A quick post to share something I’ve been chatting about on Twitter: Here’s John Scalzi shooting down the idea that new writers don’t have the power to negotiate a deal or to demand decent treatment. It’s smart stuff, but I only want to add one thing:
Yeah, Scalzi makes the point that legitimate publishers acquire books because they believe the book has value. That means the writer is not a beggar hoping the publisher will cast a few alms into their bowl, and they’re not a lonely soul moping on the back stairs as the party winds down, still hoping for a pity fuck. They’re makers who have made something of value, and if people aren’t yet treating a book as a thing with some value, then it’s time to write another book.
What’s more, a new writer has advantages over others who have already landed contracts with publishers. It’s easier to break in than to stay in, and that’s a fact. For some writers (me, of course, I’m talking about myself) new books come with a poor sales record attached to them. A writer gets more leverage by being a blank slate than by carrying a few scars. That’s why we sometimes have to start all over again under a new name.
So, if a publisher acts like it’s doing the writer a favor, or that it’s giving the writer to a chance to stick a thumb in the eye of those awful gatekeepers, or that the writer is being given a chance to create a whole new system, those are danger signs. The publisher a writer wants is the one who admires the book enough to treat the author like a business and artistic partner, and who thinks that together they can reach an awful lot of readers.
 In this case, “people” covers everyone from agents, editors, reviewers, and those voracious ebook buyers who buy and read a book a day.