Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Funds That Publishers Ostensibly Expect You to Fork Out

If one considers my trials and tribulations with publication, this article could come across as fairly negative – a sour grapes kind of thing. However, given the news of my recent new romance and how on top of the world I am, the actual reason I spill these truths is to poke a little fun and most importantly give heads up to unsuspecting new talent entering this profession. And frankly, haven’t I been doing that for years anyway?

                This topic is a little touchier, though. I reveal the magician’s secrets so to speak.

                The sad truth is the publishing business isn’t what it used to be. There have been countless forums that point blame all over the place, so I won’t belabor it with any of my theories of cause, but I think we can all agree that the mantle of author doesn’t carry the same prestige as when I wore a high school sports uniform. Actually, unless you’re the big NYT Bestseller, the industry has become a pyramid scheme from what I can tell.

                The real authors I know talk of days when advances were crowning validation that you’d made it. Of course, the publisher encouraged using some of it for marketing (a very foreign word to authors back then, not like now how it’s drilled into you). Today the skimpy advances out of New York for new authors, basically understating that he or she is a gamble, are expected to be used for advertising the title.

                With a typical small press, here’s the kicker, there are no advances, yet they still egg you on to break into your piggy bank and get wild on boasting your new release. One time on an email conversation with the marketing department of a press for one of my books, I got all excited when they dazzled me with T shirts, mugs, and stickers as possible advertising tools. As the correspondence built, it dawned on me that they were tiptoeing around saying that I had to foot the bills. Can you imagine what a star I felt like being nudged to spend my millions?!

                Here’s another thrilling investment for you aspiring authors clinching it with indy presses! You’ll more than likely have to buy your hard and soft backs even though you’re published. So, here’s to hoping those signings you broke your hump to set up with surviving bookstores go well otherwise that box of books winds up being some expensive Christmas cards.

                Early in my ‘success’ game, all motivated to get the word out about my big hit, I queried lots of review blogs from the prompting of my agent. I must have hit up 30 or 40. Only two answered me and they wanted – you guessed it – their cut. Everybody’s got their hands out, children.

                About eight years ago at a conference I attended, I wish I could remember his name, a gentleman on a panel said it was going to be like this, that authors would be on their own when it came to funding.

                Free enterprise is a right I and many men and women served in the military for, but you should be painfully aware that nowadays, not only is writing a time suck, but also a significant financial cost.

                On to more chipper subjects, dear friend of mine and well connected screen writer Cardinal Robbins will be sharing her compelling strategic moves in this biz.



Sisters of the Quill said...

You wore a high school sports uniform? :) but seriously. This is the reason I'm not anxiously rubbing hands together over offers. Just turned down a work for hire for a different reason. The money was good... but the deadline for a full book of brand new material was unrealistic. Just hope the writer who ends up taking it on has no family, no second project or job, and a strong heart. I think it is crazy that we come to the table with the product and yet we pay for our distribution. Why? 1) most books end up losing $ for the publisher 2) there are far more writers (good and bad) than readers.

Anonymous said...

Yup. Nothing really "special" about being a writer anymore. Now, everyone writes and everyone does marital arts (not that I do and did those for that reason). I also went the agent route, left the agent route, and am now doing the Indie route. And, yes, spending our own, hard-earned cash. But, you know, I'm happy with my work, with my books. I am doing what I call my own "value fulfillment." And that's what you have to do it for. Certainly not the cash, or anything else. I just wanna live a good life, doing a little good with what "energy" I have, allowing what "energy" I have free reign and free range.

BTW, really happy for ya, Gusto! Glad you finally have some serious HAPPY in your life! Smile on! :-]