moving on

I’ve been battling a bit with anger issues with the whole publishing lark. It’s largely about money, I admit. Payments are slow (or VERY late) and small (the e-pub crowd are timeous, the percentages good… it’s just not a whole lot of money. Yet. But it could overtake the traditional publishers). I’m not exactly greedy, it was just finding that two days work a week here as a farm laborer earned me more than my full-time 7 days a week 14 hours a day writing did. And it is paid on time and I don’t have to beg for it. I’m not expected to do unpaid dogsbody work on publicity which is 92% to someone else’s benefit either.

I don’t want to be a farm laborer, particularly. (I don’t hate it either). But after 12 years of being published, and vast amounts of work, a bunch of books and a tribe of shorts and having sold over a third of a million copies (ie, more than 1.3 million reads – at 4 reads per book)… I kind of expect to at least equal that level. It got me so angry that I was battling to write. I REALLY do not expect to cross-subsidize the rest of the chain from publisher to retail, by working as a farm laborer and squeezing my writing in around that so that they can be paid far better than I am, and, um not ‘when someone gets around to it’. So: we had friends and relations to stay, and I just didn’t write.

Anyway. I’m over it. I missed the writing. I’m going to finish the books I have on contract, and that is that. I really do enjoy writing, and will go on writing. But unless I get decent offers with percentages that reflect the value I add and the value they add, I will write no more books on contract. I’ll offer the final product for a minimal time only to the paper publishers. If they offer something worthwhile, I’ll consider it. Otherwise I will e-publish them and yes, probably work as farm labor. But at least I will only be cross-subsidizing e-retail who take 30%, not the rest who take 90%.

Anyway, on that cheerful note, I have written 2K today and need to write more. Tomorrow CRAWLSPACE will start the first of its free days, and so, if you haven’t read it, now is your chance to grab a free copy

If you click on the link (picture) it will take you there.



Filed under economics, philosophy, publishing, Writing

4 responses to “moving on

  1. Hi Dave,

    Good on you for speaking out about this. I hoped writers like yourself were making a decent living. Silly me.

    I guess writers and creative professionals are in a tricky place because the main reason we create is that we love to or need to, but not just for ourselves, we desire to reach an audience as well, which requires a distribution channel.

    It would be great if our society rewarded more people for work in their area of choice. I wonder if that would be possible.



    • Well, it’s partly a supply and demand equation, Helen. Publishers controlled almost all access to retail space, and regarded authors (outside of a few) as largely interchangable and instantly replaceable dirt cheap goods from an infinite supply. And, as they controlled access to retail, distribution, marketing and covers… we were. And the trouble is, in a society that measures success by money, the author’s prestige and respect (it is a VERY hard thing to do well, but people do not realize this) have been badly eroded. Most people also thought we got the bulk of the 26 dollars they paid for a paperback, and regarded us gouging thieves. And as prisoners of the system we authors couldn’t actually point out that we got 64 cents of that, and that if anyone was gouging… it wasn’t us. The point is that that has changed now, and authors do have real value. It’s time publishing stopped going la la la and moaning about Amazon, and started doing things very differently. But it’s not happening.

  2. So in addition to hunting and gathering you’ll do agriculture? That’s progress… Just be careful of nomads riding horses (or camels).

    Seriously, good luck and if you want an advance do kickstarter – we can probably kick in some.

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