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Should Writers be Paid to Write?

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#1 Troy

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:44 PM

Should writers be paid to write? The question does not come out of thin air. It is born out of the fact that there is pressure from businesses to pay writers increasingly less for their work and it is getting harder for a free lance writer to make a full time living writing.

As a result, it is harder for all the intermediaries between the reader and the writer; editors, reviewers, booksellers (on and off line), publishers, publicists, distributors, etc, to make money. This starts a process which feeds in on itself. As the writing profession becomes more challenging it discourages talented new writers from entering the profession, which reduces quality, which in turn reduces customers and a downward spiral begins.

Author Victoria Christopher Murray was asked recently, by a reader, why doesn't she make a eBooks available for free online? In an environment where many authors make their eBooks available for free (usually as a promotional measure), the expectation of the reader that eBooks readily available for free is increasing.

The availability of free ebooks today is such that I can legally download a new or classic title, and have enough reading material to last me the rest of my life.

Besides, aren't writers supposed to write for the love of writing? How many writers have you heard say they write to live -- they need to write they way others need air. They would write even if they were not being paid....

It is not like writers provide food, shelter or any of the things our society need to actually survive. Don't garbage collectors, teachers, policemen, doctors and farmers deserve more of our financial resources?

Maybe what we are witnessing today is the market just making itself more efficient and just.


“The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve ‘the common good.’ It is true that capitalism does—if that catch-phrase has any meaning—but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice.”AYN RAND


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#2 HICKSON

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:53 PM

"GAS, GRASS OR ASS: NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE!" --BUMPER STICKER

NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE BESIDES GOD, LOVE & BULLSH*T! OF COURSE WRITERS SHOULD BE PAID FOR THEIR WORKS, WHAT TYPE OF RIDICULOUS QUESTION IS THAT? NO MATTER HOW MUCH A WRITER LOVES WRITING, IT SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED THAT ONE SHOULD BE GIVING HIS OR HER WORK AWAY FOR FREE! THIS IS WHY THE INDUSTRY IS WHERE IT'S AT NOW: NO ONE IS REALLY VALUING THEIR WORKS OR THE INDUSTRY IT'S INFILTRATED IN. SHOULD YOU NOT PAY YOUR RENT OR MORTGAGE & EXPECT TO CONTINUE LIVING AT RESIDENCE? CAN YOU WALK INTO GUCCI WITHOUT PAYING FOR GOODS? WILL YOUR CELL PHONE PROVIDER KEEP PROVIDING YOU WITH SERVICE IF YOU DON'T PAY YOUR BILL? NOTHING FROM NOTHING LEAVES NOTHING! YOU DON'T PAY FOR A BOOK, YOU DON'T GET ONE: SIMPLE AS THAT! I'M SO SICK OF HEARING SUCH STUPIDITY! ALL WRITERS SHOULD GET COMPENSATED FOR THEIR WORKS!

JUST BECAUSE ONE LICENSED AN EBOOK (BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T BUY IT YOU LICENSED IT), DOESN'T MEAN IT SHOULD BE READ ON ALL READERS EITHER! IF YOU GO TO THE MOVIE THEATRE TO WATCH A SHOW, YOU WOULD HAVE TO LEAVE THE THEATRE TO SEE THE SAME SHOW & PAY AGAIN, IF YOU DESIRED! IT'S NO DIFFERENT! WAKE UP, PEOPLE: IT'S GETING BEYOND FOOLISH!

& BY THE WAY: I OFFER ALL GHETTOHEAT® AUTHORS 50 PERCENT OF ROYALTIES: & LET THEM KEEP COPYRIGHTS OF THEIR WORKS! EVERYONE SHOULD ALWAYS BE PAID FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS!

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#3 Cynique

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:52 PM

To me, it all depends on whether writing is your profession. I subscribe to the classic "ars gratia artis" school of thought; art for the sake of art. Kinda like an amateur athete playing a sport for a love of the game. The same with musicians. Getting paid for doing what one loves to do is icing on the cake.There are dilettantes in all areas of endeavor.

Actually, readers should be paid to read a lot of the stuff put out for public consumption, and the expression of "don't quit your day job" has gained popularity because it's so apt when it comes to all the people who think financial compensation is an automatic entitlement for anybody who can string a bunch of sentences together. Serious writers know that writing can be a thankless task. Being a wanna-be isn't a lucrative pursuit.

#4 Anonymous

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 07:55 PM

Getting paid for doing what one loves to do is icing on the cake.


My thoughts exactly. And I think it's okay to give things away, including books. Why bother to write it down, if you don't want someone else to read it (diaries don't count; neither do self-proclaimed crappy works that you know should never see the light of day)? Sometimes you can get people to pay to read it; other times you settle for sharing your work just for the sake of sharing. I see nothing wrong with that. Even people who write as their sole profession have been known to give away freebies or samples of their work. I don't think this trend is going to stop.

p.s. I have heard the argument before that writers who keep dropping their prices to 99cents and below are making it hard on the rest of the artists. I can see how this would happen. But I am one of those writers who will give a book away for a day or so, and even publish one for dirt cheap and leave it there for a while, especially if it was a book that didn't require a lot of time on my part. So far I haven't heard anything to compel me to stop doing this.

Let me add that I also can relate to what Cynique says when she mentions that sometimes the reader should be paid to read some of the stuff that's out there. Yep. Been there. Done that. And yes, some of the stuff is that bad.

On the flipside, the reader needs to understand the concept of "you get what you pay for"...A person shouldn't expect a Pulitzer prize winner out of any of my 99cent books. And I know for a fact that if I put something out there for free (for more than a couple of days), you better believe it's probably not going to be something I spent an insane amount of time on. I'm just saying.

#5 Troy

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:44 PM

Hickson would you believe the question I posed, was actually a statement by an well known writer, someone who has been writing professionally longer than you have been living. I did not post his name because I did not want to misinterpret/misconstrue him as I play devils advocate in defense of the statement (which may not reflect his thoughts).

Hickson what do you think about?
  • libraries that loan eBooks to people from anywhere they have internet access (without stepping foot into the library).
  • People paying 0.99 cents for an eBooks but being able to loan them to friends electronically as many times as they like

Cynique I'm not sure "art for the sake of art" applies to making money from your work, but more to the idea that art stands on it own, independent of anything else. Some artists argue that "art for the sake of art" is a sake is nonsensical, as would I.

And readers do pay to the extent that they waste valuable time reading garbage that should never have been published. Prior to the self publishing and eBook revolutions. Gatekeepers; agents, editors at publishing houses, book reviewers and awards from respected organizations played an importation role ensuring that bad writing was not published and quality was recognized. (ignoring the fact diverse, quality Black stories were also shut out as well).

Since anyone with a keyboard can create a book today we need a rational system for sorting out the good books from the bad ones while creating an environment where skilled writers can flourish. The system we have where the best "marketed" book wins gives us just that -- the best marketed books.

Writegirl I would not devalue anything you create based upon the price you charge. Ideally price is a based upon demand for your product. It is perfectly rational to give a product away, to build a name for yourself and begin charging more when demand increases. Just 'cause you give away some books to build your brand does not mean your writing is not as good as it would be if you were a house hold name with the ability to charge full price.

A brand new, unknown author, even with a great book will need to promote, advertise or "Hustle like a Hickson". Since most people can grind like Hickson, they will need to promote which usually entails giving away a TON of books.

A good way for an author to build a brand would be to purchase advertising, using a quality banner and advertise the fact that they are giving away, for a limited time, free book. If the book is good they will jump start their fan base ...but I digress.
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#6 Cynique

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:32 PM

What came to my mind, Troy, was something like a small literary publication which invited its readers to submit their work for an anthology being compiled. Your reward would be having what you submitted accepted by the staff, and having what you wrote read by its subscribers.

To me, it has to do with how you classify yourself. Let's just bypass the artsy-fartsy philosophy and simply offer as a synonym for "dilettante", the word "amateur"; a person who is the opposite of a professional. Amateurs do what they do because they love it and maybe don't want to do it for a living.

If you graduated from college with a degree in journalism, then you will seek employment as a writer. If wriiting is simpy a creative passtime for you, then monetary compensation is not your primary goal. And many authors who are successful have been known not to want their work commercialized in another medium.

There are people to whom money isn't everything when it comes to their artistic integrity. And sometimes it isn't, when it requires you to sell your soul.

Writing can also be a form of therapy.

The question you posed, has no correct answer.

#7 Anonymous

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 02:42 AM

I would have to say that I tend to lean toward the notion that fiction writing for me is more of a creative pastime that happens to bring in a few bucks here and there. It is also, as Cynique mentioned, a form of therapy for me. I don't even know how to explain the need to get these stories out of my head and down on paper. But I do know that I get great personal satisfaction in the creative part of watching a story come together.

Maybe if I was a die-hard music lover, I'd probably be somewhere composing a song right now. But I'm a book lover, and so far, the books I've written have completely drawn me in. Now I can't stop - not even to market. To that end, I am confident that Troy is right - that there could be limited financial success because of this. But I'm starting to realize that I honestly - and I do mean honestly - do not care enough to do anything about it at the moment. I think my book covers clearly show that I'm not in this for the money - yet. :D

However, that's not to say that one day I won't take this thing more seriously in terms of a money-making venture. I pay attention to people like HICKSON and how they market and make mental notes for the future, just in case I decide to get with the business-minded program. If I get hungry, this will become inevitable.

But so far, that desire for great monetary gain hasn't kicked in yet. I'm just glad to be publishing. I'm just thrilled that someone actually took the time to read something I wrote. I think I must be in some sort of honeymoon phase or something. Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what killed it? Or is it still there?

As far as selling one's soul? So glad you glad you brought that up Cynique. I was just thinking as I read the email Troy Cynique posted by the author team (Deberry and Grant) that I would be so upset if an agent kept asking me to change things, like "make it more street" or "go back and make this more urban" There's no way! Seriously. No way could I see myself putting up with that. I'll pass on the upfront big money, thank you very much, if it means dealing with that type of garbage. Where's the joy in writing fiction if you can't write what you want? I guess that's the point where it really becomes a J.O.B.

Troy, thanks for the input on the pricing situation. I always - ALWAYS - have a tough time figuring out how to price these things, especially the e-books (haha, like I have so many out there :P ). In the end, I settled on my own little pricing system based on how much work I put into the book. That's probably not going to be in anybody's self-publishing 101 manual and that probably needs to be revised. And that's why sites like this are invaluable as a learning tool. No one way is the right way, but it sure helps to hear about different strategies and the reasons behind them, whether you're in it for the money or only sorta kinda in it for the money. B)

#8 HICKSON

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:51 AM

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®, EVERYONE! HI TROY, LIBRARIES FEEL THAT THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO LEND OUT BOOKS, PRINT & EBOOKS, DUE TO THE FACT THEY'VE PURCHASED THEM. ALTHOUGH THIS MAY APPLY TO PRINT BOOKS: THE LIBRARIES OUTRIGHT BUYING THEM & HAVING OPTIONS TO LEND TO WHOMEVER THEY WISH TO, IT SHOULDN'T APPLY TO EBOOKS. AGAIN, YOU DON'T BUY EBOOKS, THEY ARE LICENSED OUT! I DIDN'T MAKE THE RULES: DRM DID! E-READERS ARE DIGITAL DEVICES USED TO ALLOW READER TO READ LICENSED WORKS TO READERS! IT'S LIKE GOING INTO BLOCKBUSTERS TO RENT A MOVIE, YOU DON'T BUY THE MOVIE YOU RENT THE MOVIE: SAME APPLIES TO EBOOKS, & ONCE EVERYONE FULLY GRASP THE CONCEPT, ALL WILL BE BETTER UNDERSTANDING WHAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY DOING: RENTING! YOU WANT TO OWN BOOKS, BUY PRINT, OR EBOOK VERSIONS SOLD DIRECTLY FROM PUBLISHERS WHO ALLOW YOU TO OWN....

TROY, I ALSO HATE TO KNOCK OTHERS HUSTLE, BECAUSE I DON'T NEED ONE TRYING TO DO THE SAME TO ME, BUT I WAS ALWAYS TOLD WHEN YOU BUY CHEAP YOU GET CHEAP: HENCE 99-CENT STORES! THEY SERVE A PURPOSE WHICH DOESN'T HAVE LONG-TERM GOALS. I CHARGE FULL PRICE FOR A REAL REASON, I'VE POSITIONED MY BRAND & GOODS AS TOP SHELF IN THE MARKET! IT'S FULLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT YOU'LL GET WHEN BUYING GHETTOHEAT®: GREAT QUALITY WORKS! I CAN'T CHARGE TOP DOLLAR AND OFFER MEDIOCRE WORKS. IS IT FAIR THAT READERS OBTAIN EBOOKS AT 99 CENTS THEN HAVE THE AUDACITY TO LEND THEM TO OTHERS? HELL NO! WOULD THEY FEEL THE SAME ABOUT ME BORROWING THEIR PREPAID CELL PHONES & THEN ALLOWING MY "FRIENDS & FAMILY" TO USE IT ALSO BEFORE RETURNING IT BACK?

TROY, I KNOW WHY YOU OPPOSED THE QUESTION, YET THE REALITY IS: MANY IN THIS GAME HAVE OPTED TO MAKE DESPERATE MOVES TO KEEP THEIR HEADS ABOVE WATER, & NOT ADMITTING SO: AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS, INCLUDING MYSELF--A PUBLISHER DOING REPUTABLE BUSINESS AT TOP DOLLAR.... IT'S VERY FRUSTRATING TRYING TO MAINTAIN GOODS AT TOP DOLLARS WHEN OTHERS ARE ACTING LIKE "CRAZY EDDIE" & ACTUALLY "GIVING IT AWAY"! I WISH ALL IN THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY WELL, BUT AS JANET JACKSON'S CHARACTER SAID IN "POETIC JUSTICE: "I'M HOLDING OUT FOR THE 'BIG NICKEL'!" THIS ISN'T A HOBBY FOR ME: IT'S A PROFESSION!

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®!

#9 Troy

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:05 AM

The only thing that distinguishes an amateur writer from a professional one is that the professional is paid. One can not make assumptions on the quality of writing based upon the writers professional status.

In an ideal world the best writers would indeed be paid and the best writers paid the most. We all know this is simply not true. Every agent has many stories of good writers who can't get published by a traditional publisher. Writers who simply don't have the constitution, temperament, ability, knowledge or energy to Hustle like a Hickson and no money for advertising and promotion, so are ill suited for self-publishing and their books never see the light of day.

When money is involved market forces become a factor and has a direct impact on the writing. If there is no demand for one's writing, there is no money to be made; and therefore no professional writer emerges.

Some writers, good and bad alike, write solely for money and are more than happy to write whatever they, or their publishers, have determined the market demands; Black characters in a gritty urban environment, a little violence, some sex, reenforcing those negative stereotypes -- no problem. Too much focus on money perverts the art.

In our current environment their is even more pressure to write to a known formula.

I think there is a correct answer to the question. I'm just not sure I know it.

I do think journalists show be paid, just not by big corporations or wealthy individuals interested more in ratings and propaganda (all tied to revenue generation) than discovering and sharing the truth.

Writegirl it was actually Cynique who was kind enough to post the email from Donna and Virginia.
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#10 Anonymous

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:29 PM

Oops, you are right Troy. She sure did post that one. I corrected my post.

#11 Anonymous

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:06 PM

TROY, I ALSO HATE TO KNOCK OTHERS HUSTLE, BECAUSE I DON'T NEED ONE TRYING TO DO THE SAME TO ME, BUT I WAS ALWAYS TOLD WHEN YOU BUY CHEAP YOU GET CHEAP: HENCE 99-CENT STORES!


I agree with you on both sentiments. I try not to knock others' hustle too. And I also believe that 99cents means cheap and that you shouldn't expect high end quality if the prices are dirt low. HOWEVER, you just might find a diamond in the rough. And that holds especially true for "cheap" books.

HICKSON, I've read in other posts where you say that the lowered prices placed on e-books hurts professionals like you. I can somewhat see how that could be the case, but then again, it might not be the case.

Right now I'm looking at this topic from a reader's perspective. I've downloaded enough of the zero-$0.99 books to where I already KNOW when I go that route not to expect miracles. But honestly, I think that most people who dare to muddle through 99cent land know that there's a good chance they'll end up hitting the refund button. The word is already out about the multitude of cheap e-books that aren't worth one's time. You can find several blogs out today where people are bitching and moaning about how finding a good book (especially by indie's) is like finding a needle in a haystack. Matter of fact, one of MY first posts here was centered around that problem. And then the books coming out by major publishing houses aren't all that great either.

My overall experience with buying books online tells me that the pricing doesn't mean a whole lot. (Troy didn't you just say that?) I've purchased e-books for $9.99 and have felt totally ripped off because the book was poorly written and I waited too late to return it for a refund. And I've downloaded free-$0.99 books that were awful too. So, basically what I've done is gotten real good about starting the book immediately after I buy it, so that if I do need to return it for a refund, there's no problem, except for the fact that I can't get back the time I wasted trying to read it. Could have been writing.

But anyway, back to the point I was trying to make. People who like to read learn how to find out where the good books are. And then when they find those authors that they truly love, they likely will start spending some money to support them. I know that I never had a problem paying top dollar for books from authors that I truly trusted would deliver. So I don't think you should worry too much about $0.99 books. If your books are good enough to draw a fan base, AND you're great at marketing (which you seem to be) AND you get some luck AND I'm sure there's a list somewhere that I got from Troy but I can't find it right now, then naturally you're going to have the upper hand against the 99cent folks - and any other folks for that matter.

Readers like good books. Period. People who need toilet paper may go to the dollar store to get a roll because they have no choice. But readers have far more choices than to have to be stuck reading crappy books (be it at $0.99 or $9.99). Like Troy mentioned, the library is a great option. These days, I personally would rather go to the library than to buy a book, unless it's a book I want to collect, or unless it's a book I prefer to have on my Kindle for whatever reason. So am I now part of the problem that's ruining the publishing industry? And I'm also selling a book for $0.99. And I also encourage people to loan my books to their friends. So, I'm really looking like the bad guy here if your assessment of the situation is correct. I just don't know if it is correct.

Any thoughts?

P.S. I think the problem w/the sluggish publishing industry may have more to do with the readers than with the prices of the books. Maybe people just aren't heavy duty readers like many from past generations. And maybe those of us who used to read regularly have simply gotten to stages in our lives where there's no time - and nothing we really want to read. I think Troy and Cynique touched on this in other threads. Maybe the generations coming after us haven't gotten hooked on books. And so, who's left to buy this stuff? Now we've got a huge supply and little demand. So prices start dropping...etc etc...but it all goes back to the readers. If people don't want to read, well then...

Then again, people could be waiting for the next great creative trend to kick off another era of lots of reading. I don't know...it could be anything. I'm just going to keep on writing. Maybe somebody will find my stuff after I'm dead and gone, but dag-namit they'll know I was here! lol

#12 Cynique

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 06:36 PM

Price is not necessarily an indication of a book's quality. A lot of self-published authors are trying to make their money back, so they charge too much for a book that doesn't measure up. And, there's always the danger of pricing one's self out of the market when you try to appeal to people who shun "cheap" things. Everybody likes a bargain.

Hickson keeps comparing books to merchandize, where the quality is obvious because you can inspect and assess what you're buying. But, as the saying goes, "you can't judge a book by its cover".

I always figure the appeal of a 99 cent e-book is that if you don't like it, you can always say "well, I'm only out of a dollar".

One thing I've noticed about self-published books is that the longer the bio is, the less anxious I am to read the book. People that turn what should be short and sweet into a long resume always strike me as being more impressed with themselves than their book merits. Case in point: you, "Writergirl", are not guilty of this and you're a good writer. You never know, you might be a black Emily Dickenson. Nobody appreciated her genius until after she died and all of her poems were found and later published :unsure:

#13 HICKSON

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:51 AM

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®, WRITERGIRL870! FROM A PUBLISHER'S PERSPECTIVE, IT'S NEVER GOOD DRIVING PRICES DOWN LOW, IF ONE WANTS TO BE POSITIONED AT TOP IN THE MARKET, AS WELL AS DEMAND TOP DOLLAR. IF I OFFER A BOOK DRASTICALLY LOW AS A PUBLISHER, ALL IN THE INDUSTRY (DISTRIBUTORS, BOOK STORES, STREET VENDORS, ETC.) WILL EXPECT ME TO DO THE SAME FOR EVERY BOOK AFTER THE FACT! THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE SOME PUBLISHERS OFFERING LOW PRICES FOR BRAND-NEW RELEASES: THEY'RE FORCED TO! ALSO, IT HURTS THE BRAND & AUTHOR I'VE PUBLISHED! SURE THE BOOK WILL GET MUCH EXPOSURE, BUT AT THE VERY END, I WOULD HAVE NOW DECREASED THE VALUE IN MY PUBLISHING HOUSE & AUTHOR: BEING DIMINISHED ON THE FOOD CHAIN! UNDERSTAND?

THE BOOK INDUSTRY IS A VERY SMALL COMMUNITY, WHICH IS WHY I'M BAFFLED EACH TIME WHEN PUBLISHERS & WRITERS OFFER VARIOUS PRICES TO STORES, VENDORS & DISTRIBUTORS, WHO ALL CONSULT WITH EACH OTHER: ANOTHER REASON WHY I KEEP PRICES CONSISTENT! THEY ALL CONSULT WITH EACH OTHER, & WILL EVEN GO AS FAR AS TO LET YOU KNOW, WHO YOU'VE GIVEN DISCOUNTS TO: JUST TO OBTAIN ONE, ALSO! THEY AREN'T IN THE GAME ALWAYS TO HELP US WIN.... UNDERSTAND?

THE BOTTOM LINE IS THE BOTTOM LINE: YET I NEED MINE UP TOP: AT THE TOP! PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®!

#14 Anonymous

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 09:33 AM

Thanks Cynique! B)

HICKSON, I'm learning & yes, this does make sense. I understand. And this does give me some things to think about regarding how I proceed in this industry. Thanks for your response. (wow...I almost forget to complain about the all-caps. You know I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention that it hurts my EYES. lol. jk...you've made the point before already that you aint changing! :ph34r: )

Much success to you! :)

#15 Troy

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:41 PM

At the risk of beating a dead horse; Hickson your books are not published with all caps. I presume you don't think that is a good idea for a book. Why would you think it is a good idea here, particularly when the all the feedback is negative -- at best indifferent?

Everyone don't get me wrong I don't think eBooks are inherently bad. In fact, I think eBooks are a great alternative to have. The problem is the currently business models simply do support a world with eBooks very well.

Hickson I think the business model where an eBook is a "rental" is perhaps the best way to think about it. I'd prefer to call it "On Demand". Ultimately, I believe, all the world's content whether it is music, movies, encyclopedias, novels, whatever, will not be owned but available on demand.

No one buys encyclopedia's any more. They are costly, take up room, and are out of date the second you buy them. Do one really need to have that expensive Blue Ray Disk sitting in a cabinet gathering dust, when you can call the movie up in a split second over a Netflix type service.

Music is leading the way. I can find more music, more easily, for free, on Youtube than I can on iTunes. I see book following a similar trajectory as music.

People expect information to be accessible, when and wherever they want it -- for free. Technology is driving the world in this direction. Content creators and publishers are fighting back, but technology is winning...

This of course leads to one big problem; How do content creators get paid?

With so much information being made freely available how do the musicians novelist and encyclopedia contributors get compensated? Do we want a world where are encyclopedia are cobbled together by a hodgepodge of volunteers like Wikipedia? Can a musician survive in a world where their music is freely available for anyone to download, on-line the second it is made available. Can a novelist earn a living wage in a highly competitive environment where a $0.99 ebook is considered the norm?

Until these issues are sorted the book world will be in trouble and as I've written before I simply do not see anything on the horizon the address these issues.

One way to think about this issue is to question the very premise of whether writers should be paid to write.
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#16 FinanceFree

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:55 PM

Troy, thanks for bringing up this topic. As a writer, I want to be paid for my work, but I don't expect my book sales to make me a millionaire. Television, film and other media writers get paid for their work, so why shouldn't everyone else?

I agree with your comparison between the music industry and the literary industry. They both seem to mirror each other, but we will figure out a way to adapt to these changes.

Joseph Lorick
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#17 Troy

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 10:29 AM

Hi Joseph, because some writers are paid does not necessarily mean all (or any) writers should be paid.

Consider this; every Blogger on the Huntington Post and other popular websites, that I asked, are not being paid. I would be willing to bet after expenses are accounted for most self publishers authors haven't made any money.

There is a stat floating around saying that 70% of traditionally published books are not profitable. Many smaller publishers pay authors no advance at all, offering instead 50% of revenues (after expenses), with no guarantee of ever earning a cent.

Sure this is anecdotal and not supported by data. But there is enough evidence to make similar argument:

There are writers for popular websites and authors of published book who are not paid, why should anyone else be paid.

But of course the statement above is flawed for the same reason.
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#18 Mel Hopkins

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:30 PM

I was discussing this topic with my daughter and she reminded me that as soon as I posted a comment here I was writing for free. Sadly she is right and this is exactly why we writers find ourselves are in a quandary. Our hubris is our downfall. We believe someone wants to read/hear what we have to express and when we do communicate our thoughts it diminishes the value of our rhetoric. Imagine being thought of as such a great thinker that people are willing to line up to purchase your thoughts.

This is why I spend so much time reading writers of antiquity... They don't tweet, Facebook , blog, or visit forums. I can only find their work in a book so I'm willing to pay for it.

#19 Troy

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 08:34 PM

Mel your daughter is obviously a chip off the ole block. The statement is indeed profound.

With so much written material being published and delivered to the reader, without costing the reader a cent. It is amazing readers are willing to pay $0.99 to read anything.

Newspapers still struggle get enough of us to read content behind their pay walls so that they can fund journalists to do some actual reporting.

In their struggle to make money, newspapers subject us to a distracting number of advertisements and span articles, unnecessarily, across multiple pages assaulting us with even more banner ads. Meanwhile readers post the fee based articles on their blogs undermining the fees and advertising revenue publishers might otherwise collect.

The result is fewer newspapers, making due with fewer journalists who are paid less, and spending more time simply talking about the news pulled off the AP wire.

Look at what has happened to all the big black websites; look at the material they publish. It is like the Black internet has become "BETized".

One can argue you get what you pay for, huh?
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#20 HICKSON

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 09:18 PM

http://bit.ly/UYDZBW <---PASSWORD: BLAZING

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®, TROY! TIME IS MONEY & MONEY IS TIME! WHY WASTE TIME BEATING A DEAD HORSE WHEN YOU ALREADY KNOW IT'S DEAD? SMH... :0) MOVING ALONG TO IMPORTANT MATTERS... MY BOOKS ARE FULL PRICE FOR A REAL REASON, & IF OTHER PUBLISHERS & AUTHORS KEEP OFFERING DRASTICALLY-REDUCED PRICED BOOKS, IN ORDER TO STAY IN THE GAME & UNFORTUNATELY UNDERCUT OTHERS, A NEW "STANDARD" THEN IS ESTABLISHED, WHICH WILL REALLY DRIVE THE BOOK INDUSTRY DOWN THE DRAIN.

BASICALLY, EBOOKS CAN BE CONSIDERED THE MONSTER THAT KEEPS GROWING, YET NOW CAN'T BE FULLY CONTROLLED, & PERHAPS DESIGNED PURPOSELY THAT WAY (IN ORDER FOR BOOKS TO BECOME FREE INFORMATION). THE BUSINESS MODELS FOR THEM ARE HORRIBLE, & WILL PUT MANY AT RISK AT BEING THROWN UNDER THE BUS IF NOT HANDLED PROPERLY. YES, THEY HAVE THE SAME CONCEPT AS "ON DEMAND", SO WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR PEOPLE TO GRASP THIS? OR IS IT THAT MANY HAVE GOTTEN SO USED TO OBTAINING EBOOKS FOR FREE THAT IT HAS NOW BECOME ALSO, THE NEW "STANDARD"? PONDER...

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®!

#21 Troy

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:21 AM

Hickson; Time is time and money is money. Your equating time with money is fine, but know that it is that is an artificial construct, a matter or opinion really, not some immutable law of nature.

Hickson I suspect if you had the power you would have all publishers set a minimum price for an eBook and I right?

Today (11/20/12) Zane's publisher Simon & Schuster one of the Big 5 publishing houses released Zane latest in eBook format only for $2.99 Do you (anyone) think this is a good idea or a bad idea? Why?

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#22 Nah'Sun

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:04 PM

@ Hickson

I REALLY wanna read what you have to type, but the CAPS are killin me

Gawd-damn...LOL
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#23 HICKSON

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:38 PM

http://aalbc.com/tc/...1389-ghettoheat®-convicts-candy-goes-into-its-6th-large-print/ PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®, TROY! NOT JUST WITH E-BOOKS, PRINT AS WELL. MY PAPERBACKS ALL COST $15.00 EACH & WILL REMAIN THAT PRICE: SO WILL MY E-BOOKS. YOU HAVE TO ALSO FACTOR IN THE INVESTMENT COST OF PAPERBACKS: IT CAN COST A MINIMUM OF $10,000 TO $15,000 TO LAUNCH A BOOK (5000 COPIES), WHICH DOESN'T INCLUDE THE MARKETING, ADVERTISING & PROMOTION IT FULLY NEEDS FOR IT TO FLY, AS WELL AS THE QUALITY OF THE BOOK. THIS IS WHY I DON'T AGREE WITH PEOPLE ARGUING THAT E-BOOKS SHOULD BE PRICED LESS THAN PRINT: IT'S ABOUT QUALITY, NOT MEDIUM IT'S READ ON. "THE BIG SIX" CAN AFFORD TO DRIVE PRICES DOWN THAT LOW: THEY WILL GET THEIR RETURN BACK EVEN WITH SALES IN VOLUME; & STILL MAINTAIN TOP POSITIONING WITHIN THE MARKET. INDEPENDENTS NORMALLY CAN'T AFFORD TO DO THE SAME. WHY WOULD I ALSO OFFER FREE DOWNLOADS, RISK THAT IT WILL BE SPREAD ALL OVER THE INTERNET FOR FREE, KNOWING THAT I'M HERE TO MAKE PROFIT, MORE-OR-LESS BREAK EVEN WITH EXPENSES. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO OFFER FREE DOWNLOADS OR SELL FOR SO LOW, KNOWING ALL WHAT'S INVESTED.

#24 Troy

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:15 PM

So Hickson, I gather from your response that you think the strategy is a good one for a big publisher? But bad for a publisher your size?

See here is the thing: Before eBooks became so popular. Independent publisher were all hyped up on print on demand (POD). One of biggest mistakes I saw self-published authors make was pricing their POD books too high.

They all said the same thing, they had to price the book at this price because it cost them so much to get printed, and if they priced it any less they would not make any money.

Sure their reasoning makes sense, until they realize no one wants to pay that much for a book by an unknown author. It is not a pleasing thing to see dejected authors at an event unable to unload their $19.99 paperback books.

Now Hickson you may have successfully positioned your product as a high end, but the vast majority of self-published authors and small presses will have to content with competing against the prices set by the big houses.

Also the rationale that ebook prices have to subside the print books is a rational the big houses used and largely failed with in the consumers eyes. I suspect big houses will move toward eBooks only publications with prices like Zane's book above. This is the environment authors have to compete in today and many are cutting bait and calling it quits.

Have you read Donna Grant and Virgina DeBerrys recent letter about putting their career on hold?

Have you seen Zanes Free sample (eBook)?
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#25 Nah'Sun

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:18 AM

Sure their reasoning makes sense, until they realize no one wants to pay that much for a book by an unknown author. It is not a pleasing thing to see dejected authors at an event unable to unload their $19.99 paperback books.




$19.99 is TOO much money for a paperback...even for a well-known author
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#26 HICKSON

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:59 AM

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®, TROY! I NEVER USED PRINT ON DEMAND AND WON'T BE DOING SO FOR MY PAPERBACKS EVER IN THE NEAR FUTURE. I USED TO SALES FROM MY POETRY BOOK, "GHETTOHEAT®" & FLIPPED IT INTO "CONVICT'S CANDY" & ALL ELSE IS HISTORY, WHICH ALLOWED ME TO HAVE SEVEN TITLES TO DATE. I ALSO HUSTLE HARD & SACRIFICE A LOT IN LIFE TO GET TO THE POINT OF OPERATING WITH LIQUID CASH, YET IF ONE IS ABLE TO PURCHASE PRINT RUNS ON CREDIT, I WOULD SUGGEST SO, OPPOSE TO USING PRINT ON DEMAND: IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE AND FORCES AUTHORS/PUBLISHERS TO PRICE BOOKS TOO HIGH. I FEEL $19.99 IS DEFINITELY TOO HIGH FOR A PAPERBACK NOVEL. I DON'T JUMP INTO THINGS QUICKLY, I TAKE MY TIME FOR A REAL REASON. MANY INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS ALSO HAVE MANY TITLES IN THEIR CATALOG, YET THEY'RE DOING SMALL PRINT RUNS. I'VE NEVER DONE A SMALL PRINT RUN IN MY LIFE, AND I'VE MOVED THOUSANDS OF UNITS SOLELY: QUALITY VERSUS QUANTITY. I'M IN BUSINESS FOR THE LONG HAUL, NOT TO BURN OUT A BOOK AND AN AUTHOR BEFORE BEING "ON TO THE NEXT". YET, EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT GOALS: ONE OF MINE IS HAVING LONGEVITY. THIS IS WHY "CONVICT'S CANDY", THE FIRST NOVEL I PRINTED, 2/4/06, IS ON ITS SIXTH LARGE PRINT & HIGHLY IN DEMAND: I DIDN'T BURN IT OUT, NOR CHEAPEN IT OR MY BRAND BY LOWERING PRICES. IT'S THE SAME PRICE AS IT WAS WHEN IT WAS RELEASED: $15.00--AS WELL AS THE OTHER BOOKS I'VE PUBLISHED.

THE BIG PUBLISHERS HAVE LARGER VOLUME SALES, THEY CAN AFFORD TO DISCOUNT PRICES DRASTICALLY TO ENCOURAGE LARGE SALES, REASON WHY HARD COVERS ARE MARKED 50% OFF DURING RELEASE WEEK AT CHAIN STORES. IS IT A SMART IDEA? I DON'T ALWAYS AGREE? CAN THEY AFFORD TO DO SO? OF COURSE. THEY ALL DO LARGER PRINT RUNS: THE LARGER THE PRINT RUN, THEY LESS THE PRODUCTION COST. IT'S ALL ABOUT BUDGETS. THE AMOUNT OF RUNS THEY DO IT PROBABLY COST 29 CENTS PER BOOK FOR PAPERBACKS, EVEN LESS IF THEY HAVE GREAT DEALS WITH PRINTERS.

TROY, HERE'S A GREAT ARTICLE I CAME ACROSS TWO WEEKS AGO: CHECK IT OUT! http://www.guardian....tm_medium=email

#27 Troy

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:29 PM

I just read the article it was interesting but largely misses the point of what is actually harming publishing. Actually some of the comments to the article were more enlightening.

Take point #1 for example:

1. Publish for readers, not authors. The 21st-century publishing environment has tipped the balance still further towards the importance of the reader. The garrote that Amazon has applied, using its market share to obtain ever higher discounts from publishers that, in turn, allow price cuts that secure still more customers, is possible because of the behemoth's direct relationship to readers. To break this stranglehold, publishers must start selling direct. The longer-term advantages of using their own customer databases to sell at full price, rerouting the additional revenue into marketing, will outweigh any initial discomfort about eschewing the services of the world's largest booksellers.


This assumes that all publishers will work in concert with each other when selling directly to the consumer to keep prices at an artificially high level. They will not happens because they are in competition with each other -- besides that is called collusion and there are laws against this.

Besides publishers already sell directly, but customers prefer to purchase from Amazon because of the lower prices. Consumers, if given a choice will usually opt the lowest price for a given product. Sounds obvious but this is apparently reasoning lost on the big publishers.

This also ignores the role of the bookseller. Booksellers know their audience and can steer their customers to or away from book in a way that an obviously biased publisher will not.
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#28 HICKSON

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:33 PM

GHETTOHEAT --->http:// bit.ly/UYDZBW PASSWORD: BLAZING

PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®, TROY! EVERYONE WON'T LEAD YOU TO THE "YELLOW BRICK ROAD" OR TELL YOU THAT THE "WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST" WILL MEET YOU BEFORE YOU GET THERE! :0) THE PUBLISHER GAVE GOOD POINTS WHICH I CO-SIGN ON: HENCE KEEPING PRICES HIGH! HE UNDERSTANDS HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS AS MUCH AS I DO.

NO. ALL PUBLISHERS WON'T WORK IN ACCORD WITH EACH OTHER, HENCE ME & A VERY SMALL FEW INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS WORKING WITHIN REAL INDUSTRY TERMS. FOR EXAMPLE, GHETTOHEAT® BOOKS ARE $7.00 WHOLESALE PER BOOK. SOME PUBLISHERS NOW SELL FOR $1.00 & EVEN .50 CENTS PER BOOK. DO THE MATH.... SOME DO SO TO SATURATE THE STREETS/MARKET WITH THEIR PRODUCT, THAT I UNDERSTAND, YET AT THE SAME TIME, THEY CHEAPEN THEIR PRODUCT & BRAND BY DOING SO. YET, SOME AREN'T IN THE GAME FOR LONGEVITY: THEY'RE TRYING TO GET WHAT THEY CAN AT THIS VERY MOMENT--NOT KNOWING THE NEXT TIME THAT THEY MAY. AGAIN, I'M HERE FOR THE LONG HAUL. THERE'S A METHOD TO MY MADNESS ALWAYS.

YES, MANY LIKE TO PURCHASE ON AMAZON FOR LOWER PRICES--I UNDERSTAND. YET, EVERYTHING WON'T ALWAYS BE OFFERED TO AMAZON: HENCE GHETTOHEAT® E-BOOKS! THEY CAN HAVE ALL THE PRINT BOOKS THEY WANT FROM ME & EVEN MARK IT DOWN DRASTICALLY--IT WON'T MATTER: I WILL ALWAYS GET MY DESIRED PRICE AT TOP DOLLAR CONTRACTUALLY, IT'S MORE THAN UNDERSTOOD BY THEM! YET, MY E-BOOKS WILL BE SOLD EXCLUSIVELY ON MY WEBSITE: FULL PRICED! WHAT I'VE LEARNED EARLY ON IS THAT, IF A PERSON REALLY WANT SOMETHING, HE OR SHE WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO ACQUIRE IT, EVEN IF IT MEANS SAVING A FEW PENNIES TO OBTAIN IT. GHETTOHEAT® BOOKS REMAIN AT $15.00, WORLDWIDE!

FREE ENTERPRISE....

#29 Troy

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:30 PM

Hickson Amazon is a beast and will be difficult to contend with. I'm both and affiliate and a competitor. I view Google and social media the same way.

The reason I have this schizophrenic relationship with all of these entities is that they produce value and useful services but at the same time are monopolistic and greedy and because of their greed they are also a negative force in the marketplace.

As you know Amazon is now publishing big name authors. The idea of preventing them from acquiring content will become increasing difficult over time. In fact Amazon is in a better position to control access to content over the long haul.

Even authors you and I know are now saying please "check me out on AMAZON" and providing a link -- skipping there own websites the website of their publisher, and of course AALBC.com (AALBC.com still has more content on many authors than anyone else).

Until the day comes that someone competes with Amazon on price, Amazon will remain dominant. The first thing I learned when I went into business for myself over 20 years ago is that people want the cheapest one. People are not, for example, going to buy book from AALBC.com because we are Black owned and support Black writers.

Now I can sell a product that Amazon does not have and if it is sufficiently desirable people will buy it -- so Hickson on I'm not disputing your strategy. I'm just saying it is very difficult -- especially for new entrants who don't have a following or serious paper to create one.

I used to sell Dr. John Henrik Clarke's "A Great and Mighty Walk," (an excellent historical film narrated by actor Wesley Snipes) on AALBC.com for about $45 -- for a DVD! At the time no one could find it. My wholesale cost was something like $32 -- I could not buy enough to fulfill demand. Today, just a few years later, the entire film is on YouTube, for free,..."FREE ENTERPRISE".

Hickson "FREE ENTERPRISE" is not free. But that is a topic of another conversation...
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#30 HICKSON

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 07:41 PM

I AGREE: AMAZON IS A BEAST, YET THE BEAST NEEDS TO BE TAMED! I'M NOT GIVING THEM MY ELECTRONIC FILES. IT WILL DRIVE SALES BACK TO WHERE THEY SHOULD BE: THE HOUSE OF GHETTOHEAT®! AS I SAID MONTHS AGO, BACK TO BASICS. EVERYONE'S SITUATION IS DIFFERENT & EVERYONE MUST DO WANT THEY NEED TO DO, ALL I'M SAYING IS I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO DO TO WIN: & I KNOW WHAT I'M GOING TO DO TO WIN. I WILL CONTINUE TAKING FULL CONTROL OF MY BUSINESS, & WILL UPDATE EVERYONE IN THE PROCESS. YET, KNOW I WON'T BE EASING DOWN THE "YELLOW BRICK WALL" OR LOOKING "THE WIZARD OF OZ!" :0) PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®!

#31 Nah'Sun

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:45 AM

Even authors you and I know are now saying please "check me out on AMAZON" and providing a link -- skipping there own websites the website of their publisher...



Not this author...LOL

You have to either get my books through me or don't get them at all

I make it a point to direct readers to my website...it's sad because some of them aren't comfortable with buying books directly from me...they'll rather get them through Amazon

:rolleyes:
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#32 Troy

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:22 AM

Nah'Sun I honest believe that you and Hickson have a good strategy by making you content available exclusively on your websites. You are slightly ahead of the curve as it will take time for consumers to feel completely comfortable purchasing from a non-brand name site.

I was selling books online long before people (especially Black folks) felt comfortable transacting online -- or even had computers connected to the internet. But I've also watched sales grow as our community because more connected and more comfortable buying on-line

What I suggest you Brothers do, to increase your reach, is to setup affiliate programs so that others (including the likes of AALBC.com), can sell your products in exchange for a commission.

I've been working to strategies to make this happen with others with varying degrees of success. Once I get my thoughts together I'll begin to outline them with specifics actions.

I believe cooperative strategies is only way we will be able to keep the Amazon's out of our pockets and survive over the long haul

Nah'Sun (all authors here) take a page out of Hickson's play book an use the signature capability to insure a link to your website is included with each of your posts here.
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#33 Nah'Sun

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:43 AM

@ Troy

Great idea (about the sig)...thanks for the heads up

A lot of our people got the massa's ice is colder mentality...I'll have more book sales if I'd put my books on Amazon...I refuse to waver at this point

I don't have a problem with selling my books through this website...I'm all for networking
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#34 HICKSON

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 08:25 PM

I'M TOTALLY MOVED BY THE DEBERRY & GRANT ARTICLE! I FULLY RELATE TO EVERYTHING THEY DISCUSSED, RESPECT THEIR DECISION: & APPLAUD THEM!

FINALLY, SOMEONE HAS TAKEN A STAND....

#35 Troy

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 12:18 PM

Here is some commentary from Facebook:

Connie Bradley

I would resurrect the idea that the public is as much at fault as publishers who supply them with their demands. The comic section and sports pages were as popular if not moreso than the regular features in newspapers.(remember them?) The masses do not require mental or intellectual stimulation, When it comes to reading, they want to stay in their comfort zone. Street lit didn't decrease book readership; it increased it to the point where discriminating readers were classified as unprofitable. The average American reads at the level of an 8th grader. There's a reason the masses are called the common people. This is reflected when it comes to the black book industry. What is also reflected in the industry-at-large is that the publishing business has evolved into a game that requires a certain type of agile participation to become a winner. That's life.


Troy Johnson

Connie I've thought a great deal about your last point over the years, and I'm sure or at least someone has written about it. If anyone knows a good book on the subject let me know.

For the sake of argument: What you are doing is "blaming the victim" in a sense. You are blaming those who have been part of a racist culture that has deliberately stunted our educational opportunities, increased our incarnation rates, and actively restricted our opportunities for hundreds of years. Now should anyone be surprised that the result is increasingly lower readership or demand for the types of novels written by a Virginia DeBerry or Donna Grant ?

Add to this the fact that Black writers are no longer developed and nurtured as part of the publishing process. Promising writers really can't get deals. Today writers better come with a ready made audience (a platform) or they are not going to get a deal with a decent advance. Have you ever heard of a case where a big 5 Publishing house signed an unknown, but talented urban/street fiction writer and created a commercially successful author?

All they do is take a successful self-published urban/street author republish old previously self-published work with a new cover, grind out some uninspired new titles until the author is burned out not expecting to have to work as hard as they did when they were publishing on their own.

When was that last time big publishing introduced an author like Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan, or Walter Mosley to the public?

The reader can only read what is published. I submit it is the publishing houses that have contributed to their own demise. They were late to embrace technology and have failed to create new, and inspired reading material.


Virginia DeBerry Donna Grant

Troy Thanks again for sharing our letter. I couldn't agree more that most publishers had a "head in the sand" attitude about technology and how it might affect the industry. They ignored the sea change that took place in music and film, thinking that somehow the ivory tower, gentlemen's world of publishing would remain as it was. That was a huge miscalculation on their part and they are now struggling mightily to chart a new course. And as often happens when caught off guard, you grab onto whatever you can to stay afloat. In the case of "Black lit" the proliferation of ready-made self-published books (not saying that all self pubbed titles are bad but so many are) that people, our people, were gobbling up, no matter how poorly written, un-edited they were, provided an irresistible opportunity to make $$$ while spending very little, compared to the traditional publishing model which includes many "related costs." The other thing happened was more subtle. The moment they started to cull black writers of contemporary fiction out of the mainstream and created imprints "just for us," we were already being marginalized. They hired black editors and put them to work in these divisions effectively creating a publishing ghetto. Many writers were grateful. "We have our own place!" Bookstores joined the program and the next thing you know we were nicely corralled--where control is so much easier. Most of those editors are gone now. Many of the imprints have vanished and those that haven't now encompass a wider range of "culturally other" books. What happens with the idea of a place of our own, is that it also says to the rest of the reading world "This is not OUR place." Which of course translates into sales that aren't happening. Ford Motor Company, SONY Electronics and thousands of other businesses might market to a particular consumer via "multi-cultural" advertising, but they don't create a car or tv or computer that is strictly for Black folks and is only sold in particular places--because it's bad business. I want to explain how authors traditionally are paid because I don't think folks get that either... but this is too long a post as it is! Next time...


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#36 Cynique

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 12:59 PM

(quote) Well, Troy. I may cite reasons but I don't assign blame. The simple fact is that there are more ordinary average people than there are extraordinary intellectual ones. Reading at the level of an 8th grader does not negate the value of a person who has common sense and skills in other areas. "It takes all kinds" ... and "there's no accounting for taste." Apparently most people, black or white, prefer escapist, visual entertainment. That's why TV and movies and dumbed-down books are so popular. You cannot dictate to others what they should like. I do believe, however, that true talent eventually garners recognition and that discerning readers do emerge from the herd. Everybody agrees that publishing is a business. Like any other enterprise, it capitalizes on trends and fads and bottom lines. In a perfect world, publishing companies would have more responsible criteria. but that's not the name of the game. I'm not here to defend them - or unpublished authors who feel neglected. But writing is a thankless profession and it's always been that way because it's so dependent on tapping into an audience. It also involves a great element of luck. I think because anybody can write a book, this overcrowded field is full of disgruntled people and those who expect publishers to be sympathetic nurturers and socially-conscious altruists as opposed to cold-hearted, hard nosed people interested in making money. Publishing is apparently no different from any other institution in a captitalistic system. BTW, Stephen Carter the black author who writes best-selling tomes about academia, ("The Emperor of Ocean Park") has been quite successful in his efforts. Also, I didn't know the publishing houses were in a state of "demise".

#37 Nah'Sun

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:09 PM

Jay-Z said it best in two lines…

“I dumbed down for my audience, I doubled my dollars//
They criticize me for it, but they all yell ‘holla’”
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#38 Troy

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:22 PM

Cynique -- thanks for re-posting. I guess I'll reply there an repost on Facebook :-)

Stephen Carter's book "Emperor" came out over 10 years ago. I was really talking about new authors introduced in 2012, over even the last few years. The point I was trying to make is that major houses are not introducing, or nurturing a lot of new talent -- mainly capitalizing off writers with demonstrated success ala the Urban fiction model.

Nah'Sun, yep Jay essentially summed up the mentality that has been holding us (our culture) back for hundreds of years. Though his book Decoded was not exactly dumbed down.

People used to give Bob Johnson summed it up in one line, The "E" stands for Entertainment. He made billions -- even after his ex-wife's cut.

Until such a time comes where uplifting people is as profitable as feeding them garbage -- all we will get is garbage.
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#39 Cynique

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:33 AM

That was one reason Stephen Carter was mentioned, Troy. His books are well-written and intellectually stimulating. But I don't know how many black people I've heard complaining about his novels being too long and too convoluted and using too many big words. The same compaint is frequently lodged against Toni Morrison books. And even you complained about not sticking with the long, highly acclaimed epic "The Warmth of Other Suns." Very often, one has to be a hard core reader to tackle the "uplifting" books of literary black authors. This not to say that such books shouldn't be available for the esoteric readers. But - like they say, "be careful what you wish for..."

What DeBerry and Grant wrote was "chick lit". They were very good at what they did and garnered success because there is an audience for this "lite" pop genre. But it is, what it is: entertainment. The same goes for Tannarive Due. She is a talented writer who specialized in the paranormal: horror books are intriguing - and also entertaining. Nevertheless, these books arguably have no redeeming social value.

Also I question whether it's the job of publishers to nurture and pamper and "bring authors along". As stiff as the competition is, is it asking too much for editors to prefer writers who don't have to be groomed???? It's like you want affirmative action to apply to the publishing industry.

Incidentally, I'm reading "The Devil in Silver", the book you recommended, and so far, so good. It is published by a subsidiary of one of the "big houses" and written by a black man who is an excellent writer. It is engrossing and it's enlightening. My kind of book.

This is obviously a subject where many factors come into play.

#40 Nah'Sun

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 03:15 PM

@ Troy

Of course Decoded isn’t dumbed down…the purpose of the book is to break down Jay-Z’s more intricate work

People didn’t appreciate his debut album Reasonable Doubt, which is arguably his lyrical masterpiece, until he watered down his rhymes for commercial acceptance

I’m not mad at him for doing that either

Who wants to be appreciated for their art when they’re dead?

LOL

Americans have no excuse to not choose quality…quality is around us…sometimes we just choose the safe route that doesn’t challenge us because our minds are crystallized to escape

Escapism is one of the reasons why the Roman Empire had crumbled

It’s history repeating itself
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