Monday, April 30, 2012

It's Official! Nobody Knows


Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a blog entry recently about what she calls "life rolls." This is a term taken from a role playing game mimicking a writing career which she and Dean Wesley Smith  (and Loren Coleman) invented for their Master Class workshop.  The Master Class is meant for professional writers who want to learn how to actually make money from their careers.  And life rolls are unexpected life events that have a huge, negative impact on your writing career.  The death of a parent, say, or coming down with cancer, or having your house burn down.  All of which will lose you serious writing time.

In her and Dean's case, the catastrophic event was being given responsibility for an agonizingly difficult estate, which required that one of them quit writing entirely for a year to take care of it.  For which they have my profoundest sympathy.

The essay is lucid and instructive because, well, because that's what Kris's blog posts are.  But what struck me most was this statement taken from the middle of the post:

Before I go any farther, no, we’re not teaching the Master Class right now, because publishing is in such flux that we have no idea how to present it in a way that will be useful to professionals five years from now.

To which I can only add:  Wow.  I knew the climate business climate was confusing.  But so confusing that Kris and Dean, who can tell you everything about how much insurance you'll need, what percentage of your income you ought to be socking away, what contracts to sign and which to shun, don't know what will be useful five years from now?

If they don't know, nobody knows.

So if you're a writer, all I can say is:  Be careful out there.  Do as much research as you can before committing your writing to a project that may not pay off as well as you hope.  And keep your fingers crossed.

You can read Kris's essay here.

Above:  The logo for Kris's blog.



Mark Pontin said...

Glad to see you taking cognizance that it's really not as simple as Amazon being the big bad, legacy publishers good. To the contrary perhaps, all things considered.

See also, for example, Kate Wilhelm's current interview --

Wherein Wilhelm says that her previous publishers "know damn well why I’m doing this. The last contract they offered me wanted electronic control over my work past, present and future, regardless of what kind of technology comes along. They would own my work forever — I told my agent I just couldn’t sign that. It wasn’t about money, it was about rights. It was the worst contract I ever saw.'

And this is the standard contract that in many cases of these publishers are trying to enforce.

Michael Swanwick said...

This is all true. But make no mistake, Amazon is very, very evil. Possibly even as evil as Google.