Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Throw Us A Bone

The dream of being a superlatively wealthy author is one that haunts many up-and-coming writers. I will admit to having dreamed about selling my books to a publishing company, of them being wildly successful, filling the shelves, getting front-store privilege, doing book signings, having a movie contract that actually caters to the book, having action figures, coloring books, tin lunchboxes...am I getting carried away?
 
Well maybe. The truth is, there is a small percentage of authors who actually make it 'big'. Have you ever looked at the numbers? There are buckets of people who want to write books. Less than 1% actually do, and then a tinier percentage than that actually get published, and then an even tinier percentage than that make it to the high end. In fact, Justine Tal Goldberg points out that, according to writer Joseph Epstein,

"'81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.' That’s approximately 200 million people who aspire to authorship. Excluding those who want and never do, and those who do but never publish, we’re still looking at millions of folks hungry for the literary limelight."
This doesn't mean we should give up trying, of course. But the reality and perspective that needs to be faced is that authorship and publishing is hard and it requires dedication, work, and a few meals made on ramen now and again.

However, there is good news on the horizon-- Amazon.com is now throwing a bone to authors. Publishers Weekly reports that Amazon is now going to start paying authors who self-publish through their platform in a quicker and more efficient manner:

"In a letter sent to agents from Jeff Belle, v-p of Amazon Publishing, the division said it now intends to pay its authors on a monthly basis, instead of every three months. Most publishers tend to pay their authors on a six-month cycle, which is something authors and agents have long complained about."
Sometimes life gets complicated, and we just can't wait for the money that we've earned. I get paid on a weekly basis at my part-time job, and while I don't work very many hours, that little bit of money every week can be a life-line. As busy as things have gotten and as tight as things have gotten, I've found myself having to time payments and paychecks down to the day, juggling my account so that everything is where it needs to be when it needs to be there. I couldn't imagine having to wait six months to be paid for the work I've done.

Amazon has now made the first step in remedying this time-lag. I hope to see this as the first of many publishing houses and platforms to do so, inspired by the desire to make authors happier people and bring some light and money to their day...or just by sheer competition. Let's face it, the publishing industry could be way tighter in terms of efficiency, and the digital age, if nothing else, is leading to that.

And as a little nugget for you in that frame of mind, books can now go green! Random House of Canada
"has published special collectors’ editions of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Alice Munro’s Dear Life printed on paper made from straw rather than trees. The signed special editions are printed on paper that combines chlorine-free wheat and flax straw with post-consumer recycled content. The U.S. and Canada are two of the largest grain growing countries in the world, and the grain harvest produces enough left-over straw every year in both countries to keep more than 800 million trees standing."
I guess to be completely correct, this would be called going 'gold'. Can we now describe the query letter/rejection letter process as literally dividing the 'wheat from the chaff'? We'll have to beware of those books that employ a 'straw-man' argument in order to get published.

Should I stop while I'm ahead? I guess that's the last straw.

1 comment:

  1. That's super cool that books can be printed on trees. I'm quite intrigued, but I hope that this eco-friendly idea isn't just clutching at straws...

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