Author Chuck Wendig (who? Oh, that Chuck Wendig) has posted a counterblast to the recent petition calling on Hachette to settle its dispute with Amazon and “stop fighting low prices and fair wages.” And Wendig’s words are already getting some airing on Publishers Lunch and elsewhere (under the headline “Hugh Howey Launches Petition Thanking Amazon; Amazon Author Wendig Responds”), so it’s worth going over them to see … what they’re worth.
This isn’t to belittle the good points that Wendig does make about the petition and the pro-Amazon camp – there are quite a few of those. But there are quite a few issues with his statement that deserve … taking issue with.
One is that Wendig kicks off his piece by saying that “Hugh Howey has a petition out for… an anti-boycott for Amazon? A love-fest for Amazon?” Now, as Wendig himself admits lower down, “it’s been made clear this isn’t Howey’s petition so much as one he co-authored and is presently championing.” Furthermore, as Wendig doesn’t admit, the petition is specifically directed, not at thanking Amazon, but at calling on Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch, to: “please help put an end to these negotiations. Accept Amazon’s offer to create a 50/50 joint fund to support your authors. And then work on a resolution that keeps e-book prices reasonable and pays authors a fair wage.” Thanking the readers – not Amazon – is simply the petitioners’ preamble to that objective. That side of the dispute is hardly covered by Wendig at all.
Wendig argues that “you have to get through a lot of text to get to what I suspect is the point of the piece.” Well, as it happens, that text is the stuff that is all about the state of the traditional publishing industry and why Hachette doesn’t deserve support – let alone the anti-Amazon petition from Douglas Preston and others that Wendig also omits to mention. Surely it couldn’t have skipped his notice that the pro-Amazon petition is in fact a counter-petition?
I still recommend anyone who wants a less-than-kneejerk-pro-trad-pub take on why Amazon doesn’t deserve too much smarm to read the whole of Wendig’s piece. But bear those caveats in mind. I don’t know how come he left half the context of this whole exercise out when he wrote about it. But he has. Odd. And unfortunately, Publishers Lunch and others, with their usual readiness to cite anything that an author says as endorsement, are taking advantage of his partial version of the facts.