Playing by the Rules – part 2

by juliusmsanz

And now we continue with the second part of this series.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I remember now.

This might sound like sour grapes, but let me tell you: it’s not. It just bothers me a bit to see so many people relying on the print method and the publishers to get something going. Most of us write, whether we like it or not, for niche audiences. What that means is that one writer, for instance, is going to appeal to the male demographic between 20-50 that is more geared towards gothic fiction. This is just a made-up example, don’t take it seriously. Once that writer gets things going he/she is going to have a loyal fan base, and that’s how it works for most of us.

If you are successful like Stephen King then obviously you have more opportunities to expand your horizons and make some mistakes trying to appeal to other demographics. Whether the book is good or not you will still sell one hundred thousand copies and the publisher is going to stick with you. But how often does that happen?

When you go for print you are risking much more, and that’s because you have fewer control. Maybe that title you thought was funny actually prevents people from buying your book. Maybe that short paragraph does not illustrate your story in the best way. Professionals are good, but there are limits.

It has everything to do with playing to your strengths. In this day and age you actually have many more writing groups and platforms to focus on. Why don’t we play to our strengths more often? Now I know most of my followers are involved with writing, I know most of us are trying to get something going or promoting our projects, and that’s how things are supposed to be, but sometimes you can just waste something good by knocking on the wrong door. Kindle can make you a good deal of money, so why not take advantage of it? And yet it is still a percentage game, it is still all about rules we have to play by.

I understand it is damned near impossible to get a good setup going, and you can’t do everything by yourself. That’s not how things work in this business. You work hard, you get some royalties after a while, and if they cut you a good deal then maybe you can say the book was a success. Publishers and editors and designers want to make money, you and me also want some money, and in the end of the day we put in most of the work and get little out of it. That is one of the reasons writing is not for every one. How many people can actually say they write stories for a living? And yet I think it is possible.

The problem is that writing is saddled with middlemen, and in the end nobody makes good money out of it. That’s why our cut as authors is low. It is a small risk for the publishers because if your book fails they won’t lose a lot of money. I’ve seen a lot of deals and I was cheated of a deal I made for one of my books, so I know it can be very tricky.

How many hours does it take you to write a novel? 200? 500? 1000? I’m talking about the finished project of course. It takes a long, long time, even longer taking in consideration you are doing this in your free time. And you invest that much of your time and effort and skill for sometimes to see a rejection, or get a small amount out of the entire process. Compare that with an actual job.

Kindle changed a lot. How can the industry change even more? What do you think are good ways to protect the writers and guarantee writers better results?

I’ll continue this in part 3.

Have a nice day!