GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Business Musings: Cultural Change And The Traditional Writer

“So many writers still want that traditional “validation.” They want someone else to take control of their career. They want someone else to praise their book and make it a bestseller.

They want to put their entire artistic and creative future into a machine that’s designed to chew people up and spit them out—even if those people aren’t on some blacklist.

I see writer after writer after writer who wants to sell their books to traditional publishers or who want to go into Hollywood with a “free” option or who willingly give away the rights to something just for “the opportunity” to play in this shark tank.

The film industry hasn’t yet gone through the full-fledged transition that book publishing and comics are going through right now. It’s not easy to make a film without big money backing and get it distributed worldwide. It is possible to write a book and get it distributed worldwide now.

That self-published book just won’t get the attention that a handful of books got thirty and forty years ago. But that 2018 book will stay on the virtual shelves while the older books rarely stayed on any shelf.

There’s a lot of upside to indie. A bit of downside too, which we’ll be discussing in the next few weeks. But the biggest upside to me is that we are not subject to the whims of someone who will only spend money to market a book on a writer because she’s pretty or because she meets the current cultural norm.

(I just got offered a big quick turn-around tie-in novel this past month, for which I would have been paid in the low six-figures. When I said I wasn’t interested and offered to give the person a list of writers who might have the time to write this project, she asked if any of them were female. I said no, none of them were. [I wasn’t looking at gender; I was looking at availability for a rush job.] Well, to be honest, she said, we only picked you because you were the most visible female tie-in author we could find. We don’t want men at all. Again, that flash of disappointment rose in me. I was chosen, not because my work is good, but because I’m female. I understand the corrective urge in the marketplace, but jeez, that comment felt as insulting as having my book marketed because I was considered pretty 25 years ago.)

Writers who choose to take their novels and their nonfiction books into traditional publishing are choosing to give their careers to the “tastemakers” who sometimes make their decisions based on their prejudices, their “understanding” of a marketplace that (in reality) does not exist, and who will do their best to destroy anyone who questions them.

Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. I’ve been through my share of whisper campaigns too, including one that went on for nearly thirty years—from the moment that guy lost a big prestigious job to me until the day he died.

I used to tell writers that you need a tough skin to be in this business. And you still do. Although not a scaly hide that nothing can penetrate. These days, if you’re going indie, you need to be tough enough to handle the ups and downs of owning your own business. You need to be tough enough to weather bad reviews and low sales. You need to be strong enough to keep moving forward in the face of disappointment.

If you’re going traditional, you need to be made of alligator skin. You need a hide so thick that nothing can pierce it, or if something does, you need to have a system to deal with the pain so you can get up and move forward again.

Just because we’re having these conversations in the culture right now doesn’t mean that everything has changed for the better. This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how it feels.

Remember, the news cycle is on overdrive right now, and what might seem too big and important to ignore might vanish in the wake of yet another scandal or large catastrophe that we can’t even imagine right now.

I’m hoping this kind of change we’re seeing is not a bubble. But I’ve been through enough bubbles to know that’s a risk.

Is becoming a traditionally published author so important to you that you’re willing to succeed on any terms? Is becoming a traditionally published author so important to you that you’re willing to put your career (and your copyrights) in the hands of people who still haven’t figured out that diversity means more than publishing a few books about discrimination?

And if your answer is yes, then do this: Use your imagination.”

[Via]

Emphasis mine.

On the cost of an audience:

On the readers:

“In the management of many sports stadiums, the difference between losing and making money depends on the proper design of the passageways for the optimum circulation of vendors. The sporting event is thus a way of assembling an audience that may be sold to hotdog, beer, popcorn, and coffee concessions.

In the case of the book, there are no third parties: all costs are paid by the consumer. Where commercial broadcast radio and television are concerned, the opposite is true:  the audience pays for nothing except the purchase of the equipment. Newspapers and magazines are paid for partly by third parties and partly by the customer.

It follows, therefore, that for the reader books are relatively more expensive than the other media. The book’s relative expense limits its reach, especially when its potential to readers aren’t well off, though public libraries reduce this barrier by providing access to books for free…

A book is like a conversation, and it isn’t true that anyone can follow each and every conversation, joining or abandoning it at will. For that to be possible, we’d always have to be discussing the weather, or something similar, in a conversation destined to begin over and over and never move on…

The problem is not that millions of poor people have little or no buying power. You may have the money to buy a book but not the interest or the training to follow its content. This happens even with college graduates. May of them would rather write than read. In fact, millions of them have never learned what it is to love to read…”

-Gabriel Zaid, So Many Books 

Happy Indie Author Day 2016!

indieauthordayTo celebrate, why not share some indie love by promoting an indie book or author? Or, you could read an indie book!

We suggest (cough, cough) THE AUTOMATION. It’s free to read in its entirety on Goodreads.

#BLAThoughtOfTheDay – If paying for someone to do your homework is wrong, isn’t it wrong for a ghost writer to write novels for other people?

Where does artistic and academic integrity differ? How to do we define integrity; if we’re making money off something does it become irrelevant? Has anyone asked James Patterson or the Big 5 these questions?

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“There is another problem with calling on academics alone to tackle plagiarism. Research suggests that many may themselves be guilty of the same [offense] or may ignore their students’ dishonesty because they feel investigating plagiarism takes too much time.

It has also been proved that cheating behaviour thrives in environments where there are few or no consequences. But perhaps herein lies a solution that could help in addressing the problem of plagiarism and paper mills.”

[Via]

See also: Why Literature Is No Longer Art & On Book Packagers & Art & Honesty

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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