The Business of Writing

Fisking Porter Anderson

24 May 2016

From Joe Konrath:

Porter’s nonsense in italics, my common-sense replies in bold.

“The biggest issue is one that will be difficult for us to recover from…the degradation of our worth as creatives.”

Joe sez: Our worth as creatives is dependent upon reaching readers. This meme is damned old I wrote about it back in 2010, The Value of Ebooks.

In that blog post I use real numbers to discuss author earnings, and came to this inescapable conclusion:

The value of an ebook is determined by the overall amount of money it earns, not the list price.

Obvious, right? But let’s forge ahead through this…

That line is from a piece here at Writer Unboxed a year ago, in May 2015. Our colleague Heather Webb, in As Writers, What Are We Worth?, was anticipating a groan heard ’round the world.

Last month, when I led a round-table discussion at Berlin’s Publishers’ Forum, our topic was “Re-Thinking Ebook Sales and Understanding the Consumers.” But what drew the biggest response was book pricing.

We’re in a world now that thinks it can write just as well as you can. It doesn’t need your book. It can write its own. It can publish it. And it can lowball it on Amazon.

Joe sez: This nefarious scheme is called “capitalism” and is evidence of something called a “free market”. 

Once upon a time, publishing wasn’t a free market. Not everyone with a book had an equal chance to reach readers. Amazon, and other ebook retailers, have democratized the process. Which means consumers now have more choices than every before. And many of those choices are priced according to the market, rather than according to the publishing cartel that controlled pricing with their quasi-monopoly.

. . . .

In the UK in January, Penguin Random House CEO Tom Weldon told my Bookseller colleague Benedicte Page: “”One of the biggest challenges in 2016 will be e-book pricing: how do we maintain the value perception of our quality content and maximize revenues across all formats for both authors and publishers?”

Joe sez: Allow me to translate: “How do we get people to pay more for ebooks, because if we drop them too low then consumers will buy the ebook rather than the paper book, and paper books are where we have the distribution oligopoly.”

A year later, Webb can see clearly now. Here’s what’s happening on a daily basis to authors’ work in the marketplace:

Heather Webb ‎@msheatherwebb – It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel for. NOT. They forget we make our living this way. AKA starvation diet

Joe sez: I’ll fix that quote so it makes sense. “It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel, because others will then seek it out and buy a copy. I wish every fan bragged about my cheap books.”

Perhaps, for some odd reason, Heather would rather sell a $14.99 ebook and earn $2.32 in royalties from her publisher (after her agent’s cut) than sell four books at $5.99 and earn $3.64. 

Just saw a study done with Lemurs. Even Lemurs know $3.64 is more than $2.32.

. . . .

With both the trade and the self-publishing sectors in rampant over-production as they are today, you’re facing a sheer rock face of competition for every glance your book might get, let alone a read, let alone a sale. Your price is in free-fall.

Joe sez: Porter, have you ever been in a bookstore? Notice how it’s filled with thousands of books? Do you glance at every single one before making a selection?

There have ALWAYS been other books. But now, for the first time, the cost is coming down so it isn’t prohibitive. Rather than $30 hardcovers, which is a luxury price, readers can get new titles for $4.99. And the $4.99 book is just as good as the $30 book. 

Or do you enjoy paying more for comparable products? If so, I’ve got some $40 per roll toilet paper I’ll sell you. It does the same thing as the $1 per roll toilet paper, but if you buy that cheap stuff my dignity will be in jeopardy. You don’t want me on a starvation diet, do you?

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Click to Tweet/Email/Share This Post

Writer Steve Hamilton’s Second Chance

20 May 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Thriller writer Steve Hamilton tends to reserve the high-stakes drama for the pages of his novels. For years, he stayed with the same agent and the same publisher. He lived in rural upstate New York, and wrote at night while working as a technical writer at IBM.

Then he went rogue. When his brand-new mystery was about to go to the printer last year, he blew up his book contract in an unusual dispute over marketing and publicity and went looking for a new publisher.

Today, that book, “The Second Life of Nick Mason,” comes out amid more fanfare than he’s ever experienced. With a new book deal and movies in the works, Mr. Hamilton is hoping to take his career to a new level.

The 55-year-old author grew up around Detroit devouring the hard-boiled likes of Elmore Leonard and James Crumley. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1983, he moved to upstate New York and went to work as a technical writer for IBM. He spent the next 32 years explaining the company’s products to customers.

He joined a writer’s group and in 2000 sold his debut novel, “A Cold Day in Paradise.”

. . . .

“I led a double life,” the author says. “When my co-workers were on vacation, I was on a book tour,” which usually meant driving to stores in Michigan and Illinois.

But after 12 books in 13 years, Mr. Hamilton, who is married with two children, hadn’t broken out nationally. “I was ‘that Michigan writer,’ ” he says. Like many authors, he blamed it on a lack of marketing and publicity support from his publisher, the Minotaur imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

. . . .

In 2013, as his New York literary agent prepared to retire, Mr. Hamilton signed up with Hollywood screenwriter and producer Shane Salerno, who sidelines as a literary agent. Mr. Salerno’s main book client is Don Winslow, who used to scribble novels while on stakeouts working as a private investigator.

Mr. Salerno urged Mr. Hamilton to launch a new series and quit his day job. “He needed to be a full-time writer,” Mr. Salerno says.

Mr. Hamilton felt loyal to his publisher and didn’t want to abandon his McKnight fans. With St. Martin’s, he signed up for four more books—two Nick Masons and two McKnights—in a deal reported to be “near seven figures.” IBM offered to match the money in his contract, Mr. Hamilton says, but after learning the amount, they said, “OK, good luck.”

As Mr. Hamilton turned to full-time writing, what mattered most to him was launching Nick Mason with broad media coverage and advertising as well as a bigger book tour.

. . . .

About two months before the publication date, Mr. Hamilton and his agent say they asked for a marketing and publicity plan. They were shocked. “It was a page of nothing,” Mr. Hamilton says, well short of what had been promised. Advance copies of the book for the media promised an initial print run of 75,000 as well as a national marketing campaign. Mr. Hamilton called that a “complete and total lie.” The two sides argued for a month but St. Martin’s didn’t satisfy the author and his agent. So they decided to yank the book and buy back the contract.

“I just couldn’t watch it die,” says Mr. Hamilton. He says St. Martin’s executives told him: “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life; you’re ending your career.”

Heading toward the rupture, “my wife and I were lying in bed just staring at the ceiling,” Mr. Hamilton says. “I was terrified.”

. . . .

Mr. Hamilton says he was deluged with emails from other writers. One wrote, “I feel like I’m in a jail cell, watching you go through a hole in the wall.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Ruth for the tip.

Long-Term Thinking: The Non-Compete Clause

20 May 2016

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

I probably should have called this post Short- and Long-term Thinking, or maybe just Thinking. Because no one should ever sign a non-compete clause.

Ever.

And yet, for the past several years, traditional publishers are trying to control everything about a writer, from the rights she sells to the amount of money she makes. They also want what they’re calling “a non-compete” clause.

In reality, it’s a “do-not-do-business-without-our-permission” clause.

I first wrote about this in 2011. Then I revised the piece for 2013. And now, well, things are much worse than they were five years ago for any writer who wants to become traditionally published.

I’m going to be as blunt as I can here.

If you sign any version of a non-compete clause, you will never be a full-time professional writer. Writing will not be your career. Something else will, and you will write on the side for the rest of your life.

Got that?

Can I be any clearer?

In the past five years, publishers have gotten draconian about the non-compete clause—and they’ve also gotten sneaky about it. Many writers have gotten wise to the non-compete clause, and refuse to sign it.

But most writers don’t realize that contracts are one long document that works as a whole, not a series of linked paragraphs. Just because you whacked one mole doesn’t mean you’ve gotten rid of the moles altogether.

. . . .

Around 2012, publishers started requiring non-compete clauses in almost all of their contracts, and are making those clauses a deal breaker from the publisher’s side. In other words, the publisher will cancel the deal if you do not sign a non-compete. The choice you are given is this: either you let the publisher control your entire career just because you sold that publisher one book for $5000 or you walk.

If that’s the choice you’re given, walk. Hell, run.

You have other options now. You can go to a different traditional publisher if you want. You can publish that work yourself.

You’re even better off putting that book in a drawer and not mailing to anyone than you are signing that clause.

Got it?

Because the moment you sign that clause, you give over your entire career to a corporation that cares nothing for you. Even if the clause does not hold up in court (and quite honestly, I don’t think the clause can hold up but I am not an attorney), you’d have to spend years not writing and litigating to prove me right.

. . . .

I know of at least two mystery writers who need their publisher’s permission to put up a blog post. I know of several more who have had to get a document granting them blanket permission from their fiction publisher to write nonfiction.

. . . .

Your current publisher might not enforce that clause; the publisher/business your current publisher sells out to might enforce the clause, and make you pay damages for anything you’ve previously published after you signed the contract (and ignored the clause).

Worst case, right? Yes, it is. But before you sign a contract—any contract—, you must imagine the worst-case scenario. The contract you negotiate should protect you from bad things, but you have to realize how bad those things can actually be.

. . . .

If your publisher refuses to remove language like this from your contract and you still sign it, you will have no one to blame but yourself for your tanking writing career. Because you put your signature on a legal document giving someone else control of your output.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

How to hit the bestseller lists with a book series

19 May 2016

From author Toby Neal:

How to hit the bestseller lists with a book series began with leaving Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription program, which was the scariest risk I’ve taken since my journey as an author began.

It was also awesome.

I’ve made a six figure income and hit the USA Today bestseller list with the last three titles in my series since I made the move. How is that better than the income made in KU? Bigger exposure worldwide, that’s how, and “un”limited growth potential!

Here are the steps I took, in case they’re helpful to you in charting your path to bestseller status:

  1. Write a series in a popular genre, minimum of five books, before expecting to make any real money. This is a known strategy with lots written about it, so I won’t belabor the point.
  2. Write well and collect as many reviews as you can. The best thing you can do when you’re starting out is keep writing the next book, improving your craft and collecting reviews on the ones you have. This will provide a steady base for all that comes later to rest upon.
  3. Build a base of readers, income, and sales numbers in KU. Lei Crime Series entered Kindle Unlimited when the program first began in July 2014, and were in the program through ups and downs, thick months and thin, flat rate through pay-per-page until November of 2015, when my agent got me a deal for distribution on a new phone reading app. Taking that deal would violate Amazon’s exclusivity clause, so I made the difficult decision to leave KU. (I was petrified. Amazon had begun to feel like a “home” to me, and the income from the lending program, while having ups and downs, was solid and steady. I was a four time KU All Star, earning bonuses! Everything I read about the other platforms seemed daunting to navigate for uncertain benefit, but my friend Emily Kimelman of the Sydney Rye Series assured me she was doing well in the IBookstore particularly. She recommended using Draft to Digital for distribution because they were a faster, cleaner, better tech platform than Smashwords, a nimble company, and could help me gain attention for my books with the main distributors. So, in November of 2015, I began updating all my older manuscripts and moving them out of Kindle Unlimited as their terms ended. I eventually enrolled 20 books on Draft to Digital’s all-platforms-except-Amazon distribution program.

Link to the rest at Toby Neal

Here’s a link to Toby Neal’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Alanis Morissette sues former manager for fraud

19 May 2016

From The BBC:

Pop star Alanis Morissette says she was robbed of almost $5m (£3.5m) by her former business manager.

In papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the singer claims Jonathan Schwartz transferred money to his own accounts without permission.

“Morissette was completely unaware of these cash transfers and had not authorised them,” the complaint says.

The singer, whose hits include Ironic and You Oughta Know, is suing for breach of duty, fraud and negligence.

Schwartz handled Morissette’s finances between 2009 and 2016. He was responsible for collecting income, managing investment accounts and paying bills on her behalf.

According to the complaint, she fired him in March after which her new business manager, Howard Grossman, uncovered the suspicious withdrawals – 116 in all – totalling more than $4.7m (£3.25m).

The legal papers claim that, after changing his explanation several times, Schwartz said the transfers were made to fund an “investment” in a marijuana-growing business for the singer, and to avoid extra trips to the bank because Morissette “spends a lot of cash”. She denies both claims.

. . . .

“When she asked him if she was over budget, he would insist that things were ‘fine’, that she had ‘nothing to worry about’, and that she and her future grandkids were ‘set for life’,” states the complaint, which also claims Schwartz convinced the singer to turn down performance offers.

“His reasoning was always that she didn’t need to work so hard, because she was so financially secure.”

. . . .

Schwartz, who has not commented on the action, is also being sued by GSO, which is seeking to expel him as a member of the firm.

The company said it was “shocked” by the results of an internal investigation, which began after Grossman confronted Schwarz about Morissette’s accounts.

“The investigation revealed that Mr Schwartz was burning through money to sustain a lavish lifestyle, including a $50,000 (£34,700) vacation to Bora Bora and an outstanding gambling dept of $75,000 (£52,000) at a casino in the Bahamas,” states the GSO complaint. “He also owes the US government a substantial sum for unpaid taxes.”

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

PG says it’s a good idea to have an outside party check the records of agents, managers, bookkeepers, etc., on a regular basis.

Battle over author Colleen McCullough’s estate takes a twist

15 May 2016

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

The fight over the estate of best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough has taken another twist with her widower Ric Robinson arguing a will she made a decade ago could be the valid one.

Mr Robinson is locked in a legal battle with Dr McCullough’s executors and a US university over her estate, which is estimated to be worth millions of dollars thanks to her art collection and royalties from her 25 books, including the 1977 hit The Thorn Birds.

The NSW Supreme Court has heard there are at least two wills circulating. The first was signed in Sydney in July 2014 and sets out why Dr McCullough had decided not to make Mr Robinson, her husband of 30 years, a beneficiary of her estate.

On the same day, she signed a “Bequest Intention Letter” in favour of the University of Oklahoma, making it the sole residuary beneficiary.

But three months later, the will was amended so that the name University of Oklahoma Foundation Inc was removed and replaced with Mr Robinson’s name. As a result, he became the sole beneficiary.

In a statement of claim the university claimed Dr McCullough did not amend the will of her own volition. It says by that time, Dr McCullough was in such poor health, including blindness, that she was totally reliant on and under the influence of her husband.

In an amended statement of claim, the estate’s executor, literary agent Selwa Anthony, replaces the university as the plaintiff. She continues the claim that the July 2014 will is in fact Dr McCullough’s last will and testament.

Link to the rest at The Sydney Morning Herald and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

PG recommends that an author arrange her/his estate when there is no question of competency.

PG is not certain what this type of legal proceeding would be called in Australia, but a common designation in the US would be a will contest.

From well before Jarndyce and Jarndyce down to the present day, will contests are especially prone to extended litigation. PG was once involved in winding up a will contest that had continued for 17 years prior to his entry into the proceeding.

How the Mid-List Died

15 May 2016

From Cemetery Dance Online:

Stephen Graham Jones signed his new novel, Mongrels, at Bookworks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week. I’ll be signing at that same store next month. There’s a reason both of us—and many of our peers—chose that store. If you think of the retail bookselling market as a geographical location, it currently resembles the wasteland from a Mad Max movie. But Bookworks, and hundreds of other independent bookstores, are bright, colorful oases sprouting from that formerly toxic ground.

What happened? What caused the apocalypse? And what is allowing these indie bookstores to flourish? Two things: corporate stupidity and the changes in publishing.

Once upon a time, Dorchester Publishing was America’s oldest mass-market paperback publisher. They published horror, romance, western, adventure, mystery, and other genres. When they imploded a few years ago, most of the mid-list collapsed with them. What is the mid-list, you ask? Easy. Take yourself back in time ten or twenty years ago. Imagine walking into a Waldenbooks or Borders bookstore. At the front of the store, you had big cardboard displays or “end-capped” shelves featuring the latest guaranteed bestsellers—fiction by folks like Stephen King, James Patterson, and Danielle Steele; non-fiction by Glenn Beck, John Stewart, and Rachel Ray; memoirs and advice books ghostwritten for reality television stars, athletes, and politicians. Walk past these, and you got to the shelves, where you found perennial sellers—classics by Shakespeare, Dickens, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Thompson, Bukowski, and others. The mid-list existed in the middle of these two groups. It was primarily composed of paperback genre fiction with a smaller print run than the manufactured bestsellers—sold in bookstores and airports and newsstands, impulse buys with a maximum shelf life of one to three months, after which the unsold copies had their covers unceremoniously ripped off and sent back to the publishers for a full credit. That’s right. Publishers spent money manufacturing and producing the books, sent them to bookstores, and the bookstores could then damage the product, rendering it unsaleable, and the publishers didn’t see a dime from it. Hell of a way to run an operation, right?

That was the mid-list. It was where most of the authors you read lived. We could make a living working there. Not a great living, but a reliable middle-class wage. It was the land of Ed Gorman and Bill Pronzini, of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum, of William W. Johnstone and Ruby Jean Jenson, of Tom Piccirilli and myself and hundreds of others who you’ve read and enjoyed. And we never moved beyond it because the system was rigged.

. . . .

When Dorchester collapsed, it took a lot of the mid-list with it. It is never coming back.

Neither are Borders or Waldenbooks.

I have many friends who were booksellers or managers for Borders and Waldenbooks, and they repeat the same story. The demise of those chains was down to corporate stupidity—of executives trying to sell books the same way one sells soft drinks or cement blocks or blenders, of not understanding and anticipating their customer’s needs, of turning their stores into libraries where the public could browse the merchandise and drip coffee all over it and then leave without making a purchase, of the books being pushed further and further to the back of the store to make way for toys and plants and all sorts of other non-book related ephemera that they thought they should sell instead. I don’t know about you, but when I go to a bookstore, I don’t want to buy plants or toys.

. . . .

I have friends who currently work as booksellers or managers for America’s two surviving chain bookstores—Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million, and they tell me confidentially that the situation is the same in their stores. I predict it’s just a matter of time before the same rot that whittled Borders down to nothing does the same to them.

The mid-list is gone. Borders is gone. But that doesn’t matter, because over the last twenty years, we’ve had a new thing come along—something called the Internet. With it came Amazon, and suddenly, mid-list writers didn’t have to play a rigged game anymore. Our books had a shelf life beyond that one to three month span. Readers could find us, discover us, and find our backlist. If your local chain bookstore didn’t have our latest, you could buy it online.

. . . .

To understand why, you need to consider the changes that have taken place in publishing over the last twenty years, particularly those that took place after the demise of the mid-list and the closure of Borders. After those things occurred many mid-list, cult, or genre authors decided to take advantage of the advances in digital and print-on-demand publishing and do it for themselves. They cut out the publisher, cut out the chain stores, and marketed directly to the readers. For example, Bryan Smith, who was inarguably one of Dorchester’s most popular horror writers, began self-publishing via Kindle and CreateSpace and has since made more money from that than he ever did through traditional publishers. Other authors, such as myself, decided to diversify their publication routes. Since Dorchester’s fall, I’ve routinely divided my releases between self-publishing (via Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle), the small press (via publishers such as Deadite Press and Apex Book Company), and mainstream publishing (via big publishing conglomerates such as Macmillan). I do this because I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket. Your mileage may vary.

Link to the rest at Cemetery Dance Online and thanks to Scath for the tip.

Agents and Estates

6 May 2016

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Last week, I posted a blog on Prince’s lack of a will, and talked a little about estates. Of course, some people (who apparently never read my blog) asked me if agents should handle a writer’s estate.

No, agents should not.

Before I even get to the issues below, let me tell you this: Many literary agencies are small businesses, just like your writing business is. Many agents have prepared no better for their deaths than Prince did for his.

. . . .

Dean constantly nagged Bill about writing a will. And Bill would always respond, “What do I care about what’ll happen to my stuff after I die? I’ll be dead.”

As I’ve aged, I understand where Bill was coming from. I have a lot of stuff, more than I can fathom, particularly considering I moved to Oregon nearly 30 years ago with Dean, my cat Buglet, and most of my possessions stuffed into a LeCar. I did ship 20 boxes of books, but that was it. Not even enough for a small U-Haul trailer, let alone a van.

. . . .

When Ralph Vicinanza who was a major (unmarried) agent died suddenly, his entire estate went to his sister, a clueless woman who had no idea how to run a business, let alone a literary agency.

Behind the scenes, I did a lot of hand-holding with heirs to estates handled by that agency. These heirs were brilliant people, many of whom had grown up around Grandpa the Writer or Mommy the Writer, but never learned the business of writing. The heirs often made their own money at super high-powered careers of their own, but they were lost when it came to publishing.

. . . .

So, if you had asked me five years ago, what you the writer should do when it came to who should handle your estate, I would have told you this:

  1. Choose someone to manage the literary part of your estate who has an interest in publishing, particularly the publishing business.
  2. Make sure that person gets a percentage of what she does to manage the literary estate.
  3. If you don’t have any heirs, pick a charity to receive the money from your estate, and then designate a representative to handle the management of the estate. Make sure the charity receives enough money so that if the estate is mismanaged (and they often are), the charity will complain and a new representative will be appointed.
  4. If you don’t have any heirs or you don’t have any smart heirs, and the charity you’ve chosen is outside of the publishing industry, then get a literary agency that has a long list of literary estates to handle your estate after your death.

You’ll note that I have put a line through point four. I do so because some of you will ignore the rest of this post and think that I am advising you to hire an agent to handle your estate.

Yes, I used to give that advice.

And—God as my witness—I was so wrong that I’m embarrassed by it.

. . . .

But on the estate side, I have now worked with a lot of agents, many of them Big Name Agents. The Big Name Agents who handled multimillion dollar clients as well as estates all assigned the estate matters to assistants.

The assistants were so incredibly clueless that I actually felt sorry for them. The assistants didn’t know who I was (not a big deal to me), didn’t know the names of the various companies I was working with (some of which they should have known), did not understand the contract terms and asked me about them—which you should never ever ever do in a negotiation.

If you’re negotiating, you shouldn’t let the other party know the depth of your ignorance. Seriously. Think that through for a minute. These assistants have bosses. They’re the Big Name Agent, hired (in theory) for the prestige and for the Agent’s experience in all matters. And the Big Name Agent did not use that prestige or that experience in these negotiations. The Big Name Agent was too busy to be bothered – for a client.

. . . .

Agent doesn’t care and/or doesn’t know that Famous Dead Author’s works are all out of print and unavailable. Yeah, I can’t believe it either, but when I mentioned it to a few of the agents about their client estates, the agents were shocked to realize that nothing had been in print for years.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Wills are uncanny and electric documents

30 April 2016

Wills are uncanny and electric documents. They lie dormant for years and then spring to life when their author dies, as if death were rain. Their effect on those they enrich is never negligible, and sometimes unexpectedly charged. They thrust living and dead into a final fierce clasp of love or hatred. But they are not written in stone—for all their granite legal language—and they can be bent to subvert the wishes of the writer.

Janet Malcolm

Prince, Estates, and The Future

29 April 2016

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Last week, the death of Prince hit me hard. I was in the middle of teaching the Romance Workshop, here on the Oregon Coast, and working my tail off. A satellite radio station that I always listen to had breaking news—something they never do (which is why I listen to them)—that I could barely hear. I heard “prince” and “died” and “young” so I’m wondering Prince Harry? Prince William? I pick up my iPad across the kitchen to look up the news, and that’s when I see it.

. . . .

I was thinking maybe it was the exhaustion from the workshop, but no. I realized it was because Prince had a huge influence on the way I go about handling business. Doing my work. Taking control of my contracts, my royalties, my art.

I immediately planned an entire blog post on Prince and business.

. . . .

I was still on the fence about how I was going to approach the blog—Prince, control, business, or thinking long-term and contracts—until late yesterday, when I saw on the news that Prince did not have a will.

I sighed. I was afraid of that.

. . . .

Why would someone as smart as Prince about business make this kind of mistake? A million reasons, some of them psychological. None of us believe we’re going to die, not really. And Prince had no children to leave things to. He was famously private, and putting together a will that would handle an estate of that size, with all of its future earnings potential, means that lawyers, financial advisors, and estate planners would have been combing through every aspect of his life, trying to figure out what would happen past his death.

. . . .

Like so many of us, Prince handled his own business. He hired help, of course. Otherwise continuing to be creative would have been impossible. Sometimes he partnered with a record label, sometimes he did not. But he had his fingers in everything.

He had his hands full. Estate planning was probably something he figured he could do later. Of course, later never came.

I’m sure that a lot of projects died with him. A lot has been written just this week about all the music he kept in a temperature-controlled vault at his Paisley Park estate. Speculation about what’s in that vault is rife, but Prince was clear about it. He believed the music in that vault was raw, not ready to be released, for whatever reason. He made conflicting statements about what he wanted done with that music—burned upon his death or eventually released, once it was ready.

It’s not ever going to be ready now, not the way that Prince envisioned, anyway. It’ll be up to whoever ends up managing the estate.

. . . .

I know how much work it will be to manage my estate. A friend of mine, with maybe 20 or so novels to his name, wrote an eight-page single-spaced sheet of instructions to the person who will inherit under his will, explaining terms (like intellectual property) and where the heir can look for more information on things like copyright.

In the middle of this document, which he said I can crib from when I get back to my estate posts, he writes that he has attached a spreadsheet which is a master file to all of his work, including the name of every work published, the ISBN of the print publications, date of publication, what channels the work has been published in, and whether or not the work has been registered with the copyright office. He added a separate file of all his passwords, and then a map on how to find the files (and their backups) for everything he’s ever written.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG says that, while there is lots of material about self-publishing, marketing, promoting, pricing, getting an agent, getting a publisher, etc., etc., Kris is the only writer he knows who has shared thoughts about what can/should happen when an author dies.

Next Page »