If you haven't been following the saga, I wrote an Open Letter to Simon and Schuster CEO Carolyn Ready saying that they fundamentally mistreat their authors and editors, and their industry sucks.
They first tell me to delete this immediately, then ignore it, and then I get a very politely worded threat delivered via my agent, Jim Levine.
So I made the video, "The End of the Publishing Cartel - Jim Levine, Are You With The Artists Or The Cartel?"
I made a lot of important points, but I wasn't wearing a shirt.
Now, why do that? Am I just crazy?
Well, perhaps. But there's a method to the madness.
Here's what I came up with after discussing with a friend who works in publishing -
1. The message would be taken less seriously shirtless. Obviously.
2. But, it'd be more like to get spread and be remembered and "sticky" if done so. These things have to be entertaining for people.
3. So we asked, "Is publishing going to listen? If so, put a shirt on, be more serious, etc." But we thought about it, and decided they weren't going to listen anyways - they're huge and don't care about complaints from their partners, employees, or writers (they just ignore complaints, and sue anyone who gets out of line too much).
4. It shows a little bit of craziness, which is good.
5. It was a lot of fun, and the whole thing sucks if it's not fun. The person who is having more fun in a battle like this is more likely to win - I can keep going forever, I really get a kick out of this.
The thing some people missed is the sneaky implicit threat of a lawsuit in Jim's letter. It's subtle, he wrapped a knife in a bouquet of roses.
After the fake politeness, Jim's letter boils down to, "the contract calls for immediate repayment including you paying more money than you even got if you don't immediately agree to our terms and shut up."
I'm not joking. They're saying I have to pay more money than I got from them (after doing a lot of work for them and getting jerked around) if I don't shut up and agree to their terms right now.
That's what they do - threaten people via the legal system. You could miss it if you weren't a businessman, but anyone who does business or legal sees right through Jim and Simon and Schuster's garbage here. They're trying to muscle me into silence and going away.
So, I fired back. I'm disappointed in Jim. Shame on him.
And I need to show the CBS Corporation legal team that I'll take the fight to the wire.
Lawyers destroy rational self-interested people, but they're afraid of people who will go all the way down swinging. If you seem calm and rational, they'll bury your under paperwork and lawsuits. They know how to fight people who get out of line who are normal.
Remember, they have literally billions of dollars, and they use it to muscle people into silence. You have no chance if you fight their way - you have to fight smarter and crazier.
So... no shirt? Tearing up money? Telling them to sue me? They don't know how to deal with this, there's literally no precedent for this.
And besides - maybe I can actually force these dinosaurs to stop being bad to people, and do better.
Previously in the series -
You know, there was a time when publishers expected a degree of craziness from their authors and had systems to deal with it, but it's a time long past and the industry now is as stuck in the mud as the music recording industry, but without the satisfying ka-ching the recording industry still produces somehow.
I've had the misfortune to work in publishing and I'm still really not sure whose interests they're serving these days. Certainly not authors' or the reading public's. Beware though because they also love lawyers and the legal process almost as much as the recording industry, and prefer that avenue to taming with an even-mildly difficult author.
I can't remember where I read it, but someone said something similar about lawyers destroying rational people, and that if a lawyer says his client intends to take you to court, it is better to say something like "Go fuck yourself", since it indicates a position of power.
I just find it fascinating that with all you said in that video, (the numerous potentially "controversial" statements and such that provide the asshats of the world with plenty to be pissed off about) everyone is fixated on the fact that you have no shirt on. Next time you should forego the pants and double the attention.
What I was trying to say is that it's not a person or even a group of persons who goes directly against the psycho (sorry, Sebastian :-), it's a big corporation.
The lawyers are paid to do their job, the gears are turning and the only one who can personally get hurt in this case is Sebastian. No one at CBS will be affected personally, although it is possible, though highly unlikely without a lot of effort, that the company's image will be a bit tarnished (which seems to be the goal here, actually).
They'll be going out of the publishing business or changing their game whether they want it or not, since authors can now easily publish their own books and not depend on them anyway.
It's like going on foot against an APC...
I would just let it go and never deal with them again, but that's just me, of course :-)
You're thinking too rationally. All of game theory goes out the window when the other player starts acting irrational. As a simple example, consider playing Chicken against an psychopath. You will swerve, every time. That's the victory a psychopath gets by being irrational.
Good for you. My writing partner and I got tired of getting fucked over by agents/aborted publisher contracts, and will be releasing our first novel in E-book format next week. The good news is, we created a readership from scratch with a now popular website and can now market ourselves. The old system is indeed dying, and after my experience with it in the last six years, I say "Adios."
Err, don't you think you're taking on too much at the moment?
I mean, if it was important or even related to your current projects, I'd understand, but taking on a big company is not a very smart idea when you don't seem to have time for your more important stuff.
I mean, if it's CBS, they can just take you to court (for, well, anything) or just hassle you to no end, because it's not a person doing it, it's a legal department - no soul, no goal except to relentlessly hassle you - the papers go around their office, you go through problems personally... not really fair...
Sit down before you read this.
We've got to talk.
Look. This is going to piss you off. This is going to look like I'm causing problems.
I'm not causing problems. I'm just pointing out where problems already exist.
A few weeks prior I was at an airport, desperate for something to eat. I got a poor quality sandwich at an above average price. I paid, and it served its purpose: to make me stop feeling starving.
When I visited Haiti I was staying with a couch surfer. My bus arrived just as dark was rolling in. I had my host's phone number, but I didn't have a usable phone. I was the only tourist on the bus (meaning the only white person), and I hadn't heard anyone else speak English. A cabbie spoke in broken English to get me to ride in his cab.
"Can I use your phone?"