Ed Gorman: Brian Keene is one of the most important writers in horror and dark suspense. For all full-time mid-listers these are difficult times. I've never seen a piece that lays it out as well as Brian does. Be sure to go to the link and read the whole thing. This is the kind of thing you never hear in writing courses.
Mid-List Blues, or, I Sing A New Song
Aug 12th, 2010 by Brian. 31 comments
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard the news that my main publisher, Leisure Books (a division of Dorchester Publishing) is immediately switching to e-book format only, with select titles to be published down the road as trade paperbacks. Or maybe not. Or… maybe so? In truth, it’s hard to follow the story because the story changes or contradicts itself by the day, if not the hour. The bottom line, from the perspective of some of the authors, agents and even a few of Dorchester’s former employees, is that the company’s solvency is in question, and this might be a last-ditch Hail Mary pass. If true, then it’s sad.
There’s been a persistent belief among some, over the years, that an author couldn’t make money writing for Leisure. I’m living proof that this isn’t true. During my decade writing for them, I managed to get a significantly higher advance with each book, and racked up a back-list of eleven titles, all of which remain in print and continue to sell well and thus, make me money. Indeed, as a mid-lister, those regular royalty and advance checks from Leisure accounted for roughly 45% of my annual income. Although many of my peers have indeed gotten raw deals in the past, I was always treated fairly well by Leisure. My checks arrived in a timely fashion. The sales staff did a remarkable job of pushing my books. I was content. I’ve made a decent, blue-collar income level living as a mid-list writer for the last decade. It wasn’t always easy, but neither was working in a foundry or on the loading docks or any of the other decent-paying blue-collar jobs I held before I became a writer. Writing is hard fucking work, but it’s also rewarding work, and I’ve done pretty well for myself. I never wanted to be Tom Clancy or Dan Brown or James Patterson. My heroes were always the guys like Ed Gorman and Richard Laymon and Robert Randisi, mid-listers all, and the heart and soul of the paperback trade. No, I’ve never been wealthy, but I’ve done alright every year, and Leisure accounted for almost half of that sum.
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