Keeping Up

By Camille Minichino

    I don’t usually suggest Machiavelli as a role model for life, but this quote is worth considering:

The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not.

    The philosopher in me would love to spend time dissecting the notions of “policy,” “demands,” and” prosper,” but a quick read is all I need to make my point here.
    For traditional publishing at a major house, a book has to be sold five or six times. (Unlike, say, a toaster.) The author must sell to an agent; the agent sells to an editor, who has to sell to her boss (publisher), sometimes a committee; the publisher sells to the distributor; the distributor sells to the bookseller, who finally gets to sell to the reader.
    Notice the writer is at the end of this money and attribution chain. People often know a book’s title, but not the author; seldom vice versa. Even more so with screenplays. Mention “Casablanca” and whom do you think of first? A. Humphrey Bogart; B. Ingrid Bergman; C. Julius Epstein.
    In the new model of e-publishing, the author can go straight to the reader and introduce himself as well as his book.
    What’s the trade-off when the author does this? If you asked a couple of months ago, I’d have said the author loses status, especially in terms of being reviewed. But the gap is closing, and two recent publishing phenomena have helped narrow it further.
    First, a young woman, Amanda Hocking, made the news when she reported earning nearly $2 M by selling her stories online. She was then awarded a $2 M contract by St. Martin’s Press and decided to make the switch from digital to traditional. Second, Barry Eisler, a big name in thrillers, reported that he’d decided to reject a large contract offer from St. Martin’s and publish his next book himself, which he’s done. You could hear the applause from crime fiction writers when Barry switched from traditional to digital, parting the waters for the rest of us.
    It would take a few more blog installments to explore fully what this means. What comes to mind immediately, though, is that each of us now has more options about publishing our work, limited only by our own vision and what we’re willing to do to bring it to reality.


Camille Minichino has published short stories, articles, and fourteen mystery novels in three series. Camille is a member of the California Writers Club and teaches writing workshops in and around the Bay Area. Details at



Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Keeping Up

  1. Camille Thompson

    Useful info! My current WIP is non-traditional, so unlikely to be picked up by a major publishing house, or a minor one for that matter. E-publishing could be a viable option for me. Thanks Camille. ~Camille Thompson

  2. Very soon there will emerge “accredited” e-reviewers, just as everyone knows which print reviews matter now. That will be another turning point.
    Best wishes to you for you book, Camille!

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