, thanks babe! And your auto-correct…LOL!

    Christi – Nope. Apparently you are not. lol

    Isalys – Appreciate each other. Love that. Love love that! And no one owes us anything. What we receive is a gift! Smile about it people!

    blodeuedd – I was cussing at the bloggers involved…but alas they could not hear me through my computer screen. ;)

    Deanna – These authors were VERY patient with me, let me tell you. LOL

  31. Great post Julie! It’s a shame that a minority of bloggers have such a poor attitude, it does everyone a disservice. It’s obvious that some have made no effort to understand the book business despite claiming status as a reviewer and the sense of entitlement by some is astonishing!
    I do have to say I sometimes consider it a wonder that print publishing by one of the big companies is still seen as the pinnacle of achievement, what with the control they wield over an author’s work. It must be incredibly difficult as an author to have so little say in the final presentation of their ‘baby’

  32. Great post Julie. If I ever got the chance to read an ARC I would not be complaining about a few errors especially since you it’s possible. Learned a lot from your post today.

  33. This post should also be required reading for new (or about to be) published authors. Thanks for the time and research that you put into it. It shines some often unknown light on how it really works between alot of publishers & authors. Good job!

  34. First of thank you for this post , I am one that is eternally grateful when I receive an ARC whether it be in print or PDFs form, I am also truly honored when they ask me for a review. When I started my blog I had no idea how to go about anything and when I received my first request I was so excited and still get that way.

    I personally don’t pay attention to spelling, misplaced commas or what not, if I am deeply engrossed in the book I just don’t notice it. As for rating because of price how could anyone do that? Seriously.

    As for pricing, IMO its like right now prices are going up on everything. But to disrespect the Author’s is what I really have a problem with. As many as I talked to in just a few short months they all have been incredibly sweet and kind. Blame the economy for it but not the Author’s.

  35. YOU GO, GIRL!!!!!!!! Awesome! Bravo!!!!

    I get infuriated when I go to Amazon and B&N and my favorite books are marked 1 star because of something the RETAILER did. Or they’re unhappy with the publishing date. Or some crap that has everything to do with anything BUT the book itself. ARGGG!!!

  36. Thanks for posting this, Julie! I couldn’t agree with you more.

  37. Shelleyrae – You are so right about it being a minority that is souring it for the rest of us. And as for an author ‘giving up’ control of their work to a main publisher… I guess it’s worth it. They get more exposure and their books are available everywhere. I bet every author weighs the pros and cons carefully before deciding. :)

    Judi – I was hoping people would learn from it. Thanks Judi!

    Adonna – I love that you said that! It means all my research and millions of questions were worth it! :)

    Donna – The last part of your comment: Well said!

    Pamela – I don’t bother looking at the average rating for a book on GR or Amazon anymore. People putting ratings there before the book is even out because they didn’t like the last book or the low ratings people give because of price etc… don’t reflect well there and ruin the average. I look at what my friends and followers rated it. It’s too bad it’s come to that, but there it is. So annoying.

    Jeanine – :)

  38. Um, I think I love you. FANTASTIC post.

  39. I LOVE this post..I’m going to share it with my author friends!!

  40. I found your website tonight and have been casually browsing through. I have found that book reviewers are kinda like wine critics, you have to know your own tastes to figure out if you are going to agree with or have common ground with the reviewer. I soon noticed that we do indeed share the same tastes in books but it was not until I saw this post that your awesomeness jumped out at me. Thank you for speaking out for those authors that we hold near and dear and for adding valid, helpful and intellectual knowledge to the world. Thanks most for not trying to be a ranting lunatic as we all seem to have enough of those in this crazy place called the web.

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