Home > Writing > More on Publish Ameri–I Mean, Penguin’s Book Country

More on Publish Ameri–I Mean, Penguin’s Book Country

I know, I know, I’m back again with another post castigating Penguin’s Book Country for ripping a page from the Publish America playbook to fleece writers–again. But this is such an important first response to the changes in the publishing industry that it deserves more dwell time.

Firstly though, please check out an article which appeared on PaidContent, where the dissection of the scam begins in earnest.

Then, take a breath and prepare to chuckle mightly at Penguin’s official response, on the following page.

This is getting a lot of play in the blogosphere, and for good reason: this is a mainstream publisher basically admitting up front that they’re going to take the money of inexperienced, ignorant writers and run with it. Not that the writers themselves are blameless; Dean Wesley Smith has been lashing out at them as well for continuing to be, well, stupid.

What’s most insidious about this entire episode is that Penguin was, until last week anyway, regarded as a very prominent and prestigious publisher. They’ve essentially vaporized that reputation in one fell swoop, and are likely wondering why they’re floating in the water amidst a spreading pool of blood…and what’s with all the circling sharks all of a sudden?

Y’see, some writers really aren’t as dumb as a pile of bricks, and what Penguin has done is to essentially shit the bed during a game of Fart Football and call to switch sides. And they expect all the writers out there to do just that.

It’s things like this which make the self-publish movement even stronger. In short, this was a very, very bad idea, and the Penguin Group is going to continually take shots to the snot locker every time they release another pandering press release where they attempt to shine up this turd and sell it to the more knowledgeable public.

About the only thing that could make this worse is if a major literary agency–like Trident Media Group–suddenly came out and said their epublishing endeavor is better than Penguin’s. Yeah, that’s the ticket…you really want a literary agency to compete directly with a major publisher, especially when that agency still submits work to the publisher in question. Great jumpin’ Jesus, how did this stuff get so nutty?

The answer is pretty simple: blame Amazon.

Amazon broke the sacred rice bowl into about a zillion fragments when they started giving authors a much better cut on their product than the traditional publishers could. No, change that–than traditional publishers would. Instead of forcing writers to sign draconian contracts that are essentially full of non-compete clauses and restrict the transfer of rights for virtually any reason (remember, these are the rights that the writer is supposed to be able to control, as the creator of the material), the traditional publishers could have licked a finger, held it into the wind, and figured out which way it was blowing. They could have elected to play the game a little more fairly.

Instead, they elected to try and butt-rape writers once again. The only good thing that’s coming out of this is that there are a lot of smart, savvy folks out there now who can call them on it. I’m not as eloquent and gentile as most of my peers, so I’ll do the same thing, only my way:

Penguin? You’re a bunch of numbnuts, and I hope you go broke.

(And by the way, the zombies took out Fort Campbell.)

  1. November 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Holy Fuck-nuts Batman…could they be that back-asswards.

    Anyone that questions Konrath’s tone, demeanor, vernacular, whatever you want to call it. Look no further. I really, really see all the angst and resentment that bleeds from his posts now. I thought I understood from learning the details of things like non-compete clauses but that’s only one symptom of a much, much larger condition.

    This shows what Big 6 execs and management really think about writers.

    We’re all really supposed to be so stupid and pathetic that a PR, sales pitch, news release will make this fly infested turd mound look like a rose patch.

    The release you linked above isn’t new BTW, Gaugran had it linked the day after this first broke.
    I thought we would have a fresh one, give them a few days to chew it over I guess. I expect we’ll hear a formal rebutal sometime this week.

    And YES Steve…this deserves to be blogged about repeatedly.

    Good times.


    • November 22, 2011 at 7:51 am

      It’s annoying as hell that a formerly reputable publisher could suddenly become so transparently predatory…and they think it’s all okay and above board. Screw ’em, I sez.

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