Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zombifying the Book Industry

Is zombifying a verb?

I guess it is now.

I was busy refuting some of Ewan Morrison's points earlier this week, and I made a point of doing so without once mentioning JA Konrath, Amanda Hocking, John Locke, or any of the other self-pubbed ebook runaway success stories.

But I'm always interested in Konrath's points - I don't always agree with him but he's always interesting - and his response to Morrison's article is worth a look.

One point that Konrath makes is that Morrison is of the belief that writers have a right to make a living wage for their work. Konrath disagrees - he insists hard work and talent are necessary.

I'm with Konrath here. We don't have a 'right' to very many things in this world. We have a right to our basic human rights. We have a right, I feel, to make a living. We have a right to some choice in how we do that.

But we don't all have a right to make a living doing something we absolutely love. If we did, there would be about 500 million teenage popstars and the world's supply of lipgloss, tooth whitening kits and cropped tops would vanish overnight. A world where we all got paid for our passions would be a world that didn't work.

Hypocritically, of course, I want to make my living doing something I love. But I know I'll have to work for that.

And if enough people like what I do, I will get there. But people have to like me, ie I have to achieve a certain level of excellence.

This is the same as any non-artistic day job - I won't be a rich lawyer unless I'm good at what I do and people choose to give me money for it. I won't be a rich doctor, even, if I'm crap.

It's no harm to raise awareness that pirating books may damage an author's ability to write full-time, or reduce their hours at their day job, and thus may result in fewer books for everyone to enjoy. That's grand.

But the world doesn't owe me a living. And it doesn't matter whether I write books, paint houses or verb nouns. I have to get good.

So now to get on with getting good. No one mention Draft Three, it has become a diry word around here :p


  1. I had step 1, write something and step 3, get published. Thanks for reminding me what step 2 is - get good!

    Seriously, you're so right. Nobody owes us a living doing this thing that we love, it's up to us to do everything we can to make it happen.

  2. Glad you agree, Sarah - I know lots of people who studied hard for conventional careers and now can't have them because of the recession. Sadly there are some things we have every right to pursue but no right to get.

    Ah, getting good. What an absolute pain it is :)

  3. I agree. I would never argue against someone's right to have a dream or try to achieve it, but once you start, it's your own responsibility to make it happen. Hard work, yes. But when did the feint of heart ever succeed?

    And "Draft Three" is two words, not one :-p

  4. Well said. I have two passions for a career right now; social services and writing fiction. I get paid well for working in social services, but it was a lot of hard work to get to my current level of expertise and pay grade.

    I expect no less effort in my writing aspirations.

    You're only on draft 3? Silly girl, its on a dirty work after about draft 15-50 :)



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