Listen to Pilot Light

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Authors instead of writers

Call me slow, but I have come to understand why I've never gotten along too well with traditional publishing ventures. Oh, I have tried the route and published books through established publishers, but it has never been (ultimately) a happy experience on either side. Now, don't misunderstand me--the people were largely nice and mostly honest (with notable exceptions). Sometimes we shared failures, as in the time I got my book all ready through editing and galleys and approved the cover and the publisher went under because of disputes with distributors. Not the publishers fault, and nothing to do with me or my book, except for being in the wrong house at the wrong time.

Since that time (long ago) the world of publishing has changed. Yes, even a traveling writer pops his head up long enough to notice sometimes. What I have noticed, and digested and now determined is that publishers of the larger-than-life type don't want writers at all anymore. Nope. Not one. They have no use for writers at all.

They want authors. And I am a writer.

Okay, so what is the difference? Sometimes people use the terms to distinguish between published and unpublished writers, but that isn't it. The difference today is that writers write... books, articles, recipes, whatever. Authors promote, try their best to become celebrities and agonize over their sales figures. Both want to make money, and you might argue that being an author is the professional approach, geared to earning money and a place in the sun. That is certainly the view publishers take. But you'll have to admit that writing is a lot more fun. Writing and getting out and doing things, gaining experiences and insights worth writing about.

I can promote but don't do it very much. I started this blog to promote my writing and books but don't get around to blogging as often as I am told I should. I get inspired to promote and then get distracted by the ideas piling up in my undisciplined brain. Ah well. I have learned to live with it.

If you want a fun take on the problems this situation can create in the world of publishing (not for writers, but for the whole system), Jim Beckett and I wrote a novel about it (writers write, right?) called THE INVENTION OF CLAY MCKENZIE. It's available as an ebook at iTunes, and in ebook and paperback formats at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Okay, that is my promotional effort for the week and hey, I feel more like an author already. Pass me a corduroy jacket with leather patches on the elbows and a pipe. I'm ready.