This is Worth a Link – The Truth about Publishing

This lives over at Ian Irvine’s site – it’s very wise and goes along with all the stuff I think and say about a writer needing to (a) be realistic and (b) learn as much as s/he can about the business of being a writer. If you want to be an artiste then I’d suggest a reality check. If you want to be a working writer with a thriving practice, then read this.

“The biggest problem for beginning fiction writers is that no one tells you how the system works. Becoming an author, and even a successful one, is therefore a series of shocks as your assumptions are punctured one by one. So here, distilled from my experiences with a dozen publishers all over the world, and conversations with many professional writers over the years, is the truth about fiction publishing. Well, popular fiction anyway – the stuff that sells.

You won’t find any whingeing here. Publishers take most of the risk in the book industry, since authors keep the advance even if the book doesn’t sell, while booksellers can return unsold copies for a credit. Publishers are besieged on the one hand by retailers demanding ever greater discounts and ‘marketing contributions’, and on the other by corporate owners expecting a return on investment that, historically, the industry has rarely delivered. They’re generally doing their best in a difficult and competitive market and successful authors work with their publishers, not against them. After all, both parties want the same thing: to sell truckloads of books.

And if you’re just writing for the money, or the glamour, ha!, you’re in for an awful shock. Get hold of Mortification: Writer’s Stories of their Public Shame (Ed. Robin Robertson, Harper Perennial, 2003) and read it from cover to cover. The book details the public humiliation and ignominy heaped on 70 well known writers while trying to promote their books. And then, reconsider whether you really want to be a writer.”

Read the rest here

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