"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Tabetha Jones and her cohorts arrived on my blog and created an amusing furor .
I stand by my statement that Phoenix Fire is run like a vanity press. They expect the authors to pay all of the costs up front. The established norm for a traditional publisher is that the publisher assumes all of the costs and gambles that the book will earn out its expenses. I am hoping to eventually be able to afford to pay a token advance to each author so that even if the book does not earn royalties, they at least have something to show for having published with Daverana.
“..,it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” said Shakespeare’s Macbeth. And such it is for what happened on my blog. So this becomes an article about what not to do.
I raised my daughter by the Socratic method. I turned arguments into questions. The Athenian philosophers confounded the Romans by arguing one side one day and the totally opposite on the other. When facts are presented to back up statements, they carry weight and can make for a lively and interesting discussion. This is NOT what happened with Tabetha and her cohorts. They came in guns blazing. Their arguments were not backed by facts. For instance, I was told repeatedly to go speak with various unnamed people to support her claim.
Tabetha’s comments, and those of her cohorts, were filled with irrelevant statements and endless insulting non sequitors. My questions to her were never answered. I got the usual reactions that are more appropriate to the famous “butthurt report form.”
Let’s start with her “60%” royalties. I asked her to tell me how she figured them. Traditionally, the author is given a fixed percentage of cover price. That does not vary unless (in print cases only) the book is remaindered or reduced in some other way. Trouble arises when the author is promised a percentage of the net. The net is what remains after all costs are covered. Hollywood and the music industry are famous for their creative accounting practices that can reduce the net to almost nothing. The author should not have to wait for their money until the costs are covered. That is not how it works. The author’s royalties should come off the top.
The publisher does not own the book. The publisher is renting the book. That is basically what a publishing contract is. The author sells the publisher license to publish. There are other forms, but I’m not going into them here (such as book packagers). The publisher assumes all costs. That’s just how it is.
Another old saying, “You catch more flies with a spoon of honey than a barrel of vinegar.” Tabetha needs to have that tattooed to her forehead so that every time she looks in the mirror she is reminded of it.
There is a huge difference between fame and infamy. Intelligent people will know what I am talking about.
Time and again, an author or publisher or artist gets criticized for what they are doing and the result is that they make a laughing stock of themselves by throwing a fit. That is infamy. No one ever takes them seriously again. At least no one of worth does. Now, I’ve put my foot in my mouth at times and had my cheeks burn for a week or more over it. But I did not repeat the error.
Tabetha continually repeats her actions expecting to have a different result.
Dog poops on the floor and instead of punishing him directly, you pat him on the head and “ooooh, honey, it’s not nice to poop on the floor. Mommy doesn’t want you to poop on the floor.” What does the dog do the next day? He poops on the floor.
The very first thing that a publisher, a writer, an artist needs to learn is to separate themselves from their work/company/whatever. A criticism of the work or the practice is not a criticism of the publisher/writer/artist as a person. The work and the actions stand alone and must speak for themselves. That and only that carries weight.
Another old saying (I’m in one of those anecdotal episodes, so bear with me) is “Actions speak louder than words.” So in this case we have two kinds of actions to weigh. First is the fact that she has not denied that the writer pays for everything. That makes her a vanity. There is no getting away from it. Second is that her behavior is childish.
So what is she saying about herself?
What should we take away from her example?
Well, you have to remove your ego from your work. Yes, positive reactions and reviews are wonderful and they fill us up with fruit of validation.
However, they do not teach us anything. What we learn from is the negative. We learn deeper and more extensively from what we failed at. That’s when we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and vow never to make that mistake again.
I believe in triangulation. I don’t know if shortwave guys still do this or not. If anyone knows, please let me know. But anyways, they have hunts. They have one member hide and let out a signal. Then three or more of them try to get a fix on it from different angles and finally the signals cross right and the hiding member is found.
Flaws in writing, actions, and art often can be revealed if enough negative feedback occurs and you start to see a pattern. I found a serious plot hole in My Sister’s Keeper (Journey of the Sacred King book one) when three readers had basically the same complaint. I was able to narrow it down and fix it. That’s the authorial blindspot, but that is also for another discussion.
What I am illustrating here is that both Lindsay Anne Kendal (Tabetha’s cover artist) and Tabetha herself could learn from the fact that they are getting this many complaints and negative observations here. They could fix the trouble. I have more hope for Lindsay than I do Tabetha.
Next point: I never allow the author to choose the cover. That is for me and the editors because most authors would shoot themselves in the foot in terms of marketing decisions. They don’t have enough experience or knowledge of what sells to make a good decision. The cover promotes the book. That is the first thing reader reacts to.
The publisher does not own the cover. Nor does the writer. Now, an artist can sell all rights, at which point the artwork becomes a stock image for the company or individual who bought it. However, normally the work is rented. The publisher acquires only certain rights and not complete ownership. These are spelled out in the artist’s contract. I mention this because Tabetha thought that having the author pay for the cover, which Tabetha commissions, is really quite novel and wonderful. Well, what do the authors then expect to do with the cover if they leave Tabetha’s company for another one? The new company is not going to want their edition (which might have been given a brand new edit and revision) to have the same cover the previous edition did. That’s just not done.
Well, you can’t eat a cover.
Anna Loobly posted the following comments.
“…attacking the authors title of their work is awful. What a rude man.”
“If the authors wants that as their cover that is up to them. It must have meaning to them.”
Let’s address it from a marketing stand point.
Authors want their books to sell. This is not entirely a point of vanity. If a publisher allows the author to have a cover and title that fails to catch the interest or, even worse, offend a reader or confuse one, then the book will not sell and in the end a disservice has been done to the author. It is a good publisher’s responsibility to prevent an author from shooting themselves in the foot.
Another good thing NOT to do is to add super glue to your foot once it is in your mouth.
Sometimes you have to swallow back the ugly comments you wish to make and suffer in silence. Or fix the situation after admitting you were wrong. It takes a big person to be able to sincerely admit they were wrong. That makes people like Tabetha about the size of Thumbelina. Please, if you hope to have a successful career or hobby, leave the super glue in the cabinet and your foot in your shoe.