Especially in publishing. If this week has taught me anything, it is that nothing is for sure. Allegedly, an author had Amazon taking all her royalties from one book against returns of another book. At Amazon’s request and with an email to purchasers. Then, rumors started flying that it was a conspiracy against her for choosing to go from self-publishing to traditional publishing. Then, fuel was added to the fire with allegations of the entire song lyrics from a Rolling Stones song had been in her previously self-published book. Whew!! It is enough to make your head spin.
Next, it turns out that Random House didn’t just go digital first with new imprints, but straight to vanity publishing. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) took RH to task for a craptastic contract that made writers not eligible for membership in their organization if they published with the science fiction imprint of RH. With terms that have the writer responsible for all costs to put out a book; editing, covers, production, and more. Turns out the mystery and romance imprint contract are equally “onerous and unconscionable” according to SFWA President John Scalzi.
There are no sure things in life or life in publishing. You have to be on your toes at all times. Publishers and self-publishing vendors write contracts and Terms of Service that benefit themselves. If writers were doing the contract writing we would do it to benefit ourselves as well. Knowledge is power. Don’t give it away. Don’t lose it.
On top of all the amazing things that have come from the self-publishing revolution, the best is knowledge. Writers are no longer gagged by non-disclosure orders. We are sharing the good news and the bad, the sales that get you on the New York Times Bestsellers List, and the information that a vendor is down for the day. Information about new vendors opening up or the helpful hints about formatting and editing.
There may be no sure thing, except that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor anymore.