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Note from Hachette Regarding eBook Sales

As I mentioned previously, I had emailed Hachette about these concerns Ms. Carriger had posted about the underreporting of ebook royalties and how that may be harming authors. This was causing readers to think that they shouldn’t buy digital. I received the following response (reposted with permission):

Dear Jane

Neil has passed on your email below, since it relates to Orbit author Gail Carriger, and I’m very happy to respond to your two questions.

We are, of course, delighted for readers to buy our authors’ books in either print or digital editions, and either is considered beneficial to an author rather than harmful. You might have seen that Gail emphasizes that she is very happy for readers to buy her e-books in an update to her post.

On e-book royalty accounting, Gail does say in the post that she has no reason to think that Hachette Book Group is inaccurately reporting e-book sales. We are very confident that our royalty accounting processes are rigorous, and, per our public announcement in 2010, we employ an outside company (RoyaltyShare) to ensure that our e-book accounting is detailed and accurate. We are very happy to address any concerns that our authors or their agents might have in this area.

Sincerely
Tim
Tim Holman
VP, Hachette Book Group
Publisher, Orbit & Yen Press

Hachette Book Group

Indeed Carriger has updated her post to say:

[Yet another codicil. This last statement seems to have caused a kerfuffle. I don't believe I am ebookist, and I apologize if it seems like I am. Please if you want to consume books that way, you absolutely should. Trust me, no one is more "anti the collection of unnecessary objects" than me. Just ask my ex! No one knows exactly how NYT constructs its list (for good reason) and I am simply trying to articulate what I have been told over the past couple of years in greenrooms, in chats with other authors, agents, and so forth. Kris Rush's investigation and the resulting conversations at conventions and in writer forums have many authors worried. However, I have heard nothing in conjunction with my own house and I have been ridiculously well treated by Orbit, so much so, we stayed with Hachette for my new series.]

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

47 Comments

  1. Sunita
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 17:40:05

    So, let me understand. Carriger posted all that stuff about how ebooks don’t count, failed to correct all those fans who were upset that their e-purchases didn’t help her, without ever checking with her own publishing house.

    Instead, she relied on

    what I have been told over the past couple of years in greenrooms, in chats with other authors, agents, and so forth.

    Head, meet desk.

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  2. KB/KT Grant
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 17:43:17

    If you got such a fast response by sending an email, why didn’t Gail do the same thing? Isn’t this something agents and their authors would be told be their publisher if they asked how e-book royalty accounting is done?

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  3. Shannon Stacey
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 18:18:22

    Please if you want to consume books that way, you absolutely should.

    As long as I also buy a paperback copy to give away to a friend. A paperback I don’t buy online, but rather from a proper brick & mortar store during the first week of the book’s release. And if that proper brick & mortar store doesn’t have it, I’m not to order it. I’m to drive to another store, and make sure it’s a different chain so as to punish the first, until I find that paperback copy.

    That was interesting reading.

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  4. Jane
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 18:42:36

    @KB/KT Grant: I don’t really know why Carriger would choose to make the statements she initially did. It is something that has authors really concerned but one would wish that those authors and their agents would work this out with their publishers instead of telling readers not to buy certain formats because it is hurting their bottom line.

    If an author came out and said I have had an audit and my publisher X is underreporting my ebook sales, please don’t buy ebook right now, I would seriously entertain that.

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  5. Mary Anne Graham
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 18:48:07

    At my law firm the Senior Partner will sometimes ask one of our insurance carriers to have a “Come to Jesus” talk with an insured. It’s usually an insured who’s been sued and (despite all the provisions in their insurance contract) won’t work with our office to defend the case.

    After the insurance company explains that the insured can cooperate or the company will withdraw the defense – the insured generally has a “born again” experience. He/she can’t do enough to cooperate.

    My strong suspicion would be that the publisher had a “Come to Jesus” talk with the author who promptly found a new tune to sing.

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  6. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 20:00:51

    I feel sorry for Gail here. Yes, she opened her mouth (or moved her fingers) and inserted her foot (or stepped on them with a booted heel), but I strongly suspect she believed what she was writing at the time, not just about her book, but about other authors’ books in general. The way I read her post, she was suggesting not only that readers who want to help their authors do this “buy print from a B&M store” thing not merely for her books, but for the books of any author they truly wish to support. Right or wrong about her facts, I feel her heart was largely in the right place. And now, I suspect she’s in a bit of hot water with Hachette for having spoken out of school as well as in hot water with all the readers who took her suggestions as commands.

    None of which is to say I agreed with the tenor of the original post. Never ask what your readers can do for you, that’s my motto!

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  7. Courtney
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 20:02:38

    Carriger has demonstrated a complete and utter lack of disregard for true, accurate facts (impacting both readers and her publisher) along with disregard for her readers. Count me among those who are so completely turned off by this that I will never buy one of her books based solely on this. A lot of people talk about being “immaculate with their word,” since words have the ability to harm. Too bad this author didn’t think about the power of her words and her message.

    I’m also, frankly, disgusted her her laissez faire attitude about the “kerfluffle” she caused. She strikes me as an author with an inflated sense of entitlement.

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  8. Bren
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 22:47:41

    I never understand the whole “this person said/did something I don’t agree with so I’m not buying their books, so THERE” philosophy. Do you boycott blockbuster movies because an actor has different politics than you or said something you thought was annoying? Do you refuse to listen to good music because the artist wears clothes you don’t like or has a bizarre hair style?

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  9. Kinsey
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 23:15:10

    I think Gail wrote what she was thinking before she a) did the research and b) stopped to think about how it would sound to readers and c) thought about it some more before she hit “send.”

    I attended her session at RT, and I’ve read interviews with her, and never did she come across as one of those authors who thinks readers are there to worship her and advance her career – and believe me, such authors are not rare.

    I’ve read and followed many an author freakout, and this wasn’t one.

    I like her books – I’m on the second one and, like the first, I bought it in e.

    I think her post was misinformed and impolitic, but it’s certainly nothing to make me stop buying her books. There are several authors who’ve behaved so badly online that I could never buy them again (I miss you, Alice Hoffman, but hey, that’s why God made Paperback Swap) but this does not rise to that.

    I think she’s cringing about that post, and she has my sympathy.
    .

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  10. Honeywell
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 23:56:14

    @Bren:

    I never understand the whole “this person said/did something I don’t agree with so I’m not buying their books, so THERE” philosophy. Do you boycott blockbuster movies because an actor has different politics than you or said something you thought was annoying? Do you refuse to listen to good music because the artist wears clothes you don’t like or has a bizarre hair style?

    Yes. Usually because my disgust, dislike–whatever–would taint my enjoyment of the product but sometimes it just feels good to get a little “take that” jab in there by withholding my money. Each situation is different but basically it’s all about me and what would give me the most pleasure–always. Nothing hard to understand about that really. This situation for example?

    I’ve heard great things about the first book in this series and even though it doesn’t particularly interest me I knew I’d get around to buying and reading it eventually to see what all the fuss was about. Except now all of that good buzz is overwhelmed by that dipshit blog post and the follow up comments.

    Buy two books? On release day? But not at this retailer or in E? Ha! Now you get none. <–See that? Feels good.

    Better than giving her my money at any rate. Is that petty? Probably but I'm not a masochist and this is my entertainment we're talking about here so I'm ok with it.

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  11. Sao
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 03:08:29

    I found the ‘don’t buy in the format and at the time and place most convenient for you, instead run all over town tracking down my book on release day because I’ve heard a lot of Internet rumors’ message to be quite offensive. If I loved the books, it would weigh a bit on the library side of the library/buy decision, but with an author I haven’t read, it’s definitely going to make me choose to try another author instead.

    I go to the bookstore with the plan to buy a few books, with a larger list of possibles. I rarely have a must-have-this-book-and-no-other purchase.

    So would I have a ha, take that attitude? No. Would I be likely to buy the author’s book? Realistically, no, with very rare exceptions.

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  12. ms bookjunkie
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 04:03:51

    Can someone explain to me what an “ebookist” is? No matter how many times I read that phrase, I still can’t figure out the meaning. :(

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  13. Kerry Allen
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 05:01:26

    Ms. Bookjunkie – “Ebookist” is meant to be discriminatory, like “racist” or “sexist.”

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  14. Cara
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 05:55:34

    @Bren For me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, it’s less a matter of being ragey and “punishing” the author by not buying than it is simply remembering a name in a negative light and moving on to one of the thousands of other authors with interesting stories to read. Good books are not a rarity. Yes, there’s a lot of dreck out there, but there are also plenty of other writers, many who are undoubtedly more talented than whichever online-drama-queen-of-the-week is up now. And the next time I’m shopping for something new to read and I’m looking at my ‘wishlists,’ given the choice between Soulless and the rest, I’ll be a lot less likely to pick up the former, simply because of the negative association with the author. It’s less vindictiveness and more, “Oh, that’s by that dingaling with the obnoxious and uninformed livejournal blog. Meh. Moving on.”

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  15. DS
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 07:08:58

    @Bren: I have a short list of people I don’t buy because of their position on certain issues. Orson Scott Card has been at the top for a very long time. What Carriger did doesn’t get her close to being put on it. And a lot of authors who throw fits on the internet aren’t anyone I would buy anyway.

    However, it sticks with you. I reached out to pick up a book on a bookstore shelf and got an unpleasant feeling so I never picked it up. As I kept browsing I remembered what that particular author had done. So it sticks in your subconscious and as someone above said would taint the experience of reading the book.

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  16. Las
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 07:59:57

    @Jackie Barbosa: I strongly suspect she believed what she was writing at the time, not just about her book, but about other authors’ books in general.

    I don’t doubt it, but that doesn’t change the fact that she went off without confirming the facts. She’s not some random person spouting her ignorant opinions on her blog, she’s writing to her readers as an author, about a subject that, because she’s an author, one can reasonably assume she has a lot of knowledge about. She just can’t go off running her mouth (or fingers) like that.

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  17. ms bookjunkie
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 08:23:00

    @Kerry Allen: Thanks. I thought it must something like that, but figured I’d ask since that quote kept showing up in my blog reading, irritating the heck outta me. There’s something really jarring about its use.

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  18. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 09:07:53

    @Las: I know. Gail goofed. I think she knows it. I think she undoubtedly regrets it.

    But she’s human. Humans goof. It’s sort of sad that we’ve reached the point where authors aren’t allowed to be human anymore. I think everyone should get at least one “get out of jail free” card for incidents like this. Just because nobody’s perfect.

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  19. Jessica
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 09:41:32

    Count me in the “I will never buy a Carriger book again” crowd. I was leaning towards that anyway just because the story got weaker with each book and I do value a good story, but I would’ve kept her soon-to-be-released on my will-consider pile. And then came her post on what formats and where a reader must buy to support their author.

    I see these comments saying “She may be a writer but she’s also human and she’s going to make mistakes” but there is a major difference between making a mistake and coming across as first entitled, second wrong, and third, “doesn’t get it”.

    On a very related note, if it took her publishing company responding to an email and possibly discussing said email with Carriger to inspire her backtracking on her initial post, two things. First, good on Orbit/Hachette for taking some responsibility (I would like to see them add “readers” in their “may contact us with questions bit”, but it’s a decent start). Second, I would believe and feel slightly better about Carriger’s addition/”apology” if I felt it was coming from genuinely wanting folks to enjoy her work in any format and realizing that her words did insult a good chunk of her readers instead of “Oops, I screwed up big! Let me cover my tracks!”

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  20. Brian
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 09:42:20

    I guess I didn’t get to overly worked up about what she wrote. After reading a few lines I could tell she was misinformed and just kind of rolled my eyes at the whole thing and quit reading. It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever seen an author post on their blog or a message board.

    For anyone who’s interested in her books Hachette/Orbit is releasing the first three as an omnibus called The Parasol Protectorate: Books 1-3 in ebook format(s). I’ve only checked Amazon and B&N, but it can be pre-ordered ;-) for $9.99 and releases on July 4th. Not a bad price for three books.

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  21. Keishon
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 11:25:04

    @Bren:

    I never understand the whole “this person said/did something I don’t agree with so I’m not buying their books, so THERE” philosophy. Do you boycott blockbuster movies because an actor has different politics than you or said something you thought was annoying? Do you refuse to listen to good music because the artist wears clothes you don’t like or has a bizarre hair style?

    I’ll bite too. If I already read the author who is making an ass out of himself/herself chances are I will still read them. The work has already spoken for itself. For me, it’s the other writers who yet to prove themselves that lose out when they spout off controversial or offensive shit online or elsewhere.

    True, we should be able to separate the work from the person and I usually do by not reading author blogs but once in a great while without your looking for it, you’ll get a whiff of some odorous comments made by a writer and that usually stays with you. For a long time. Not fair but such is life.

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  22. Maili
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 11:39:57

    @Jackie Barbosa: Unfortunately, it becomes a different story when the money is involved.

    It’s fine if she’d ranted about digital books, piracy, readers’ rudeness, badly written reviews or whatnot. In this case, she’s using reader loyalty to gain a place on a best-selling list by asking for their support in form of buying two copies.

    No reader is a mindless sheep, but come on, emotional blackmail or guilt trip for the sake of financial gains is never an elegant idea.

    Yes, she’s human and yes, nobody’s perfect, but she’s spoken to her regular commentators. Some might have a dilemma: a) lie about buying two copies, b) feel guilty enough to buy two copies that they may not afford, or c) leave or lurk from there on. No reader – especially a fan – should ever be put in that horrible position. It may not be safe space for some readers too any more.

    It’s not that different from inviting acquaintances to your dinner party, then ask them to pay for the food when they accepted the invitation.

    I agree that her post is not a biggie, but I think theis chorus of disapproval online is there to remind some authors not to commit this social faux, in case they think it’s an acceptable practice. So I believe it’s not all directed at Gail Carriger herself.

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  23. Christine Rimmer
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 12:18:07

    I also feel sympathy for Carriger. She answered a private question from a reader in a public forum. Not a good choice. And then she was somewhat misinformed. That didn’t help. And then the tone of her post came off as a sort of a “Let them eat cake” approach, even though, on re-reading it, I can see she meant it to be humorous and in her own style. I cringe when I think of some of the foot-in-mouth moments I’ve perpetrated as an author. But an honest, heartfelt apology does go a long way.

    And I also have trouble reading an author when I’m pissed off at her–or him. I used to love Marion Zimmer Bradley. But then she said some things about romance that chapped my butt. Never read her again. As a reader, I do feel I “know” the author–not in a creepy stalker way (!)–but in an “I want to hang around with this voice and this mind and this heart” kind of way. So if they do or say something I can’t respect or that arouses hurt or anger in me, I’m waiting for the come-to-Jesus moment before I read them again. Until then, I just don’t want to hang around with their voice anymore.

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  24. Courtney
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 12:50:53

    “But an honest, heartfelt apology does go a long way.” Yes, Christine, it absolutely does, but where is Carriger’s apology? I have yet to see her issue one and even in her edits to address concerns, as I said above, she came off as very entitled.

    Writers, above all else, should understand the power of their words.

    Bren-Yes, I actually do make purchasing decisions be it for books or movies in part, based on how I feel about the actor/writer. There are a lot of great choices out there for where I put my money. Frankly, I don’t want to support someone like Carriger who lacks an appreciation for her audience. For similar reasons, I don’t read Lora Leigh anymore nor will I pick up any author who bashes “chick lit.” I have no desire to contribute to those authors’ bottom line.

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  25. Christine Rimmer
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 13:14:22

    @Courtney: Courtney, I guess I wasn’t clear. I meant that if she were to put out an honest apology, it would go a long way.

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  26. Courtney
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 13:34:35

    Agreed, Christine. : )

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  27. Sirius
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 14:20:45

    I guess, and please note I have not bought a single book by Gail Carriger before this post and am not planning to buy after this post, so I am not personally involved at all, while I totally understand and was annoyed myself when author said something offensive and more than once, usually I almost never follow up on the thoughts of never buying such author. I definitely HAD those thoughts and more than once, but almost never followed up. Simply because I feel that if I liked the writing before I saw something idiotic the author will say, I will be the loser too, because I will take a great story away from myself. Although I do agree that it is much harder not to buy the author you are reading already than to not start new one. Again, I think it is partially because I am mostly reading mm romance and maybe it is much easier to find really good writers in the land of het romance, in the land of mm, well it is getting much better, but not as easy no.

    So, unless author spouts something racist and/or homophobic, I usually get annoyed for a day or two and will probably continue reading especially if I already liked the author’s works. Totally get why others would not though and as I said had those temptations myself.

    There is only one writer whom I refused to try for few years now, because I felt that the writer continuiously verbally abuses reviewers who are not in awe of the books this person writes. And every time I am thinking oh maybe I should, I see the new evidence that this person still has the same mindset.

    Everybody else? Read many unpleasant things, but still buying. We shall see if I feel differently in the future.

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  28. Estara
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 15:19:58

    @Mary Anne Graham: Thank you for that lovely bit of mental imagery ^^

    @Kerry Allen: Heh, I sort of thought so, but what about psychologist then? ;-)

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  29. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 15:29:55

    @Maili: Believe me, that post rubbed me wrong up one side and down the other. I briefly frothed at the mouth, but now that I’ve had a chance to think about it for a day or two, I’ve calmed down a bit and see it a little less as Gail talking how readers can help her personally and more about how readeers can help any author whose work they enjoy. I don’t see Gail saying “help ME get on the NYT by doing these things” so much as, “if you want to help an author, me or anyone else, get on the NYT.” They are a bit hard to separate, and the fact that a lot of what she says is pretty clearly inaccurate/untrue doesn’t help, but I’m still inclined to cut her a bit of slack.

    That said, I agree with those who feel like she’d be well-served to offer up an honest, heartfelt apology, not merely for appearing to scold readers into particular behaviors on her behalf, but for spreading a good deal of misinformation as though it were gospel. Readers don’t owe authors anything, including their business. Authors owe readers their gratitude, the best books they can possibly write, and, when they goof, an apology. So, yeah, I’d like to see Gail work on that ;).

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  30. knstrick
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 18:18:18

    I’m a little biased in opinion because I like Carriger’s books and have been reading them since the first one, but I’ll toss out my opinion anyway.

    After reading Carriger’s blog off and on for awhile I feel like I have a better view of her personality than someone who was just made of aware of her presence by this incident. I always find it funny/interesting how people can completely judge an individual they have had little to no interaction with by one mistake that was probably only brought to their attention by a social network and word-of-mouth underground.

    I understand that this is human nature and won’t be changing anytime soon, but I find it a little amusing in a sad, shaking-of-the-head way.

    Carriger has spent a lot of time answering her reader’s questions, engaging with them on her blog, and going to not only book but steampunk conferences (because there is a fan base of steampunk enthusiasts as oppose to romance readers involved). She has, what I believe to be, a persona of a Victorian lady very similar to her protagonist and the time period in which she writes. I think this would explain her use of language in the posts, especially the use of ‘kerfluffle’. Or she could be trying to down play the incident to save face, who knows.

    Nothing on her blog before this incident has ever given me reason to pause or to think her a ‘greedy’ author trying to manipulate readers into buying books.

    I think, if one was going to be completely fair, Carriger should be judged by her author career as a whole and not by one instance. As it’s a relatively young career, I can only hope as a fan she won’t disappoint me in the future.

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  31. Jane
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 19:27:03

    @knstrick What prompted me to post wasn’t that she was asking people to buy books in a certain matter, but that she, as an author with an avid following, was perpetuating false information. This false information wasn’t clarified until someone called her on it. Even now, her post still perpetuates inaccuracies. When commenters at her site reported how guilty they felt for buying e she did not correct their erroneous conclusions. Readers here and on twitter were worried that their Kindle purchases would mean the author would be cheated. This is what I had a problem with.

    I hope that she and other authors who have maintained publicly that they believe they aren’t receiving their ebook royalties as they should will promulgate the word that this is not something that the readers should be concerned about and that the readers should not feel guilty about where they purchase the book.

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  32. Cindy
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 20:14:08

    I think what bothered me the most with her original post was the wanting people not to buy the e-copy or to buy 2 copies. Hmm. If I spend the money on 2 copies (in any format) that means I have to let another book that I want to read go, and why? For a second copy of a book that I would read once? Agreed that I have never read her blog so I have no idea about her personality or anything like that. I’m more disinclined to buy her books because I have heard they were getting weaker. So I will contentedly wait until they show up in a UBS so I can tell. After reading the Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris book, my standard for a steampunk story of any kind is currently very high.

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  33. knstrick
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 20:26:53

    @ Jane
    I understand your reasons for posting and wanting to clarify the situation. As a reader I also want to be informed of what will help an author versus what will hinder an author. I agree with your statement that regardless of the outcome for authors, readers should not feel guilty about where or how they purchase books.

    I guess what bothered me about the whole presentation of this issue is that I was under the impression that there were many authors who felt similar to Carriger, but she was the only one who posted about it and therefore the only one singled out in the discussion.

    If you were to poll a group of author’s about how or where they would prefer their readers to acquire their books, wouldn’t it make sense that they would prefer the manner that would benefit them the most? But if they didn’t have that choice, obviously a smart author would encourage a reader to obtain the book in any legal way they prefer.

    Do I think Carriger’s post was wrong and misinformed? Yes. Do I think she deserves the backlash and notoriety that this ‘kerfluffle’ has given her? No.

    I guess my only problem with this incident (and understand that I am a fan of Carriger’s work and therefore biased) is that I felt it could’ve been addressed without singling out an author. A post could’ve been made and discussion followed about ebooks versus print and the benefits for authors versus readers. Letters could be sent to publishing houses to determine how exactly they count e sales versus print sales and what does the bottom line mean for the author.

    I understand Dear Author is a blog for readers and ultimately that is the main priority of Dear Author, but what could’ve been a chance to educate the entire literary community on the misconceptions of esales and bottom lines instead turned into an attack on a single author (whether it was intentioned or not, majority of the commenters and most likely readers will only remember Carriger’s name in relation to this).

    If someone really wanted to correct Carriger’s misguided ideas, wouldn’t a private email suffice? It would at least give her the opportunity to correct her post herself before the news hit the stands as it were. Now, no matter what she says or does to try and correct the situation, it will always be ‘after the fact’ to the public. I understand it is not the responsibility of Dear Author to protect the reputation of authors, but I guess I just don’t feel like Carriger’s infraction merits the ‘punishment’ as it were.

    Again, as a fan of this author, my initial response to the post was tempered. If it had been an author I had little to no exposure to, I would probably be just as outraged as most commenters were to the thought of any author dictating to me what to do with my money.
    .

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  34. Jane
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 20:44:25

    @knstrick

    I guess what bothered me about the whole presentation of this issue is that I was under the impression that there were many authors who felt similar to Carriger, but she was the only one who posted about it and therefore the only one singled out in the discussion.

    I don’t know how many authors feel similar to Carriger and I pointed out the ones (like Rob Thurman in particular) of whom I am aware. I don’t follow author blogs primarily because of the things like Carriger and Thurman’s postings. This was emailed to me.

    Could a post have been made about readers v. authors and what is accurate and inaccurate without naming names? Possibly but without specific examples, it is hard for people to understand exactly what the issues are. I’ve never been a fan of blind posts because it often leads to wrong supposition about who is the subject of the blind posts. Carriger posted her information publicly. We even had an exchange on twitter where she contacted me and I expressed my utter frustration at the inaccuracies of her post and she still, as we can see, has done little to correct those inaccuracies. So, no, I don’t see that a private email would suffice because her post still contains what I believe to be misleading statements about ebook sales.

    Why should I, as a reader, be responsible for contacting publishing houses regarding how they are accounting for royalties? Isn’t that something Carriger should do before posting on her blog about whether she is being cheated when we buy our ebook copies? The only reason I contacted Hachette in this case was because Carriger made the specific claim that she wasn’t getting as much benefit from an ebook sale as she was from a print sale. I think the onus is on those people putting out the factual assertions to make sure those assertions are, indeed, fact based. I was surprised that Hachette even emailed me. The issue of royalties is one between the agent and author and publisher. The reason I asked Hachette for a response was because Carriger brought in the reader in this circumstance. Don’t buy e, she said, but if you do, buy a print copy too. Print is only helpful, was her assertion. I don’t think it is my responsibility to email the big six publishing houses asking them if they are accurately accounting for ebook sales. The fact that readers are even having to think of this is frustrating to me. Readers don’t have any control over this. It’s agents and authors who have the audit right per their contract and its publishers who have to account for those royalties to the agent and author.

    I’ve been concerned about this consistent and pervasive message that ebooks are being underreported, but haven’t brought it up much because it didn’t concern the reader. When Carriger, however, tells her readers to buy print and not e because she’s not sure if she’s getting the money from e, then the reader is implicated. Then readers start canceling their ebook orders or feel guilty about their ebook orders or what not. So no, I don’t feel like I should be responsible for tracking down the publicists of each house and asking them if they would comment on an issue that really should be kept between authors and their publishers.

    I don’t see how this post is a punishment to Carriger. She choose to write a misguided, inaccurate PUBLIC post that caused readers to feel guilty, concerned, unhappy about the way in which they purchased their books. This post was linked to by other blogs to show why readers should buy print instead of ebooks.

    Having said that, I highly doubt that this blog post will in anyway adversely affect Carriger’s sales. What will affect her sales is the quality of her books (or lack thereof). If her readership is moving away, it’s not because of the way she comports herself on her blog but rather what is in her books themselves and that they aren’t delivering on the promise of her initial story.

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  35. knstrick
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 21:10:05

    @Jane
    I agree it is not your responsibility to question or contact publishers about their sales and how it affects the author. I also agree that Carriger made a mistake in her posting and apparently (as evidenced by your interaction with her) has failed to try and correct it. All I can say is I’m disappointed.

    But let’s take the other aspect of the conversation-

    I don’t think you’re giving the reader enough credit for the power they have in the publishing industry. Don’t readers fund and motivate the industry? Isn’t that why ebooks are now the rage because readers like them better? Aren’t trends like paranormal and urban fantasy driven by reader response?

    You say you didn’t want to investigate the issue of ebook sales versus print sales because it didn’t have anything to do with the reader. I would say that it would’ve been an opportunity to educate the reader and turn them into an informed consumer, similar to educating consumers about free trade products or organic industries. No, a reader doesn’t have to know these things to buy a book or a product and be a force in the industry, but wouldn’t it be better if there were more informed consumers out there? Wouldn’t the industry ultimately be better?

    I guess I just can’t help but think that if it were so easy for authors to band together and demand things from their publishers, wouldn’t they have done it a long time ago? Or is it possible that the publishers might be more interested in what the readers want, who ultimately pays them?

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  36. kzoet
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 21:53:55

    @knstrick said I would say that it would’ve been an opportunity to educate the reader and turn them into an informed consumer …

    Isn’t that exactly what Jane did? Carriger made incorrect statements about how the readers’ purchases affected author’s sales/list rankings and Jane corrected those bits of misinformation.

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  37. Sunita
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 22:27:18

    @knstrick: I appreciate that you are a fan of Carriger’s and are trying to see this in a way that makes sense given your favorable impression of her as a person. But I really don’t see how it is Jane’s or any other reader’s responsibility to fix Carriger’s problem for her.

    I would say that it would’ve been an opportunity to educate the reader and turn them into an informed consumer, similar to educating consumers about free trade products or organic industries.

    I think you mean fair trade, not free trade. Anyway, I’m not sure if you’re a regular reader here, but educating the reader as consumer is a big part of what goes on at DA, to the point where some people claim Jane does too much of it. There have been posts about agency pricing, about epublishing houses, about different types of formats, DRM, you name it. But I really don’t understand why you think Jane or any other savvy observer of the industry would have better knowledge of the terms of contracts between publishers and authors than the authors do. As kzoet says, when Carriger posted what seemed to be inaccurate information, Jane asked her about it. When Carriger reiterated it, Jane sought clarification from Hachette. Now Carriger presumably knows better, but it’s because of this post. That seems kind of ridiculous to me, but at least she finally has the correct information.

    Or is it possible that the publishers might be more interested in what the readers want, who ultimately pays them?

    It is possible, but it turns out not to be the case. Please remember that publishers sell to distributors, bookstores, and places like Walmart. The readers’ interests are always filtered through those sources. Readers don’t ultimately pay them, unless you mean that’s where the original money comes from. But publishers don’t deal directly with readers. So they tend to be relatively uninterested in what individual readers tell them.

    I guess I just can’t help but think that if it were so easy for authors to band together and demand things from their publishers, wouldn’t they have done it a long time ago?

    It is indeed difficult for authors to band together and demand things. But it’s even more difficult for readers to do so. At least authors have professional organizations, which theoretically at least can lobby for their interests. Readers are unorganized.

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  38. knstrick
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 00:05:18

    @ kzoet
    I agree that she (Jane) ultimately did clarify the misconceptions about e sales versus print sales, I just don’t know if she had to use Carriger (or any specific person) as the example when it seemed like to me this wasn’t an uncommon idea among authors. Jane stated in a previous comment that she was aware of this misconception of underreporting of ebooks but didn’t like to do blind postings because it leads to suppositions about who the post is about. Carriger made the mistake of being the only one who made a public post about it and her erroneous information brought this upon her. I’m sure Jane is right in her other comment that ultimately good writing and stories is what makes or breaks an author and Carriger most likely will not suffer too much from this incident about her posting. But we’ll never really know. I saw quite a few comments from readers who will ‘never buy her books again’.

    ~shrugs~ I’ve moved past trying to ‘defend’ Carriger as obviously there’s nothing to defend, not that I feel like I was trying to defend her actions in the beginning. She made a mistake, she’s reaping the consequences. Pretty cut and dry.

    I just think it’s like taking a magnifying glass and putting it over one flaw of a person and then trying to judge that person as an entirety. Again, that’s something I know won’t be changing anytime soon as far as human nature and how people operate, but it’s still a little frustrating.

    @ Sunita
    I haven’t been reading Dear Author for a very long time (probably no more than 4 months), but I understand what you mean about Dear Author doing a lot of reader education. It’s one of the things I greatly enjoy about Dear Author. But I’ve also noticed that usually when something comes up and readers are educated about the business, it’s often at the expense of a mistake or faux pas of an author, agent, company, etc. There’s always an ‘example’ as it were. Some of them, like shady business dealings of agents, should be ousted to the public in my opinion, but a lot of them are just simple cases of people not thinking before they type.

    Now I understand that it’s not Dear Author’s job to protect authors or anyone from their public mistakes they make on the internet, but again, I just don’t know if it’s necessary to get the point across. I, personally, wouldn’t really want to do that to someone else that I’ve never met before. As I’m sure a lot of authors and people now know, words have power and nothing is deleted from the internet.

    And I can tell you that it never bothered me before when I didn’t know of or like the authors that were the examples before, but now I have to go back and evaluate my preconceived ideas of those authors based on one post on a blog site. I obviously should’ve been doing that before, but you live and learn.

    I guess I’m just trying to empathize with authors in the sense that one comment on a blog or twitter can damage their careers, whereas everyone else in the world use these devices purely to vent and complain about things, most likely work.

    As to the power of readers versus authors in changing things in the industry, you (Sunita) are right that readers can’t make a huge change in a short amount of time like a professional organization and that is probably what is ultimately needed. I think readers/consumers slowly change the market as a whole. The increase of organic products in the grocery stores is a result of consumers demanding them and the companies meeting that demand. If consumers are willing to pay for the product, the producers will put it out there.

    And thank you for correcting me about fair trade. :)

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  39. knstrick
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 03:36:51

    Just had a thought and I realize that it might not be completely clear in the conversations above-

    My original comment was not directed at Jane or Dear Author personally. I was actually speaking about the commenters who were making assumptions on Carriger’s personality, motivations, etc. based on one blog post.

    I’m also referencing commenters in the original discussion post of Reader’s Rights, though I did not comment there.

    The language used by some of the commenters, imo, was very harsh and extreme. This is the ‘punishment’ I’m referring to in the above posts. I realize that Jane and Dear Author has little control over what commenters write or how readers respond to their postings.

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  40. Evangeline Holland
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 04:31:20

    @knstrick: *claps* I agree with everything you’ve stated.

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  41. Maili
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 07:56:46

    @Jackie Barbosa:

    I’ve calmed down a bit and see it a little less as Gail talking how readers can help her personally and more about how readeers can help any author whose work they enjoy. I don’t see Gail saying “help ME get on the NYT by doing these things” so much as, “if you want to help an author, me or anyone else, get on the NYT.” They are a bit hard to separate, and the fact that a lot of what she says is pretty clearly inaccurate/untrue doesn’t help, but I’m still inclined to cut her a bit of slack.

    Regardless whether it’s just for her or she’s asking on the behalf of like-minded authors everywhere, it still doesn’t make sense. Readers buy books because of what lies between covers of each book. Namely, the contents. What else are readers paying for?

    By asking readers to consider in terms of the NYT list, format and the like, readers aren’t seen as readers/customers any more. They are being asked to be readers/patrons supporting author’s career. (now I’m not talking about Gail C any more from here on)

    That’s one of things that bother me about authors and ‘fans’. I have seen some authors using the “buy this if you want to support me!” and “come to this event m writer friends and I’ll attend if you’re my TRUE fans!” What’s a “true” fan? What’s “support”?

    I wasn’t bothered by this until I discovered one of my online reader friends spent almost $15K in a year supporting her favourite author, who regularly issued begging letters on her blog. Reader even admitted she bought at least three copies of each title. Reader’s reasoning was that she wanted to keep her writing as the author made it sound as if she’d stop writing because of financial problems, stemming from poor sales which the author claimed was caused by piracy. Friend’s admission almost made my eyeballs explode.

    I do understand that the reader is an adult, fully capable of making adult decisions and the money is hers to spend as she pleases. However, she’s also the kind that would do anything to prove her loyalty. I resent the fact the author was well aware of this.

    I do realise that all authors regularly face all sorts of dilemma, ranging from deciding whether attending a fan convention would worth giving up three months’ worth of personal expenses to whether to believe a reader’s sob story about not be able to afford the latest release. I also do realise that authors make all sorts of sacrifices, but choices are theirs.

    I strongly feel that no reader should ever ask an author to do this or that in terms of financial issues including asking for “free” books and demanding authors to agree that pirated books are acceptable if there are geographical restrictions. It’s entirely up to each author to decide what’s right and what isn’t for themselves.

    That’s how I feel about authors asking readers, especially *telling* them how, what, when and where they should spend their money. If authors really want fans to support them, then the best they can do is write well and keep fans fully informed on when and where they could buy copies by putting up retail information on site. If sales are dropping, it’s not fans’ fault, or should they be asked to do something about it. Period.

    I may be biased because of that reader, but please believe me, I do not view all authors as enemies. Only those who take advantage of reader loyalty, innocently or not. In my ideal world, all readers are savvy but unfortunately, not all are in real life (same for authors who easily believe readers’ fake sob stories to get ‘free’ books – don’t do it, authors!). I deeply respect authors who are aware of this and would try to be responsible enough to ensure not to take advantage of it. I know maintaining author-reader relationship can be really tough, but I just think it’s sensible – and kinder – to keep the money out of it. It’s the best way to go, IMO. If some authors really, really need the money, then go down the auction route.

    Sorry for derailing this conversation a bit, DA and Jackie.

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  42. Las
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 08:23:54

    @knstrick: I really don’t understand why you think it’s wrong for anyone to comment on an author’s public comments. It would be one thing if Jane had posted a private email that GC had sent, but that’s not what happened. GC wrote a whole bunch of misinformation along with manipulative requests, but Jane should have written a passive aggressive post about how “some” authors feel about ebook vs. print in order to protect GC from the consequences of her own actions? Seriously? It doesn’t matter one bit how many authors might agree with GC…those other authors have so far had the good sense to not write posts telling their readers how to spend their money.

    I’m not saying GC is a bad person who should never be forgiven, but that doesn’t mean that her public fuck-ups shouldn’t be discussed.

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  43. Nadia Lee
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 10:59:31

    @knstrick: I guess I’m just trying to empathize with authors in the sense that one comment on a blog or twitter can damage their careers, whereas everyone else in the world use these devices purely to vent and complain about things, most likely work.

    People got fired over stuff they posted on Twitter, FB and blogs. Nobody’s immune from public scrutiny.

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  44. Courtney
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 11:55:47

    @knstrick: “Some of them, like shady business dealings of agents, should be ousted to the public in my opinion, but a lot of them are just simple cases of people not thinking before they type.” Of all the people I expect to “think before they type,” it’s an author. Writing a blog. Spreading information about her sales/writing career and her publisher.

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  45. MaryK
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 12:33:56

    What’s the best choice – preserving an author’s image and covering over their factual errors so as not to hurt their feelings or pointing out the errors and correcting a misinformed public? Keeping in mind that the public clearly believes the misinformation and is prepared to act on it. A generic post about how such-and-such isn’t really true isn’t going to cut it. It might not be seen by the (misinformed) people who need to see it. The best way to correct factual errors is to point out the errors and counter them.

    Anytime anybody makes a statement in public, they have to deal with the reactions of their audience. People who make statements in public should be prepared for whatever reaction their audience has.

    When people are turned off an author’s work because of something the author did or said, it’s not always about punishing the author. Readers build up images of authors in their minds even if it’s just “she’s the one who writes the cool xyz books.” If something personal overshadows that image, the author’s books can lose their emotional appeal. I personally can’t think about a Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise movie without thinking about the actors’ crazy. Their movies have been pretty much ruined for me because the image of the crazy/obnoxious behavior overshadows the character they’re playing.

    I don’t mean to compare GC’s statements to that brand of crazy. Those are just extreme examples of personality overshadowing artistic work.

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  46. Merrian
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 20:26:41

    In thinking about my responses to Carriger’s post and the two threads here on DA that respond to it I have realised I am also bringing in my past experience with many authors haranguing readers about the evils of e-books. These threads had a pretty explicit implication that anyone who reads e-books is a pirate or a potential pirate and not a real reader. Anyone who has read DA for several years will recall the vitriolic mega threads along this theme from several years ago. I certainly have taken Carriger’s post as the 2011 variation on this theme. I have gone back and read it again and it still reads to me as yet again an author blaming readers for the paradigm shift in publishing that technology and the interwebs have created.

    I think Jane was right to call her on the misinformation and the attempted manipulation based on that and to point out the tendency for authors to make unfair demands on readers to attempt to solve the systemic issues that we all face e.g. I can’t buy the books I want due to territorial restrictions or cost prices that are two-thirds higher than US books. I’ve written submissions to government inquiries about the book industry in Australia and spoken up in forums as part of my desire to see change. I don’t hear any stories about authors acting in a strategic way or as a group to solve their problems instead I hear them laying it all on the reader.

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  47. knstrick
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 22:18:28

    @ Las
    I can see what you mean how it’s not wrong to comment on a public comment an author has made. The difference/issue to me is this wasn’t simply hitting a reply button and commenting with “Hey, I think you got your ducks in a row wrong.” This comment was taken from the blog (which is theoretically only viewed by readers of the author) and posted on another blog that is (I’m guessing) much more popular and visited by not only readers but people in the publishing industry.

    Now, I’m moving away from the Carriger incident in specific because in a previous post I asked if an attempt was made privately to contact Carriger prior to the posting on DA and Jane said that they had a conversation on Twitter and Carriger didn’t alter the bad info. Her (Carriger) decision doesn’t make any sense to me but it’s her life.

    It’s not wrong for anyone to do this (posting about another blog post). Obviously people can pretty much blog about whatever they like. I just personally would be very cautious before doing something like this, only because I realize that I could damage someone’s reputation and in turn their career and ultimately their livlihood. I guess this goes back to the original statement I made in a previous post- I (personally) don’t feel Carriger’s infraction (or what I feel to be a minor infraction) merits the backlash that is inevitable.

    Again, I agree it’s not wrong. It’s just not what I personally would feel comfortable with.

    @ Nadia Lee and Courtney
    I agree with both of your statements. I just personally think back to a mistake I made and try to imagine it splattered all over the internet for complete strangers to mock/discuss/laugh at and my heart goes out to anyone in that situation who isn’t a complete jerk. There are some people who are going to amplify their rediculousness on the internet and there are some who just have a bad day. The internet/public doesn’t take into account the person as a whole.

    @ Merrian
    I can understand the frustration you would have with author’s accusing readers of being pirates for simply buying ebooks or trying to manipulate them into buying this or that. That would tick me off too.

    I, personally, have never frequented an author blog where this has been the case. Most of the authors I follow are wonderful, humble people who adore their fans (at least that is the persona they portray). Again, because I have frequented Carriger’s blog prior to this incident, I was caught off guard by this. She had never posted anything similar prior or had written anything to give me pause or concern.

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