On Tuesday I wasted some of your time bragging about how great I am. Right or wrong, I thought it would make a good foundation.
Now I’ll try to make it worth your while. This is what I really wanted to write about anyway.
Shoulders to Stand On
There’s another foundational point I should make, and it really needs a post of its own, too. For now, I’ll give it a section.
See…all art is built upon other art. That’s true whether we’re talking about Costner’s Robin Hood or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or just Twilight‘s feeble efforts to retell Romeo and Juliet.
All art is built on other art. There are certainly elements of Tolkien and McCaffrey and Zelazny in Taming Fire. There’s some Eragon, too, even though I’ve never read it. There’s some Game of Thrones, even though those books completely bum me out. There’s Robert Jordan and Terry Pratchett and a little bit of Michael Bay.
All art is built on other art. As a writer, I owe everything I create to the creators who have come before me. The better the material I have to work with, the better the product I can create.
Maybe I hammered that point a little too hard, but it matters to the sales pitch because it’s a big part of the price tag. Every title published by Consortium Books is destined to enter the public domain.
That’s a lot to ask. Most publishers overstep the bounds of fairness and reason when they list all the rights they want an author to give them, but no one asks an author to give up all rights, completely, forever.
How can I justify that? Because the Consortium has no intention of hoarding those rights. The Consortium donates them to other artists. We make it cheap and easy to create new works because we respect those who made it possible for us to create ours.
That is a lot to ask of a writer, but we offer to pay for it. Or…we will. There’s not enough money yet, but there will be.
And that money won’t be an advance. It won’t be 6% royalties minus reserves against returns. It’s going to be a fixed salary.
That’s the goal of the Consortium: establishing a new patronage. We want to pay writers to become master writers.
So our salary is meant to be a living wage. It’s meant to represent enough wages to cover the full cost of making the work.
Personally, I look at the salary as my pension. I’ll be paid to write a novel while I’m writing the novel, so I don’t need to be paid for writing it for the rest of my life (and another 70 years after I’m dead).
But the salary isn’t the only payment we offer. And the benefits include a lot more than just the warm feeling of making new inspiration for future writers.
We also offer publication. That might sound like a small reward to someone who’s already established, but to someone just starting out that can be a big deal. We provide cover art, story editing, copyediting, layout and production, marketing and promotion, and sales and accounting.
We can help a writer find the way in this strange new digital marketplace, and we’re dedicated to building our authors as brands. Not as our brands, but as their own. A writer might well choose to publish one or two books with us to build a name (and some goodwill from contributing to the public domain), then move on from there to a monumental career in traditional- or self-publishing.
If that makes it seem like we’d only appeal to naive novices, well, it could turn out that way. Wouldn’t be such a bad thing, because one foundational aspect of our program is training.
Unlike the traditional publishers, we’re not searching for the chance to secure a book that’s already guaranteed to make us a couple million bucks. We’re looking to recruit a writer with the potential to write a couple dozen good books.
We want to develop writers and develop individual novels. I recently talked about how we did just that with Joshua’s book.
And then he and I had a long conversation about this topic — about his sacrificing ownership of this amazing young-adult adventure story to the company. He smiled at me and said, “I didn’t write the book you published. I just wrote the rough draft. It took the whole company to make the book that’s getting so much attention.”
That education is a big part of our mission. That’s the writer’s real reward for the rights given to the company. We have an entire School of Writing that exists to make all our writers better. The cost of admission to that school is participation.
The Big Idea
Please don’t take any that as dismissive of the original act of writing. Remember, I’m a writer. I like writers. I want to pay them lots of money to do it.
But I want to pay them to improve their art, not to exploit fiat monopolies. Copyright is bad for artists. Commoditizing art is bad for artists. What an artist has to offer isn’t an exclusive property, but a public service.
That’s my sales pitch. That’s what’s worth giving up the golden yacht and the movie premieres for. That’s my big idea.
I’ll let you know how it goes.