One of my favorite phrases is “that’s unfair.” We all used it when we were kids, usually applying to a lack of TV watching time past midnight. Now I hear it bandied about in self-publishing circlels, as if that is the key to our lack of sales or super-stardom.
And I’ll answer it the same way my father responded to me when I lamented over the unfairness of his dictatorial rules: No, it’s not fair, it’s life.
Too simplistic? Possibly. True? Definately.
The word “fair” does not apply to love, war, or business. We are here for one reason: to come out ahead. The other side is here for one reason: to come out ahead. Young ladies choose the strapping quarterback over the chess champion. The quarterback isn’t going to quit football in the name of fairness. The Allied troops defeated the Germans with overwhelming numbers and superior weapons. General Eisenhower didn’t scrap a few hundred tanks to even up the playing field.
And in business, Amazon, Hatchette, and every other player in the publishing industry has a singular goal: to come out ahead and be as profitable as they possibly can be.
Here’s where authors miss out. Our singular goal should be the same.
You have no friends in business. You have no enemies. You are simply trying to work out the best possible agreement between you and your publisher or you and your retail outlet. The best agreement puts more money in your pocket. Amazon is not going to give you the same deal as they do New York Times best-selling authors because those authors bring in more money. Just as you won’t give a few royalty percentage points back to Amazon because the CEO needs a new jet.
So let us end this nonsence of fairness and friends. Whether you go indie or go traditional, you have to be the business person. You’re not evil. You’re after as much as you can get. So is Amazon. So is Hatchette. Go where you can put the most money in your pocket. The free-market is wonderful that way. When we make decisions based on profit, we end up with the best solutions for all stakeholders. Amazon, Hatchette, and every other player have to decide whether you are an investment that will make them profitable.
If they decide incorrectly, they either lose money today or money tomorrow, after their best resource (that’s you) leaves them for a better deal.