This is where I write about writing, languages, literature, my books and publishing endeavours, and my academic musings. You might also catch me blogging about pokemon, or Ingress, or showing pictures of the local wildlife or places I visit, but mostly it'll be writing.
Writing Ramble: On New Writers and Established Hazards
On Saturday, I found David Gaughran on Twitter,
and I followed him, and he voiced a bunch of things that concern me – and that
should concern every writer. And
David is not alone. He’s not barking mad. He’s not some starry-eyed idealist.
He just cares. He cares that new authors are coming into an industry that does
not have their best interests at heart, an industry that will squeeze that
author for every drop of profit, and then not care if they can pay their bills
But that’s the way things are. DavidGaughran is not alone. Joe Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Dean WesleySmith are among a host of established authors who are writing about the rights
and wrongs of the industry, who warn of agents who represent their own
interests and not the author’s, who warn of publishing companies – and we are
talking respected publishing companies, who used to at least appear to look
after their writers, not just a fly-by-night scammers; no, we are talking
established pillars of publishing taking on the habits of scammers and telling
new authors that this is the way business is done, and you have to live with
These writers are not trying to scare new
writers; they are not “protecting their patch” from newcomers or potential
rivals – they don’t need to. These writers are already making a living from
their writing, and they’re doing it wholly, or partially, outside traditional
channels, away from the path that new writers are told is the only way to go.
As more horror stories emerge about the way
writers are being treated by publishing, about contracts that buy the rights of
a book for its copyright, but which don’t promise to keep the book in print and
available for the life of its copyright, new writers are struggling with
confusion and uncertainty.
Are the stories, true? they wonder. Surely
that story’s just sour grapes from a writer who wasn’t good enough to be published?
Surely the publisher pays fairly. Surely, an established writer with 30 or so
books under their belt is making a living from their traditionally published
And it doesn’t matter how many stories they
hear to the opposite, new writers have attended writers’ groups; they have gone
to writing seminars; they have listened to ‘experienced’ and ‘successful’
writers who speak at conferences; they rarely go on-line and take a long, hardlook at the industry from multiple angles. And they usually ignore writers who
have chosen the independent path as being failures, and not ‘good enough’ to be
picked up by a ‘real’ publisher.
The only problem with this approach is, of
course, that most writers in a writing group are after a contract; they want
the legitimisation that recognition from an established publisher brings; they
don’t feel fit to judge their own work, or that they have the right to say it’s
good enough to sell. Most writers who believe enough in themselves to write
their book, don’t believe enough in themselves, or their book, to publish it
without someone else saying it’s good enough – and that has to stop.
The only reason that publishers get away
with contracts that take all of a work’s rights for the lifetime of the
contract, the only reason they get away with refusing to keep that work in
print for the same time, or for refusing to offer time-limited contracts with a
built-in reversion of rights, is that writers don’t believe enough in
themselves, or their work, or their readers, to independently publish, or to
fight for a fairer contract. Until that changes, the publishing industry has no
reason to change.
It is time that writers realised that
publishers need writers, much more than writers need someone to do the
publishing for them. It’s time writers realised that they can work
cooperatively to ensure quality, that the market has enough room for their
work, and the works of others, that readers can read faster than writers can
write, and one writer is never enough. It is time writers stopped trying to
outbid each other in obtaining unfair contracts for limited spaces in a
publisher’s release schedule, and it is time that writers stopped supporting
the myths that are undermining their ability to make a living from their work.
This report is actually going out on
time. It’s been a busy week, and, with exams approaching, it’s only going to
get busier. This is what happened the week just gone.
Week 1 ProgressNew
words produced: 67 + poetry and flash handwritten
and Notes: NilWorks
completed: 14 (7 poems, 7 flash fiction)Works
edited: 1 (CS initial edit for Army Boots & Stilettos)Covers
created: 0 (CS format done for Army Boots & Stilettos)Works
Entered: 0Bloggery: 1,829University
Prep and Assignments: 3,392Writing News The week just gone saw me trying to
complete a second assessment item. Unfortunately, it proved more complex than
expected, so, although I completed the words required, with 30-40 references in
place, I’m not completely happy with the result, and have decided to go over it
this week to see if I can tweak it into something more satisfactory. I also
completed the initial edit and format of Army Boots & Stilettos, but want