HOW DO THE READER AND THE WRITER FIGHT BACK?
The reader is the writer's best friend. If the writer educates her readers about the publishing business, the reader will help the writer fight back.
Here is the "Book Biz 101" fact sheet, I share with readers.
Thank the bookstore manager for carrying the kinds of books you like.
If you can't find a book, ask the bookstore to special order it for you. If enough people do this, they'll order the author's next book.
Don't pass around new books to friends. A bookstore and the publisher can only tell how popular a book is by the number of copies sold. If you share your one book with six friends, the publisher and the bookstore won't know this. Get those six friends to buy the book themselves. And give good books good word of mouth so others will buy it!
Buy the book new, not used. If you buy the book used, you won't be counted as a reader. It costs more money, but you will insure that more books like it will be printed.
In the days before the paranormal romance became popular, a used bookstore owner told me that the average paranormal romance was traded at least 10 times before it disintegrated. It rarely stayed in the store more than a few hours because readers were on waiting lists for these books. The readers said they couldn't find the books anywhere but at the used bookstore, and the regular bookstore said no one wanted to buy these books so fewer books were sold new, and fewer books were published. A very vicious cycle.
Don't take a book to the used bookstore until it is no longer on the bookstore shelves. Two to three months from the time you buy it is a good rule of thumb.
Paperback books without their covers are stolen books. Tell the person at the flea market or used bookstore that it's illegal to sell and show them the legal note to this effect at the front of the book. If you continue to see books like this sold, send a letter to the publisher and tell them.
If you absolutely must choose two books, one new and one used, buy the "name" author used and the unknown author new. The name author can survive a few used books, the new author may never sell another story because her first book sold poorly.
If you see an electronic version of a copyrighted novel available for free at some website or on a newsgroup, contact the publisher or author immediately and tell them. Not only is this illegal, but it is the financial murder of your favorite authors and the end of the kind of books you love.
If you like a book or a publisher's line, write the publisher and tell them. (The publisher's address is in the front of the book.) The people who usually write are the ones who don't like that kind of book. In your letter, tell the publisher how many books a month you buy. If you are a younger reader, tell the publisher that you'll want to read these books for a long time, and you recommend them to your friends.
A fan letter to the author also works.
Authors remember to send copies of these letters to your editor and agent!
If you hear a line is closing, write the publisher and complain. Don't let that vampire or sf romance go gently into the good night without a hardy complaint or indignant werewolf howl of unhappiness.
Buy books from the small presses and e-publishers who are publishing the kinds of books you like. Continue to buy from these small publishers when the major publishers move into this market to keep the small publisher alive. Major publishers are notoriously fickle about remaining in certain markets.
It may be simpler to buy all your books at Amazon or Fictionwise, but you can often save money by buying directly from the publisher's site. At most epublisher sites, the author makes a higher percentage of the sale.
Amazon is trashing the publishing industry and its authors because the buyers have given them that power. Take it away by spending your money elsewhere.
Buy from local independent bookstores.
Tomorrow, I'll finish this series with some educated guesses about what the near and far future will bring to publishing and bookselling.