Monday, April 8, 2013

The American Author, RIP

In more good news on the don't-try-to-make-a-living-from-writing front, author Scott Thurow laments the "slow death" by a thousand cuts of the American author in the New York Times. The usual suspects -- the Internet and the erosion of intellectual property protections in general, further consolidation in the book business, as well as Amazon's attempt to corner the market on everything -- are in play. Also, U.S. authors have fewer rights than European ones, just dumping more crap on the sludge pile that is the financial black hole in which all but a few bestselling authors find themselves.

(If there's an award for mixed metaphors, I'm entering the above sentence in the contest.)

I confess I pretty much agree with Thurow; the picture looks pretty bleak out there to me. Perhaps you feel differently.

Anyone see any glimmers of hope on the horizon?


Steve Weddle said...

What I found most odd about that piece is that he said The Big Six was forcing authors to take such a small piece of ebook money. He complained and complained about the royalty.

Golly, if only every writer weren't forced to sign over all their work to The Big Six. If only there were indie pubs, self-pubs, etc etc etc

Steven J. Wangsness said...

Hey, Steve! Thanks for the comment. That was fast -- I just posted this a minute ago!

Kristen Lippert-Martin said...

You just gave me a heart attack. Saw this post over on FB: Steven Wangsness, RIP. I was like, WHAT?!

OK, glad to know you're alive and well even if American publishing is not.

Lola Sharp said...

I was thoroughly depressed by the article this morning, except the library negativity part was a little harsh and overkill to me.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today and for giving Christina support. :)

TStockmann said...

I couldn't make it past the self-serving lament that American copyright isn't more restrictive. I, for one, am behind Google in the fair-use lawsuit and think that life-of-the-author is perfectly sufficient for duration. Still thinking of the problems caused by Joyce's useless nephew-heir over his works. Also don't think that copyright is a economic significant issue to midlist print writers, even with electronic reproduction.

Roland said...

Pretty much an all-around downer, Steve. But it gave me a story idea. Thanks.

P.S. I'm glad you're not dead.

Ariel said...

Just a belated correction. The author is Scott Turow, not Thurow.
The death of every art form has been predicted and lamented for years.
When the printing press was invented I'm sure the Monks who illuminated manuscripts cried to Heaven. When Linotype came into use it was considered the death of the printing trade.
Scott Turow is the recipient of millions in advances and royalties. He should wonder more about the 3.5 million advance given to twenty something Lena Dunham for her memoirs. Or the 3 million given to that paragon of the written word, Snookie. You want to see where things are going wrong look to where the money is being spent. It's enabling the rise of the e book because publishers are giving celebs like Dunham huge amounts of money that could finance how many debut novels?


Misha Gericke said...

I don't see a ton of hope out there any more, but luckily for me, I don't write to make money. :-D

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