The Business Rusch: Modern Writer Survival Skills (Changing Times Part 18)

The Business Rusch: Modern Writer Survival Skills

(Changing Times Part Eighteen)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I was going to title this installment “Beginning Writers Part Three,” but I think that title is too exclusive. Because all writers are going to need the skill sets I’m going to describe below to get through these changes in publishing.

My crystal ball is refusing to tell me whether or not it’s best for beginning writers to continue to pound on the doors of Big Publishing or to go it alone.  As many commenters on last week’s post noted, it’s not an either-or choice, for any writer.  Right now, I’m walking both paths—doing frontlist titles with Big Publishing and with a small publisher that I’m involved with.  I’m also bringing my backlist—all of it—back into print, which is helping my frontlist and vice versa.

I suspect that’s the way to go. But events like this week’s bankruptcy filing from Borders Books make me nervous. Borders filed for Chapter 11, which is reorganization.  In other words, Borders hopes to survive these changes. But if you look deeply at Borders, you realize how much of a “hope” that is.  Read this article before you comment on Borders troubles below, because The Wall Street Journal did a good job on Saturday (before the news was official) of delineating all of the problems Borders has had—and most of them have nothing to do with e-readers and everything to do with extreme mismanagement over more than a decade.

Many publishers continued to ship to Borders throughout the financial troubles and are now eating hundreds of thousands of dollars that Borders cannot and might never pay.  That doesn’t even count what will happen to the distributors, whose debt to Borders is even higher.

Borders implosion will have a ripple effect throughout Big Publishing: any company that was working on a tight margin will either need some cash infusion of its own or will need the help of its conglomerate (which just might cut it loose) or will go out of business.  You’ll see the effects in the next six months, no matter what happens to Borders.

Publishers I’ve been talking to who work in Big Publishing say they’re scrambling to replace brick-and-mortar bookstore income with e-book income.  It’s not a one-to-one parity, but the rise of e-books while brick-and-mortar stores decline will help a lot of those marginal companies I mentioned above survive.

Why do I worry about the shift from one model to another when I say that Big Publishing will survive these changes? Because when I say that Big Publishing will survive, I am talking about Big Publishing as a single entity.  It really isn’t a single entity at all.  It’s made up of many publishing companies, with many different business models.  As Big Publishing struggles through these changes, some of the publishing companies that comprise Big Publishing will go down.  Others will rise.  That’s how it works, that’s how it has always worked, and always will work.

If you don’t understand this or if you’re one of those gloom and doomers who still think that Big Publishing will collapse, then please go back and read my earlier posts on Big Publishing, just to get a concept of the size of all of this.  I used the TV analogy before: I said that the networks didn’t go away because of the rise of cable, although the networks’ audience share reduced.

But in a comment last week, I might have made a better analogy.  The TV and Movie industry didn’t implode because YouTube started.  In fact, those industries now use YouTube to their own advantage.  Think of it in those terms.

So, if I don’t believe Big Publishing (the entity) will collapse, then why am I worried about the financial ripple caused by Borders and the inevitable loss of some distributors? Because the books written by some writers will get caught in publisher bankruptcies, and that, my friends, will be ugly.  (And no, that bankruptcy clause in your contract probably won’t protect you even if the bankruptcy judge decides to honor that clause, which he probably won’t.)  Predicting which publishers will go down is almost impossible, but if you’re worried about getting trapped by Big Publishing, then go only to the very biggest companies, the ones that have international conglomerates behind them. Those conglomerates will close or sell off parts that don’t make money, instead of struggling and filing for bankruptcy.  It’s the medium-size players in Big Publishing that might have trouble.

Or not.

It all depends on how quickly publishing companies can move to the digital world and—even more important—how good their internal money management is and has been.  And that’s stuff you the writer won’t be able to see until the announcement gets made. (For other issues that will come up during the Borders bankruptcy, see C.E. Petit’s blog on the various ramifications.)

Of course, these same arguments can be made for start-ups working in e-publishing, even the gateway sites that get you to Kindle or Pubit without you doing the work yourself.  Those sites are even shakier because they’re newer, and they’re often owned by one person or a handful of people, who might or might not be good at running a business.

So…I guess what I’m saying here is this: Uncertainty rules right now.  And uncertainty favors a certain type of personality, one who can do the things I’m going to list below.

What Writers Need To Survive The Changes in Publishing

1. Flexibility.  Writers who need things to be just so, writers who must follow every single rule to the letter, aren’t going to thrive in this new environment.  The publishing world is shifting, sometimes daily, and it takes a flexible person to survive.

That person must be able to surf the changes.  But to surf them well, that person needs to be aware of the changes—and be willing to move when the opportunity arises. Not all moves will be successful, but the writer who tries and fails will have a lot more success than the writer who clings to “the way it is” and doesn’t try at all.

2. Forward-Thinking.  Writers who will survive will need to look ahead.  They need to be constantly evaluating new technology, new opportunities, and new challenges. This goes back to flexibility in that as things change, the writer has to be willing to try something new.  But the writer can’t jump whole-hog into that new change without testing it first.  The writer will need to be able to assess the risk of each new thing without jeopardizing the writer’s entire livelihood.  Sometimes that will mean working in the old system while moving to the new. Sometimes it will mean trying a variety of different tech providers for the same product. And sometimes it will mean the writer has to wait until the market shakes out a bit more before making her move.

If you’re not good at extrapolating the future from the present, then find folks who are.  Read their blogs, listen to their advice, and then do what’s best for you.  Just because it’s good for me or Dean Wesley Smith or J.A. Konrath or Scott Turow doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

3. Business Savvy.  Writers who don’t understand business will get screwed in the new publishing environment.  During any time of great change in an industry, the people who understand how business works do much better than those who just labor in that industry.  It’s even better if the writer understands more than his own business.  It’s better if he knows the patterns that start-ups follow, what happens in bubbles, how boom-and-bust cycles work.  The more business history that a writer knows, the better off he will be—provided that history doesn’t make him too conservative or too much of a risk-taker.

If you understand the patterns of business, then you’ll understand the changes going on around you. And don’t learn one model.  Publishing may imitate television in one instance and the tech industry in another.  So learn about the changes in other industries—from the beginnings of those industries.  (In other words, don’t just look at the music industry of the last ten years, but look at its entire history; you’ll see where technology impacted it and where it didn’t. Because tech change altering the music industry has happened since the very beginning of the 20th century.)  Read, learn, think.  Learn to think like a businessperson, not like some take-care-of-me-please artist.

4. Entrepreneurial Spirit.  The writer who will survive will need more than business savvy. She’ll need to recognize that she’s an entrepreneur.  For those of you who aren’t entirely sure what I mean by this, an entrepreneur is a person who sets up and finances a commercial enterprise (or commercial enterprises) for profit.  There are two keys in that definition.  An entrepreneur establishes a commercial enterprise for profit.

The days in which an artist with no business savvy can make a living as a writer are gone.  And honestly, good riddance.  The know-nothing writers who missed their deadlines by years because the book wasn’t perfect or who screamed at their editors (their advocates in a publishing house) or hired scam agents made the business so much harder for the rest of us.  It always insulted me that I got lumped into the category of know-nothing by every new editor/publisher I worked with because the majority of their experiences with writers were terrible on a business level.  I am a professional, unlike so many of these “artists” who lucked into a career because the times allowed it.  I act professionally in an industry where most of my colleagues do not.

Now that has changed and will continue to change. Those who will make a living at writing, maintain a career, and perhaps get wealthy will know business. Those “artists” who write one book every five years will need day jobs for the rest of their lives—if the book even gets published. And even if that book becomes a bestseller, the “artists” won’t understand how contracts and financing work. The “artists” won’t make money on their bestsellers but the agents, managers, and digital management companies like the start-up mentioned last week will get rich off of the work that the “artists” produce. Why will the agents, managers, and those management companies get rich? Because they know business and they’ll leverage hundreds of books into millions of dollars.  These people won’t care about the “artists” except to exploit them.  And if the “artists” refuse to learn business, they’re the ones at fault for the exploitation.

So the writer with entrepreneurial spirit will understand, even intuitively, that she’s the one in charge of her career.  Everything she writes will promote her brand or her brands.  If she writes under a pen name, that pen name is a brand.  If she writes under a dozen pen names, each pen name is a brand. Those brands are all part of the writer’s personal company, which she will run.

(I am not saying here that writers now need to go out and advertise their books.  Or do a million book signings or go to a million conferences to “promote” their work.  That is not what writers do. Writers promote their work best by writing and publishing new work.  I’ll explain that in detail in a future post.)

Writers have always been responsible for their own careers.  When a writer signs an agreement with a publisher, that agreement is between the writer and the publisher. The agent who negotiated the agreement does not sign the agreement, nor does the editor who represented the publisher.  If the agent negotiated a bad agreement and the writer signed the contract, then it was the writer’s fault, not the agent’s.  If the editor promised something, but the writer failed to get that promise worked into the contract and that promise never got fulfilled, then that wasn’t the publisher’s fault.  The publisher might not have known about that promise at all. The fault was with the writer, who failed to get that promise in writing in the legal document that ties the writer to the publisher.

But in the past (and in the new systems with agents, managers, and those marginal management businesses), it was always easier for the writer to blame the agent or the publishing company for the writer’s mistake. One reason it was easy to blame the others was because the writer could survive such mistakes and still make a living.

With the changes in publishing contracts mentioned in the comments last week and in the body of my post the week before, the ignorance of most young agents, the greed of many of these new hybrid companies coming in, ignorant writers will be a money machine for other people.  Ignorant writers will no longer make a living at this business.

Which leaves the rest of us, those who are—whether we call ourselves that or not—entrepreneurs.  We know that our books are our products, and we know that they funnel money into our businesses.  If the books fail for whatever reason, that failure falls on our shoulders.  If the books succeed, then they will succeed because of our work.  It’s a simple—and as daunting—as that.

Too many writers looked at publishers as their patrons and not as partners in business.  Writers who survive in this new world will understand that they’re working in a commercial system, designed to make a profit and will act accordingly.

Now before those of you who think that commercial equals crap jump on me again this week, let me say clearly and for the record that I’m not telling writers to write crap.  Art takes care of itself.  The writers whose work we still read now were the bestsellers of their day (with one or two bestsellers who became bestsellers shortly after their deaths). I’m not saying that writers should copy Twilight or to try to be anything but who they already are artistically.  I’m not saying be a copycat or try to follow trends.

I am saying that writers need to recognize when they write a book that will appeal to a large number of readers and recognize when they’ve written a book that will appeal to only a handful of readers. It’s okay to produce both kinds of book. But to expect a novel written in iambic pentameter about a man who spends an afternoon gazing at butterflies to sell millions of copies is to set yourself up for disappointment, no matter how lovely the prose, how perfect the iambic pentameter, or how deeply and beautifully described the butterflies are.

Like it or not, writers, you live and work in a capitalistic system, and your product, your art, your novels, have to appeal to a goodly number of readers in order to thrive.

The new system will bring down the size of the audience a writer needs in order to survive.  As a number of commenters said last week, the profits a writer makes when doing this on her own are great enough that she doesn’t have to sell 50,000 copies of her novel to make a living; she can sell 5,000 and still live off the profits.

And that, for the business savvy entrepreneurial writer, is a good thing.  Ironically, the ones who would benefit the most from this—the artists who want to write lovely and difficult novels without great sales potential—won’t even try.  They’ll get eaten by the system, leaving the innovation in prose and style and storytelling to come from the writer/entrepreneur

Which really isn’t a surprise, because entrepreneurs have been in charge of innovation in this country since the beginning of the Republic more than 200 years ago.

So…since we’re on the topic of craft, let’s go one farther and look at the elements of craft that will help a writer survive in this new environment.

5. Write Fast.  Yep.  That whole writing slow myth that Dean so effectively deals with in this New World of Publishing post.  The myth was designed to slow writers down so that they could function in the publishing environment of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.  In other words, Big Publishing didn’t know how to publish a writer who wrote more than one book per year. Big Publishing’s system (back then) couldn’t handle the cost of putting out more than one book by a writer in a single year. Bookstores were smaller then, and only had so much shelf space.  (This was before the big box stores.)  So even if a writer wrote fast, she couldn’t get her work into the stores because the bookstore owner would say, “We already have her new book.”

Solution? Slow the writer down.  Writers bought this myth hook, line, and sinker, and still repeat it (some on my blog last week. <grump.>)  That’s not how art works.  Art improves with practice.  Practice does not mean playing the same piece of music for one year; practice means learning that piece of music and another and another for a concert this week, and then more music for the next and more for the next.  Writing is a physical skill, just like athletics.  Imagine the basketball player who has perfected his jump shot, but never even tried to dribble.  Would he have a job in the NBA? Not likely. But that’s what Big Publishing confined writers to—for a period of 30 years—and then that business practice got turned into a myth by wannabe writers teaching creative writing classes.  And on it goes.

Note that I said this had changed by the 1990s. At that point, the gigantic chain stores had come in with their huge shelf space.  Harlequin’s subscription service trained romance writers to write four and five “category” books per year, and by 1990 or 1991, it became acceptable again for a writer to publish 4 and 5 books per year under the same name.

Go read Dean’s post: he talks about why writing fast improves a writer’s skills. Then realize that except for that thirty-year period, our best writers (the ones we still read—like Shakespeare and Charles Dickens) wrote fast.

So that’s the craft level.  Why will writing fast work on a business level? Think of it from the reader’s perspective.  The reader has finished The Great American Novel by Really Good Writer.  Now the reader wants to read the next book by Really Good Writer. So the reader goes to the bookstore or logs onto Amazon.com or opens his e-reader, and tries to find another book by Really Good Writer.

And there isn’t one.

Really Good Writer spent all year promoting The Great American Novel. Then Really Good Writer spent two years writing Another Great American Novel.  The second book gets published three years after the first.  By that point, the reader has gone onto other writers, writers who have a backlist.  The reader has forgotten all about Really Good Writer.

Nora Roberts has proven over and over again that readers will read hundreds of books by the same author provided the readers like that author’s work in the first place.  James Patterson is showing the same thing.  Readers even follow these writers from pen name to pen name, genre to genre.

This happens on a smaller scale with other writers—me, included.  Readers want to read more by their favorite author,  not less. And the readers will promote your work for you, simply by ordering the next work. The algorithms on the online publishing tell you that “readers who bought this book” also bought this book, that book, and this other book.  If the writer only has one book, the follow-up books are all by other writers.

If the writer has written more books, chances are the follow-up books are by the same writer…leading the readers right to that writer’s work because the writer has a lot of work in print.

Okay…I am now past my personally imposed word limit for these blogs (I try not to go over 3K, and I went by that a while ago).  I’m not going to get to the other things a modern writer needs to survive in this week’s post.  I will get to them next week, even if I have to start out talking about various changes in this rapidly shifting industry.

So tune in next week for the next installment….

And thanks to everyone who commented, e-mailed, and donated.  The e-mails were particularly heartfelt as some of  you described the deal-breaking contract terms you faced in the last year.  <shakes head> I knew it was coming; sorry to hear that it’s here.  For those of you new to my blog, the donation button keeps me writing posts instead of writing the fiction that pays my bills.  So if you found this (or previous posts) useful, please donate a few bucks.  It’ll keep me coming back to the nonfiction week after week.  Thanks.


“The Business Rusch: Modern Writer Survival Skills (Changing Times Part 18)” copyright 2011 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

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67 Comments

  1. Kris,
    Another wonderful and inspiring post!
    Thank you.
    Measuring myself against your list, I feel quite confident about my own prospects in the changing marketplace, though somewhat shaky when it comes to business savvy.
    But that’s why I keep coming back to your blog. :)
    David

    Reply
  2. Wow. You gave me lot to think about and I’m trying to take it in while trying to figure out if I do have those survival skills or where I buy the ones I may not have.

    I guess my best bet is to finish editing that next novel. But… the most successful indie authors at the moment seem to be awfully good at the promotion thing. So, I guess I also have a but… but… going on in my head.

    Reply
    • LOL, David. Yep, and that’s why I’m going to other people’s blogs and reading like a madwoman. Learning all the time. :-)

      Jeanne, we’ll discuss promotion, I promise. The folks doing well are working on a produce model. (Like Big Publishing) They’re looking at the short term. That level of promotion while writing is unsustainable in the long term. Don’t worry. I’ll deal with it. I promise. Finish the next novel. Then write the next. Your work is the best advertisement for your work. Seriously.

      Reply
  3. You’re a superstar and this series Rocks!

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  4. Kris, thanks, as usual, for the post.

    Concerning the question of traditional versus self-publishing there is one more factor for me that might not apply to most people: age. I’m getting close to sixty, though I don’t look it or feel it, and am acutely aware that my time is limited. I can’t delay whatever move I want to make. I can’t wait years and years while my books make the slow rounds of NY publishers. I can’t sit around and see how things play out. Whatever I’m gonna do I gotta do. This has influenced my decision to go ahead with self-publishing, while at the same time continue to submit to traditional markets, especially short story markets, which are less risky and time-consuming. For the past dozen years or so I have been selling one or two stories a year on average, and I have the confidence that that would improve if I persevere, and that I would even eventually be able to get books published and so on – but do I have the time that it would take? That I’m not so sure of. I’m in great health, sure, but in the natural order of things the more decades you pile on the more health issues can crop up suddenly. I have a lot to say and I don’t want to die with any of it unsaid. For this reason I am going ahead with my POD and e-publishing, at the rate, I hope, of a couple of books a year at least. I started with a collection of previously published stories late last year. The next book will be ready in a month or two. I may not have much of a readership right now, but I am building a base of material so that when those readers start looking for my work they will find it. The small amounts of money I get for my stories from traditional markets right now pay for the cost of the self-publishing.

    I’m building my inventory, and I am confident that this is the best move for me. I have faith in my product. This is what works for me. It may not work for anyone else, but I have been thinking a lot lately about what you and Dean say about a writer being responsible for his own career, and I realize that there are many factors involved and no simple answers. Everyone must take his own personal circumstances into account and decide for himself.

    Oh, before closing I wanted to mention one more thing. I have almost finished re-reading and studying the print version of “The Freelancer’s Survival Guide”, and one section that has really helped me personally is “Staying Positive”. You write about forging ahead through tough life circumstances. For me emergencies come up all the time that try to slow me down – day job, kids, problems with the house, and so on. An ongoing dream and steady goals keep me going. However, I have also learned to keep a balance in what I am doing, to set challenging but reasonable goals, and not let oppressive self-imposed goals sap the joy out of the work.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Thanks, A.R.I’m glad the series works for you. :-)

      John, excellent, excellent points. Every writer is different, and every writer’s circumstance is different. New writers come in all age groups and at all health levels, with different concerns. Because I have no children, for example, I was able to take on risk that I would never ever had taken if I had a family relying on me. A dear friend of mine, a single mother working 2 jobs, had to wait until her children were grown before she could carve out time to write. So it differs from everyone. And I think your point is perfect: You must make the best choice for you in your circumstances. On another note, thanks for the kind words on the Guide. Much appreciated.

      MCA, I love your point. It’s true. I’ve been downloading short epilogues from my favorite romance author while I wait for her next book. It really does keep me involved with the writer–as a reader, that is. Great point.

      Lisa, thanks for the list. I’m sure we’ll see even more in the days to come.

      Now everyone, I want to caution you about that list. Just because your favorite publishing company has a really big number there doesn’t mean they’re in trouble. You have no idea how their internal finances work–and you won’t know until (unless) things come out into the open. Also, Penguin/Putnam and some of the others on that list are part of international conglomerates, so they do have deep, deep, deep pockets. But others aren’t. Keep a wary eye on their business practices, see if your friends who have contracts with them are getting paid (artists/writers are usually the last to get paid), and watch for signs. But don’t let the raw number scare you. We have no individual context for each company.

      Reply
  5. It’s handy to stop thinking so much in salable lengths, also. If you’re accustomed to trying to sell to paper markets, you get into the habit of pigeonholing your content by length… but length really isn’t a consideration with e-books. Short sells well. Long sells well. All the mushy in-between lengths that never sold anywhere in paper… sell well. If you’ve got readers wanting more and your next novel’s not ready yet, dig through your hard drive for all those short stories, novellas and novelettes that you either never sold or sold to some obscure magazine years ago that can no longer be found outside eBay and put them up. Eighteen new pages by your favorite author is better than no new pages, and will keep someone occupied on a train. :)

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  6. Great series of posts. I moved some of my backlist into e-books in the middle of 2010 and have now written three e-book originals while still writing a book a year for Big Publishing.

    And I’m having the time of my life. WRITE FAST is the best advice a writer can be given. Like everyone else, I can take 14 months agonizing over a 120,000 word thriller, and that’s essentially what I was trained to do by the demands of BP. But now I’m having the time of my life turning out 200-250,000 words a year. And writing better as a result.

    Thanks for all the inspiration. This is a great time to be a writer.

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    • Great to hear, Timothy. Glad you’re writing fast and enjoying it. Me too. It is a great time to be a writer.

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  7. Kris–how about you delete my earlier comment since it could be so misleading? I’ll repost the numbers in this comment, but with better context.

    Kris is absolutely right about putting these creditor numbers with Borders in context. I totally forgot to mention something of the sort. These creditor numbers don’t tell you about a publisher’s health unless you’re looking over their full financial picture.

    If the publisher is part of a publicly traded conglomerate on the stock exchange (and you know the name or ticker symbol) you can easily look at the SEC filings:
    http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/webusers.htm

    The quarterly (10-Q) and annual filing with the SEC is where the good stuff can be found, like how much cash they have on hand (Cash and Cash Reserves), cash flow, and their debts. You’ll want to take your time, read back as far as the database will allow you (at least 3 years) to get a good feel for what is going on in a particular company.

    As for private publishing companies, if your library has access to Hoover’s (http://www.hoovers.com/), you might be able to get some info on their finances to put in context the creditor amount with Borders.

    Here’s the creditor list of publishers again. Remember, it’s NOT the size of the amount owed, it’s the impact on the balance sheet. Penguin may be listed as the most, but they’re part of a huge conglomerate with deep pockets.

    For anyone interested, here’s the creditors list for Borders and the amounts filed for (I got it from the Publisher’s Lunch special notice).

    “The publisher creditor list comprises:

    Penguin $41.1 million
    Hachette Book Group $36.9 million
    Simon & Schuster $33.75 million
    Random House $33.5 million
    HarperCollins $25.8 million
    Macmillan $11.4 million
    Wiley $11.2 million
    Perseus $7.8 million
    F+W Media $4.6 million
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $4.4 million
    Workman $4 million
    McGraw-Hill $3.1 million
    Pearson Education $2.8 million
    NBN $2 million
    Norton $2 million
    Zondervan $1.9 million
    Hay House $1.7 million
    Elsevier Science $1.6 million
    Publications Intl. $1.1 million”

    Reply
    • Will do, Lisa. I’ve deleted her earlier post (which was fine) and am happy to see the new post, which is wonderful. Thanks for all the explanations. Great stuff.

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  8. Thanks for deleting it, Kris, I don’t like accidentally misleading people by incomplete data.

    Also, I forgot to mention that if any writer out there is worried about a particular publisher they’ve got a contract with (or might be signing with), another resource to turn to for help in doing financial research on a publishing company is your nearest Reference Librarian. Librarians are a wonderful resource for this sort of research.

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  9. There are a lot of companies popping up right now to fill the void between Big Publishing and Self Publishing (in the spirit of full disclosure, let me say mine is one of them). I’m glad you mentioned looking at the age of companies, because a lot of us are just getting started, and who knows what lies ahead. But I would say there is a modicum of comfort to be found in how the business is set up. Don’t just ask about costs or even experience (though, please, ask about that too!) but also ask how the business is structured. Is it a sole proprietorship? A corporation? A partnership? Is it set up for the company to go on if, say, someone dies or decides they don’t want to do that job anymore? Is it set up to last past the lives of the current owners?

    Also, how much does it matter for your book, in particular? Are you using the company to teach you how to do it yourself? Are your B&N, Smashwords and Amazon accounts accessible by you or only by the company (definite pros and cons to both) or both? Are you handling the money or is your publishing helper? Can you audit their accounts?

    It’s all so very exciting and we want to see our books up RIGHT now, but stop, take a breath and think through the business aspect if you are getting help from someone else.

    Not only do we have to be entrepreneurs with how we deal with our careers in terms of our books, but we’d also better be business savvy enough to be asking long-term questions. Writing is no short-term game. IMHO.

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    • Great post, Cindie, and excellent reminders for all of us. Thank you!

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  10. I have been following this as a guideline to make the decision about epubbing or going the traditional route. The main thing I take away from your comments (and they were leavened by this week’s) are that I can get the cachet of a NY pub house, better distribution (especially international), and no where near the money that I can make for myself if I self publish.

    I thought the cachet and the distribution would make up for the lost income, but I am not sure it’s worth it. Especially if I sell to a house that could go belly up as a result of the shifts in the business world as this new model sorts itself out.

    Thanks for taking the time to talk about this. It’s super valuable.

    Reply
  11. I was briefly a Borders creditor, but I spend my gift certificate on December 26. :)
    David

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  12. Kris:

    I’ve been following your series but this is my first comment.

    I’m totally on board with the idea that big publishing is working through an inflection point in their business model. It makes perfect sense and it’s both exciting and disturbing at the same time. I’m keeping tabs on what’s happening as best I can will still working through the system. Throughout this series you’ve pointed out some non-obvious implications of this change. Thanks. It really helps me think through the issues.

    One thing I don’t see much press on is that e-publishing is going through similar perturbations and there is likely to be shake-out there as well. It’s still a nascent market and one that hasn’t settled. Dean references a post by Tobias Buckell today that illustrates this point.

    If we look beyond those on-ramp businesses claiming to help writers make the transition to those that put content in readers’ hands it’s not a settled landscape. The Amazons, Barnes and Nobles, Apples, etc. continue to work through the process of competing and cooperating to define a distribution model that works best for readers while insuring their own success. There could be a game-changer lurking out there that disrupts this landscape as well.

    It seems to me that nothing has settled yet, and we need to be wary of assumptions about both the big publishing model and the independent (or self) publishing model. I’m excited about the opportunities because this is just the sort of fractured environment where careers and fortunes are made (or squandered). The good news is that this is a delivery issue, not one of failing demand. If anything, I’m looking forward to more readers, not fewer, when everything shakes out.

    Thank you for the work you’re doing to put this change for writers in a business context. As a long-time entrepreneur and relatively new fiction writer your posts help me focus on those things I can control regardless of what washes out; writing fast, honing my craft, and creating a clean and well-defined interface between the art of writing and the equally important business of selling my work.

    I’m not intent on maximizing my income in the short term. I am, however, focused on increasing my readership for the long run. I like the idea that the best promotion is writing a good story, and that the best way to promote my work is to write an even better story the next time. That’s something I can work on with pride.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience and knowledge. Now I’d better get back to work.

    Regards,

    Patrick

    Reply
    • Great post, Patrick. In some ways, this boom in electronic publishing resembles the dot.com boom. Yes, things will change. Yes, companies will survive, but which ones is hard to predict at the moment. Patrick’s post is good for all of you to consider as you try to surf the changes. Big Publishing has a long history of surviving. Many of the e-distributors are so new that we don’t know what will happen with their business models. I, for one, got very worried in January when Pubit! from B&N had issues in its uploading/accounting software. We’ll see more of that as time goes on.

      In other words, Thea, it’s not black and white. It is, as others have said, highly personal. But if you’re making the decision based on business stability alone, then the older models are just as strong if not stronger than the new ones. (And vice versa.) How’s that for confusing?

      Great point, Mary. Thanks.

      Reply
  13. “…an entrepreneur is a person who sets up and finances a commercial enterprise (or commercial enterprises) for profit. There are two keys in that definition. An entrepreneur establishes a commercial enterprise for profit.”

    To go back to the original French, “entreprendre” means to undertake and an “entrepris” is an undertaking, and not, one hopes, of the cadavers into the ground variety. Although, without the eye toward profit English has tacked on, it could well become the financial death of anyone so engaged.

    If one undertakes the career of a writer, s/he’d damned well better keep an eye on the bottom line.

    Reply
  14. A lot of what you say applies to nonfiction as well, particularly the need to write fast and copiously (and well). I’ve taught writing at every level from grade school to university journalism schools, and, as with every art, the only way to learn it, get better at it, or earn a living at it is to write, write, write.
    People forget (or don’t know) that Bach wrote a piece of music every week for a lifetime.

    Reply
    • Allan! I love your point about Bach. One of the highlights of my trip to Germany last year was going to the Bach museum. I knew that Bach composed every week, but until you see the volume–and what he had to work with–and the extra work he did (no photocopiers, y’all. Sopranos got hand-scored sheets of music, and tenors got different ones–you have no idea how much work that man did. Creative work, beautiful work. And a lot of it. Great, great point about art. Thank you.

      Reply
  15. Thank you for this post. Flexibility and doing your own footwork, regardless of where you publish, will definitely become much more important.

    Reply
  16. Predicting bankruptcies – yes indeed hard to impossible. Just maybe even big parents with deep pockets are about as risky as any.

    Depending on structure I’d expect even the most deep pocketed multinational might bankrupt some small part for business reasons.

    This may be strategic behavior in the changing market. For instance say a publisher sold/gave away for box tops its own reader preloaded with a sampler of its own backlist like the Baen paper book with CD. Then this small part of the big business might hypothetically use bankruptcy to escape a bad deal made with a fruity business partner’s app store.

    Equally possible is something like the airline model where an historically successful company is pushed by a cascading industry change. In the airlines the highest cost carrier was forced into bankruptcy and became a low cost carrier. The previously second highest cost carrier became the high cost carrier and so was forced into bankruptcy to rewrite union contracts. The previously third highest cost carrer …. and so it goes.

    The rise of ad hoc publishing teams working from home/virtual offices scattered across the country – in place of a more or less stable team going to the same office together every day – implies rough times and now more than ever past performance is no guarantee of future success.

    Reply
    • Oh, Clark, let’s not discuss strategic bankruptcies. I’m dealing with mostly English majors here who haven’t really thought about business at all, certainly not such things as refined as a strategic bankruptcy. Great post, though. I’d love to go into the higher levels of how business works, but it’s tough in a general blog. Your last point is great: now more than ever past performance is no guarantee of future success. Exactly.

      C.D….um, yeah. The Turow article. I deal with Turow in past posts, the ones on the bestsellers. He’s right for people who can’t think outside the box of traditional publishing, dead wrong on many other things to do with art & publishing. Remember that every one of Turow’s books have been bestsellers. From the moment he got published, he has never had a book go out of print or had to struggle to publish another book. It colors his view. I’m writing this blog, for example, and it looks like it’s free. But many readers support me with donations. This model has worked for listener sponsored radio (not public radio, which is a different entity) since the 1970s. It’s now working online. So…dunno what to say about Turow.

      Reply
  17. The New York Times had an essay by Scott Turow, Paul Aiken and James Shapiro about the “pay walls” that William Shakespeare had for his work. If you didn’t pay the penny to go inside the walls to see his play, you didn’t see his play. When the landlord evicted him from the land, he took the walls to another place that did much better business as The Globe. If writers don’t get paid, great creative talent will never be developed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/opinion/15turow.html

    Reply
  18. Kris, thanks for the ongoing help. A couple of other things people may want to think about when evaluating businesses for bankruptcy risk.

    The amount of long-term debt vs. short-term debt can make a huge difference in how a company deals with industry or economy-wide shocks. Many companies tend towards short-term debt because they can get better interest rates, but if things get shaken up, they can find themselves unable to refinance the debt when it comes due, which can lead to abrupt cashflow issues.

    For debtors, generally inflation is a very good thing. Depending on how the long-term contracts a given publishing house are structured, if we enter a sustained bout of inflation, that could go a long way towards easing their problems. Of course that comes at the expense of their suppliers, so you can still end up with a crisis in the industry, just at a different level of the supply chain.

    Reply
    • Dean, great point about long-term v. short-term debt. I feel a future post coming on…what are the signs the company you’re working with might be having financial difficulties. Hmmmm….

      Reply
  19. Thank you for another informative post. I think these successful writer characteristics are dead on. I’ve met plenty of artists who make terrible businesspeople, but this is all stuff that can be learned.

    As for writing fast, that’s an area I’m having trouble with at the moment. Any advice for those of us who still work a day job and have a family?

    Please keep these posts coming.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, James. Glad to be helping. Click on Dean’s link (embedded into my post). He discusses how to write fast with a day job and other considerations.

      Reply
  20. I’ve been following this stream that suddenly became a torrent for some time, but I hadn’t through through some of the implications, particularly length. John Campbell used to say the natural length of a good science fiction story was the novella, meaning in his case about 24,000 to 36,000 words. His reasoning was that the novelette was the most popular and produced some of the best stories, but the length cut off much of the science and background development. He wasn’t all that familiar with the novel (which in his time was 55000 or so) and certainly not with what we call a novel now that demands 100,000 or more. (Lucifer’s Hammer was one of the first to sell at more than $3.95 in paperback, and Gold Medal worried about that but bit the bullet and put it out at $5.95, unheard of back then (1976); it did well and is still selling only now as an eBook. But I wander.)

    I don’t know if Campbell was right or not, but the new economics will test that. Campbell couldn’t because 24,000 words took up too much of the magazine. And in general novels couldn’t be so long that they couldn’t be published in 3 or 4 parts of 20,000 and under. Now it’s perfectly feasible to put out a 25,000 word novella under its own title and put a $2.99 price on it and expect it to sell enough that the author makes a good bit more than John Campbell could have paid.

    And of course the old 50,000 word length of the standard novel back in the days made for some really good stories; I can see that returning now, too.

    Thanks for this series. We sure do live in interesting times.

    Jerry Pournelle

    Reply
    • I always agreed with Campbell on that, Jerry. The novella is the perfect length for good solid sf. It allows the in-depth worldbuilding needed to produce a good sf story. Dean’s been saying exactly what you are: any length is possible now. Not only the shorter ones–the novella, the 55,000 word novel (which I have missed in both mystery and sf)–but also the longer ones. A reader can now buy all of, say, a 10-book fantasy series in one file (electronic only). The possibilities are fantastic.

      Thanks so much for the post.

      Reply
  21. I have to agree, Kris, I’ve missed the 55,000 word novel myself. Not that I was around when they were big but I’ve read a lot of Lawrence Block’s old stuff-which is a-freaking-mazing-and a lot of Keith Laumer and a suspense novel-whose title escapes me-by James Herbert. I loved just flying right through all those old novels. I look forward to the all the new possibilities as a reader AND a writer because I’m totally going to be writing some 55,000 word novels myself. =)

    Reply
  22. Correction: Said James Herbert, meant Frank. Like ‘em both. =)

    Reply
  23. Wow!

    A superb post! And I do agree with you and Jerry about science fiction novelles.

    In fact, you have to wonder about lots of length issues these days
    with e-books. On one hand you have no limits on novels.

    On the other, is is feasible to market LONG novels these days on e-books?

    Thanks, Kris.

    Dave Bischoff

    http://www.davidbischoff.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Dave. Why wouldn’t it be? I’d rather read a long book on my Kindle where the book won’t kill me if I drop it on my toe than try to hold a heavy 1000 page tome and read it. Lots of readers feel that way.

      Reply
  24. For really long novels, it might make more sense to serialize. Release a 300,000-word epic as a series of five 60,000-word installments at, say, $2.99 each. Then release the full volume for, say, $9.99. Readers could sample the first ebook for a small cost, but if they’re hooked, $9.99 for all five would seem like a bargain.

    David

    Reply
    • Exactly, David.

      Reply
  25. Info overload. *laughing* What’s funny is that while you and Dean are scrambling to get your backlist up electronically, I’m scrambling to get more work done to put up! You and Dean immediately helped me to realize how silly the thinking is that one book a year is acceptable. (with exception to writers who produce works who’s pages number near the thousands and have extremely delicate and complex plots) I’m now writing more in a week than I used to in a month! Before reading yours and Dean’s posts, I felt guilty if I finished inside of a year and would constantly self edit and keep going back, before the work was half done!

    Now I just plow through and then go back to revise. So much more work getting done! Now to learn the business side of this. When I received my $19.65 check from Pubit! for the sale of six books I got very excited. Now, 20 bucks is not a lot of money, but for six books! That’s a fortune, and the book was priced at $5.99! So you and Dean talking about producing inventory and the work will be found was exactly what I needed to hear. (see? read?) I spent months and months (and money) self promoting my first book and didn’t write for over a year. *sigh* Gonna be different this time around.

    Yours and Dean’s posts are a blessing to us all. Thank you!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, Ramon. Glad you’re back writing instead of promoting! Writers write. Glad you are back doing what writers do. :-)

      Reply
  26. I posted on Dean’s page about a book I encountered in the store called The Indie Author Guide. Based on my limited knowledge, I thought this was an informative book and hit many of the same points you and Dean outline. Speaking of which, I can honestly admit that I am slowly learning the business side of things, which means I’m not learning fast enough.

    I honestly had thought that just writing the books, going through the edits and then acquiring the artwork and self publishing would be simple enough. Perhaps I was wrong. Another dilemma I have been considering is that I plan to release at least 3-4 novels a year. I obviously can’t self edit because I’m too close to the work, and it would be too costly to pay a professional. I’m also not you and Dean, and have been doing this long enough that I don’t make amateur mistakes. I’ve been to writing groups but they always seem to be just starting, or not on my level. (this really is not ego talking, just the way it is) Most are just writing here or there, I’m working on finishing book three. I’ve thought of the idea of going to a local college or university and having an english/creative writing grad student copy edit. Its a free way to get it done and the student can get credit for their class.

    Reply
    • You’re right, Ramon: self-editing is nearly impossible. You’ll miss things because you get lost in the story.

      A trained copy editor is worth her weight in gold. It’s not something any random English major can do. It’s worth paying for or maybe you can bargain & give something in trade. Earlier (and I don’t have time to look) I posted a link to an Authors & Freelancers site where folks have their info up. I’m sure you can find good copy editors. But an English major will probably trash your prose. Copy editing is a skill, and not something most people (even those who love books) can do.

      Why are you wrong about writing the books being the way to go? I’m not quite following that thread.

      Reply
  27. @ Ramon –

    I self-edit, mainly because I have no else who will/can do it for me. I could give it to my wife, but with her heavy work schedule, I don’t know if I’d ever get my stories back. And since I’m pretty much a loner, I don’t have any friends I’d feel confident giving my work to.

    So, what am I to do?

    I’ve developed a system that helps me a lot. Does it catch everything? No. Have I tried it for novels? No. But for short fiction, it does the job well, I think.

    1. Before I write the last scene of a story, I go back and reread it looking for continuity errors. I do this reread for a couple of reasons. First, when I *finish* writing, I want it to be finished. I hate rewriting and avoid it at all costs. Second, having the story fresh in my mind helps me write the last scene.

    2. The next day, I change the font and margins, and with search the text for all the obvious typos — their, there, they’re; to, too, two; than, then; etc.

    3. The second day, I’ll change the font and margins gain, and then I’ll get Ken Rand’s 10% SOLUTION and spend some time tightening up the prose. I’ve gotten to the point where I know my weak points, and so I spend time there. I DON’T do everything Rand suggests.

    4. The third day, after changing the font and margins for a third time, I’ll do Word’s grammar and spell check.

    5. The fourth day, after changing the font and margins yet again, I’ll print out the story and read it very slowly, usually out loud.

    And that’s it.

    Why change font and margins all those times? Because when you see your words differently, you tend to catch more mistakes.

    I’m tempted to add a sixth step — and that’s wait a week, then upload a story to my Kindle and read it there. But, frankly, after five passes through it, I’m pretty damn sick of the thing and just want to be rid of it.

    I don’t know if this would work with a novel or not? Probably. I’ll find out for sure in a few months, when I finish one. But I think I’d modify it a bit. Do a continuity read first, and then, chapter by chapter, do the editing/proofing.

    Personally, I’d be willing to exchange manuscripts with other writers for copy-editing/proofing purposes provided that (a) they promised a quick turn around, (b) they understood this exchange wasn’t for a critique, and that I wasn’t workshopping my story … and that they didn’t expect these things from me, and (c) that they were giving me a near-clean MS for a final look before sending it out into the world.

    Reply
    • I like your last paragraph best, Jeff. Otherwise what you do might be tampering with necessary grammatical mistakes for the story. (Yep, sometimes bad grammar is necessary.) And a word of advice: never ever ever ever use Word’s grammar checker. In addition to being designed by programmers, not by copy editors, it’s also wrong as often as it is right. I’ve turned mine on as a joke more than once, and the “mistakes” it found weren’t mistakes at all. The solutions it suggested were mistakes, and would have ruined my story. So take that out of your method if nothing else.

      If you can’t afford a copy editor, find an anal friend to search for continuity errors. Use the spell check, and that’s it. Don’t let anyone touch your prose. Even a copy editor can be [and often is] wrong. But what a professional copy editor will do is make you think about whether or not you really meant that infelicitous phrase or if there’s a better way to say it.

      Again, writing is not about the words. It’s about the story. And messing with the words too much will ruin the story. Better to put it out with all its errors than to ruin the story.

      And, um, by the way, Amanda Hocking misuses commas throughout her books. Has it impacted her sales? Nope. So stop worrying about the wrong stuff, y’all.

      Reply
  28. Wow. I had no idea about the whole bankruptcy-they-keep-your-rights thing. I just looked this whole thing up and read an article that said even with the clause in your contract it don’t mean doodily squat. Wow. Here I was thinking that the way to go in entering the wonderful world of prose was to walk the middle path of Big Publisher on one foot and Self on the other. Perhaps Mr. Miyagi was right. Walk on left side of street, alright. Walk on right side of street, alright. Walk in middle of street sooner or later you gonna go splat.

    (Of course that article led me to another about how you have to watch yourself with a publishers contract as they like to put things in there that are for their benefit. Of course that’s human nature, but reading some of it: Copyright in publishers name; A vague out of print clause and so forth. I wonder if Miss Rusch was starting out today as a new writer, what she would choose to do in the wonderful world of prose?)

    Thanks for the article ma’am, it’s mighty powerful thinkin’.

    Reply
  29. Am new to your site, ma’am, so I just read your earlier post where you say: “I am leaning toward telling new writers to self-publish rather than go to Big Publishing.” So I found the answer to the question that I was sort-of asking but mainly thinking in my previous post.

    Reply
    • Yep, Just Passing Through, I’m leaning that way. I’m not sure what I would do these days if I was a new writer. Part of the problem was that I was so insecure that I’m not sure I would have had the courage to take the right path for me. So I’m trying to keep that earlier me in mind as I write these articles.

      One clarification. Bankruptcy doesn’t mean the writer loses all rights. Just the rights that the publisher initially purchased. If those of you new to all this don’t understand what I mean, pick up The Copyright Handbook. You can find a link to it in the Kris Recommends section of my Amazon store.

      Reply
  30. Kris,

    Thanks for the response. I used to be REALLY anal about typos and such. But some of Dean’s posts — especially is post after his first Challenge Story about not wanting people to point out typos — really got me headed in a better direction. Even as I was writing it out, I was thinking, “Man, I wonder what people are gonna think of me?”

    Once again it’s nice to hear a writer say it’s all about story, not about words. I never thought about it that what until I read one of Dean’s posts on a writer’s style/unique voice. Then I went back and reread some Bradbury, Ellison, and King — and what I saw were writers who seemed to “break” all the rules and yet had a distinct voice. Especially Ellison.

    It finally dawned on me that style isn’t something you can hone because it’s part of who we are, but it is something you can destroy. Rewrite one of Ellison’s stories in grammatically perfect English and you suck the power from it.

    Good stuff. Thanks!

    Reply
  31. Jeff: Thanks for the suggestion. I have been very hesitant about exchanging manuscripts with other writers simply because my time is so limited. I’m acting, taking acting classes, and writing at least 20 pages or more a day. I don’t want to bog down another writer because I can’t get the job done fast enough.

    Kris: I think I worded it wrong. I was referring to writing the book, then self editing it and it being enough without going through a copy edit. I’m going to look for that link you posted. Hope I can find it! :) I like the idea about going to an anal friend for continuity errors. I think I’ve got that inventory! LOL. Thanks for shedding some light on the english major idea. I think that’s why I hadn’t done it yet. I think subconsciously I had a feeling they would approach it from a robotic standpoint, so I hesitated.

    Reply
    • Glad to help, Ramon & Jeff. Jeff, just for a giggle, take a paragraph from any bestseller’s book or one of Harlan’s short stories or something from any long time professiona writer. Run it through your grammar checker and watch that puppy light up like a Christmas tree. That’ll bring home the point even more than I just did. It’s really quite a revelation.

      And style is a function of who you are. When you hit your style, you won’t be able to see it at all. It’ll seem normal to you because that’s how you think and have thought since the day you learned language. Everyone else will say “What a great voice,” and you’ll think, “Really? It seems so plain.”

      Reply
  32. Well, I’m a new writer (if by new meaning never traditionally published) and after reading Dean’s 2011 short story challenge, I decided to make 2011 the year I went indie. My goal was to try to get 52 new titles up (short stories, collections, novels) by the end of the year, then to go back to traditional publishing in 2012. I figured traditional publishing was going nowhere, and I was far more excited about the possibilities of indie publishing and I wanted to see what I could do with it.

    Then came your post a few weeks about about how Big publishing is going to be really rough for new writers — especially with reversion and ebook rights. A few weeks later, David Farland says pretty much the same topics in one of his Daily Kicks, which he ends in this way:

    “Think about it: is an extra $20,000 in your pocket right now worth a loss of 30% in income on the sales of your book for the next fifty years? That’s the gamble you’re taking on publishing, and increasingly new authors are saying “No. I’m not getting enough of a push from existing publishers to make up for the long-term losses.” They may be right.”

    And so here I am, having already seen my sales triple between Jan (when I had only two title up at the beginning of the month) and Feb (which isn’t even over, and now I have 13 titles), and these are just 11 short stories and 2 collections, neither of which sell very well vis-a-vis novels, and I’m thinking, what the hell … why go to Big publishing and deal with all of that????

    Have I made a decision? No, I haven’t. But I do know this. I’ve dropped my plan to send my novels to Big publishers this year (my original plan had been to self-publish them as well as to send them to Big publishers, as Dean has suggested) because I want to see how things in Big publishing shakes out this year.

    On the other hand, I fully intend to start submitting my short fiction to traditional pro markets come 2012. Don’t seen any reason why I shouldn’t.

    But for novels … I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’m just gonna have to wait to see how the year unfolds.

    Reply
    • That sounds really logical, Jeff. Sounds like you’re thinking all of this through quite clearly. Do you have the link to Dave’s piece? I’d like to read it. Thanks!

      Reply
  33. Thanks, Kris, that means a lot to me. So hard to know if I’m navigating the waters correctly.

    ******

    Regarding Dave’s piece: It’s part of his Daily Kick email subscription, so there is no link. Since you moderate your comments, I’ll put it here and you can decide if you want to delete it out or post it.

    Reply
    • As you can tell, Jeff, I deleted it, since I don’t have permission to post Dave’s words. Even though you received them in e-mail, Dave still owns the copyright and I would need permission to reprint. I say that here not to embarrass Jeff who has proceeded with appropriate caution and is doing me a favor, but to show y’all just how complex copyright can be. See why I want you to get the Copyright Handbook???

      Reply
  34. @Jeff: Your plan sounds great! I’ve been thinking on similar lines. I’m currently on the final book of a trilogy, and my novels pan out at between 100k – 150k words, so I’ll only manage about 3-5 books a year. And like you said, and listening to Kris and Dean, I will be publishing on my own this year while keeping an eye on big publishing for now……Of course, if things take off and I’m doing exceptionally well on the indie path, I won’t have to worry about big publishing at all. Well, one can dream, right? :)

    Reply
  35. Very alight quibble with the point that we read today the stuff that was the bestsellers of the past. Edward Bulwer-Lytton was one of the bestsellers of his day, and he goes unread (and is largely unreadable) today. Things can get dated. But in general, your point is valid.

    One important survival tactic is to avoid putting all your eggs (or ego) in one basket. Try to avoid entangling yourself with one medium or method. Try to avoid signing contracts that tie you up exclusively to one thing. That’s another part of flexibility. Don’t tie yourself down to one publisher or one mode of publishing. Be fickle and prepared to hump around, so that if one thing you’ve done goes down, it won’t take you with it.

    Reply
    • Exactly, Stephen, on flexibility. And I didn’t say we read everyone who was a bestseller. I’m saying that the folks whose work lasted were bestsellers to a person. If we only read bestsellers of the past, we’d be inundated in material. I can think of bestsellers from my grandmother’s bookshelf that no one reads any more, including Edna Ferber and others.

      As for not tying yourself down, that’s one reason I’m so happy I didn’t learn about genre until I was in college when my storytelling brain was already formed. I not only work for multiple publishers, but under many names in many genres. So if my genre dies like gothics and horror did, I still have a fall-back genre. :-)

      Reply
  36. One further point on Art vs. Commercialism: William Peter Blatty, of Exorcist fame, wrote an earlier book called I, Billy Shakespeare, in which Shakespeare’s ghost returns to prove he really did write his own plays. He points out that he wasn’t trying to write Great Art; he was writing, “See the king with the ‘charmed life’ battle the Incredible Creeping Forest!”

    Reply
    • LOL! I had forgotten that, Stephen. Fun novel.

      Reply
  37. @ Kris — Wasn’t embarrassed at all. And as you noted, the only reason I put it here was b/c I knew you moderated the comments and it was just easier than figuring out how to email you (which really bespeaks to my laziness, since you have a *contact* feature). But what’s curious is how many times I’ve seen Dave’s *entire* piece show up on blogs. By the way, what did you think of it?

    *************

    @ Ramon — Thanks. It’s pretty ambitious, getting 52 titles up this year, and I’m not sure I can do it, but one reason why I say *titles* instead of stories is because I’m including short story collections, too — 5-packs, 10-packs, and maybe even a 15 or 20 pack, just to see what happens. No way I could write two (or three!) novels AND a short story a week. I’m the kind of writer (and person) who likes to focus on one thing at a time. I’ve tried to write two projects at once, but find it very uncomfortable. I’d rather write a novel over the course of five weeks, making it my sole focus, than spreading those 100,000 words out over three or four months while struggling with short fiction at the same time.
    And congrats on almost finishing your trilogy! Best wishes for it! And yes…we can dream.

    Reply
    • Unless Dave gave permission in his letter, then it can’t be reposted. He might have given permission. It wasn’t in the bit you sent me.

      What you did send me doesn’t surprise me. I’ve known Dave for (mumble mumble) years and he’s always on a leading edge. I agree with him there on his e-pub stuff.

      Reply
    • Thanks, David. I saw that this morning.

      Reply
  38. I just re-read the full quote:

    “At its company Web site, Barnes & Nobles said it sells twice as many books for its Nook device than its does physical books.”

    At first I read this to mean that Barnes & Nobles made the announcement at the website, but apparently it means that the sales made through their website were more for ebooks than physical books.

    Which, frankly, makes more sense.

    David

    Reply
  39. Though Dave’s Daily Kick subscription is free, he doesn’t say anywhere that one can repost his work.

    And speaking of Mr. Wolverton, I’m off to his Professional Writers Workshop this June. I can’t wait.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jeff. If he doesn’t give express permission, then permission is denied. Copyright. Simple, but complex. :-)

      Reply
  40. For an unpublished writer (me) this was extraordinarily helpful. Thank you. I can learn a lot more from blogs like this than some of the books I’ve read.

    Reply
    • So glad to help, Patricia.

      Reply

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