|An olden times writer exchanging his book for a contract|
"Publishers keep looking at indie success as a slush pile where they can scoop up the best. They'll keep doing that until indies learn better. But very few indies who sign with a legacy publisher and hate the experience will speak publicly about it, because their books are being held hostage and playing nice with their new corporate masters is essential if they want to continue to make money.
So you won't see many authors bashing their publishers. But how many who signed indie deals sing their publishers' praises? Isn't it odd we don't see a lot of that?"
Of course, when a successful indie is wooed and won by one of the Big Five*, he is initially thrilled. The advance will be substantial - it has to be, to match the money he's been making on his own - and it's always a boost to the ego to be pursued. Probably he's secretly gratified to think he'll finally fulfil his fledgling writer aspirations; piles of hardbacks in shop windows, book signings, 'proper' reviews in the media, even 'validation' by the gatekeepers. It'll save him from doing his own (or commissioning) editing, covers, formatting and marketing. For a few weeks, he'll be blogging and tweeting and telling everyone he knows.
Then what? I've poked about the internet a bit, and in most cases, the author goes curiously quiet. Blog posts become muted, mostly just about release dates and cover art. Have I picked up the wrong impression, or do most ex-indie authors conclude they've signed a pact with the devil?
*I'm not including Amazon publishing here, which offers much more to an author than trad pub does. I'd sign with Amazon with enthusiasm. Nor do I include print-only deals like Hugh Howey's.