Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lessons from the pulp writers of yesteryear

I've been hanging onto this one for a while.  Jason S. Ridler's guest post for SWFA "Work like Hell: Lessons from the Pulp Jungle" talks about what it took to make it in the world of early 20th century pulp fiction and what lessons we can take from that.

Times were tough.  We can all agree on that.

I'm often left raising an eyebrow when writers bemoan how the bottom has fallen out of the publishing world.  They say things like you can't make a living writing anymore.

My eyebrow goes up.  Could you ever make a living as a writer? I want to ask.  At least, make the "easy living" you seem to imply?

Maybe I too often take my sense of context from stories of Edgar Allen Poe barely scraping by, or the pulp writers who had to write a story a day to get enough material sold to pay the rent.  I've recently been enlightened to the fact that for a while in the 90s (and maybe other decades, but this example came from the 90s) a writer could put out a book of literary fiction, get a six figure advance that would never earn out, and still be able to publish another book with the same publisher.

That's the bottom falling out?  Writers not getting inflated advances that never earn out?

I call it publishers coming to their senses.

Now, it sucks if your book doesn't make money and sell lots of copies because you, the writer, won't have a way to make money.  But a business is a business.  Write more.  Write faster.  Get an Underwood and battle the pulp jungle.

Highly Recommended