To The Author In Search of A Subject

Illustration of a scribe writing

In my view there are two conflicting strains of advice for authors regarding what they should write. One, which I’ll call the “write what you know” advice, claims that writers are most successful when they write about what they know intimately. Authors need to know a subject before they write, according to this advice.

The other line of thinking, let’s call it the “research before you write” advice, suggests that authors research carefully not only the subject but for the market for a book to make sure there is some kind of market for the book. Authors, this idea claims, should write what will sell, not just whatever they happen to know about.

If you ask me, both views are simplistic, at least.

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If Not For Money, Then What?

I follow a number of self-publishing email lists, full of authors either trying to get their manuscript accepted by a publisher or trying to publish and sell the manuscript themselves. Despite the almost uniform lack of financial success among these authors, nearly every author is in the middle of writing a new manuscript.


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Send Me Your Contract!

In my recent post on Motley Vision, I pointed out one of the pitfalls of author contracts — inadequate out-of-print clauses (see Caveat Auctor). In the follow up discussion, I realized that what we need is a comparison of the various boiler plate contracts used by Mormon publishers, especially given common complaints about some publishers.

Such a comparison would help publishers as much as authors. Knowing how their contracts differ from those of other publishers can either spur the publisher to change its contract or help it understand the selling points of its contract. From what I’ve heard and seen of these contracts, there may be as much ignorance on the part of publishers as their is on the part of authors.

So, I’m issuing a call for example contracts from each publisher in the LDS market — provided either by the publishers themselves, or by authors that contracted with each publisher. I believe that by compiling this information both authors and publishers will benefit.

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