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Old 04-03-2012, 03:50 PM   #1
spindlegirl
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Should writers give up on getting paid for their writing?

Interviewer Jian Ghomesi interviewed Seth Godin talking about this topic. It's a 16 minute clip but there is a small blog article with comments:

Quote:
Whether you're an e-book lover or hater, it's clear the books industry is changing. And one of the changes that cause writers the greatest stomach-drop is the sneaking suspicion that it's going to get harder and harder to actually make a living at writing. Bestselling author and publishing expert Seth Godin says writers are right to worry. In fact, he says writers have to give up on the idea that they can or should make a living directly from their writing and instead look at other ways to monetize their work.
In the audio clip Seth Godin makes a good point about there just being SO MANY books that there is not much unique out there that people are willing to pay for. And he also clarifies that artists and creators DO deserve to be paid but there is just an overabundance.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:59 PM   #2
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I pay for the quality of the writing as well as the story. There are a ton of Indie authors out there that I do not read because I don't trust the quality of the writing. If a friend recommends an author to me, Indie or not, and the blurb looks interesting, I will buy the book. I willingly pay $15 for new releases of authors that I know, trust, and love.

The problem that authors have is getting recognized. This is where publishers help, they can help with marketing, and web sites like this one help. Authors can post here and get people to check out their work. If it is good, word of mouth should help spread the news.

So basically, I think the idea that you cannot make money writing is silly. You can. You just have to do it well and find a way of marketing your work.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:41 PM   #3
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Hasn't it always been difficult to make a living writing fiction? Many of my favorite authors talk about having to write non-fiction or other jobs to get by. Anyone got a link to how the total number of full-time fiction authors changed over time?
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:46 PM   #4
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I am in total agreement with ProfCrash on this one. I just can't feel bad for authors who are effectively complaining about too much competition. If you're a middling author, then yes it will be harder to compete with other middling authors for people's time and attention. The solution is simply to offer something better or fresher than the competition.

Stonetools to come in and declare that low barriers to entry will mean no one will ever write books in 5, 4, 3...
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:05 PM   #5
Andrew H.
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Even before e-books became popular, 250,000+ new titles were published in the US every year (and about the same number in the UK).

That's *new* titles. And that's *every* year. Random House alone puts out 80,000 new titles per year.

Of the 250,000, probably 40,000 or so are fiction. So if I limit myself to fiction written within the past 10 years, that 400,000 books to choose from.

Meaning that there has always been a lot of competition in the market. I'm not sure that e-books will really change that overall.
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:44 PM   #6
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".....In fact, he says writers have to give up on the idea that they can or should make a living directly from their writing and instead look at other ways to monetize their work..."

In other words ............ ummm............ get paid for their work ?
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:45 PM   #7
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While all authors may not get paid I think an author should get paid by people who are reading their books (promos and freebies excepted). Just like all window washers should get paid by people whose windows they have washed unless they offer to do it free and even then I would still pay them if I agreed to let them wash my windows and they were cleaner. Commerce seems to be what the makes the world go round these days.

Some people pay fairly for anything and some pay for nothing they can get by other means. The majority of us fall in between. We like a bargain, but at least prefer a legitimate bargain.

My opinion only but if you want something and are not totally destitute, you should pay what the going rate is or do without. There should possibly be different rules applied to the truly destitute, but I don't see that happening any more now than in the days of 'let them eat cake'

Helen
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:52 PM   #8
GlenBarrington
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The marketplace will take care of it eventually. . .

New tech always encourages new players. In time, people will leave the market once they realize that there will never be enough paying readers to make the investment in time, effort and emotion pay off.

Then, people will make money again!
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
While all authors may not get paid I think an author should get paid by people who are reading their books (promos and freebies excepted). Just like all window washers should get paid by people whose windows they have washed unless they offer to do it free and even then I would still pay them if I agreed to let them wash my windows and they were cleaner. Commerce seems to be what the makes the world go round these days.

Some people pay fairly for anything and some pay for nothing they can get by other means. The majority of us fall in between. We like a bargain, but at least prefer a legitimate bargain.

My opinion only but if you want something and are not totally destitute, you should pay what the going rate is or do without. There should possibly be different rules applied to the truly destitute, but I don't see that happening any more now than in the days of 'let them eat cake'

Helen
That's super, but (unless I'm confused) this doesn't seem to be an issue of people not paying; people are willing to pay, and the complaint is that there's just too much choice for consumers.
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:56 PM   #10
fjtorres
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Authors should expect to get paid.
Good writers will get paid enough to live on and more.
Even some not-so-good writers will still get paid reasonably.

The biggest change is that the payment will not be so front-loaded as in the age of print, where going out of print stopped revenue. Competition will be higher since new releases will be competing with the ever-deeper backlist, but the long tail of perpetual availability will balance that out for good writers.
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
That's super, but (unless I'm confused) this doesn't seem to be an issue of people not paying; people are willing to pay, and the complaint is that there's just too much choice for consumers.
Perhaps I am the one confused.

Helen
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:08 PM   #12
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I'm going to answer by saying that except for a very select few, writers are not going to be paid for writing much longer.

They will be paid for selling.

There is a huge difference. The days of the mid-list and debut novel advances are numbered.

I admit I kind of wince whenever I see the "nobody will want to write anymore arguments." I just don't see it. There are already hundreds of thousands of authors out there writing with absolutely no promise of ever seeing a payment.

To me the biggest problem facing the industry today is NOT the willingness of writers to take a chance of coming up empty. The problem is the decreasing availability of reliable gatekeepers that find and promote the best of the slush piles to readers. In my mind, if Publishers and Agents and all the rest want to protect their piece of the book selling pie they need to stop fussing so much about Agency Pricing and Amazon and beef up their roles of selection, editing, and promotion. Quit just scooping up bucketfuls of recycled plot line crap, throwing it up on Amazon at $12.99 and waiting for the readers to tell you which one was a good book.
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:45 PM   #13
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How many authors of classic books in the last 200 years made a living off their writing? I was under the impression that it was never very many (if any). One advantage of ebooks is if an author writes a good book it isn't going to be pulled from the shelves after 2 months never to be sold again. It gives the book much more time for word of how good it is to get passed around. Sales might start slow but if it is a worthwhile book they will grow over time and they have the time.
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
I pay for the quality of the writing as well as the story. There are a ton of Indie authors out there that I do not read because I don't trust the quality of the writing. If a friend recommends an author to me, Indie or not, and the blurb looks interesting, I will buy the book. I willingly pay $15 for new releases of authors that I know, trust, and love.

The problem that authors have is getting recognized. This is where publishers help, they can help with marketing, and web sites like this one help. Authors can post here and get people to check out their work. If it is good, word of mouth should help spread the news.

So basically, I think the idea that you cannot make money writing is silly. You can. You just have to do it well and find a way of marketing your work.
Very well put Prof,

As in any other trade or profession, those who can excel do, and those who can’t must seek their path elsewhere.

Relegating publishers to the roll of marketers is another kettle of fish altogether, but it’s inevitable. The days of writers not having the resources to edit, print, bind, and ship a trainload of paper books is over. The publishers know it and are going down kicking and screaming rather than concentrating on the areas where they actually provide a needed service.

I predict that just as the bad writers will not succeed, neither will the publishing houses that don’t learn this.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:05 PM   #15
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Writing for a living is a privilege not a right. Plenty of writers have historically made little or no money for their work. Competition? So the musicians do not have competition? Painters?... I think writers have is easy compared to other artists. Also, as some have mentioned before....99 percent of writers already have jobs to "make a living" ...if you are one of the lucky ones to be able to write full time as an author good on you...but that is a rarity.

Fewer writers may actually help the market considering most of the drivel that is out there....

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindlegirl View Post
Interviewer Jian Ghomesi interviewed Seth Godin talking about this topic. It's a 16 minute clip but there is a small blog article with comments:



In the audio clip Seth Godin makes a good point about there just being SO MANY books that there is not much unique out there that people are willing to pay for. And he also clarifies that artists and creators DO deserve to be paid but there is just an overabundance.
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