Monday, December 9, 2013

Paying the Piper (or Writer)

Sawyer is not optimistic about the viability of writing as a full-time career for future generations. As long as there is sufficient demand, I am hopeful, but the lack of a clear path makes this a difficult and confusing time for a new writer.

Self-publishing has not fully emerged as viable alternative, though there are more and more writers developing viable strategies, including a hybrid of traditional and self-publishing (e.g., Michael J. Sullivan). However, it still requires a lot of non-writing work be done by the writer.

This Harvard Business Review  blogger points out that the media industry is not doing badly. It's changing, and people are reading more than ever.

But she also points out that advertisers are not paying as much for online marketing, even though that's where the eyeballs are shifting. The advertising dollars have not shifted to print proportionally. This reflects the issues for e-books. Traditional publishers operate on thin margins, and less money is flowing to the writer.

LinkedIn, for example, is making great use of their Influencers program, getting CEO's and others to write content for free. And there are a lot of people who are willing to write for free in order to promote something else.

But the nature and quality of that writing is very different from a novel or a well-researched non-fiction book. The hours, days, weeks and years it takes to create these written works is far greater.

The crowdfunding model holds some promise. But, can it work for new writers?  A successful writer or editor (e.g., Ellen Datlow's Kickstarter Horror Anthology) is less questionable, but we have yet to see how well the book sells beyond it's original funding.

I wonder what we'll see next?
  • Could a successful author make enough from a Kickstarter to give the finished product away for free? 
  • Will an advertising model emerge, perhaps via the controversial Google Books?
  • Should traditional publishers or agents try to run Kickstarter projects for new writers? 
  • How about high profile workshops like Clarion / Clarion West, or a contests like Writers of the Future?

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