Should Writers Take Sides?

I’m reading a lot of blog posts this week about a writer named Ann who has pointed out that in spite of her hefty Harlequin book sales (170-180,000, depending on what you read), her royalties are very low. Some bloggers are defending the publishers and their “for profit” model, while others insist this is just another example of writer exploitation.
Writing Tip for Today: When controversies such as this one erupt, what should writers (especially new or just published writers) do? Is it better to take a stand and possibly risk alienating an agent you want to hire or keep your mouth shut even though you’re steamed at the injustice of it all? Here are some things to think about:

  • Not Just Vegas. What goes on the net stays on the net. If you put a scathing opinion on your blog, it’ll be there. Forever.
  • Where’s the Beef? The debate between underpaid writers vs. traditional publishers has been going on for decades. As ebooks/self-pub models command a bigger share of the market, it’s easy to feel more empowered as a writer. But before you excoriate the traditional publishers, make sure you really don’t mind possibly being blacklisted. Sure, some agents are scared. Publishers are worried. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going away. At least not yet.
  • Make Lemonade. In ways, the battle for readers reminds me of a lemonade stand. If two cute kids set up a stand in their neighborhood, they might make a little money. If they hit the evening news, they might make a lot. If two other kids decide to get a corporate sponsor who’s taking at least 90% of the profits, that rinky-dink neighborhood stand begins to look a lot better. But from what I can tell, the publicity makes all the difference for the brother-sister act. A big company has a lot more resources. A lot more.

Where do you stand on writing-related controversies?

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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