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The Stories That Editors Won't Buy - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
The Stories That Editors Won't Buy
ozarque posted in her blog today about a partly written novel, based on the fascinating premise of a touch-dominant culture, that multiple editors have refused to buy on the premise that there is no market for it.

I've seen this pattern before. When a writer is talking to her fans, the next round of the conversation goes like this: *grumble snarl whiiiiiiiiine* "WHY won't they buy it? Stupid editors! *I* want to read it!"

Cyberfunded creativity is thus uniquely suited to instances where a writer has something, the fans want it, and editors don't think there's a market for it. Just skip 'em and sell direct. This is, in fact, how one of the biggest balls got started: "The Aphorisms of Kherishdar" had been intended for a particular market, which backed out, and the fans were so hooked from the descriptions and free samples that we convinced haikujaguar to let us buy them directly.

One of the best anthologies in my collection (out of about 3 shelves of paperbacks and another 2 of hardbacks) is Sisters in Fantasy edited by Susan Schwartz and Martin H. Greenberg. It started with the stipulation of fantasy and female protagonists, and then went on to say, "what I want you to write is the story you've needed to write and couldn't think of an appropriate market for before I contacted you." And there they are, the stories that most editors wouldn't buy -- some of the most original and thought-provoking material in my library.

This is what cyberfunded creativity is for. It lets you, the audience, buy and read what you darn well please -- anything you can talk an author into letting you buy. If there's something you've been hearing about and hankering after, and you've got some disposable income, consider going to the author and encouraging them to try cyberfunded creativity.

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Comments
mutales From: mutales Date: February 1st, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting post. I'm an author who's never done anything but the "cyberfunded" approach. After watching how the whole editor/submission (and agent/submission) process worked for years to make sure I understood the whole thing, I realized most of what I wanted to write fell into the "we can't sell this" category and took a different path with some pretty good success. I've been encouraging others to do the same.

Would you mind terribly if I linked to this post from my blog?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 1st, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Feedback

Please do link this from your blog. Also, I'd love to get a reference quoted here that points to where you're doing cyberfunded creativity. I'm trying to collect as much as possible on this topic, so that people who interested in it will be able to find the relevant discussions and resources.
mutales From: mutales Date: February 1st, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback

Thanks! My blog's at http:/www.alexandraerin.com ... I have multiple stories linked from there. The main one is http://www.talesofmu.com

What I'm doing is actually more like "digital busking"... instead of getting people to pay blindly based on my reputation (which I didn't have when I started, obviously) and summaries, I write stories and post them chapter by chapter for free. Fan donations and advertisements pay my bills, with some extra money coming in the form of hard copies and downloads from Lulu.com.

The method's different, but the principle is the same: using the internet and fan interest to support creativity.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 1st, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback

I thought of using the term "cyberbusking" but it sounded too narrowly focused on music.

Posting stuff where anyone can read it, and asking people for donations to support it, seems to be a popular choice.
mutales From: mutales Date: February 1st, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback

Also, depending on your region, many people might not know what "busking" is. But yeah, it is a popular choice. I really got the motivation to try it by seeing how successful webcomics have done with it.

A lot of authors I've talked to are resistant, though. They're convinced that people won't read online and that webcomics only work on a screen because they're visual. I think they forget or discount how often people read forums, blogs, news, etc., online. They just don't think of it as "reading" in the same sense that we read fiction.

Also, I think there's resistance in the idea of giving your work away for free and then depending on "the kindness of strangers." But, if the choice is being read by nobody and getting no money, or getting read by lots of people and getting some money, I think the latter option's worth checking out.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 1st, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback

You're right about the resistance. Most of it comes from people who are heavily invested in the mainstream model, though -- either it's working for them, or it's not but they're convinced it will be eventually.

I tend to take a ruthlessly practical approach. If someone is working for money, they're professional. And if a venue is paying money, it's professional. Most people in cyberfunded creativity seem to be making comparable rates to what they'd get from a more conventional market -- but some are doing much better. Why keep pursuing conventional publication if the demand and payment are higher elsewhere? Duh.

My loyalty is to the product -- good literature and informative nonfiction -- and the producers. I'm promoting cyberfunded creativity because it benefits both, and the readers too.
mutales From: mutales Date: February 1st, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback

Very nicely stated. I'm glad to talk to somebody who gets it.

What's interesting to me is that the most resistance I find are from the people who are slogging away to get into the system, or are in the bottom rungs of it. I think it's a bit of cognitive dissonance: they've sacrificed time, creative control, and possibly their own money to get where they are and they have to believe it's going to pay off, they have to believe it's necessary.

I've also drawn some flak from cliques of "low level" print authors for advocating that people who might never be considered publishable (marketability aside) to go ahead and post their stories online. Why not? If somebody's having fun and entertaining even a couple dozen people, I'm not going to turn my nose up at it. Literacy is for everybody, not just the enlightened few.

Anyway, I firmly believe I'm in the "doing much better" category. What I make probably wouldn't be a living wage if I lived in a more urban state, but how many authors actually make enough from their writing to live off it? Everything I've ever read or heard on the subject suggests the ones who do are the exception.
ethesis From: ethesis Date: February 2nd, 2008 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I've bought two books so far via the model at http://www.ethshar.com/thevondishambassador1.html

I intend to keep paying up there as long as he keeps writing.

;)

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