You still have to sell the books

May 30, 2019

…it’s harder to make a real living as a writer, though to tell the truth, a lot of people making a living as a writer didn’t really start until the 1980s. I think we’re having to some extent a self–correction. It was never meant to have this vast readership for all authors, and the money that was there in the eighties, and somewhat in the 90s, just isn’t there anymore, at least not for as many authors as it once was. I think I’ve survived because I always wrote and loved to write a variety of types of fiction, non–fiction, screenplays, short stories, essays, comics, etc. When one thing faltered, I had another place to go to, and it was always a place I wanted to go. I also edited anthologies from time to time, and taught at the University here, but believe me, that was more for the joy of it than the money.  I’ve always written for me and then hoped someone would love it. Somehow, the money has always shown up and I’m still writing and feel I’m better now than ever. But, I got my foot in the door in the seventies, so maybe it was easier, but I remember people saying, well, it’s too hard now, back in the old days they had all those pulp magazines, and then in the fifties and sixties it was easier because of all those digest magazines and all the book publishers. All true, but it always changes, and there are more markets than people think. What amazes me is how poorly people who claim they want to write often investigate the markets. They have the internet, which actually makes it easier to find markets than in the old days. I wrote for very cheap markets when I started, even some for copies. And that’s another thing, no one wants to start at the bottom anymore. They don’t have the patience to deal with editors, chasing agents, so they just self–publish. I think that’s valid, but it seems to be what so many writers think of as the quickie way out. It’s better to be vetted by the market if that’s possible. You have a book you love, can’t get it published,  sure go the self–publish route,  but there’s a good chance that will only be marginally better than the “traditional” route. You still have to sell the books. Ebooks, it’s the same. I think they have opened up a whole new world for writers, but they are not a magic answer. Nothing is other than hard work.

Joe R Lansdale
Interview with Maggie Slater
Apex magazine 7th May 2013

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