Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As 2013 draws to a close…

At this time of the year, far more people seem to be looking back rather than forward. Normally, I’m just the opposite. But this year, so much has happened that it’s sort of hard for me to let go.

On the personal side, and far overwhelming everything else, we welcomed our first grandchild into the world. Born November 18th, little Jackson Blechta has wormed his way into the heart of everyone who has met him. Yeah, yeah, I know. Your baby (in this case your son’s) is better looking and smarter than anyone else’s, but in this case, it really is true. He already has a lot of charm and fantastic temperament. I do look forward into watching him blossom as he travels the route set for him.

Artistically, I finished a novella and a novel and both will be out in the new year (April and November, respectively). That’s a terrific thing, for sure, but at this stage I’m always concerned about how good my writing will actually turn out to be. I always have doubts, regardless of what people tell me.

But I am also worried about my professional future.

As authors, our world continues to evolve quickly and often bewilderingly. We’re now solidly in the middle of the upheaval the recording industry has been undergoing for over fifteen years now. At the risk of beating a dead horse, our slice of the pie continues to shrink. In business, everyone’s bottom line should always be the focus of attention, from the top to the bottom. Of course those at the top have the most control, and in our brave new business world this generally means that those at the bottom take the brunt of cost-cutting and collapsing markets. But in the book world (as in music), authors are the people who are creating what is being sold. Without us, the whole circus would have to fold its tent and disappear into the night.

The problem is that authors are generally so desperate to be published (hence my joke from last Tuesday – and a bittersweet one it is), that we will take nearly anything in order to see our name on the cover of a book. I can’t help feeling that this willing acceptance of anything is hurting all of us. Were we to band together, to demand something fairer, publishers would be forced to acquiesce. It can’t happen, though. The only ray of sunshine is the blossoming of self-publishing. Perhaps it’s time for something along the lines of what the founders of United Artists envisioned when they formed their company. Is it fair for an author to get a $1000 advance against royalties in order to complete a book? If one were to scrimp, you might be able to survive for a month on this amount. Can you complete a 300-page novel in this time? Of course not, so advances have become simply a means to throw the poor author a bone, not a way to support oneself (and one’s family) while you actually create your work. If you wish to play the game, though, you have to put up with these paltry amounts. Perhaps, someday we can make this change. Please sign me up if you come up with a method to accomplish this!

Perhaps in 2014, it will happen. Regardless, I wish all you loyal readers (and posters) here at Type M the very best for the new year. If you’re looking to get your work published, I hope it happens. If you simply enjoy reading crime fiction, I hope you discover your favourite book of all times. For your loyalty in visiting our blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

May you live long and prosper!


Donis Casey said...

Should we found United Authors?

Rick Blechta said...

It could be done – but you'd have to get a ton of the big gun authors to sign on or it would be rather toothless.

Hannah Dennison said...

I remember feeling annoyed with my darling dad years ago when he said "don't give up the day job." How right he was!