A cautionary tale and other writing links

“If just one person had sat me down when I signed my first book contract and explained how publishing works, how nothing is guaranteed, and how it often feels like playing Russian Roulette with words, I would have made much sounder financial and creative decisions,” author Heather Demetrius says, recounting how she squandered the big advances on her early novels in the assumption they’d always be that big. They weren’t.

I have a lot of sympathy for Demetrios, as I was a pretty ghastly money-manager in my early adulting (and I understand very well about not making headway as a writer — though she’s certainly gone way further than me). If I’d gotten a large advance, I probably wouldn’t have spent it well either. And while I was careful about counting on freelance income, my first attempt at full-time freelancing, back in the 1990s, did assume my stringer gig for a local paper would be steady income, as it had been for the previous three years. Oops; recession hit, cutbacks ensued.

That said, I agree with author KJ Charles on Twitter that “Did anyone in the publishing house take me under their wing and explain to me how the company made decisions about future book deals? No. Did the publisher tap a more seasoned author on their list to mentor me, as many major corporations encourage within their companies? No.” is not a complaint to sympathize with. We’re freelancers; it’s our responsibility to be aware how the system works (or doesn’t). There’s no shortage of writing magazines, writing websites and finance/budget books and websites that can explain this stuff for anyone who wants to find out. And mentors at major corporations are on staff, so they get paid while they educate. Not so for novelists.

In other links:

KJ Charles vents on unreasonably critical editors.

Amazon is tweaking its search feature to prioritize results that make money for Amazon.

Golden Age mystery fiction is enjoying a renaissance.

Mike Pesca argues at Slate that we have more comedy and better than 40 or 50 years ago, but a lot more of it tends to play it safe. I’m not sure I’d agree with Pesca’s thoughts (or that I wouldn’t) but it’s worth perusing.

An Advocate General for the European Court of Justice says unlike physical books, there’s no right of resale for e-copies we buy. Will the court agree? Will US courts decide the same in similar cases?



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