Monday, January 18, 2010

Book writers in Bandit Country

A guest post by Leo Aylen

The Guild is rightly pleased with the recent work by the Film Committee which has resulted in a pamphlet aimed at standardising practice in the industry and protecting writers. Similar work has been done by the Television Committee also resulting in a useful pamphlet.

Book writers are likely to feel less protected. Publishing, the book trade, and therefore relationships between writers and publishers, writers and agents, are in a difficult state. Book writers nowadays are working in ‘bandit country’ where established rules no longer apply.

Robert Adams, the Chair of the Guild's Books Committee, has asked the members of the Books Committee to suggest topics which we, in the Books Committee, should examine. As the Books representative on the Executive Council, I should like to invite any Guild member who writes books to take part in the discussion.

Many writers are now self-publishing with success. The Guild hopes to help this along with the Co-operative which is about to be launched. Self-publishing is no longer despised. This is perhaps the most pivotal change in the books industry, but there are other things to consider as well.

If you have had experiences - good or bad - which could help other book writers, do please tell us about them on this blog. (You do not have to be a blog-writer; merely conact the blog editor Tom Green c/o the Guild office, and he can turn your email into a blog item.) Or you can post a comment below.

What could be useful?

1.Technical advice about the technology of publishing: even if they are not self-publishers, more and more writers are needing to know about the production of their books.

2. Experiences with new kinds of contract.

3. Experiences in public presentations – in schools, libraries, community groups, hospitals, prisons, etc.

4. General thoughts about bookselling and libraries.

As I understand the general feeling in the Books Committee, it seems unlikely that we would have any success with the kind of general coding of practice which the film and television writers have succeeded – to an extent – in establishing. With books nowadays, it seems more practical to collect individual experiences from which the lessons learnt can help others.

Let us make use of the blog as a forum for discussion.

1 comment:

  1. Publishers have been reducing advances (or, more often, only looking at completed manuscripts), editorial costs are lower now that agents do much of the work helping to polish a book, and the publicity spend is going more and more on the 10% of the publisher's list that sells fastest. And yet royalties have not gone up. This is particularly going to be an issue with electronic publishing, where the publisher could end up doing very little other than converting your book to the appropriate formats and then taking half (or more) of the revenue.


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