Monday, December 7, 2009

Quitcher bitchin

There's a link going around to a Salon article by an anonymous writer talking about how difficult it is to be a midlister. It's an interesting article, but by the end of it, I was frankly fed up with anonymous writer. Basically, she's upset because her first book got her a six-figure advance but didn't do well, and her next three books have gotten her smaller and smaller advances--barely five figures!--and only one has earned out, and that one that's earned out was the smallest advance of all, and she's all sad because she's had to take a day job.

Excuse me while I tune up the world's tiniest violin.

I think big advances are a big problem. Agents push for them because they get paid right away, writers want them because hey, money!, and publishers--well, I have no idea why publishers offer bloated advances. I do know that the higher the advance, the longer a book takes to earn out. Duh. That was fine back in the olden days when only, like, four books were published every year and they stayed on bookshelves for decades before being returned and remaindered. Things move a lot faster now. Oh, and there's a recession on.

So no, I'm not very sympathetic to an author who's written four books in two decades and is whining because she finally has to get a day job. My advice: write more books and branch out into genre fiction if you really want to keep the money coming in. In the meantime, I'll be cranking out one or two books a year and hoping to eventually sell one to a big publisher and get a low four-figure advance. I won't be able to quit my day job, but I never expected to.

My thoughts mesh beautifully with Aaron Polson's post today about short fiction pay rates, incidentally. Also, I'm seriously considering writing one of those cheesy category romances. Apparently that's where the money's at, if you write enough of them. The advances are low, but they almost always earn out.


Aaron Polson said...

Yeah, well, from the POV of someone who will never be able to quit his day job to write, suck it up, Midlister!

I can't blame an agent...they negotiate for that advance. That's his/her job. Publishers, I suspect, will become more wary about paying out the big clams in today's market.

I've got a box of invisible tissue for the crowd when your violin solo goes sad and weepy. Sheesh.

Fox Lee said...

Catergory romances you say? Would I get to make up elaborate names for male genitalia? : )

K.C. Shaw said...

Aaron--I felt sorry for the author until I translated what she was saying. It's hard to feel sorry for someone who's whining.

Natalie--*snicker* I can't think of anyone who'd do a better job at it than you.

Jamie Eyberg said...

It hearkens back to the days when movies had more than two days before being called a failure and books and the news wasn't on all the time. I refer to them as 'the good ol' days.'

Cate Gardner said...

Read that a few days ago and yawned through most of it. Life is so hard.

Fox Lee said...

"Love truncheon"

K.C. Shaw said...

Jamie--Ah yes, I remember those days fondly. Things were simpler then. I remember having a lot more time to read, for one thing.

Cate--Yeah, my heart bleeds.

Natalie--I'm going to USE THAT ONE if I can possibly work it in. :p

Anne Spollen said...

A six figure advance? And she didn't have to work while she wrote it? Did she go away yet?

K.C. Shaw said...

AND her books have all come out in hardback, it sounds like. No sympathy from me.