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Old 02-04-2014, 07:58 AM   #1
fjtorres
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Times past: an author's career path 1994-2004

From Salon, circa 2004, the "adventures" of a semi-successful mid-list author dealing with the NYC publishing establishment in the pre-ebook era.

http://www.salon.com/2004/03/22/midlist/

By all indications, she seems to have had a better-than-average experience: good editors, decent advances, great reviews.

Quote:

“A midlist author is one whose books are well received but have failed to make a commercial breakthrough; whose work sells solidly but unspectacularly, who’s well known within the writing community but the majority of book buyers have never heard his name.”
– David Armstrong, “How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author,” 2003

Reader Advisory: By the end of this story I will have broken the most sacred rules of modern authordom. I’ll tell you how much my publishers have paid me for the books I’ve written. I’ll tell you how many copies each of those books has sold. I’ll share with you some of the secrets, lies and euphemisms told to me by my publishers, editors, publicists and agents in their efforts to comfort, pacify and motivate me, and I’ll share some of the salient facts that make those secrets, lies and euphemisms such common industry currency.

If you don’t want to hear about the noir underside of publishing — if you’re a writer longing for a literary career, or a reader who’s happier not knowing that producing and marketing a book these days involves about as much moral purity as producing and marketing a pair of Nikes — I suggest you stop reading now.
Worse experiences are common, especially today, but even now, few dare challenge the Manhattan mafia openly for fear of blacklisting. But times are changing and authors now have alternatives...
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:00 AM   #2
hidari
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Cheers for the link and article....
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:08 AM   #3
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Surely someone out there is doing the math (the pub dates, the Amazon sales figure) and figuring out who the writer is??? I'm so curious!

eP
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:31 AM   #4
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This is depressing. I suppose its got even worse in recent years. People keep going on and on about self-publishing as an alternative but it's so much harder to find something of reasonable quality amid the absolutely enormous slush pile that I usually stick with the big publishers. I just don't have the time to go hunting for the good stuff in amongst the mound of literary excrement. I've only found two self-published series that are good to read and of sufficiently high quality, the Marius' Mules series by SJA Turney, and the Emperor's Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. That's it.
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:46 AM   #5
fjtorres
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Originally Posted by Waylander View Post
This is depressing. I suppose its got even worse in recent years.
It has.
And continues to get ever worse.
Remember this?
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/0...ontract-terms/

The decision tree for writers is getting very simple:

99% chance of rejection, after waiting 12-18 months minimum. Years more likely.
80% chance of not earning out the advance, even if they "win" the contract lottery and agree to the increasingly predatory terms

Alternately, the writer can go indie, sell whatever they can, and keep on writing and selling. See this:

http://www.hughhowey.com/most-books-dont-sell/

A few thousand sales are better than nothing or, worse, a ride of agony.
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:01 PM   #6
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Funnily enough, while I was reading and remembering this with horror, outrage, disgust, loathing, repulsion and incredulity, the Fleetwood Mac song Go Your own Way came on, which seemed pretty apt. Seriously though, while I did read this article before, I was too young to fully appreciate it, but now I am slightly older, and boy, do the terms, and Random House's attitude stink. What were they thinking? This is indicative of society as a whole; grab as much as you can, without any thought for the costs to anyone else, because hey, if I make a sh**load of money then its a wonderful world for me, and never mind those graspers who actually want to earn a decent living with far terms. How dare they. Anyway, rant over.
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:16 PM   #7
fjtorres
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They're really coming out of the woodwork now. Three horror stories, today.
This lady isn't hiding, though:

http://awriterreads.blogspot.com/201...ruined-my.html

Quote:
It was at that time the best book I had ever written. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the only one who thought it was pretty good. The Passion (and its sequel, The Promise) sold after a ten–day auction for a phenomenal amount of money (to be strictly accurate, it was not quite one million, but by the time sub-rights were sold the difference was negligible, to me, at least). Within the week, offers for audio, foreign, and large print rights were pouring in. James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg were both interested in film rights. And then it all went to hell.
For reasons I still don’t entirely understand, the publisher abandoned the book. Possibly it was caught up in inter-company politics; possibly the publisher genuinely did not know how to publish it. While logic would suggest that no publisher wants to lose money on a book, the only way this publisher could have lost more money on this book would have been not to publish it at all. I remember screaming at my agent at one point, A million dollars is not worth an entire career! –which turned out to be eerily prophetic.
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