Chuck Wendig shared a blog post about diversifying your book sales by not relying exclusively on Amazon. It’s OK advice to not put all your eggs in one basket. Personally I’m not worried, since I can always move my eggs whenever I want. Where I took umbrage is with the inclusion of traditional publishing as a way to diversify.
As I said in my comment on Chuck’s blog, traditional publication is not a diversification strategy. It is an exit strategy. You no longer own your eggs. You can’t pull them from Amazon, you can’t change the price, the cover, or anything at all. You get a royalty. That’s it. Your basket is empty, and some other chef is using your eggs in whatever recipe he wants. If you want a quiche and he is making scrambled eggs, that’s just tough. That might be stretching the analogy to the breaking point.
I didn’t expect Chuck to respond to my comment, but he did. Chuck called my comment paranoid and oversimplified. That seemed a little harsh, but I haven’t looked into the traditional route in a while, so I thought I’d see what the mainstream folks thought. In Publisher’s Weekly’s book deals, each deal is described as the publisher taking the rights (not licensing, as Chuck would have it). Writer’s Digest has an entire section called Sell My Work. Google searches confirm many folks are seeking to sell their work. If I’m paranoid and oversimplifying things, so are many others.
I’m not sure why Chuck responded the way he did. Exit is a perfectly legitimate strategy. Entrepreneurs look for it all the time. It’s explicitly discussed and planned for. Not everyone is want to be their own publisher. I love having the creative and business control. You (or Chuck) may not. That’s fine and dandy like sour candy. My only point is that selling your eggs is not the same as protecting the basket. Sorry for any offense, Chuck.
This post wasn’t too funny. Let me make it up to you, check out my book, And God Said… One hearty laugh guaranteed, or your pizza is free!*
* There is no actual pizza.
If your description is accurate (and I have no doubt whatsoever that it is) then I agree with you about trad pub being an exit strategy. I also think you make an interesting point that “exit” does not equal “bad” or “undesirable.”
Another really good, enjoyable, and thoughtful post.