Friday, June 12, 2009

The proper business model

One of these days I am going to be inundated with rejection letters (and hopefully and acceptance or two). Most of my stories, with the exception of the flash piece I sent shroud has been out two months or longer. In fact of the 12 pieces I have out in submission land right now seven have been out for 100 days or longer. Not looking good. I wonder if many of those markets are still in existence. All I know is that their website's are still up.

Also, has anyone noticed the number of new markets on Duotrope.com today. Most of you might go, 'no, I didn't notice any new markets on Duotrope today.' That is because there are none. NONE! I think that many new markets aren't getting out of the development phase and those that are going are on life-support right now, thanks to a cash infusion from their editors. Ask any editor and they will tell you that you can't make money on subscribers. It is all about the advertisers and right now no one is putting their money into magazine advertising. Well, I exaggerate a little bit. People are putting their money into advertising, but not as much as they used to and they want to make sure they get their money's worth. After all would you spend $30 of your ad budget to reach 100 people ($.30/ person) or would you spend $200 to reach 1500 people ($.13/person). Exactly. Especially if you were looking at the same target audience.

I guess the reason for this post is that I am looking at this as something I like to do, but it is still a business. You almost have to, unless you aren't planning on subbing any of your work or just to the FTL markets (nothing wrong with them, they have to pay their bills too) I would like to aspire a little more than that and get paid for my words. I am not planning on retiring on my income from writing, mostly I like to entertain and being on stage and in front of a camera scares me. Even the lowliest screen actor gets compensated to supplement his main income of waiting tables.

I don't even have the table waiting option to keep me in spare change to support the magazines and publishers I want to support. It is a vicious cycle.

Am I alone in this line of thought, Are we to look at this as a business or are we supposed to be happy that anyone would want to read what we write in the first place and leave it at that? I don't want to come across as greedy, I'm not. If I wanted to make money I would have gotten an MBA or a teaching certificate or a degree that people would actually want to hire me with. As it is, I hold a BFA with an emphasis in Creative Writing. I am pretty much screwed. I have an art degree and I can't hardly draw stick figures. At least if a restaurant opens close to me I have good table manners.

18 comments:

Barry Napier said...

Well said. And these are some of the reasons that I am seriously considering self-publishing a collection of short stories sometime in the next year or so. (Expect a blog post about this soon)

Jamie Eyberg said...

Barry-It really has become the wild west in the publishing industry where what worked in the past is not necessarily a model for the future. It would seem that everyone is guessing and hoping they are close to the mark. (by the way, I would be happy to one a collection of Barry Napier short stories.)

Catherine J Gardner said...

I'm not asking for a lot, but it is nice to be paid.

katey said...

I think it's only natural to want to get paid for what we do. In most human society, that's the only validation we can expect for our efforts, and it's nigh impossible to carry on in a given course without some kind of validation.

Now we can also get comments, good OR bad, which are worth more to us (that is, people who really just want to entertain). But publishing isn't really set up to supply a writer with those, even online, in many ways. So now and then, it's good to supplement with a little payment here and there. If some day you get enough so you can retire on it, hey, even better.

I don't think it's greedy or cynical to think of it, in that way, like a business-- albeit one you love. I think those are just words hyper-optimists use to describe pragmatists ;)

Natalie L. Sin said...

For me it's 50/50. I'm thrilled when people want to read my stories, but I rarely sub to no-pay markets any more.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Cate- I like free copies of print 'zines as well.

Katey- I think it was Emily Dickinson who had only one poem published her entire life. True, she died sad and alone and undiscovered for years but now she has her vindication.

Nat- I really have to like the market to sub to non paying markets anymore (either that or have run out of paying options on the story and still believe in it.)

Ann Eyberg said...

As for Emily Dickinson, is she published now because her copyright ran out? Think It's a Beautiful Life. Never saw the light of day til someone realized they didn't have to pay royalties....Now, can you make it 1 Christmas without watching? Sure hope you don't have to wait to die to be famous...

Alan W. Davidson said...

There is nothing wrong with wanting paid for supplying your form of entertainment. A person with your education and experience should be gunning for payment (I am new enough that I'm happy if my work is accepted anywhere at all...) Sadly this in not the 30's or 40's and few can live off the proceeds of their writing alone. Even the most successful writers living here still supliment their income by teaching creative writing, playing music, holding workshops, etc.)

Aaron Polson said...

Getting paid is great. But I'm the guy who went into public education knowing I would never be a rich man.

I'm trying to discipline myself and only send flash stories to non-paying markets. I don't feel so invested in flash, and the markets that pay well are hyper-competitive.

The pool of paying short-fiction markets (especially well-paying markets) has been shrinking since I started writing. It's a sad state, but reality.

Ann has a point. Emily Dickinson was nothing before someone found her stuff. Readers, in the end, matter more to me than a paycheck. Remember, those readers may one day turn into a paycheck.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I think I came across wrong in this post. I think what I wanted to say is that everyone is wanting to get paid and in the trickle down economy we are last in line. That and the models are changing. They could look different next year than they did last year. But yes, getting paid is nice. I guess I went into this knowing I wouldn't make a lot of money (not much at all) and am just happy to be read.

this is what happens when you have a rambling post.

K.C. Shaw said...

I think a lot of people start up a magazine (especially an online one) with a lot of enthusiasm, but without a realistic understanding of how expensive it is to run one. Once they realize it, they have to cut expenses, and the first to go seems to be payment for the work they started the magazine to showcase in the first place. And the less you pay, the lower the overall quality of your submissions. So it's a vicious cycle for editors too. If there's a solution, I sure don't have it. I wish I did, because I'd be rich. :)

BT said...

Payment = good.

But it takes time to get into the competitive market regularly. Most of start out with FTL markets and slowly move up. Even Flick started at Antipodean before her huge initial run of paid publications.

I think if we keep writing and trying to gain a better grasp on the craft, we improve and naturally begin to gain publication in better circles.

But writing will never be a cash cow - although some of the tax perks are nice.

As for a magazine, when I win lotto, I'll be starting one and you are all invited to be published in the first edition.

Jamie Eyberg said...

K.C. and BT- exactly!

Horror Girl said...

god money (hey that's the start of a nin song) would be good, but i agree with you jamie, if we really wanted the monies, we probably wouldn't have gotten the degrees we did or follow the paths we do. we do it because its wonderful.

not saying i'm turning down any monies that come my way.

Danielle Ferries said...

I don't think it would hurt to be paid either. And there are fewer markets, or am I just not searching hard enough. Quite a few mags have closed down recently and there don't seem to be any new ones starting up, well not that I can find them.

Benjamin Solah said...

I'm for getting paid. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Writing is like any other job. You do the work, you should get the compensation.

But it's a tough industry and sometimes you have to write for nothing in order to get the practice and reputation to move into those paying markets.

Carrie Harris said...

It's a real dilemma, isn't it? I have nothing really constructive to say that hasn't already been said. Um... you're invited to dinner at my house any time? After all, you've got good table manners.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Danielle- scary, isn't it.

Benjamin- I think at this point the best way to start a reputation is the anthology markets. I could be wrong.

Carrie- What's for dinner? Oh, and can I bring the family?