9 Comments

  1. After 20 years, 4 million books sold, and all the bestseller lists, I’m making the transition to indie. It’s just the reality of a changing business model that not many are willing to accept. My last two advances from St Martins were more than what Eisler had on the table in front of him. But, like me, he’s done the math.

  2. Nice, Bob. Welcome to Team Indie. Thrilled to have you. And you’re right; it’s just the reality. I think what’s really happening is that, for years, the publishing business model was flawed but unavoidable because there really wasn’t a better way to do things, or really any other way to do things.

    And now there is, and that’s exciting.

  3. The most telling thing to me about Hocking was this: “James Patterson has a book out now that has incredibly low reviews, some of the lowest I’ve seen for any book, and that book is still selling like crazy, and I can find it Target and Walmart. Even the sequel to the book, which the reviews say is even twice as awful as the original, is selling like crazy. Why? Because James Patterson wrote it. (Or more accurately, because his name is on the cover).”

    It’s almost as if she knows she’s not that great a writer and wants to ensure that she’ll have stability regardless. Because, really, who’s career goal is: even if I suck, I’ll still make money. Well, actually, that might be the American Dream, but you know what I’m saying – it’s a weird goal for a writer. I’ve been meaning to write something about this for Self-Publishing Review, but I don’t really want to criticize her too much because it’s so great that she broke self-publishing open.

    However, this is really depressing: “The students pointed out, if they are reading to learn, they reach for text books.”

  4. I caught that, Henry, and agree. Both about Hocking and the textbooks.

    I’ve been thinking about Patterson a lot lately. And wondering if what he managed would have been possible with the changing of business-as-usual in publishing. I caught his latest commercial for his latest novel (Toys). Yaysh.

  5. Hi Will,

    Thanks for this post, which I’ve retweeted.

    I, too, find it rather interesting that quantity seems to matter more than quality. It can lead a person to seriously question: “Who cares about quality, as long as the thing $ell$?”

    It can also be very difficult to balance art and commercialism at the same time.

    I’ve written my perspectives on my website and blog:

    http://www.jessink.com/vampire_fad.htm
    http://www.jesscscott.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/i-hate-commercialism

    When I was younger (15-21), commercialism used to really irk me…till I realized there’s different audiences for different types of work 🙂

    Jess.

  6. I’m glad you found this post, Jess, as your comment brought my attention to your site. JessINK looks great (go Team Indie!), and I picked up a couple of your books–how could I go wrong for a few bucks? I’ve been looking for some good fiction to read, and a couple of your books caught my eye (I went with the first book of the Elven trilogy and the Dragon one. Looking forward).

    I definitely agree with you about the $elling point. The art and commercialism thing . . . I’m not sure, there. I read your post on hating it, and it brought up some interesting points. It was interesting that you brought a thought to tapping into a commercial market rather than to creating a commercial novel. For my part, I’ve always wondered if there are certain ideas or projects that lend themselves to a huge audience. For example, you mention artistic integrity in your post, and I wonder if sometimes artistic integrity involves “selling out” for the good of a project. Like, if you know an idea has potential to be a terrific, well-loved book, and you dedicate yourself to bringing it to a wide audience.

    Which is a bit different, in terms of motivation, from writing something to appeal to a wide audience. Coming at it from opposite ends, as it were.

    As a personal example, I always think of The Prodigal Hour as my big commercial novel, but not because it taps into a particular market. Rather, I think it’s got potential to have broad appeal (and it’s partly up to me to bring it to everyone’s attention).

    Thanks for your thoughts here. Looking forward to reading.

  7. Hi Will,

    Thanks for checking out jessINK (Team Indie, indeed!), and for checking out my books as well. I enjoyed the opening of Meets Girl. Will add to my to-be-read list (I’ll see to the list later — I’m currently trying to get my second anthology done by June 2011).

    I’ve definitely thought about some of the things you mentioned. I think “artistic integrity” can be a subjective thing (one artist might might consider “bringing something to a wide audience” as “selling out,” while another might have a different view entirely, and decide to present the project in such a way that makes it, indeed, accessible to a huge audience).

    I know of some people (won’t name names) who maintain they’d rather “see something published the way they want, instead of dumbing it down just so that more people can read it.” Personally, I think that smacks of an inflated ego (more so than “artistic integrity” / depends on the way and tone at which it is expressed), but that’s just me. Perhaps that *is* what some individuals define as “artistic integrity,” so to each their own.

    As for myself, I usually aim to provide something that’s meaningful and entertaining. I don’t want to write to look/appear “smart”; neither do I want to totally put aside things I’d like to do with a project, and just go for the money. Creative work is very intense and personal that way, but that’s the way I like it 😛

    Perhaps The Prodigal Hour is a blend of commercial/literary fiction? I like to think of Bret Easton Ellis’s The Rules of Attraction as a very nice blend of art and commerce. Musically, I’ll think of bands like Nirvana and Linkin Park (first two albums especially), who have mainstream appeal and do not lack substance.

    I recently came across a Salon article on authors & publicity:

    http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2011/03/29/writer_sell_thyself

    Interesting points!

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