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Members of Texas Authors, Inc., are welcome to post on our blog for other fellow members, or for the general public.

Each blog post will be approved by the website administrator and must not contain promotion of ones book. This is meant as an educational posting program.

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Note: The publishing world in NYC continues to believe that they are the center point of the universe when it comes to publishing. Because of this concept, I sadly see too many businesses and organizations cater to the top five publishing companies in a way that hurts Indie Authors.

My trip to NYC last week will result in a wide range of benefits for Texas Authors and Indie Authors collectively. One of my meetings was with the Authors Guild, which is an organization that supports authors of all types. They handle mostly the legal aspect of writing; contracts, infringement on rights, etc., they are a great organization to belong too. It so happened that while in NYC, one of the board members released an open letter to their membership that also applies to our membership and is something that I have been speaking on for a few years now. My new book due out in 2020 "Authors Revolution" is about this and other aspects of publishing. I hope you will take the time to read the full letter that is posted on our blog and check out this organization for membership.

Alan Bourgeois

Director/Founder/Author

‘We’re Still Getting Our Asses Kicked’

In an open letter this month addressed to members of the Authors Guild, the organization’s vice president, the American author Richard Russo, has warned that tech companies’ operations in the content space may increasingly threaten writers’ livelihoods and recognition.

“Traditional publishers may have underpaid us,” Russo writes, “but at least to them we were poets and painters and songwriters, terms that implied both respect and ownership of what we made, at least until we’ve sold it to them.

“The tech ethos is different. To them, we’re often seen as mere hirelings. And since those who hire us are in the business of business, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to pay us as little as they can get away with and to make certain we understand that we’re mere workers, not partners in the enterprise.”

The commentary is a follow-up to Russo’s 2013 letter to the membership. In this message, he touches on favorite points of criticism, including “the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won’t stand up to them, by the ‘information wants to be free’ crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by Internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to online sites that sell pirated (read ‘stolen’) books.”

Clearly, there are many with whom to take umbrage.

Five years later, Russo writes to an author-advocacy trade organization that has grown past the 10,000-member mark and has become the lead response group in many issues authors are encountering, from inappropriate trademark efforts to contractual conflicts with publishers.

Most recently, for example, the guild has written letters in support of the writers of Slate and Thrillist, arguing that they should be allow to unionize. There’s probably a clue to the direction the guild itself is going in representing authors in its posting about the new letters: “Few individual writers have any true bargaining power, but collective bargaining gives writers greater leverage to negotiate the terms of their employment. “The Authors Guild supports collective bargaining for all staff writers and hopes to one day attain similar benefits for freelance journalists and authors.”

Read the full letter on our blog

A note from a TxAuthor Member:

I've been a member of the Authors Guild since 2000, wish I would have known of them earlier, been a member, for they could helped review a book contract I had no idea what I was signing. I lost/unknowingly complete control of the manuscript, received nothing for the purchase of it, didn't even recognize my manuscript after they published the book they "bought", which they (the Publisher) actually stole because they did not pay me one dollar for the manuscript.

The book was published in the US and other countries; I never received one cent in royalties, never did a book signing, nothing, and that happened in 1997.

This type of "crime" still happens today to other writers without knowledge and without legal help to review a contract; which the Authors Guild does for its members.

Since that horrible experience I have used the Authors Guild for legal advice. They are the best there is.

I urge every writer/author of ANYTHING, song writer, script writer, poet, speech writer, etc. to join the Authors Guild.

Carol Cook

In an open letter this month addressed to members of the Authors Guild, the organization’s vice president, the American author Richard Russo, has warned that tech companies’ operations in the content space may increasingly threaten writers’ livelihoods and recognition.

“Traditional publishers may have underpaid us,” Russo writes, “but at least to them we were poets and painters and songwriters, terms that implied both respect and ownership of what we made, at least until we’ve sold it to them.

“The tech ethos is different. To them, we’re often seen as mere hirelings. And since those who hire us are in the business of business, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to pay us as little as they can get away with and to make certain we understand that we’re mere workers, not partners in the enterprise.”

The commentary is a follow-up to Russo’s 2013 letter to the membership. In this message, he touches on favorite points of criticism, including “the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won’t stand up to them, by the ‘information wants to be free’ crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by Internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to online sites that sell pirated (read ‘stolen’) books.”

Clearly, there are many with whom to take umbrage.

Five years later, Russo writes to an author-advocacy trade organization that has grown past the 10,000-member mark and has become the lead response group in many issues authors are encountering, from inappropriate trademark efforts to contractual conflicts with publishers.

Most recently, for example, the guild has written letters in support of the writers of Slate and Thrillist, arguing that they should be allow to unionize. There’s probably a clue to the direction the guild itself is going in representing authors in its posting about the new letters: “Few individual writers have any true bargaining power, but collective bargaining gives writers greater leverage to negotiate the terms of their employment.

“The Authors Guild supports collective bargaining for all staff writers and hopes to one day attain similar benefits for freelance journalists and authors.”

Authors Are ‘Often Seen as Mere Hirelings’

Indeed, collective bargaining—one of modern labor’s oldest strategies—may hold value for authors in the future that Russo is predicting for writers.

“The tech ethos is different. To them, we’re often seen as mere hirelings. And since those who hire us are in the business of business, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to pay us as little as they can get away with.”Richard Russo Russo concedes that in some areas, the arrival of tech platforms as consumers of content holds opportunity or writers: “Tech Giants like Google and Facebook and Apple are all moving into the content business, which means (and what a bitter pill this must be for them to swallow!) they need us ‘content providers.’ That means more book options and, for those of us who want to make the pivot into TV and film writing, more opportunities there.” The sword, however, he writes, has two edges. “The conflict, of course, is as old as art and commerce,” he writes, “but today it’s playing out algorithmically and those algorithms have not been designed for our benefit.”

As part of his message to the membership–designed to encourage members to bring in more authors—Russo joins many in talking about a decline in recent years in author incomes, “here in the US, but also in Canada and much of Europe. … A tiny percentage can make a living through writing alone; the rest have to supplement their income by teaching or taking on other work or marrying people with more lucrative careers, strategies that have been known to lead in the end to exhaustion, writing less, and self-loathing (which many of us suffer from already).”

A Penguin Random House author, Russo doesn’t spare the trade in his criticisms: “Traditional publishing continues to consolidate and contract, and many of the largest houses are part of conglomerates that demand books yield the same profit margins as flat-screen TVs, in effect squeezing out important midlist books that were never designed to be bestsellers.

“Writers are often told that the success of their published books depends on their ability to promote themselves on social media. … Despite Guild efforts to spotlight the problem, some publishers continue to offer writers unfair contracts.”

As a summation of the current reality for authors, Russo writes, “Like our friends in the newspaper and music businesses, we’re still getting our asses kicked.”

His most pointed warning of vulnerability lies in his vision of tech content platforms absorbing huge volumes of writerly work without regard for proper protection of the author or journalist and without regard for the value of the human contribution involved.

“If we creators don’t fight, the massive transfer of wealth from the creative sector to the tech sector that we’ve been witnessing since 2013 will most certainly continue.”

Learn more about the Authors Guild here:https://www.authorsguild.org/member-services/

 

Feature Article in Publishers Perspective by Porter Anderson onJuly 23, 2018

The 2017 statistics of the new StatShot Annual Report from the Association of American Publishers show 2.7 billion units moving, and a mild, five-year decline in overall total revenue estimates.

Online Sales: 43.2 Percent Print, 27 Percent Ebook

Days after the UK’s Publishers Association released its 2017 “Yearbook” report on the British book publishing industry, the organization’s Stateside counterpart, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), released news to the press of its 2018 StatShot Annual Report which covers 2017 US book publishing industry statistics.

As in the case of the Publishers Association’s report, members of the organization receive a copy while others can buy it and will find information here (US$395.00).

The top line offered in press material is that in 2017, the US book publishing industry generated an estimated $26.23 billion in net revenue for 2017, representing 2.72 billion units.

Another key point: Publisher revenue for trade books (fiction, nonfiction and religious presses) were reported by survey respondents to be effectively flat at 0.3 percent, increasing by $45 million in 2017 over 2016. Since 2013, or in the past five years, publisher-reported revenue for trade books has increased by some $820 million.

And at Publishing Perspectives, we find this component of the newly released information on the American market interesting: “For the first time, publisher sales to physical and online retail channels were approximately equal at $7.6 billion and $7.5 billion respectively in 2017.

“Within online retail channels, 43.2 percent were print formats, 27 percent were eBooks, 16.3 percent were instructional materials, 10.5 percent were downloaded audio, and 3.1 percent were physical audio or a different format.” Keep in mind that the digital revenues reported by publishers can’t include such revenues that are not reported by online retailers. So the entirety of the market picture isn’t available here, but the comparison of publishers’ reported sales levels to brick-and-mortar and online outlets is interesting.

Publisher Revenue in Billions, 2013 to 2017

 

Year

Trade

Higher Ed

PreK-12

Professional

University

Other

Total

2013

$15.13

$4.81

$3.84

$2.97

$0.30

$0.02

$27.07

2014

$15.43

$4.85

$4.27

$3.09

$0.30

$0.00

$27.96

2015

$15.82

$4.53

$4.11

$3.05

$0.29

$0.00

$27.80

2016

$15.90

$3.96

$3.73

$2.37

$0.28

$0.04

$26.27

2017

$15.95

$3.98

$3.62

$2.35

$0.29

$0.04

$26.23

 

From: 2018 StatShot Annual Report, Association of American Publishers

About

Texas Authors, Inc. is an organization designed to help Texas Authors learn how to better market and sell their books.

We work closely with our partners DEAR Texas, Inc., and Texas Authors Institute of History, Inc., both nonprofits that have created additional programs and events for Authors.

Texas Authors is a subsidiary of Bourgeois Media & Consulting