$$? $$? $$? $$?
I saw something interesting a few days back on tj_crowley’s journal (the person who runs Gothic.net) about how much it costs to maintain that site. He mentioned that in six years he’d never had more than $100 worth of advertising per month but he’d spent $120,000 total over those six years to keep the place running. I don’t really know much about Gothic.net but I had heard that a lot of authors were upset and some had filed grievances with the HWA over not getting paid. Apparently he’s been out of work for awhile and now has a job so he’s going to try to pay back the authors that are owed money. Gothic.net pays 3 cents per word for fiction.
But the main thing that strikes me about this is $120,000. When authors are trying to assess a fair rate of pay they see places like Gothic.net pay 3 cents a word and logically it would follow that if Gothic.net can pay that other webzines and publishers should be able to pay that as well. But Gothic.net is not operating at a profit. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of small press and independent publishers aren’t operating at a profit. RDSP is not yet operating at a profit, though our debt isn’t anywhere near $120,000, thank god. The fact is that it’s just not easy to make money on fiction. It’s not easy for authors and it’s not easy for publishers. By no means do I think authors should undervalue their work and take any kind of deal they are given. That is very dangerous. But at the same time everyone needs to take into account what the market can actually bear. Sure, some authors might make good money from a publisher just starting out who miscalculates and overpays but that will also guarantee that publisher won’t be around in the future. I wish there was more public info about the realities of publishing and money. It could have helped us out a lot and there is still plenty we are in the dark about. It’s hard to gauge your success or failure when you don’t have other publishers to compare your sales with. The main thing I would say to any publishers and authors is to find out as much as possible about payment and contracts as you can. For instance, right now you can check out the contract douglas_clegg posted for the eBay auction. This is not necessarily a typical contract because of the auction aspect but it is a very author friendly contract.