Saturday, 1 November 2014

How to lose an argument

It seems that famous literary agent Andrew Wylie, (aka 'The Jackal' after his supposed hard-nosed approach to book deals), has jumped on the anti-Amazon bandwagon by equating them with ISIS, that well-known but hardly commercial terrorist organisation currently murdering hundreds of people they don't like in the middle east. (I quote from the Guardian although there are other sources out there covering this issue).

In an industry known for hyperbole and making stuff up, this pronouncement takes the biscuit for sheer crassness. The last I heard, Amazon hadn't killed anyone who didn't match their own world views, nor threatened to build a caliphate or done any of the other truly awful things in the name of religion.

Perhaps Mr Wylie was trying to make a dramatic point and simply got carried away by his own outrage.

Unfortunately, he's hardly helping the argument that's taking up a lot of column inches at the moment by sinking to such extreme insults... nor by the apparent irony of his stance.

If, as he claims, Amazon is 'buried... in the sand... publishers will be able to raise the author's digital royalty to 40% or 50%.... and writers will begin to make enough money to live.'

Huh- what??

Why will doing away with Amazon make publishers pay higher royalties? Is that all it will take?

And why would they? They haven't shown much inclination so far.

Also, does he really think killing off the world's biggest bookstore/window/publishers' marketing machine (and that's paper books as well as ebooks, don't forget, not forgetting everything else they sell) will help publishers in any way to become more beneficent to authors?

Again, why? All it will do is make their sales figures even tougher to reach. But it will also harm the vast army of self-publishing authors (which includes quite a few legacy-published authors like me who also self-publish some of our work because we see writing as running a business and we're trying to make a living, Mr Wylie). But of course, he doesn't care about self-publishers, because we add nothing to his agency bottom line. We give him neither a slice on advances nor a chunk on royalties earned.

But he should at least spare a passing thought for the paper business that has helped him become so successful.

Or maybe in his outrage he'd forgotten that point...


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