Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Craig Staufenberg on Two Realities About Publishing @YouMakeArtDumb #AmWriting #SelfPub #WriteTip

Pet Peeves of the Publishing Industry
I’m annoyed by how nice everyone in the publishing is. Really. I’m sure there are some rude people, but I haven’t encountered them. Only nice folks, and that makes it hard to dislike the publishing industry as a whole. It’s much easier when you see “publishing” as this monolithic beast with a stranglehold on creativity, especially your own creativity. But that’s just not the case.
Which means there are two realities you have to face about publishing.
One, that it’s not out to get you. It’s not prejudiced against you. If it rejects you there are reasons for doing so, and not because the people are mean, jealous and spiteful.
Two, the publishing industry is trying to do something very, very difficult. Namely promote art, entertainment, and creativity, all while still keeping the lights on. Anyone who has tried to support themselves via their creative output knows how difficult this is. Now multiply that difficulty—think about trying to support an entire company, or even an entire industry, on creative work. It’s insanity, and I’m surprised publishing companies have been as successful as they have.
Really, think about it for a second. We’re not talking about selling widgets here. We aren’t talking about the success of an industry that sells bathroom cleaner. There’s nothing predictable about books. As long as the bathroom cleaner works, and as long as you market it, then you’re going to do alright. The same can’t be said about books. Even if a book is good, and even if you market it, there’s no guarantee it’s going to sell enough to warrant its investment. Now consider the fact bathroom cleaner companies don’t have to reinvent their product hundreds of times a year, and publishing companies do, and you see it’s sheer madness this whole industry works at all.
OK, it’s not a perfect analogy. The way publishing company’s sell their back catalogue and the works of established authors operates a lot like selling widgets. Pretty reliable. But still, publishing is trying to do something very challenging—balancing the demands of art and commerce, which have, as Linds Redding noted in his must-read post, always been strange bedfellows. Especially since publishing companies need hits to thrive and not merely survive, and these companies are completely unable to predict what the next hit is going to be. No one predicted Twilight. No one predicted Fifty Shades of Grey. Or Harry Potter.
In fact, when it comes to the book trade, the only people who have an even harder time than publishing companies are the authors themselves. While publishing companies are able to spread their bets across a large number of different books a year, even an ultra-prolific author isn’t going to crank out more than a few. The odds a publishing company will hit a home run on any given year is much higher than the odds a single author will.
Which, I suppose, is my biggest pet peeve of the publishing companies. They survive, while many, if not most, of their authors who fail. An author can spend their whole life writing books that don’t do spectacularly well, and that author could easily live a lower compensated, less comfortable, and less protected life than the employees and owners running the publishing companies. Publishers take on much smaller risks than authors. Publishers make small financial gambles, while authors bet their lives. Yet publishers have much higher upside than authors.
Bear in mind, this is an institutional issue. No evil genius thought this up. It’s how pretty much every large creative industry operates—from books to movies to music. But we’re not powerless here. And I’d like to see a publishing industry where the authors themselves are better rewarded, or at least better protected, than the companies that publish them, as the authors, always, are putting much more on the line.

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says “Goodbye,” and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
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