Listen, I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a lot of Red Bull today, and on top of that, for the first 22 hours of the day I was pretty sure I was going to win the $500,000,000 up for grabs in the Powerball, so when I tell you I’m wired, I mean to tell you that this has approximately a 50/50 chance of being coherent. You have been warned.
There are three things I’d like to discuss today.
The first, no longer relevant, is the $500,000,000 that I’ve already started spending. If that kind of check ended up in my bank account, I want you to know that I would have overpaid a lot of authors. Not because it would make business sense, there wouldn’t be any chance of turning a profit, but knowing that folks who bring so much joy to others with their writing got paid enough to buy a house and a Chevy Volt or a Monster Truck (they still driving ‘em in Williamsburg, Brooklyn?), well that would be payment enough. Because let’s be honest, dudes getting paid $2,500,000 to oversee Twinkie production at a failing business is ten times more obscene than an author not earning out an advance for a really brilliant book. I accidentally bought tickets for the next ten drawings, so even though the jackpot will be significantly smaller the next few times out, I’ve got a good chance of winning (if I understand mathematics).
The second thing we should discuss is the end of November. More specifically, the end of November that brings the end of NaNoWriMo. I know others have already covered this elsewhere, but let me join the chorus of, “Hey! Great! The first draft of your 73,000 word epic The Absolute Justice Swindle of Extreme Revenge is done and you are e-x-c-i-t-e-d, but you totally need to edit that thing over the next few months before sending it to an agent or an editor.” I respect you for your commitment this month, I personally gave up on November 2nd. I totally understand your enthusiasm and your desire to share your work with the world. But, you’ve got one chance to get the best book you can muster to the market, don’t blow it by rushing it. Yes, yes, you can have it up on Amazon for Kindle by December 1st, but you shouldn’t. The novel needs to follow a proper life trajectory. Though a four year old can wield a shovel with some grace, we no longer throw them to the side of the road to dig ditches expecting a competent hole to be dug.
The third thing—and this maybe isn’t cool of me—but I want to address the whole “Big Six” publisher getting involved with vanity publishing thing. It doesn’t surprise me to see one of these companies get wrapped up in the shenanigans. I understand that some dude in a business suit was like, “Damn, how can we boost our bottom line with little risk or capital investment?” And then some other dude in another suit who wants the first suit’s job was all, “We can charge obscene amounts of money to unsuspecting aspirants to do questionably helpful things.”
That’s how you get people offering to be your Social Media Sherpa for $5,000, guiding you through websites that are already trending towards obsolete, aren’t actual sales vehicles, and sound really really important, but, you know, aren’t. Don't believe me? I don't blame you. But here's an article from the Wall Street Journal talking about the value of Facebook, Twitter, and others as a sales vehicle.
If I had an employee who put together a similar services offered and pricing grid, I’d immediately demand a piss test not to see if he/she was on drugs, but to establish which color of paint he/she was huffing in the bathroom during the 10:15 coffee break.
Here are my predictions:
- This isn’t going to be a substantial generator of revenue. These types of businesses have been around for the better part of a decade, writers are savvier than they once were, the whole “indie writer” movement has empowered authors to understand the economic realities of publishing. With so many readily available essays about self-publishing/indie author/guerilla wordsmithing, not many, if any, authors are going to stumble into one of these packages.
- The prices will be adjusted to something more...reasonable(?)...but by then it’ll be too late. The internet is already afire with talk about this being one more example of “legacy publishing” being tone deaf and out of touch. Any backtracking will look like either capitulation OR a confession of poor planning, neither of which would be good for an industry leader.
Then again, what the hell do I know? I’m just some guy on the internet, playing the lottery, dispensing half-assed advice to writers.
At least it’s free.
The advice, that is.
The lottery cost me $20.