I’m probably going to get some blasting for this, but I have to say something—and sorry for being so blunt, but I have to say it forcefully.
I have made no secret about the fact that I lurk in a lot of online forums and read a lot of author blogs and websites. I’m not the only one. A lot of my colleagues do it too. Some of us lurk fairly openly and people who are not comatose know who we are. Others of us use a secret online identity so people don’t know who we really are. Some of us lurk out of personal interest or just for fun. Others of us lurk specifically to find out what YOU are saying about US. And even if we don’t lurk in a particular forum or chat room, we have friends and cohorts and connections who read stuff and forward it to us—all the time. Subject line: Did you see what they are saying about you over on…
So a word to the wise, think twice before complaining about your publisher in a public forum, such as a blog, website or online chat. If you complain about me, I’m going to hear about it and it’s not going to make me feel all warm and fuzzy about you. And if you’re complaining about one of my colleagues (as is the case I’m ranting about now), and your complaint clearly indicates a lack of understanding about how the business side of publishing works, how receptive do you think I’m going to be when your next manuscript shows up on my desk?
Some authors are mistreated by their publishers and their complaints are legitimate. If this is the case, take your complaints to someone who can help you do something about it—an attorney, an agent, another publisher. If you feel you must blow off some steam, then rant to your spouse, your family, your close friends, your writers group—face to face. But do not do it online where it can come back to bite you. And it will. Trust me.
There are times when a publisher or a bookstore will go through their inventory and make wholesale book dumps—this most often happens when there is a change of command or a restructuring of focus. You know that this is the case because it will be an entire genre or multiple authors or all books that use the phrase “aw shucks.” When this happens, don’t take it personally. But when it’s just you that's getting dumped, you need to keep in mind a few facts.
Fact: A bookstore does not dump a book because of one complaint, unless that complaint is made by the owner’s mother or spouse or lien holder. As long as the number of books being sold outweigh the number of complaints coming in, they will continue to stock the shelves and carry the book. A bookstore dumps a book for one reason only: it isn’t selling.
Fact: A publisher does not dump a book because one store receives one complaint. They dump a book for one reason only: it isn’t selling.
Fact: A publisher may discontinue a class of books (ie: fiction), a genre (ie: western), or a title (ie: your book). They do this for one reason only: it isn’t selling.
Fact: No matter what other reason a publisher, bookstore, or author gives for a book being dumped, the only true reason is IT ISN'T SELLING.
Are we getting the message?