What if I Wrote & Nobody Bought?

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michaelbywater
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Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:47 pm Post

pigfender wrote:
michaelbywater wrote:The last 150 years of the commercialisation of literature -- in the broadest sense -- will, I think, be seen by our posterity as a bit of a blip. Write like Hesiod, Aeschylus, Juvenal, Pliny, Donne, Herbert and all the rest: for the hell of it.

Or you can refuse to be a part of this tragic downturn. Be truculent way beyond the point of what is reasonable, and demand fair pair for a day's work.

F$@#^ Pliny, be Patterson*!

* - hell, the man isn't an author anymore, he's a genre.


Bit like refusing to be part of this mortality lark, eh, Fender, old Pig?

Demand the fair day's pay from whom? Who decides what's fair? And what if they say "Sod off"? Withdraw labour? WGA did that. Really changed the game in Hollywood. Screenwriters' usual contract used to be two drafts and a polish, but now.... NOW.... (cue throbbing MUSIC.... it's one draft and be off with you, churl. (Throws tattered bone) And that's only because I like you, schmuck!

There is bound to be an economic shift in any business where more people will produce the stuff for free than for the "fair day's pay". What's changed is the methods of distribution and exchange, and if that sounds a bit familiarly Marxian, so be it.

@Fluff: The Domperidone gag (ha) is fine but I wasn't feeling sick; merely realistic. To talk about writing without noticing that the entire financial basis of it as a profession is radically changing seems irresponsible. My point, to the OP, was that people have always written hoping to be read; but the period in which they've written hoping - perfectly reasonably - to be paid is, I suspect, a blip. If I had to put money on it, I'd say that in 30 years there'll be Pattersons and there'll be amateurs. Probably the amateurs will be doing the good stuff and the Pattersons will be very rich, but that's not without precedent...

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Jaysen
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Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:58 pm Post

michaelbywater wrote: If I had to put money on it, I'd say that in 30 years there'll be Pattersons and there'll be amateurs. Probably the amateurs will be doing the good stuff and the Pattersons will be very rich, but that's not without precedent...

You mean like the music, film, and software industries?
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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Fluff
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Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:40 pm Post

michaelbywater wrote:@Fluff: The Domperidone gag (ha) is fine but I wasn't feeling sick; merely realistic. T
Young Master Michael, I was only pulling your…oops! :oops: nearly said a rude word, not unlike the kind of foul language my human uses. Sorry. :oops:
Sent from Pangur ban's Astral iPad

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Ahab
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Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:57 pm Post

michaelbywater wrote:Demand the fair day's pay from whom? Who decides what's fair? And what if they say "Sod off"? Withdraw labour? WGA did that. Really changed the game in Hollywood. Screenwriters' usual contract used to be two drafts and a polish, but now.... NOW.... (cue throbbing MUSIC.... it's one draft and be off with you, churl. (Throws tattered bone) And that's only because I like you, schmuck!

There is bound to be an economic shift in any business where more people will produce the stuff for free than for the "fair day's pay". What's changed is the methods of distribution and exchange, and if that sounds a bit familiarly Marxian, so be it.

.


As Doctor Johnson said, "no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." A bit glib and gruff and Dr.J-curmudgeonly, but then that was his schtick.

But now it's getting ever harder to write for money, or at least enough money to justify the effort needed to actually write. The magazine I edit pays the same for a feature now as it did when it started in 1975. Adjusted for inflation, we pay a quarter what we paid in 1975. Which is better than some of our competitors, which pay two-thirds of what they paid in 1975 before inflation.

Why can't we pay more? I keep asking the beancounters. Because, they patiently explain, there's only so much you can charge for a subscription before existing subscribers stop re-upping and new subscribers never materialize. Because postage is a dozen times more expensive than it was in 1975. Because salaries and compensation and insurance and taxes and corporate overhead and big rolls of glossy paper are more expensive. Because the advertising dollars that once subsidized those subscription prices have dwindled by two-thirds under pressure from Internet outlets and corporate bottom lines.

Are you having trouble filling pages, they ask? Well, uh, um, No, I say. We get roughly a thousand submissions a year and buy roughly 40 of them. True, we no longer see a few of the big names, but there are endless hungry and talented replacements. And those big names? All were once hungry and talented replacements.

Are we done here? they say. Yes, I say. Thank God I'm 64 and not 24. And as I turn to leave, in a gesture of solidarity with the downtrodden literati, I invite them all to stuff their beans and attempt an anatomical improbability with themselves.

Not, of course, where they can actually hear me. They're merciless, those beancounters and their stupid math.

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pigfender
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Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:15 pm Post

Ahab wrote:But now it's getting ever harder to write for money, or at least enough money to justify the effort needed to actually write.

It's getting harder to do *anything* for money.

Did you find your food writer in the end?
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"Some dice only have sixes." nom, 19 Oct 2013
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Ahab
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Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:37 am Post

pigfender wrote:
Ahab wrote:But now it's getting ever harder to write for money, or at least enough money to justify the effort needed to actually write.

It's getting harder to do *anything* for money.

Did you find your food writer in the end?


A good memory, P.F. Yes, I auditioned a dozen potentials for the food columnist gig, and found one posting intelligible English and remarkable thinking on a food blog generally full of hot air and unsubstantiated opinion. Psssst, I says. Wanna tax-deduct your MAC knives and Robot Coupe? Your every meal? Have I got a deal for you.

He's been at it a year, now. And keeps getting better. Six 1500-word columns a year, for what he'd make working half-time at McDonalds, before taxes.

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pigfender
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Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:08 am Post

Sorry Michael old sport. Didn't see your response when I posted earlier.
michaelbywater wrote:Bit like refusing to be part of this mortality lark, eh, Fender, old Pig?

Well, this whole 'inevitability of death' things is not actually scientifically proven.
1) The death rate of humans isn't 100% given that (according to present estimates) only 91% of humans that have lived have also died.
2) There are several examples of animals that, outside of some kind of external factor (like being eaten by a fisherman), would live forever: Turtles. Lobsters...
Frankly what we need is a bit more of a positive attitude and maybe a few more clever people putting their minds to the problem of solving death instead of whatever short-termist nonsense they are currently wasting all our lives on.

You know, sometimes I think you people don't get when I'm being flippant.
pigfender wrote:Be truculent way beyond the point of what is reasonable
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"Some dice only have sixes." nom, 19 Oct 2013
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pigfender
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Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:10 am Post

Ahab wrote:He's been at it a year, now. And keeps getting better.

Must be rewarding when you can help an emerging talent develop like that! Good for you!
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"Some dice only have sixes." nom, 19 Oct 2013
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Bluesman
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Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:45 am Post

Filibogado wrote:Is this the right forum for this post?

As I have indicated in another post, I am giving myself a retirement/Christmas/birthday gift tomorrow by buying myself a Macbook Pro w/ Retina display (rMBP)and the Scrivener Mac package. I fancy myself enjoying retirement by pecking away at the keyboard and churning tons of manuscripts, in the hope of finding a market to supplement my meagre social security and government pension. I have always fantasized about being a novelist/memoir/fiction/non-fiction writer, although I have never done this before.

I made my living as an attorney-turned-federal govenment policy analyst, writing reams of government policies and regulations, akin to Obamacare (the law, not the god-forsaken website) so I know I can write dry prose. Whether I can turn that into a literary skill is still an open question, although I had a Jesuit education, am conversant in the humanities, arts and sciences, and not exactly a Phillistine when it comes to literature. In effect, the product of a liberal education.

But, worst case scenario, what if I write stuff and nobody came to buy them. Have I just blown a grand on computer hardware and software with nothing to show for it? Other than being a boat anchor for my failed writing career, what other utilitarian functions can I turn Scrivener and Macbook to other than watch movies and play games? I may practice immigration law on the side but I will have a secretary do the writing and the legal stuff involves almost exclusively filling up forms and not long manuscript writing.

I'm just wondering loudly what other folks did after they embarked on a writing career only to find out that it was not for them. Parenthetically, I just joined the NRA, spent a fortune on guns and reloading equipment, only to learn that I don't really find the hobby of shooting paper targets at the range enjoyable.

'Nuff said - what do you guys think? What other fun things can your do with a Macbook Pro?

Fil

They're pretty good for photo editing. Get a DSLR, shoot in RAW, and install Adobe Lightroom.

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Ahab
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Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:51 am Post

pigfender wrote:
Ahab wrote:He's been at it a year, now. And keeps getting better.

Must be rewarding when you can help an emerging talent develop like that! Good for you!


It's an editor's job description. Anne Frank and Julia Child are both icons today, for very different reasons, thanks to Judith Jones at Knopf. Every working writer today is a working writer because some editor plucked her from the slush pile or saw his writing in some obscure outlet and encouraged them to stretch.

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Wock
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Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:02 pm Post

If writing satisfies you and you enjoy it then what price do you put on that?

A week vacation that you may enjoy could cost thousands of dollars yet people do it all the time.
You might have a vice or a hobby that you could invest tens of thousands in over time yet people do it all the time.

What I am saying is do not look at this as an investment for profit. (Will anyone buy?).

Instead look at this as an enjoyment that may eventually pay for itself. After all most people write for the enjoyment, the money for selling that work is just added bonus.

Artists are artists. If you buy a laptop to write with and you enjoy writing then the value is already obtained, even before you print off your first piece of work.


"I would rather regret something I have done than regret never having the courage to try it."
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

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Twolane
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Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:33 am Post

Right on, Wock!

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kewms
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Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:36 pm Post

What fun things can you do with a Mac Pro?

Well, the entire Internet is laid out before you, for better or worse.

Write, make visual art, make music, make video.

Program anything from a short checklist application for your own use to a robot. (Or, say, Scrivener.)

Attack any technological problem that catches your eye, from central African crop yields to the heritability of intelligence.

Play games, of your own or someone else's creation.

A Mac Pro, like any powerful tool, is limited only by your imagination.

OTOH, the same is true of a PC. There are many things that one or the other platform does better, but very few things that either platform can't do at all.

Katherine

PS They probably won't buy. Or at least not soon enough or in large enough numbers to repay the cost of the computer before it's obsolete. if knowing that deters you from writing, you probably weren't cut out for it anyway.
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CyberDave358
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Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:03 pm Post

You know, I ask myself that same question from time to time. I've just begun writing after my creative career has probably come to an end and I wonder. To a certain point. That manner of thinking clouds the issue, being, I have to be creative; otherwise I'm going to go nutso. Technical term. But so what if I don't sell anything? Sure, I'd like to be raking in heaps of money while I'm still in a position to benefit from it, and maybe the stuff that I've been cranking out will be worth something after I'm dead and gone. Maybe my widow can do something with it, be able to afford an old age home where the attendants don't let her stew in her juices for days. That would be nice.

Or, maybe it won't be of interest to anyone but kinsmen; who knows. I'll give it a whirl anyway.

Cheers!

sa
saoir
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Sun May 25, 2014 4:48 pm Post

Filibogado wrote:But, worst case scenario, what if I write stuff and nobody came to buy them. Have I just blown a grand on computer hardware and software with nothing to show for it?


The issue here is - is this really why you bought it ? Is earning money the only reason for buying it ? If so then it a very high risk investment. And I mean very very high.

If however you actually enjoy the process of writing, and making stuff up in your head and weaving a story ... then you have to ask yourself how much you value that pleasure ? This is my own personal view. I am writing my first book and I enjoy the process. It's hard ... it's hard to stay at it. And it's quite complex. But for the money, and the hours I get from it .. it is exceptional value.

And when you're done, don't go to the ghastly old legacy publishers to ask them to publish you. Go and publish yourself via an eBook, like thousands of others nowadays including many established writers.
Howard Brittain

Author of just published "Vineyard"
An MI5/Thriller.
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