I've written before, both here and in Writing Magazine, about the way the big so-called 'legacy' publishers are using Amazon to find and sign up successful self-publishers (in other words, using Amazon as a convenient and cheap slush-pile).
This apparent benevolence in helping poor, deluded self-publishers climb out of the jaws of Satan (Amazon) and skip laughing gaily into the hip and happy world of paper publishing (a la Big Five, of course), has been defended in the main by various members of the industry suggesting in roundabout ways that they are merely doing what they've always done - spotted talent and nurturing it, and being able to give the rescued authors all the publicity, support and marketing power at their disposal. Lucky authors.
What they don't appear at all keen to acknowledge upfront is that they noticed the authors because they already have very extensive sales on Kindle, a ditto following of eager readers... and the big part of the marketing effort (ie - getting an author's name to the attention of the buying public in the first place) has already been done by the author and Amazon.
All the legacy publisher has to do that is different is to publish the paper book.
Well, I draw your attention to an article in today's The Bookseller, which makes interesting if sobering reading for authors and writers alike, and shows up at least one BIG publisher who signed up Mark Edwards and Louise Voss in a six-figure deal in 2011 for four books, after they'd successfully published themselves on Amazon's Kindle and Thomas & Mercer.
Now it's allegedly gone very sour all round, with the publisher saying - among other things: "We... hoped that Mark and Louise’s legion of word-of-mouth fans would prove to be a loyal readership that would follow them through to physical and to their subsequent titles. Sadly, despite great efforts... "
In other words, they were hoping that all the pre-marketing by Edwards and Voss and their existing fans would do their job for them. Cheap.
The most interesting part, however, is the counter-claim by Edwards and Voss. I've a feeling from the strength of their response to HC's 'explanation' that the word 'bullshit' was lurking somewhere in the background, only Mark and Louise are undoubtedly too polite to say it.
Anyway, judge for yourselves by reading the article here. If what the authors say is true, all I can say is, it sounds horribly familiar, as I know several authors who have been 'dropped' because of sales not reaching an acceptable level. And the reason given by the authors? Oddly familiar:
There was no or very limited marketing by the publishers, and often no books in the bookshops for readers to find.
Happily, Edwards and Voss have reverted to Kindle, where they continue to be successful.
I wish them well. A happy escape.