Post Academic

Footnotes, publishing edition

Posted in Housekeeping,Publish and Perish by Arnold Pan on May 1, 2010
Tags: , ,

The now more regularly recurring “Footnotes” feature covers some things we’ve found online pertaining to some of the topics we cover here on the blog.  A lot of them are just funny tidbits that you may or may not be as interested in as we are.  Since we’ve been discussing writing and publishing so much this week, we figured it would make sense to offer some “Footnotes”

1. Making lemonade: An Inside Higher Ed piece on the journal Weber: The Contemporary West outlines some of the choices that journals have before them in an age of shrinking budgets, thoughtfully detailed in an interview with the publication’s editor, Prof. Michael Wutz of Weber State in Utah.  Instead of becoming an online journal, Weber downsized its schedule from 3 issues a year to 2, and changed its profile to one of a boutique publication that plays up, in Wutz’s words, “the material heft of print media.” What’s interesting, though, is that Wutz made the decision despite suspecting that digital formats are probably the irresistible wave of the future, arguing perhaps too wishfully that the online market will only make print more valued as a niche product.

2. On the other hand…: Self-proclaimed “thriller author” Joe Konrath offers a very different view about print media from Prof. Wutz, on his blog “A Newbies Guide to Publishing”.  Imagining a gathering of “Obsolete Anonymous,” the print industry meets VHS tapes, video rental stores, cassette tapes, LPs, floppy disks, among other artifacts in the dustbin of cultural history.  Hmm…maybe print could live on as a fetishized niche object, since people still do buy LPs!  (h/t Scholarly Kitchen Twitter feed)

3. What it’s like to be a professional writer: In the latest in a series of posts on “Common Misperceptions About Publishing”, pro author Charlie Stross explores whether being a writer is a lifestyle or a job.  He comes down on the side of the latter, but he explains how difficult being a writer is, whether you look at it as a lifestyle or a job.  Here are some key points he makes about the myths of writing for a living:

“So here’s the truth about the writing lifestyle: it sucks. It is an unstable occupation for self-employed middle-aged entrepreneurs. Average age on entry is around 34, but you can’t get health insurance (if you’re American). You don’t have to be a complete loner, but it helps to have a solitary streak (or a bad talking-to-cats habit). It also helps to be an inveterate optimist, because you’ll probably need to supplement your income (about 70% of the mean for someone in a skilled trade, never mind a professional job) by taking on other work such as teaching, journalism, or consultancy. As a business, it’s a dead-end: you can’t generally expand by taking on employees, and the number of author start-ups where the founders have IPOd and cashed out can be counted on the fingers of a double-amputee’s hands.”

There are also some interesting stats about the incomes writers make, though the numbers Stross provides pertain to the UK.  (h/t Scholarly Kitchen Twitter feed, too!)

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