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Friday, May 27, 2016

Want to Understand The Book Industry Today? Ask an Author

I know I spend a lot of time on this blog talking to you about working with publishers, helping patrons, and using resources, but I rarely talk about the authors themselves beyond discussing their work and which readers they most appeals to.

However, if we want to fully understand the book industry we library workers are a part of, I think we have to talk a little more about authors and how they do or do not make a living in today’s publishing world.

Few authors are more vocal or honest about the financial issues of being a writer than horror author Brian Keene. Unfortunately, as he would tell you himself, he came into being an author advocate and expert in working with publishers [as a professional writer] by accident. It was because of his place in the center of one of this century’s biggest publishing collapses-- the shuttering of Leisure Books.  Back in 2010, I blogged about this issue and Brian’s place in it on the horror blog here.

Brian led a group of authors, many of who are gracing your library’s shelves right now, in a fight for to reclaim the rights to their own works from the closing publisher. This was a HUGE deal, and something that still happens to authors all of the time.  Without fighting to get their rights back, these authors’ works would not be able to be published again. Brian Keene’s The Rising was caught up in this mess, a novel that is cited all the time [along with the first Walking Dead comic and the film 28 Days Later] as the beginning of the current zombie craze.  It is a seminal work in popular culture and it was almost lost.

I think this is an issue that many library workers don’t even know about. Most of us just assume if an author writes something that gets published that said author still owns the works.  Often they do not. Brian brought this often hidden issue out of the shadows.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the issues authors have to deal with in today’s publishing world. And, I think it is important for us to understand their perspective.

Thankfully, once Keene started giving a public voice to the large mass of mid-list authors, he didn’t stop. For the 9 months he is writing a weekly column for horror publisher Cemetery Dance about his life in publishing.  You can click here to read all of the columns. They come up in reverse chronological order.  The first four are up now.  But to get you started, here is the link to the first one.

After reading these columns, I think you will have a fuller picture of the industry behind the books we are hand selling to patrons each and every day.

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