To the Gallows . . .

Almost at the end of my pirate novel, tentatively titled The Fantastic Adventures of a Pirate’s Boy. I’m hoping to finish it by Friday!

Endings are hard for a number of reasons: it has to be totally unexpected and yet totally right, the only possible outcome. Recently, I loved ROOM by Emma Donoghue – it had the perfect ending.

Once finished, I’ll have to give it to my agent to sell (if he thinks he can). That feels like putting up your favourite pet for sale in a cattle market. It’ll either be bought and well treated or immediately consigned to the abattoir.  While you wait for the weeks it takes you try to forget about it and work on something else, but you have that horrible nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach.

And then, if someone does want to publish it, there the whole publishing mess. I am sure that digital will take over much faster than we realize. Bookshops will become highly specialized and old worlde, like hat shops. Real books will be print to order or be beautifully produced and expensive. Everything else will be readily available to download. In some ways this will be much better for writers – at the moment we get a really shocking 7% on a paperback. Once it has been sold at a discount, of say, a fiver, we get around 40p a book, minus agents commission and tax. You have to sell an awful lot of books to make a living. With digital, writers get 25%. Much better, I know, but what do the publishers get 75% for?  PR? Editing?  Hmm.

I’m going to put my first two books on to Kindle (they’re out of print) and if anyone buys them, I get 70% That’s ten times what I get on a paperback. All of a sudden, you realize that it would be possible to sell a smaller amount of books and make a living.

All of which makes me really unsure of the future. Do you self-publish and employ a PR and an editor (which a lot of published writers are doing anyway)? Or stick with big publishers? Why did writers ever accept such terrible deals? And why should publishing, which is a huge million pound business rely on writers who can only write if they are independently wealthy or have rich husbands? Nobody tells designers that designing cereal packets is a vocation, therefore they should expect high risk, poor returns and no job security. So why have writers over the years accepted it? Baffling.

My only problem is that my audience – children 10-14 – don’t have ipads or kindles yet. It won’t be long, though, maybe even by the time its published.

Anyway, back to Gallows Point. I have to save a man from hanging . . .

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This entry was published on February 7, 2011 at 9:16 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “To the Gallows . . .

  1. Good blog, Beatrice, on a subject close to all writers’ hearts. Surely self publishing is a minefield though, littered with even greater numbers of broke scribblers unable to make more than a few hundred quid out of a book that took them a year+ to write..? My fear for the digital era is that it will dilute the industry even further, make books even less valuable. We routinely spend a fiver on a paperback — in real terms that’s a fraction of what a book would have cost in the 1970s or 80s. Sadly, writers seldom win, and only a few make seriously good money. But when it works, it really works, which is why we all keep dreaming…

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