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,