Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Shifting Landscape of Publishing

Here are links to two blog posts related to the challenges of flourishing as an author in today's publishing environment.

Horror writer Brian Keene on how maintaining a balance between traditional releases from mainstream publishers and newer methods and formats helps an author hang onto long-time readers:

Missing in Action

He discusses the advantages of digital publishing and online distribution but also recounts his experience of the downside of having no traditionally published books in physical bookstores. Many of his older readers didn't follow him online because they didn't realize he was still writing new material. The article reminds us that not everybody is cutting-edge computer-savvy or in the habit of seeking online first (or at all) for products they want, including books. Having books stocked in stores offers another advantage he barely touches on—the chance to sell to impulse purchasers who otherwise wouldn't know the author exists.

Kameron Hurley on when to quit your day job:

When to Quit Your Day Job

The surprise in this essay is that, unlike most people giving advice on this topic, Hurley doesn't focus on strategies for leaving the "day job" as soon as feasible. Instead, she recommends sticking with it as long as you can (provided it's not a soul-sucking ordeal) for the financial security of salary and benefits. How long can an individual live (much less support a family) on a $100,000 advance, which looks like a fortune at first glance? The portion left after taxes and the agent's percentage will last at most two or three years, depending on the cost of living in a particular city. And how many aspiring authors will ever receive a windfall of that magnitude? An advance that size WOULD be a functional fortune for me, because my husband and I are already living perfectly well on our combined retirement-income streams. That fact, however, supports Hurley's recommendations, because one of her points mentions quitting the day job if one has a reliable income such as the salary of a steadily employed spouse.

Selling a book for a huge advance is in that way a bit like winning a million dollars in the lottery. If a young winner thinks, "Wow, I'm a millionaire," and starts spending like one, he'll soon go broke. If he decides to quit his job and exist on his windfall with a modest lifestyle, he'll get at most twenty years or so of leisure before he has to find a job again. On the other hand, a million dollars really would make the winner rich if he or she were already at or near retirement.

My personal fantasy of writing as a get-rich scheme involves film options. Since the books are already written and published, that income would be free money, similar to winning a lottery (and, from what I've heard, not much more likely).

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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