In my quest to determine how I plan on publishing one of the stories I’m slogging through, I’ve been doing research on which medium is the best to publish the work of a half-serious writer. The options:
- Self-Publishing, in print and or e-book
- Traditional publishing. in print and sometimes e-book
The research makes my head hurt but hopefully I can break it down so it’s slightly easier to understand. I’ll be covering how writers earn their money through traditional publishing in print and e-book form. Later I will be covering how writers earn money from self-publishing in print and e-book form. If I talked about both this post would be more than just a monster.
Wodehouse himself had not found it necessary to carry money in twenty years, and though he had spent most of his adult life in America, he still reckoned such things as book prices in pounds and shillings. His accent, like his arithmetic, remained pure English. Aside from his writing, his two passions were the New York Mets and a soap opera called The Edge of Night.
“The Art of Fiction No. 60,” The Paris Review No. 64
No one likes rejection.
It’s even worse when it’s something you’ve spent lots of time on, writing and re-writing until you think you’ve got it just right. Then the publisher, agent, editor, or competition judges say ‘no thanks’. What do you do?
First of all, it’s perfectly okay to be upset. Take some time to work through your feelings (and have a cup of tea, it works wonders) and they will diminish over time. Don’t take too long, though!
Once the initial hurt has passed, remember this: the rejection is not personal. They aren’t saying that you’renot good enough, but that particular piece of writing isn’t right for them. As Litopian Ruth2 says, “It’s just a business, after all.”
There are a few things you can do to move forward — read more at Litopia.
Teddy Wayne, The agony of the male novelist
By a wide margin, women also belong more frequently to book clubs — and these clubs skew toward female writers writing about female experiences.
The publishing industry has noticed this trend in reading habits, and knows that word of mouth can spread much more easily through a dozen gregarious club members than through a solitary, likely introverted reader. And so the mainstream publishing paradigm has shifted from books the highbrow critics are buzzing about to books that these clubs will embrace. True, Franzen and a few other male authors make the cut, and sometimes challenging works by writers of either gender sneak in, especially among younger and more cosmopolitan groups. But by and large, book-club members are interested in feel-good fare like Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help.” The archetypal book-club novel is written by a woman, its characters are female-centric, and it contains a love story, sensitive coming-of-age tale, or mother-daughter narrative, perhaps set against a historical backdrop.
Yet the Franzen-Weiner-Picoult-Stockett universe is the literary 1 percent; they’re all doing just fine, male or female. If you’re upset that you’re deprived of two separate reviews and a profile in the Times, as Weiner evidently is, then, to quote Brad Pitt in “Moneyball,” you have “uptown problems, which aren’t really problems at all.”
In short, midlisters are middle-class professionals scraping out a living — and being a midlist male author who writes about males is a distinct financial disadvantage. Not only will you not get reviewed in the Times, but you won’t get reviewed in the women’s magazines that drive sales, like People and O, the Oprah Magazine. Book clubs will ignore you. Barnes & Noble will relegate you to the back shelves. Your publisher won’t give you much support — if it even publishes your book in the first place. As a book-editor friend once admitted to me, “When we buy a debut novel by a man, we view it as taking a real chance.”