Dean Wesley Smith has fought the publishing wars for many years. His article, “The Real Price of Traditional Publishing” is well worth reading. For one, it supports a lot of what I’ve covered in my Newsletters over the years. Many folks have pointed out that his bias is obvious, and I concur. But the premise is what matters, and I find it indisputable. No different from the rock band with one hit, it’s difficult to get paid what’s truly due for the first book if it’s not a bestseller. And other big hits don’t soon follow.
What Dean Wesley Smith says about diminishing advances is also indisputable. However, his numbers seem a bit light from the mainstream houses. A mid-four-figure advance is not as absurd as it would have been even ten years ago. At that time, $20,000 for a new author’s work was a standard figure. Yes, the times they are a changin’, and more accurately have flat out changed. Publishing structures, distribution costs, and the ultimate small net return are the very reasons that many writers are shipping the print versions of their books from their garages. And I might join these ranks.