Author Topic: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha  (Read 6643 times)

Offline JeanneT

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Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« on: November 23, 2011, 02:26:40 PM »
I am assuming that most of you have heard about this. Book Country is a subsidiary of Penguin and has had a crit site for a while. A few days ago, they decided to "help" self-publishing authors for a "small" fee. The mainstream media went wild with adulatory articles including one in The Guardian stating that self-publishing with Book Country was the same as being published by Penguin except that you paid them. Not exactly.

Then some of the heavy hitters in self-publishing such as Joe Konrath, David Gaughran and Dean Wesley Smith weighed in pointing out exactly how bad the Book Country deal actually was for any writer so foolish as to go with them.

Today an organization I have always respected in the past, Writer Beward, came in saying that Book Country is fine and dandy and the nasty "indie" writers (Strauss shudders at the term since we're such filth) should stop picking on them.

I am just going to post a couple of links, including the one to Strauss's comments to give you both sides (although I propose that she is 100% wrong). If you are even half-way condsidering this or know someone who is please share this. Honestly, I do not consider Book Country quite a scam but they are darn close.

Indie Guru Joe Konrath's comments: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-country-fail.html

Dean Wesley Smith weighs in: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=5855

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/penguin-launches-rip-off-self-publishing-service-targeting-inexperienced-writers/

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-country-and-self-publishing-why.html

My opinion? It is blatant price-gouging and deliberately obscure description of their services that pushes it darn close to a scam. But if you decide to do it, at least read up first.
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Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2011, 03:53:15 PM »
I'm sorry, but I read Writer Beware and - maybe you didn't get that far - it certainly didn't say anything about it being 'fine and dandy'. The closest they came to an 'endorsement' was to say one could 'do worse' - which is a fact, but not very close to 'fine and dandy'. Not by a long shot.

As to the shudder at the term "indie", well, there are a number of independent writers who shudder at that - independent writers who have no intention of self-publishing but fully intend to go the commercial route. But at least it's better than calling themselves "indie publishers".
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline Magic_Seeker

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2011, 04:46:33 PM »
:agree: with shadowwalker. Victoria calls it a vanity press, no better or worse than any other of its type. Pay to play, instead of dyi.

And she certainly didn't label "indie" writers as filth. She just can't stand the term "indie." An odd stand, imo, since so many good things (like alternative music) are labeled indie, but each to their own.
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Offline Aiala

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2011, 11:02:07 PM »
"Vanity press" is an outdated pejorative, stubbornly kept alive by the dead-tree adherents for their own cloudy purposes.

Not that it matters in the slightest.   :)

~A~

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Offline JeanneT

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2011, 12:26:25 PM »
Yes, I did INDEED get as far as reading Victoria Strauss's DEFENCE (and it was indeed a defence) of Penguin and Book Country.

I do NOT publish links I have not read, thank you very much, Shadowwalker.

I would summerize Victoria Strauss's attitude as "fine and dandy for all you lousy 'vanity' authors out there". And yes, Vanity is certainly a perjorative.

In point of fact, her analysis of the cost is totally off the mark. Not only is Book Country not "on the low end of the spectrum" for what they do, they are very much on the HIGH end for the services that they offer. You can easily pay for those services for a fraction of what Book Country charges much less pay a royalty on top of it. But I posted the links so you can judge for yourselves.

As for calling oneself an indie or independent author, the definition of independent is: Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others. That definition fits so I use it, and she can shudder all she likes. In fact, if it didn't get so much self-righteous disapproval, I'd use it less.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 12:36:07 PM by JeanneT »
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Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2011, 12:35:18 PM »
"Indie publisher" is an already established and defined term in publishing. It does not mean a self-publisher. It means a publishing company independent of the Big 6 and publishing works by other than the person running it (or their spouse/partner). Simply because it sounds better than 'self-publisher' does not change the accepted meaning. This is one of the things that does not promote the cause of self-publishing but rather maintains the very reputation self-publishers are trying to change. Call yourself an 'indie author' and you only put yourself alongside all the other authors who do not produce work for another according to their instructions - ie, almost all authors including those who are commercially published. Rather redundant.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 12:37:36 PM by shadowwalker »
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline JeanneT

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2011, 12:37:20 PM »
I am not an "indie publisher". I am an indie author and established terms evolve all the time as circumstances change. Deal with it.

Edit: Instead of complaining that people don't call themselves what you and she insist that we have to because you think you get to enforce the definitions, it might be more productive to discuss the issue at hand. I really don't care whether you like that we call ourselves indie authors or not.

I do care about people knowing exactly how BAD what Penguin/Book Country is offering is.

If you don't want to do your own formatting, contact 52Novels and compare the prices. There are others out there who offer the service, but that's the one I know off-hand. I assure you that the price Book Country is offering (much less then charging royalties) is horrendous.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 12:45:43 PM by JeanneT »
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Offline Aiala

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2011, 04:27:31 PM »
As for calling oneself an indie or independent author, the definition of independent is: Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others. That definition fits so I use it, and she can shudder all she likes. In fact, if it didn't get so much self-righteous disapproval, I'd use it less.

 :clap:

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Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2011, 07:06:05 AM »
I am not an "indie publisher". I am an indie author and established terms evolve all the time as circumstances change. Deal with it.

I don't care if you call yourself an indie author - I'm only pointing out that unless one is writing a piece under the direction of someone else, we're all indie authors, whether self-published or commercially published. Which is why, to me and many others, it seems so silly to use that phrase. It's like, well, DOH! Unless, of course, it's supposed to be some sort of one-uppance on those who go with commercial publishers - in which case it falls flat.

“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline jdkinman

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Re: Penguin/Book Country and Ensuing Brouhaha
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2012, 02:58:00 AM »
I've always found that non-published writers argue the most over semantics. . .

In the world of Madison Avenue, I was often called a lot of things (besides SOB)--managing director, CCO, COO, GCD, CD, copywriter, senior copywriter, etc etc. Using a pen name for contractual and conflict-of-interest reasons, as a writer you were called a lot of things--author, writer, business expert, business reference, etc.

Only three labels ever mattered--

1. My wife calls me "Dear."

2. The daughter calls me "Dad."

3. The banker calls me "Sir."

Beyond that, labels and what to call me, or any other writer, is for the benefit of the person doing the labeling--not the writer being labeled. :)