Friday, January 06, 2012

Why do we envy published writers?

It's not like they're making much money going the traditional publishing route. Check out the math from Kristine Kathryn Rusch as she talks about how "writers will work for cheap."

Math doesn’t lie, y’all. Most of you traditionally published midlist writers—you’ll never earn your measly $5000 advance back, y’know, the one paid in installments over three years? The thing you licensed most of your rights for to get 5,000 or 10,000 or maybe, if you’re lucky, 20,000 copies of your book into stores in the first six months of publication.
What happens after six months? The paper editions go away. Out of print, out of sight, out of mind. The e-book will remain in print, but you try earning back an advance with inaccurate sales reporting, and some kind of math that turns 25% of net into 8% of retail.  Good luck with that.  If you get any royalties at all, they’re years down the road.
You’ve licensed almost everything you could on that book for an extra 5,000 or 10,000 sales in a six-month period that is rapidly disappearing in your rearview mirror.
So just because someone has an agent and a traditional publishing deal doesn't amount to much. Are they making money. That's the, well, the bottom line. For me anyway. Not that we need envy anyone who makes money either, but it seems to me that earning a living trumps any false fame one might perceive he or she gets from actually publishing a book with a traditional publisher.

 What do you think? Do you write for fame? For fortune? To get your name on a book, even if you do it for cheap?
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