Own What's Yours

Much of the world is idolized. Many people lose their sanity, and I’m sure some of them their families, for the chance to be in THE spotlight to sing (dance, whatever) to canned music and get taken advantage of by the entertainment industry worldwide. With stars in their eyes, mostly young and naive, they dream of attention and stardom, and assume that all that comes with plenty of money.

But what really happens on paper? I don’t honestly know when it comes to big time television or recording contracts. I do know, that when it comes to me, or you, (independent creators who aren’t auditioning, but seeking ways to prosper,) we have our counterparts in society who seek to make a profit from us whether or not we gain in any way from the relationship.

We too set off starry eyed, and start all sorts of projects with great energy and enthusiasm, working diligently to make the best creation we know how with all of our experience and knowledge. We Believe in what we are doing, and that we must somehow succeed against all odds. We don’t always even think about making money, putting the importance of our creations ahead of our income. But that doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. And really, with applied attention and intelligence to the matter, maybe we even can make some money while we work so hard.

Let’s go back to idolmania for a minute. There is an entire industry of “casting directors,” “talent scouts,” “portfolio developers,” “audition coaches,” making a living not in the entertainment industry but on the dreams of wannabes. The competition may be even more fierce for the novelist or the poet to get that precious publishing contract, or that coveted spot in the pages of a “respected” literary magazine.

What if you went that route, got tired of rejection, (got older too) but still think that your novel or poetry collection should be published? What if you know that you would sell copies wherever you read or make appearances along the path that you follow? Is this you? I would hazard a guess that there is more money being made off of people like you than by people like you (and me.) So don’t let your enthusiasm make your vision of the bottom line fuzzy.

If you get a contract offer, make sure you’re getting your dues for the time and effort you put in, and also for how brilliant you are. If you want to take charge, make sure you are in charge and not getting spoon fed. I’ve been thinking about offering a couple books for sale from my own website using print on demand. Now when I thought about this at first, I didn’t really know anything about it, but I assumed that I would simply pay a printing company for print on demand services of my book, which of course I would own. I started surfing the web, like thousands of other writers certainly have, and the first few links that come up lead to print on demand companies who pay “royalities.” When you wrap your head around that, you will realize that it means you don’t really own it anymore, and you’re making a mouse share of the retail price, which you may or may not be allowed to set for yourself.

So what part of the arts are you? Are you the part that’s smart and holds out for what’s right, digs deeper for the gold? It’s not in a pot at the other end of the rainbow. The gold is in the connections we create, the networks which come alive with vibrations like talking drums beating the rhythm of our collective efforts. The real value is in the depth of our connections with each other and the support we give to what really supports us. Dig a little deeper and you will find that there are places where you won’t get rich quick but you will get a fair deal and benefit with some applied elbow grease.

As far as print on demand goes my advice is to buy your own isbn number and prepare your own digital file. Deal only with those who will deal with you on those terms. The following links were the most useful to me so far in my search. Please leave your comments about your experiences of actually making or not making money with your creations.

Some Background Information

Warnings About Literary Fraud and Other Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Target Writers
http://www.sfwa.org/BEWARE/printondemand.html

BookLocker Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Amazon.com
http://listenandbeheard.net/artsnews/2008/05/20/booklocker-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-amazoncom/

Amazon Open Letter on Print on Demand
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?docId=1000213141

Interview with Jeremy Robinson, highly successful Lulu author
http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/10/17/084932.php

Some Comparison Shopping
Xlibris
http://www2.xlibris.com/faq_pricing_royalties.html

iUniverse
http://www.iuniverse.com/how-we-work/pricing-royalties/royalties.htm

Lulu
http://www.lulu.com/en/help/lulu_commission

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