Mark Terry

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Welcome To The Puzzle Factory


November 7, 2007

A number of my writer friends and I have been back-and-forthing about a whole variety of subjects related to writing and publishers and book contracts and promotion and surviving in this business.
And our conclusions?
What's he say: "Don't need no stinkin' conclusions!"
So, welcome to my puzzle factory:
*Is it better to be published poorly than not published at all?
*Is the trend of writers being dropped by their publishers getting worse?
*Is it harder to stay published then it is to get published?
*Why does it mean so much to us anyway when, from any objective point of view, we're not making enough money annually to purchase a used car?
*Did you hear about Radiohead's big experiment in online distribution? Give it free and have people pay what they wanted for it? Barry Eisler wrote at-length on this on MJ Rose's blog the last couple days, but there was an article on MSN.com today that found that the predominant payment was, as a matter of fact, $0.
*Pundits claim that free content distribution is the way to go, but I think the reality of the situation is that the best content will have a price attached to it. If you want to read garbage, you can get it for free. You want the good shit, you gotta pay.
*Is the writer's strike going to affect novelists? It's having ripple effects on my agent's plans that are frustrating me, but then again, a lot of things frustrate me and I live with them just fine.
*How long do I have to practice guitar before I sound good?
Any thoughts? Or do any of you have unanswerable questions?

Cheers,
Mark Terry

9 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

It's better to be "poorly" published than not published, so long as you define "published" as having a book out from an entity than can actually find 1,000 readers or so and not just anyone who calls themselves a publisher. It's better to have a few readers than none.

I think more writers are being dropped and I think it is very very hard to stay published, but still not as hard as managing to get published. I'm sure there the percentage of published authors that stay published is larger than the percentage of aspiring authors who ever get published -- with neither number being high.

Why do I care about being published? Who knows. I'm nuts.

As for Radiohead I was impressed that 38% who could've got the music free paid an average of $6.00. (And how many people who downloaded for free decided to go out an buy the boxed version is unknown) Presumably a lot more people sampled the music than would've rushed out to buy it. Plus Radiohead will get a much much larger portion of the sales money. To evaluate this I need to wait and see how many they eventually sell, as compared to their usual sales, and how much they eventually earn.

With what I'm making I'd rather have 100,000 people read my stuff for free than 3,000 read it and earn me a bit of royalties. But it is hard even to find readers for free books.
(Of course I'd rather have enough people pay so I could live off royalties)

Hollywood writers strike affect me? Ha! No way.

Finally, my high school aged nephew got real good at the guitar within a few months. But I reckon you don't stay up all night playing.

1:19 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Well, see, typically a beginner's standards are pretty low, so they feel good after a month or two. You, fortunately and unfortunately, have many years of music behind you. It's probably going to take awhile for your guitar-playing to catch up with the high standards you've acquired.

Damn, Mark. How used of a used car?

I don't know about the poorly published bit. I suppose I would, and the world would, consider me poorly published. But it works for me. Money's nice (although I'm learning our corner is veeerrrry different from everywhere else), and it helped me form a discipline. Readers made me feel a responsibility to tell a better story and to worry about not letting them down.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric,
I'd forgotten about their increased royalties. Still, only getting paid by a third... or is that like all our readers who get books from the library?

I'm not sure what I mean by poorly published. I said there were no answers here.

SS--
You're probably right about the guitar thing. In fact, part of the problem is I'll listen to a recording or watch a YouTube piece of some blues guitarist and say, "Damn, I want to sound like that."

And there is something important about writing for people and on contract that changes the equation in terms of quality and expectations. I think it raises the bar for yourself, or should.

4:35 AM  
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