March 30, 2004

business sense

Have you read the rant by Jane Austen Doe in Salon, her lament of the midlist writer? It's not really what it purports to be; the large advance for her first book made her more than midlist and its dismal sales made a hash of her career. She's hardly the midlist author poster child. But that article has spawned a host of blog entries that make fascinating reading, and that are tutorials in the business of novel writing. My current favorite is this by SF writer Charles Stross. It's loaded with information about the realities of advances, sales, and royalties. The nuts and bolts.

I'd love to see a tutorial on how to grow a career -- how to turn a sale into a series of sales into a growing readership into longevity. Because I think this issue is at the heart of Jane Austen Doe's plaint: she didn't know how to do just that for herself. But I suspect the answer is different for every writer.

Posted by Tamar at March 30, 2004 10:53 PM

you know, the whole "how the grow a career" thing is a problem that plagues every area of the arts, and for the most part, just isn't taught, in my experience. fresh out of college three months ago with my BFA in hand, i realized how much knowledge i'm missing that's required for making a living as an artist. but the attitude (at least in art school) is "make the art, and they will come", which isn't even in the ballpark of what happens in the real world. growing a career, finding an audience that will support that career and still manage to make something true to yourself and pay the bills at the same time. it's a life long goal.

Posted by: B ethany at March 30, 2004 11:38 PM

I know, it's very true. I've seen my mom go through this. There's a mystique that creative types are bad at business but in fact we have to be entrepreneurs, savvier than most salaried employees. But nobody teaches those skills to artists.

Posted by: Tamar at March 31, 2004 09:58 PM