The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Haven't worked on my own stuff at all. I've put some of the w-f-h thing together, and it looks like some more projects might be coming my way at some point, from another w-f-h editor I've worked with before, and therefore know to be reliable and professional. Hooray.

I've also got a bazillion pages of health insurance stuff to fill out because the company I've been with is pulling out of my state, so I have to find a new one. I mention this because it reminded me of something, no idea why. The "something" is that I got pretty annoyed with some commentary I heard about how writers should never make any changes requested by book fairs, because that's censoring, and writers who censor themselves for filthy lucre are basically sell-outs and money-grubbing wh*res. Obviously the people who say this have no idea that self-censoring is something we start considering the second we start revising, and continue all the way till the galleys leave our hands. And sometimes later. Book fair decisions are just more of the same. Usually the changes for book fairs aren't huge moral issues (that's a different ball of wax), but cutting a "d*mn" or "h*ll"--the same words we've been cutting out and putting back in and cutting out again all along during revisions, trying to weigh out whether the words distract the reader more than giving a sense of the character.*

The money an author makes from book fair sales is some ludicrously small amount, I can't remember what. A few cents per copy, maybe? Nobody's changing their text to get rich. They're doing it because they've looked at the changes asked for and decided that it won't mess up anything, and that it will put the book in the hands of thousands more readers. If they decide that it will mess up something about the book, they don't make the changes and usually you never hear about it. Most of the time authors don't get any kudos for standing by their beliefs. What usually happens is they get quietly downgraded in one way or another--the marketing department gets p.o.'d at them, for example, or they miss the word-of-mouth that would have come with those thousands of poorly paid book fair sales.

So anyway, not to get off on a tangent, but my mind went this direction because once again I hear an underlying assumption about authors raking it in. But authors don't get company benefits, and they have to take health insurance plus taxes plus social security plus agent off the top of whatever they get for a book. If you suppose a moderately successful midlist author gets 25K for one book, then take away all that out-of-pocket stuff, you've got somebody who can't afford food and shelter.

And I say all this not to excuse myself for making editorial changes to suit my finances--because I don't, not in my own writing--but to tell everybody who's not trying to make a living at it to climb down from their moral high horse and stop being so freakin' judgmental. For cripe's sake, I've seen people lining up to praise an author for basically not taking a moral stand--clearly without knowing that's what they're doing. All I can figure is that people don't really understand the full range of choices involved, the implications, or the consequences.

So, anyway. I'm working on other stuff besides my WIP, but in the back of my head I'm waiting for some epiphany that will help me bring it all together. Because at the moment it looks like a mess of disparate pieces that aren't going to be interesting to anyone except me.

*Full disclosure: I speak as the author of a YA book with a more-than-liberal sprinkling of the F-word throughout. I am not a priss when it comes to profanity. I also know that different readers can tolerate different levels of it (and therefore its resonance changes depending on the reader), and that "being true to the character" is already a lie when it comes to dialog. You can't transcribe what somebody would actually say in real life, word for word; it would be nearly unintelligible. So profanity is one of those things (same with sexual references) where there's not one easy answer to whether it goes or stays.

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