What does a writer do who doesn’t want to hustle – just write?
It’s a growing worry for many authors, and it will get worse.
Now let’s fast forward to the year 2015. Let’s imagine self-publishing has matured. It’s accepted and respected in the publishing world. A lot of successful self-publishers have begun to ask themselves: what do I really want to do with the rest of my life? Become another J. A. Konrath or John Locke, and work 18/24 to boost my Kindle ratings? Or hype myself perpetually at Facebook, Google+ and Twitter? Or mount a thousand blog tours?
Again, do I write or hustle? What happened to my dream of being an author, a person who writes fiction, not advertisements?
But this submission breaks the rules.
Instead of comprising the usual cover letter, synopsis and first chapter, it’s an accountant’s prospectus.
‘Bids are invited for a going business with a $200,000 pre-tax income stream, $500,000 in back-list assets and a customer base of 10,000 loyal readers.’
It’s the sort of deal that agents routinely negotiate with publishers for novelists who have made their name with an established imprint, reached the end of their contract and are looking for a new home. Could it also be a model proposal for the self-publishing author of the future, when approaching an agent for the first time?
Maybe MFA programs in creative writing circa 2015 will offer authors a popular new module - how to write a persuasive business plan. Perhaps a new kind of literary agent will emerge, one with a background in business law not literature. Their task will be to represent an author’s sales record, not his or her books.
And self-publishing authors will be able to breathe a sigh of relief, quit the marketplace and return to what they really wanted to do - craft fiction.
Today, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for newbie authors to secure an agent. Instead, could they self-publish, build a successful business as Oswald and Hocking did - and then pitch an agent with their fan club? Will this become the career path of choice for authors in the future? What do you think?
Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, judges the Writers’ Village story competition and is a tutor in creative writing at a UK university. He has been a successful commercial author for 42 years. A wealth of further ideas for writing fiction that sells can be found in his free 14-part story course at: Writers-Village.org/Academy-intro