Thursday, May 17, 2012


Last week’s news wasn’t very good for authors. First, an article saying that if a writer isn’t producing more than one book a year, she’s “slacking.” Used to be that those prolific authors had to write under multiple pen-names because the publishers didn’t want them to release too many books each year. Just one more thing that the new world of publishing has changed for us.

Alas, I’m not a prolific writer. One a year was just right for me. And if the book didn’t sell, I rewrote it--sometimes several times--until it did. So perhaps my output is more like one every three years. Ouch.

Then along comes another problem, beautifully discussed on Anne R. Allen’s blog about taking your time, not being in too much of a hurry to self-publish. “Kindle no book before its time,” she said (Don’t you love that?) because debut novels are seldom any good, and many rewrites may be necessary before that magic moment arrives. Allen quoted Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, who said, “The biggest challenge to authors today is self-restraint. Many authors, intoxicated by the freedom to self-publish, will often release their book before it’s ready.”

Okay, so now we have to slow down instead of speed up.

As if that weren’t enough to depress me, along came the brouhaha over Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s post about royalties from big publishers. Exactly a year ago, she wrote about the incorrect royalties that were hurting writers and brought it to the attention of writers’ organizations. One year later, had anything been done about it? No. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Aren’t they supposed to lobby for the authors who pay to be members? Why pay $95 a year or more, to a writer’s organization if they don’t pressure the publishers to correct the royalty problems?

Finally a letter from AAR, the literary agents’ association, that claims to work for authors (for 15% of their income) but has, instead, asked the Department of Justice not to investigate publishers who colluded to force a book-pricing system that diminishes the income of writers. Who’s protecting whom?

Will things get better next week? One can but hope. Meanwhile, please comment on what you think writers need to do.

Anne R. Allen,
Mark Coker


  1. Phyllis,

    I'm unpublished and scared to death. I do believe indie writers of debut novels tend to publish before their time. I recently reviewed a book from a writer who's blog I love. The book stank! Formatting is all wrong, which made the POV change without chapter breaks. The story itself was great, but I couldn't get past the formatting.

    I think if you are going to self publish. You need to do your homework and spend the extra money on paid editors and proof readers and hire a good formatter.

    But again, this takes away the authors bottom line. If you going to self publish you have to treat it like a business or you will not succeed.

    I will never understand how a real book that you hold in your hands can cost 7.99 and up. E-books can cost the same amount. You get to read on a computer screen. These devices haven't been around long enough for to know how they will appear years from now on that little screen.

    A book you can put inside you bookcase and find it years/decades later. E-book-iffy? I will NEVER pay that much for an e-book.

    It cost less for them to make a e-book. Someone is getting rich and it isn't the author!

    But I also believe right now is the best time to be an author. You can self publish and be successfully, and not be looked down upon. I believe in time everything will iron itself out. So will get better maybe not next week, but soon (I hope).

    As far as knowing what a writer needs to do? Write and ride the wave. LOL! I'll be curious as to what the pro's think. I'll keep watching your post.

    Loved your post.

    1. Diane:
      Thanks for the comment. As for the money, read J.A.Konrath's blog to find out who got it. I wish you much success.

  2. Good post, Phyllis. I am Indie published and doing fairly well, but I haven't been at it long. Well, not as long as I've been writing (over 11 years). I do feel some writers self-publish too soon, but quality can be subjective and that's how some people learn.

    IMO, the most important thing a writer can do in these turbulent times is to figure out what you really want out of writing (money, to be read, your name on the cover of a physical book) and keep working to make that happen.

    1. Lindsey.
      You're so right. I have self-published friends who just wanted to boast they had a published book, and others who don't feel validaed unless an editor at a publishing house accepts them. To each his own. Thanks for the comment.

    2. Linsey

      Sorry I misspelled your name (and other typos).

  3. Enjoyed your blog and agree with your views, however, I don't have any suggestions. My emotions about the writing game vary daily. It is, however, nice to know other authors have the same concerns. Thanks for blogging.

    1. Cindy:
      I guess we'll all have concerns until things settle down Change is scary. Let's hope writers do better as we go forward. Thanks for the comment.


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