Readers, I want to assure you from the get-go that this post is about Jason Gurley‘s soon to be released book ELEANOR. I recently got to beta-read this specfic masterpiece and what can I say? Despite moving, toddler-rearing, driving from Colorado to Washington and then up and down the coast a couple of times, potty-training, job-searching, job-finding, running, house-searching and procurement, and a number of other life changing and arduous tasks at hand I still found the energy to crack this opus magnum every night until I had read it cover to cover. In fact, I suspect that Gurley may have embedded some sort of emotional power source between the lines because I haven’t the faintest how I managed. Other than I really wanted to finish it; it’s that good.
The book is extremely well done, and his prose, in standard Gurley fashion, sparkle with polish. I wouldn’t want to give too much away so I’ll leave you with only my highest praise and the advice you should put this on the top of your summer reading list. Also, go read the prologue.
1985. The death of Eleanor’s twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor’s mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.
1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time… when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it’s only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives… and something rips her out of time itself.
And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.
But, now, I’d like to bifurcate this post. Mind you, it is still about ELEANOR, but in our recent travels I’ve noticed a brouhaha bubbling into media attention and subsequently throughout the writing community. That’s right Amazon v Hachette. Blogs have lit up with team chants. Everyone seems to be content to pick a band wagon and hop aboard for the ride. And much because I am an independent author for the time being, and most, if anything, I might make on my writing will inevitably come through this platform I’ve felt somewhat protective of their position.
But this afternoon, because I prefer to know more about these sorts of market altering situations than to blissfully write in a vacuum, I spent considerable time looking into the mess. Here’s what I think.
A. I’ve read a great deal of opinion, but parts of this one piece in Forbes ring true to me. Both Amazon and Hachette are at fault for manufacturing a situation that is, at best, fractious and seems to be entirely predicated on greed. Amazon has been manipulating their platform to twist Hachette’s nipples hoping they’ll back down from a bigger piece of pie. Hachette has been rousing the rabble in an attempt to shame Amazon into giving up the plate. Neither of these business entities seem to care a wit for the very many creatives that power their machines of business. We make the cherry filling for their pies, but they seem, at best, disinterested in what’s happening in the kitchen.
There is no theoretically correct answer to this question. A demand that publishers must make 75% on e-books cannot be supported: they take more risk with physical books and yet gain lower margins on them. So we cannot say that as a matter of divine right the current publisher margins on e-books are correct. But equally, we can’t say that Amazon deserves a greater piece of the action either. There’s simply nothing to support such an assertion: after all, even Amazon isn’t arguing that all people who sell e-books should get better margins if Amazon does.
B. And that is where this whole damn thing should fall apart. This is all about money, and not the kind of money that helps support artists of any sort. I noticed this comment from Jacqueline Carey, and she’s spot on in my opinion. Hachette its fans have tried to characterize their side of the conflict as some sort of David and Goliath, populist movement. But that’s not the case, Hachette is simply interested in a bigger piece of ebook sales, they’re not going to reimburse their creatives despite the damage this kerfuffle is currently causing (both short term, in lost sales via Amazon, and in the long view, damage to author platforms). And they’re not raising payouts or incentives to their authors. Not even offering a bigger cut of the pie should they “win” in this conflict.
So, here’s some advice to both of the big boys fighting in the school yard. Bad behavior is bad. You don’t make friends by fighting. This may be business, but on both sides, its extremely short sighted and malignant business. It’s only too bad King Solomon is a myth because I’d love to see what he’d do with the extra pie these big mothers are fighting over.
Where do I stand on this compelling issue of the day? Right where I always do. Go support your favorite artists. Make sure you buy their works. If you can, support their efforts by leaving reviews and kudos. Write them a letter telling them how much you appreciate what they’ve made. Do what you can to help them grow, mature, and flourish, because, the marketplace is full of parasites and power mongers.
Hint: This means you should go pre-order ELEANOR.