Hate Amazon? Well Read About What Random House Did to Me and My Family...

The following blog is now appearing at The Vincent Zandri Vox: http://vincentzandri.blogspot.fr/2012/04/hate-amazon-well-read-abou...

The third edition of As Catch what???? Or what's now better known as The Innocent....

I thought I was done writing about this particular subject... the subject of the old guard and establishment writers/MFA profs, publishers, and booksellers ragging on Amazon Publishing because, oh gee, they are doing something the old guard can no longer do: sell books.

This past week while I've been away, bestselling author and fellow Thomas & Mercer (Amazon) author, Barry Eisler, was invited to do a live chat with some Seattle Times reporters and the bestselling literary novelist, Richard Russo. Russo, whose books I like but who is also in that MFA-you-should-set-your-sights-on-teaching-at-the-community-college-don't-forget-to-pay-your-tuition is a huge hater of Amazon. And the ST has just run a scathing 4-part series on Amazon picking them apart like they are Satan.
Maybe they are Satan (if you believe in that kind of thing) but more than likely, they are not. They listen to both authors and writers and so, they now are able to offer great books at low prices. And yes, it's putting big publishers and bookstores out of business. I know, I'm supposed to cry for these people, but they had a chance to survive and in fact thrive in today's digital book publishing world, but they haven't. And now they are going the way of the 8-track.
 Bon voyage.
I'm not as knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the publishing industry as Eisler and say, J.A. Konrath are, and I've never self-published a book, although one of my indie publishers is entirely based on the self-publishing model even if my deals with them are agented. But I have also been published by the majors and once more, I've just signed a 7 book deal with T&M for a "very nice" advance, part of which I'm spending right now in Italy and Paris, where I've been for the past month. 
Ok, maybe you think I'm bragging? 
Maybe so. 
But while Eisler goes on to defend the obvious author/reader benefits being provided right now by Amazon publishing, try and consider for a brief moment just how Big Six Publishing not only tried to crush my career a few short years ago, they literally cost me a marriage.
Once more, I'll bullet my near suicidal relationship with the Big Six and, in particular, Delacorte Press...You know, the supposed "good guys" of the industry.
 --I was contracted in 1999 for mid-six figure two book hard and soft deal.
--I was told to change the name of my novel, The Innocent to As Catch Can, because another author in their stable was publishing one of the same title. As Catch what?????
--While the hardcover was being produced, talk around the office centered on Delacorte being swallowed up by another publisher. They more or less dropped attention on As Catch what???, and rushed a very poor front cover into production...Yup, an insider pulled me aside and admitted the cover was a total fuck up....Oops, it's just people's lives we're dealing with here...
--I was promised ads in The New York Times and support for a Northeast tour. I got neither.
--Delacorte shut down and was indeed swallowed up by the new publisher only weeks after the publication of As Catch what????
--I was suddenly the bastard child of the new publisher.
--They reneged on the contract and only agreed to publish the second book in the deal in paper. It was of course my right to sue them. But who in the world wants to sue a conglomerate cartel like Big New York? The big wigs laughed at me and went on vacation in the Hamptons.
--The second book was printed. Not published. Not even the B&N around the corner from Times Square had one in stock. It was around this time I met my then editor for a drink in NYC. In her words, "You didn't hear it from me, but they are preventing you from selling books."
--Now that I didn't sell out my 250G contract for no fault of my own, another publisher wouldn't touch me if a gun was pressed to his or her temple. And at one time, the most powerful agent in the world was repping me: Suzanne Gluck. I must assume that an agent of her caliber chooses only manuscripts she sees tremendous potential in.
--Delacorte (Random House) refused to release my rights...even though they remaindered my books. An evil, self-serving move if ever there was one. "We're not going to sell your books, but ahhh, neither can you!" Hitler comes to mind here...Too harsh? Okay, at least Uncle Joe Stalin.
--I went broke.
--I had to sell my house
--I lost my wife
--My children had to move, quit their schools, give up their friends
--I nearly lost my reputation and my sanity
--I could have quit writing
--But I didn't...
--I wouldn't let the motherfuckers beat me
--My new agent, after 8 grueling years, was finally able re-secure the rights to my two books
--An indie, StoneHouse Ink, took on As Catch what??????, changed the title back to The Innocent. It sold almost 200,000 E and paper Books. Plus they published several other novels of mine that have also sold in the hundreds of thousands, primarily in E-Book, of which I was making a 50% royalty as opposed to the 12.5% of Delacorte.
--My career not only shot back up, I could have easily made up Delcorte's advance plus plenty of change.
--Thomas & Mercer signed me to a seven book, "very nice deal."
--The Innocent (formerly As Catch what?????) is about to published in its third edition. 
--I got my wife back.
--I travel all the time and write fiction for a living.
--I make more in royalties per month than most editors in their paychecks--the same editors who went on to reject me after the Delacorte train wreck...Rejected me because they had too.
Of course, I could go on and on, but those old time writers like Russo who teach at the MFA programs and think that they themselves are not a part of a money making racket designed to lure would-be writers (or no talent writers) into a "literary writing program" that costs tens of thousands of dollars, had better take a good fucking look in the mirror.
You know who you are.
I've been taught by you, criticized by you, ridiculed by you and now I am feared by you. You are old and gray, teaching the same tired lecture. You're also short of breath while climbing the stairs to the next workshop you've been hired to preside over at one of those garden variety low residency MFA programs that are springing up all over the globe like reality TV and Pampers.
And for all you editors who couldn't take me on because I didn't sell out my advance while my rights were held hostage? You can work for me as a freelancer....if the price is right.
Pay back's a bitch ain't it?
Ok, off for some steak frit...It's Saturday in Paris...In the springtime.

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Comment by Jenny Milchman on April 12, 2012 at 2:34am

Vincent, as you know I am so happy for your success. There are always horror stories, and one thing that I think needs to be kept in mind is that while a publisher like RH publishes thousands of books a year, Amazon's print arms are relatively new (heck, Amazon itself is relatively new comparatively). The numbers are not anywhere close.

Perhaps T&M and Encore and the others will continue to forge ahead and never make an author unhappy or have things go totally south. If they do, my hats are off to them. But for now what I think is safe to say is that publishing is an immensely complicated business. Maybe sometimes people get messed with or screwed over, or maybe mistakes simply happen because of the mechanics and complexities. What's great is if an author finds his or her way to the best way to publish--for him or her. That won't be the same for everyone. There is no one right way.

As I say, I'm very glad you found yours, that readers can read your books, and I hope you enjoy Europe!!

Comment by Tim Scanlon on April 11, 2012 at 1:59pm

I read this over at KindleBoards. I didn't say it there but, I'm glad you stuck at it and reclaimed your life, very inspirational.

I'm just so glad that writers have options now. Bodes well for writers like myself who are just putting their first foot into the industry.

Comment by Harry Bingham on April 11, 2012 at 9:36am

Vincent, I TOTALLY know what you're talking about. I too have had plenty of books published (here in the UK) with Big Publishers. Sometimes those things have been done really well. Sometimes, the publishers have acted like a newly potent anti-marketing potion. I can't name names right now, but I'm having a row with a Big Publisher Who Should Know Better who think their job is to print books, not publish them. I'm tomorrow going to London to meet with them and I will ask them either (A) to allow the rights to revert to me, or (B) market the damn books. And you know what, I really hope they offer me (A).

And as you say, thank heaven for Amazon, because at least they give folk like us an alternative.

Comment by Marsh EverEvolvingSoul on April 11, 2012 at 7:21am

Love this so much!!!  And, however belated, Congratulations!!!

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