Some Good Advice From Direct Experience

Making money from creative writing is not for the weak of stomach or thin of skin.

I recently did a real-live book event for 5 Star trails Flagstaff and Sedona. More on that in my alternate blog: Are We Lost Yet?

Book signings and presentations are one of the few vestiges left from Olden Days. It still wasn’t easy writing for money back then, but it was simpler.

The simple formula of write-submit-get paid is increasingly obsolete.

I am old enough to have worked a bit in olden times, when you had an idea, poured through your recent copy of Writer’s Market to find an appropriate publication, pitched the idea in a query letter, got an assignment, spent a month crafting your 2000 word masterpiece, saw it in print, and got paid about a week’s wages for it. If you landed such stunts often enough, you could make a living just from writing.

Sure, rejection rates were 90%, but ten cents/word was considered low-ball wages. (So you know, most “content writers” nowadays would be thrilled to see 10 cents a word in up-front cash). And there was a viable reprint market. You could sell an article two or three  or ten times.

There’s no reprint market on the internet. Once its up – it stays up. Unless you’re me.

Here’s some good advice from direct experience: write your blog in a word processor, and paste it into the WordPress interface (or whatever).

I have a lead on a gig writing for a basketball blog. I have done this sort of thing before, but it’s been awhile. Meanwhile, every single post I’ve written for any of those sites is off the internet. BUT the ones I drafted in Word are still on my hardrive. So I have that – for whatever that may be worth.

This is what has become of Phoenix Suns News – the site I used to write for.

I dare you to read any of those articles all the way through.

Do people get paid to write that sort of drivel?

Maybe. A bit.

When I started out as a writer, the logistical realities of typewriters and snail-mail and actually doing research in libraries limited the number of folks willing to commit to writing an article.

Then again, magazines made show-biz seem stable by comparison, even in their glory days. For every magazine that has imploded, though, a hundred websites have sprung up to replace it. And a thousand people tap at keyboards to fill those sites for every old-timer that once researched articles via microfilm.

The simple days are gone. The demand remains. People who can write good articles – articles that you will want to read – are still few and far between, and now separated even further by gigs and gigs of drivel and clutter and spam. So what hope s there? Lots.

But you need sturdy guts, thick skin, and good copy.

And now some better advice from people who know what they’re writing about:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch  (whose entire body of work on this subject is worth reading) on Playing to Win

Our recommended regular site to visit Wordcount on Thinking Big.

It can be done, fellow scribes, but not by just any old hack. The first step is realizing the collapse of The Old Ways is nothing but opportunity.

Publishing isn’t dying – it’s just going insane

The New York Times Books section recently cited a Bookstat  survey showing that publishing in general is actually expanding, despite the recession, and the supposed growing illiteracy (or indifference) of the population in general. According to NYT:

BookStats, a comprehensive survey conducted by two major trade groups that was released early Tuesday, revealed that in 2010 publishers generated net revenue of $27.9 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.

They add:

“We’re seeing a resurgence, and we’re seeing it across all markets — trade, academic, professional,” said Tina Jordan, the vice president of the Association of American Publishers. “In each category we’re seeing growth. The printed word is alive and well whether it takes a paper delivery or digital delivery.”

Much has been maall over the internet about the contributions of electronic publishing to this growth. Techland, for one, citing the same survey data, notes a growth of 1247% – yes, that’s right – in e-book sales. They explained:

Revenue on e-books reached $878 million in 2010, with sales hitting 114 million copies in that year, an increase of 1,039% over 2008 sales. Part of that growth comes from customers going from store shopping to online shopping: Online spending rose 55.2% between 2008 and 2010, according to the survey, with sales growing 68.6% in the period of the survey.

This growth is particularly evident in genre and YA fiction, where there are basically no rules anymore. Once upon a time, way back 15 years ago, you wrote your novel, shopped it to agents, who then (if you were luck) shopped it to publishers who then (if you were really lucky) bought it, and it ended up on the shelf of all the major bookstores.
You can still go that way. But recently, man more trails have been blazed up the mountain. They aren’t any easier, but they are different.
Cyndy Aleo, writing for GigaOm, recounts her visit to ComiCon, and what three very different authors, both in content and route t publishing, told her about the future of publishing.
The one theme that came up on virtually every panel was how much things are changing in the industry, but each author seemed to have a unique take on the effect of those changes.
The authors in question are self-published  Morgan Rice, and traditionally published authors Cindy Pon and Tahereh Mafi
The links goes to part I of a 2 part article.