This past year has been a tough one economically, mostly because of the sorry state of mainstream publishing. If the story ever gets resolved for the better (which it probably will) I’ll tell it all here. Suffice to say that it fulfills every dire statement that Michael Blowhard ever made about the business. For now, all you need to know is that I am paying $3200 for getting a partial advance of $1800, and looking for another publisher.
I will not abandon the mainstream entirely– the potential rewards are too great for an aging, well- reviewed writer with no pension plan But the examples of Mary and others have made me decide to do some more web stuff. Dr Hypercube and Matt have been particularly helpful, in both comments and the mail.
Here is Doc:
“Some random thoughts (more will come along if I ever get my post on it finished– connection to the artist is important. Folks want to feel that link.
“Niche/uniqueness/customization is another key.You’re in excellent shape on both counts – the magic trick is turning that into $$. I don’t think hiding stuff behind a paywall is a good model – tip jars, subscription (in the old sense of prepaying for a project), limited run books all may work…. I would instantly paypal over $10 or $20 bucks for a copy of ‘Bodio on X’ – for those less trufannish, you could sweeten the deal w/ signatures or bookplates or whatever for pre-payers.”
“Another idea (will comment on Q as well, to get Matt’s take): your taste in books and your book reviews? Killer. Leverage it to reduce the amount of money you spend on books – assuming you aren’t up to your neck in review copies now. [ Not for anything but birding and–!– fishing SB] Set up an Amazon wish list of books you’d like to read and put a sidebar widget on Querencia with a bit of explanation. Readers of the blog can buy you books from the list (I think if you set it up correctly you’d get a tiny commission on the sale), you read, post review to Q with a thank-you link to the sponsor (and maybe allow your review to be cross posted on the sponsor’s blog). Part of what seems to be successful on the web is trying quite a few different small things and seeing what develops…”
I like the idea of a link to my always- long wish list. Readers? I’d promise to review anything bought.
“I think you’re right on with something Steve could and (as he knows I’ve told him) should do, self publish. But not necessarily for the larger market. Tailored reprints of his own work with some original material added to update—but more importantly, to make unique and add appeal.
“Steve could gather a heap of of his best writing on falconry into one pub. He could do the same with any of his many passions and areas of expertise, fracturing them into even smaller wedges that will fit little niches.
“Doc you’d pay 10-20 for Bodio on X. But how much would you pay for Bodio on X, in hardcover, with a personalized introduction to you?”
“Matt – can’t resist repeating my theme. Short answer – heck of a lot more than $10 or $20. Long answer – couldn’t agree with you more – the internet allows width (meme of the week occupies a million people for 1 minute each) and, more importantly here, wicked depth. The opportunities for personalization – intros, omakase chapter selection for those poor souls who don’t want to read everything – you’ve clearly thought this through more than I have, but yes – what you said.”
OK: all the above are possible– and I think we’ll link the wish list permanently as soon as Matt is able (and I’ll make comments on books in there also.)
Two things more or less ready to go: a huge 1865 book on Siberian hunting by Cherkassov, a Russian classic, translated by dog scholar Vladimir Beregovoy and smoothed by me, with an attempt to retain its folkloric Siberian diction, full of esoteric knowledge. This needs some design and it’s a go.
And: a novel I wrote over ten years ago about the reintroduction of big predators into the southwest. Events have overtaken it, and I am disinclined to rewrite it, but everybody but publishers loves it including such writers as Charles Bowden, and many separate parts have been published (the jaguar tale in Gray’s Journal last year was taken from it.) It is sort of a literary thriller with ranchers and lions and tigers and bears. Anyone out there interested? (Artists who might like to do a few dramatic black- and- white illos encouraged as well.)
What else? I have the rights to Querencia- the- book plus ownership of all the copies– need to have a place to sell them here.
Need to get the falcon and pigeon books on POD, the second with a better cover.
And: should I start a “send us to Kazakhstan” fund, to get another dog and finish the book, here? The publishing companies are in no hurry– one offered $3000 [this is corrected– I had said $300 which is too cheap even for them] last year for the whole book, less than we have spent and less than it now takes to get there.
What else might anyone want? IDEAS!