Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yog's Law

Money flows toward the writer.

I think that for new or inexperienced writers, this seems counter-intuitive. They’ve just had a wonderful time writing a book (especially if they haven’t thought too much about editing, word count, marketability and so on). So they go online, wondering what they should do to get it published. There they read that if a commercial publisher accepts the book, they will be paid (imagine it, someone paying you to tell a story!) and the book will be advertised and distributed to bookstores.

This seems like a incredibly good deal, especially to new writers. So they send off queries or manuscripts, and before long they find themselves on the interminable Road of Rejection (which may or may not lead to the Publishers’ Palace – there are no guarantees in life). There are two ways they can go from here.

1. They can decide that their manuscripts need more work or that they would be more successful with another story, so they keep writing.

2. They can decide that since they were rejected, the system doesn’t work. What they were told – that publishers pay authors for manuscripts – is either wrong or not applicable to unpublished authors. The idea that money flows towards a writer might be more than just an idea for bestselling authors like Stephen King, but it doesn’t apply to the fledgling hopefully submitting his fortieth query letter. If he can’t even get the manuscript accepted, getting paid for it is a hopeless pipe dream. And if he does actually get an acceptance… well, he'll be so grateful that he won’t expect anything else of the publisher.

At this point the writer is ready to be led down the primrose path of vanity publishing. As well as signing up with scams like PublishAmerica which don’t charge upfront, writers may discard Yog’s Law entirely and pay a vanity press to publish them. I wondered how much money writers would be willing to pay in this regard, and how they would justify the expense. In the case of Tate Publishing, that amount is $4000. And how writers rationalize paying it… that’ll be the subject of my next post.

To be continued…

1 comment:

Kim said...

I remember, way back when I first decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up - the number of people who told me how expensive it was to get published was unreal. It made no sense to me then and it still makes no sense to me now. But, I guess if a writer is desperate enough...

It's too bad they don't necessarily take the time to research or work on improving their craft. But denial and rationalizing are powerful enemies at times, I guess...

Great post! =)