Declaration of Independence for Writers

declarationWhen we first met, I mentioned the self-publishing revolution as one of my reasons for launching Year of the Book. We are poised on the brink of a broad shift from legacy publishing houses (putting out ca. 325k titles per year) to a predominance of self-published releases (ca. 2.1M titles in 2010).

To say that some authors are viewing this as a battle, or perhaps a even a war, is no longer just hyperbole. While the satirical value of midlist author, Joe Konrath’s “Declaration of Independence for Writers” is extraordinarily high, the nature of his battle cry — and the breadth of his reach — foretell a near future in which authors at major publishing houses will begin to reject advance offers in favor of retaining rights to their works and earning higher royalties through self-publishing than they ever realized before.

You can link to Joe Konrath’s extensive and informative blog above, but I’ll quote the Declaration below (and I hope Joe won’t mind!). Your comments are welcome here, or on Joe’s site. You will find that he is not afraid of sharing his sales numbers and actual dollar profits, and they do reinforce his decision to leave legacy publishing. It will be interesting to see how others react to his posts from this past week.

All my best, Demi

The Declaration of Independence for Writers

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have “nurtured” them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.

The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren’t properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors’ ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors’ Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They’ve failed the vast majority of authors, period.

This blog has documented nearly every stage of these Oppressions, and in many cases offered solutions to publishers, and has been answered with only silence and derision.

But that’s okay. Because now authors have a choice.

I don’t need legacy publishing, and I will never be taken advantage of again. I declare myself independent of the entire archaic, broken, corrupt system.

And I won’t be the last to do so.

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