We’ve reached the point in the cycle where the Rules for Authors return to the beginning.
I repost the Rules instead of pointing to the prior iteration because the Rules are in a constant state of flux, just like the entertainment industry itself.
So, here we go again!
Money Flows TO The Author
While most of the Rules for Authors are not in any particular order of importance, this is number one for a reason: It is THE most important Rule and actually summarizes many of the other Rules into one easy to understand concept.
So, what does it mean?
Simply stated, the author should always be paid for their work and should never pay in order to create their work. See Rules Two, Three, and Four in particular.
As stated in Rule Number Four, if an author pays a “publisher” for editing, cover art, or anything else, you don’t have a publisher at all…you have a printer.
Think about it…
If you need some business cards, you go to a printer. They will, if you desire, create the artwork, layout, and other technical details for you, and then they will print, cut, and package your cards and ship them to you. You pay the printer for these services, and the printer deserves to be paid for these services. The only place they make any money is by providing those services to you.
A publisher makes their money by selling books. Editing (from acquisitions, to line, to content, and every other stage) is simply getting that product ready for market. The cover art is just marketing. These things are a normal part of the costs of doing business—just like the electric bill—for the publisher.
In other words, these costs are NOT the direct responsibility of the author.
Yes, I know…
The higher the costs of the publisher, the less they can afford to pay the author in terms of royalties, but this is another problem most writers have in their thought processes…an editor (or artist) working for a publisher can process more books for less money than can an independent contractor.
They also do a better job.
If you hire an editor to work on your book, they have a vested interest in saying everything is perfect. Why? Because you are paying them. The more you like them and the more they stroke your ego, the more likely you are to bring them more work in the future.
The publisher’s editors get paid no matter if you like them or not. They keep their job by editing books into something that will sell for the publisher, so they don’t care about your feelings.
And never lose sight of the fact that this is a business. We are all—authors, publishers, editors, artists, etc.—here to make money.
Oh, don’t give me that crap that you write for the joy of writing or that you want to change the world.
You’re going to starve to death with that attitude. Get over it.
Finally, changes in the industry have created a flood of “self published” works. In these cases, the author and the publisher may be the same person. That doesn’t change anything…when you are writing, you wear your author’s hat. When you are publishing, you put on the publisher’s hat. There are a ton of reasons to keep the roles separate, mostly financial…but a few will protect your sanity.
Remember that writing is a lot like sex…
At first you do it for a few close friends.
Then you do it because it’s fun.
But if you’re any good at all, you end up doing it for money.