If you’re a writer of any sort, I don’t have to fill you in on the whole Hatchette/Amazon business. And, if you’re up on things, I probably don’t have to inform you of a recent letter from some of the top big name authors requesting letters be sent to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in order to save authors and writing and literature and to let Hachette get its way. There was then an equal response thrown together by Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, et al, (independent publishing’s loudest voices) suggesting authors take a good look at what exactly is being fought over and realize that the only thing at stake is authors rights.
That being said, Hugh and Joe have written follow up articles regarding the possible need for a Writers union and out of all of this, I clung to one particular statement of Joe Konrath’s: “The only two groups required in a reader and writer relationship is the reader and the writer. Everyone else is a middleman that needs to prove his value.”
I’m sure I’ve read this before from Joe, but it finally found its mark,
I guess. Can you name the publisher of the last book you read (assuming it wasn’t self published)? Maybe you can. Maybe you’re one of those people who know that kind of thing. Me? I have no clue. I couldn’t tell you a single one. And, you know what? It doesn’t matter. When I open a book, my relationship starts with the author, not the publisher. When I turn to the first page, I am assuming (perhaps wrongly) that I am entering into a world and reading a story created by the author.
So, where does the role of the publisher stand in all of this? Are they really the gatekeepers of quality writing? Are they the protector of readers everywhere, defending them from bad stories and driveling tomes? Is that their primary concern? I doubt it. Publishing is about making money, and if your story won’t make money, then it won’t be
published. That’s the cold hard truth and one that readers should understand when they see a book on a shelf versus a self-published book online. The quality of the writing had nothing to do with where these books were published and whether they would make a corporation money did.
Readers need to know this. Authors are about writing stories and good stories can come from anyone. We shouldn’t put all of our trust in “gatekeepers of quality” when those gatekeepers have a financial stake in the results. It means bias is applied at the gate and not the kind of bias that guarantees a well-written, interesting story.
(Most) Authors write for their readers. It’s what we live for, to tell stories that people like to read. It’s what always motivates my writing. It’s a great relationship to have and a simple one at that. Write good stories for readers who like to read good stories. Where is the need for a third party in that relationship? There isn’t one.
I hope you’ll think about this the next time you’re looking for a new book.