Making a Living: A Writer's Manifesto

I think the publishing industry isn’t going to change, and for some time. They, like any industry, are often myopic in their visions.

6 months ago

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I think the publishing industry isn’t going to change, and for some time. They, like any industry, are often myopic in their visions. They closely guard IP and profits, even when the ship is sinking, and the band is playing “Autumn,” while the people the gatekeepers are trying to help out are stuck below decks, drowning. Authors have to do the changing, not the industry. The industry will change when artists stop pandering to gatekeepers and archaic industry standards and whatnot. Artists could do a number of things to secure their income, some of which are quite radical and, to me, innovative. I have outlined a few ideas below.

First, independent artists could use blockchain to keep track of IP. Although this won’t eliminate IP theft entirely, it will give independent artists a fighting chance. Another thing artists could do is band together. Artists, especially Indies, are already doing this, as they have come to the realization that they aren’t competitors in the truest sense of the term. We see this with mailing list swaps, interviews on fellow author’s newsletters, and collaborative efforts to boost sales with cross promotions, among other things. Indie artists also need to give up on crowd funding. It is DOA, especially for the small fish.

I would also argue that artists need to embrace passive income efforts. These can have better results. They can supplement income with freelancing, adjuncting, and, of course, full-time work, all the while working on building their passive income each week, month, and year.

Another problem that many artists have is production level. Sometimes you need to produce more, but I am not arguing for garbage. There’s plenty of that on the Web. Instead, I am arguing that artists should look for small journals, magazines, and other outlets that offer unique publishing opportunities and ways to build readership.

Artists also need to embrace technology. In other words, staying ahead of the game by mastering Twitter, Website design, microblogging, podcasting, vlogging, and so on. It’s diversity or death.

Lastly, I would offer that writers need to embrace the fact that they need to sell more than books. That is what makes an author, poet, or artists successful. They sell something that is a personalized product—although I hate the term product, but it’s all we have at the moment—for their own niche audience. To defeat piracy, I saw that authors, poets, and artists offer tailored (and unique) products through different platforms. Want a free book? Fine. Here’s an abridged version of my work. You can read it. You can steal it. You can share it. Want more? You’re going to have to pay for it. And, you will have to pay for it through the platforms I have authorized to sell my work. It doesn't eliminate piracy altogether, but it does give Indies and small fries the ability to compete with the likes of Koontz or Martin.

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G. Michael Rapp

Published 6 months ago


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