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  • Writer's pictureEmily Taylor

Watching Defy Media Unfold or Why I Self-Publish


Writing is a drama-filled medium

I was going to write about #CopyPastCris and Nora Roberts' blog entry on plagiarism, but that's going to be delayed until next week. This past weekend, my son was watching some of his favorite vloggers on YouTube, as he does on weekend mornings. This Saturday, he was binging some GameTheorists, and I caught a couple of titles that intrigued and surprised me. One was “They Stole $1.7 Million” and the other was “The $1.7 Million Lie.”

I took the remote and we settled in to watch them, and I'll include the videos at the bottom of this post. The long and short of it is this: Defy Media, as an MCN, operated in ways that were good for the business but REALLY bad for the content producers. One of the ways they did business was as a pass-through for the content producers' ad revenue. As MatPat explains it, Defy would receive the money from YouTube, take out their cut, and then pass the rest on to the content producers. For me, that produced a HUGE red flag. As he points out, this would be like your paycheck passing through your landlord, utility company, on down through the fast food you picked up on the way home one night, before whatever remained got to your pocket. It also highlights why I feel better handling my own books. As a writer, a lot of people have asked me why I don't submit my work to an agent or a major publisher to get a wider audience. No small part of it is control. Writers trade stories about edits publishers made that ruined stories, characters changed, demands for re-writes which take stories in completely different directions. There was, recently, an author whose cover was copied in house from another book. The publishing house handled it badly, and sour feelings were all around. I may not have the contacts to spread my work far and wide, and my GIMP skills may not be super, but at least I have control over where my work is sent and how it looks. Another part is monetary. I have cheered new authors who get signed to the larger publishers. It's a good feeling. But it also comes with money discussions. Authors do not receive 100% of their royalties. Amazon, for example, will pay independent publishers up to 70% royalties. And in the professional world, like the MCNs, publishers take their cuts for services rendered, cover work, and marketing, before it really gets to the author. And let's not pretend it's a steady income. Money ebbs and flows based on a number of factors. At least in handling my money on my own, I can figure out where I need to spend it. Does it need to go back to the household? Is there any that I can pour back into the books for covers or advertising? Is there a holiday coming up where people are more likely to buy books, so I should start focusing efforts there? Would it be easier to outsource it? Yes. No doubt. But, again, there's that aspect of control and knowledge about where the money is coming from and where it is going. And that seems to be something that MatPat did NOT have with Defy Media. I think I'll stick to what I'm doing.

They Stole $1.7 Million

The $1.7 Million Lie

 

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