Mid-List Writers

Ths
piece by a pseudonymous writer in Salon has gotten the portion of the blogosphere that I read jumping. It’s interesting to see the range of reaction.
David Rothman and Caitlin Kiernan seem to generally agree with her, although mostly in agreeing that “publishing sho’ is screwed up.” They don’t have a lot to point out in the specifics of the article. The people who don’t agree seem to be digging down in much more depth. This includes Colleen Lindsay (who points out that maybe “Jane Austen Doe” isn’t writing books people want to read), Bookslut (who has helpful tips on how to help yourself if you are a midlest writer), John Scalzi (who is highly acerbic about the whininess of this article), Neil Gaiman (who points out that if this author had any sense, she’d have signed her real name to the article and moved a few copies from the controversy), and lastly Charlie Stross (who is as always highly analyitical and runs down the numbers of why Jane Austen Doe made some bad decisions.) Whew!

I have to say that having read her piece and despite having nothing but respect for mid-list writers (some of my best friends are…), I think she is farting in the wind. It starts out at the beginning where she says she has made “almost no money” and then proceeds to tell how her first three books had advances of $150K, $10K and $80K. When she tells her tale of woe, it is mostly focused on book #2, for which she made “$0.20 an hour”. Boo hoo. She still had an average advance of $80K across her first three novels (even after establishing a shaky sales history,) which strikes me to be so exceptionally fortunate as to make everything else sound ridiculous. Her anecdote about how bad she got screwed would sound like hitting the lottery from any of the writers I know. That this author managed to bring in a quarter of a million dollars while selling a cumulative total of around 50,000 books is pretty amazing. I guess it is a matter of perspective, and judging by what she says, Jane Austen Doe has a pretty lousy one.