Sunday, January 13, 2019

More Ranting on Author Pay

It's a neverending conundrum. Artists create art, consumers want art. Now we are in the era when consumers think it's their right to get the art...for free or as near to free as they can get it.

That's a real big scoop of nope, y'all. It's WORK to create art. It takes MONTHS to write a book. A good book, that is. And authors need to be compensated for that. It's bad enough that advances are down or non-existent. Small publishers offer a higher rate of royalty in compensation for not offering that advance. It's a nice idea, except if the small press can't market, your compensation drops. You're never offered 50%, by the way. And if you have an agent--which you should--they take their 15% off the top.

Full disclosure, I'm a hybrid author; I'm traditionally published by a big New York publisher, a medium size publisher, and two small publishers, as well as self-publishing my backlist of reverted rights works, and new fiction. Having a variety like that kept me going for a long time, but everything loses momentum eventually, especially the older they get.

This article talks about how consumers have begun to feel entitled to books. For free. Hey, it's on the internet so it must be free, right? NO. It isn't. So when you buy a book at a thrift shop, or second hand on Amazon, or off a pirated site, that author gets nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch for that purchase or download. And the more that happens, the fewer books you'll get from your supposedly favorite author. It's the same as sneaking into a movie, or sneaking in under the rope to your favorite band's concert...or grabbing it from a shelf at your local bookstore and running out of the shop without paying. Yeah. It is that.

Think it won't happen? Look here.

Buy NEW books. Get them from libraries or ask your librarian to get a book (that's a sale to the writer, and a good one. If a library system buys several copies for all their branches, that's a huge win for an author). All food for thought for you readers and writers out there.

Monday, January 7, 2019

There's a Cat in the House

After my last two cats left us, we vowed not to have any more animals, except for the tortoise who will live long after us and who is currently hibernating till March. (That's the way to have a pet!) But... this mature kitty--who might yet be on loan instead of gifted--came to us by way of our son. He had two big dogs in his tiny apartment and little Luna here was left to her own devices locked away from the brutes. He needed to be relieved of a cat, I wanted a cat, so...there you are.

She's a stealthy bastard, and most of the time I have no idea where she is until she comes trotting out from whatever dimension she went into. But that's cats for you. They walk their own roads, and when you call them, sometimes they swivel an ear at you and sometimes they don't. That's why they were worshiped in Egypt and we weren't.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Writer Privilege

So I deleted a post on Facebook about a bookstore--Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio--that wanted to show how sexism affects publishing by turning all the books written by men, spine inward in their fiction section. Store owner Harriett Logan — with the help of her employees and a few volunteers — deliberately flipped around all the fiction books written by men, hiding their colorful spines from view.
"I wanted to do something provocative and interesting for Women's History Month that also displayed the disparity of women working in a certain field," Logan explains. And that field, naturally, was book publishing.
"Although it might seem like there are just as many women as men writing books and working in publishing overall, power structures and implicit bias still influence which books get published and reviewed and, as a result, reach commercial success."
Some men commented on my post, taking exception to the "silencing of men" --something it said on the sign in the bookstore in the accompanying photo above. And I was snarky and patronizing about it in my replies to them. On purpose. Because it simply wasn't understood about the point being made, and that when WOMEN point it out, we are criticized.
They doubled down.
They still didn't get the point of the exercise. When women step forward to make that point, there is huge pushback from men, who start to say things like "reverse discrimination!" It's a bit like understanding white privilege. Poor white men who are out of work don't think they have privilege. They don't get that they still do, even if they don't have the fancy job and fancy car. That they can walk anywhere, anytime, and not be looked on suspiciously or have the cops called on them. There's a blindness when it comes to slaying sacred cows, white privilege, male privilege. The simple fact is, there is inequality in publishing. Men have the advantage. It is no secret why J.K. Rowling went with initials for her name. She didn't want readers to know she was a woman so that boys would read her books (and that's a whole other blog post right there, folks). She went a step further when she decided to write her Cormoran Strike mystery series and wanted to be just another writer out there...and chose a male name.
There are reviewers who simply will not review female writers, insisting that their work is inferior. There are lower advances for women, less publicity, less everything, and, apparently, less shelf space. And it's a huge economic problem. When we aren't reviewed, the eyes of readers--paying customers--don't see our work. Sisters in Crime, the mystery writer and reader organization, was founded on the inequality of reviews and became much more than what it started out to be. Their mission statement is to Promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.
So men, this month-long "protest/demonstration" takes nothing away from you. In fact, you should be standing behind it. When one of us fails, we all fail. Don't get affronted, get educated.