Afternoon, Snowflakes! I’m debuting a new feature today – my Friday Roundup! Every Friday, I’ll be commenting on what I’ve seen around the interwebz during the week. And if you have a tip or a story for me, please contact me! You might be featured on next week’s Roundup!
So. Let’s start with the big one: Amazon vs. Hachette. Lord. There has been so much digital ink devoted to this story – and probably real ink, too, I don’t know, I don’t read papers or magazines much. The amazing J.A. Konrath has several posts up about the dispute currently, but this one is probably the most thorough. And everyone and their dog has a post up about how evil Amazon is, so I’m not linking to those.
The story in a nutshell: Amazon and Hachette are involved in business negotiations. Hachette wants higher book prices; Amazon wants to sell at a discount. Amazon has removed pre-order buttons from Hachette titles. Hachette – and many in the traditional publishing community – have called Amazon a “bully” and a “monopoly”, both of which are patently ridiculous. Defenders of tradpub are calling for people to boycott Amazon and shop at indie bookstores – which, I shouldn’t need to tell you, don’t actually carry indie books. Well, sometimes they do, on consignment, which is how I lost money having my book carried at my local “indie” bookseller.
My take: I’m on Amazon’s side. They’re conducting contract negotiations. They’ve done nothing illegal – unlike Hachette, who were fined for price collusion with Apple and the other Big 5 publishers in 2012. They are definitely not a monopoly, not even in ebooks, considering Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, local bookshops, and publishers’ own websites.
Tradpub has problems. Big problems. Problems that must, to them, just look a lot like Amazon. They’re not happy that writers needn’t beg at the gates anymore – only to be ignored in favor of absolute shit – and perhaps they think that slamming Amazon all over the media will make them look better.
But those same authors who don’t have to go to them for approval anymore don’t have to be told what to think, either. Amazon’s done an amazing job at democratizing the publishing process – and increasing the profits for writers. Are there a lot of shitty self-pubbed novels? Sure! Are there a lot of shitty trad-pubbed novels? Are you kidding me? (Yes, each one of those words is a different link.)
As I prepare to go full indie, not because I can’t write, but because I’m tired of begging for “legitimacy” at the cost of controlling my own art, I’m certainly not going to side with gatekeepers who think what I do isn’t worth anything. I know it is – and I know you do, too, or you wouldn’t be here – and I’m sick of someone thinking they know better for me than I do.
Welcome to the anarchist revolution of publishing, Big 5. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
In other news that’s strangely connected, Ruth Graham thinks that Young Adult books are only for kids, and you should be embarrassed you’re not reading exclusively “literature”.
In a clickbait-y piece at Slate, Graham manages to insult YA readers, YA writers, and genre readers and writers all in one fell swoop. None of us, you see, is writing literature, and since boring books with unlikable characters and unsatisfying endings are the only things adults should read, we’re all failing at adulting. Or something. No, really:
Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering. These endings are emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction. These endings are for readers who prefer things to be wrapped up neatly, our heroes married or dead or happily grasping hands, looking to the future. But wanting endings like this is no more ambitious than only wanting to read books with “likable” protagonists.
There it is. This appreciation for YA litfic is simply a reaction to adult litfic having just about zero likable characters ever and almost no plots. That’s why I don’t read literary fiction, and I don’t think it’s a shame – and it’s why I pour my literary talent into genre fiction, where I can have a rip-roaring plot and fun characters AND get to talk about the big stuff. But no. To Graham, YA is too “satisfying”, its characters too “likable”. Yes. Most of us read for escape, for entertainment. If the only reading of value is reading that bores and confounds us, why would anyone do it? There’s no shame in satisfaction or likability, and thinking there is only shows you to be trying WAY too hard to prove how “artistic” or “cultured” you are.
I have two words for the author: