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Old 06-29-2010, 09:01 PM   #48
DaringNovelist
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The real problem here is not piracy or intellectual property, but the fact that the job of a writer is changing. It's going back to what it used to be - which for some people is better than others.

The thing is, historically, being a writer was not a "job" but an entrepreneurial endeavor. Heck MOST professions were. That was what made the difference between a "profession" and a "job." You have to have more skills than just the central ones.

Publishing, for a short time, turned it into something more like a job, but it was a really sweet deal for the publishers. They did all the business end of the deal, but it was in their interests to pick and choose more, and to get fewer title out to a wider audience. But it was still a pretty good system for writers.

But then in the seventies, there was the Thor Power Tools tax ruling, and that changed publishing forever. No longer could publishers invest in large print runs (thus investing in midlist authors) to sell over many years. Instead they had to print as they went - which not only raised the cost phenomenally but it also put all the power in the hands of the big distributors.

Big distributors have no interest in either pleasing the customer or nurturing literature. They only want two things - predictable best sellers, and a lot of unproven cannon fodder that will push the consumer toward those best sellers. That's why there is so much "churn" in publishing over the past few years. Certain big name bookstore/distributors had a policy - they wouldn't order books by authors who hadn't hit best seller status in three or four books.

Amazon, of course, changed this. But before Amazon really hit it big, it was common for authors and publishers to change pen names every three books just to keep careers going.

That meant that nobody could build a career. It was devastating. Before that, midlist authors could make a living - your average author. After that, you simply couldn't.

THAT'S what killed things for authors. That's what makes it so hard. And that's what's changing with the advent of ebooks - and the new agency models that Apple and Amazon are using. Authors can go back to making a living - smaller audience, but better returns at lower prices, and a chance to really build a career.

But it requires a whole different mindset and skill set. A lot of authors will continue to hurt - but frankly they already were. It will just be for different reasons. Some will be worse off for a while, more will be better off.

Camille
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