I read a sad case today of a young writer who had had her story rewritten into illiteracy by a so-called publisher, who then abused her in email when she wrote to complain. She wsn’t getting paid for her story — instead she was actually buying copies of the anthology to show people that she had sold a story. And I thought, it is time to remind the world, and to enlighten young writers, about…Money flows towards the writer.
That’s all. All writers should remember it.
When a commercial publisher contracts a book, it will pay an advance against royalties to the writer. Money flows towards the writer.
Literary agents make their living by charging a commission of between 10 and 20% on the sales that they make on behalf of their clients, the writers. When advances and royalties are paid by a publisher the agent’s percentage is filtered off in the direction of the writer’s agent but the bulk of the money still flows towards the writer.
If a publisher ever asks for any sort of financial contribution from a writer, they’re trying to divert money away from the writer, in direct contravention of Yog’s Law.
If an agent ever asks for up-front fees, regardless of what they call them (reading fees, administration costs, processing fees, or retainers), then they are trying to divert money away from the writer, in direct contravention of Yog’s Law.
It’s a brilliantly simple rule. We should thank James D Macdonald for it in the best way there is. Buy his books
No, that doesn’t mean that the author should get paper and ink for free, or that he won’t pay for postage. It does mean that when someone comes along and says, “Sure, kid, you can be a Published Author! It’ll only cost you $300!” the writer will know that something’s wrong. A fee is a fee is a fee, whether they call it a reading fee, a marketing fee, a promotion fee, or a cheese-and-crackers fee.
Is this perfect? No. Scammers have come up with some elaborate ways to avoid activating it. But it’s still a good and useful tool, and will save a lot of grief. Any time an agent or publisher asks for money, the answer should be “No!”
2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
4 Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
5 Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7 Laugh at your own jokes.
8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
birdartpoetry asked: Mister Gaiman, you’re kickass. I was just wondering, what do you think is the best way to seduce a writer? I figured your answer would be pretty spectacular.
In my experience, writers tend to be really good at the inside of their own heads and imaginary people, and a lot less good at the stuff going on outside, which means that quite often if you flirt with us we will completely fail to notice, leaving everybody involved slightly uncomfortable and more than slightly unlaid.
So I would suggest that any attempted seduction of a writer would probably go a great deal easier for all parties if you sent them a cheerful note saying “YOU ARE INVITED TO A SEDUCTION: Please come to dinner on Friday Night. Wear the kind of clothes you would like to be seduced in.”
And alcohol may help, too. Or kissing. Many writers figure out that they’re being seduced or flirted with if someone is actually kissing them.
This also works if you substitute “Nerd” for “Writer.”
Speaking as both, I really know what I’m talking about.
When we started we HAD no style, no understanding of ourselves or what we were doing. We had feelings, vague ones, a sense of what we liked, maybe, but no unified point of view, not even a real way to express our partnership. We fought constantly and expected to break up every other week. But we did have a few things, things I think you might profit from knowing:
We loved what we did. More than anything. More than sex. Absolutely.
We always felt as if every show was the most important thing in the world, but knew if we bombed, we’d live.
We did not start as friends, but as people who respected and admired each other. Crucial, absolutely crucial for a partnership. As soon as we could afford it, we ceased sharing lodgings. Equally crucial.
We made a solemn vow not to take any job outside of show business. We
borrowed money from parents and friends, rather than take that lethal job waiting tables. This forced us to take any job offered to us. Anything. We once did a show in the middle of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia as part of a fashion show on a hot July night while all around our stage, a race-riot was fully underway. That’s how serious we were about our vow.
Get on stage. A lot. Try stuff. Make your best stab and keep stabbing. If it’s there in your heart, it will eventually find its way out. Or you will give up and have a prudent, contented life doing something else.
Teller, of Penn and Teller, in a letter at http://shwood.squarespace.com/news/2009/9/21/14-years-ago-the-day-teller-gave-me-the-secret-to-my-career.html
Strangely, advice as good for writers or musicians as it is for magicians.
We, the undersigned, are musicians, actors, directors, authors, and producers. We make our livelihoods with the artistic works we create. We are also Internet users.
We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.
We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services - artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result.
We are deeply concerned that PIPA and SOPA’s impact on piracy will be negligible compared to the potential damage that would be caused to legitimate Internet services. Online piracy is harmful and it needs to be addressed, but not at the expense of censoring creativity, stifling innovation or preventing the creation of new, lawful digital distribution methods.
We urge Congress to exercise extreme caution and ensure that the free and open Internet, upon which so many artists rely to promote and distribute their work, does not become collateral damage in the process.
- Aziz Ansari
- Kevin Devine, Musician
- Barry Eisler, Author
- Neil Gaiman, Author
- Lloyd Kaufman, Filmmaker
- Zoë Keating, Musician
- The Lonely Island
- Daniel Lorca, Musician (Nada Surf)
- Erin McKeown, Musician
- Samantha Murphy, Musician
- OK Go
- Amanda Palmer, Musician (The Dresden Dolls)
- Quiet Company
- Trent Reznor
- Adam Savage, Special Effects Artist (MythBusters)
- Hank Shocklee, Music Producer (Public Enemy, The Bomb Squad)
- Johnny Stimson, Musician
I’m just going to go ahead and add my name to this: