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there's no money in runnin' cows 'n books?

updated fri 16 mar 01


vince pitelka on thu 15 mar 01

David Hendley wrote:
> The book authors on Clayart sound just like the ranchers out here in East
> "How're the cows doin'?"
> "There's no money in runnin' cows."
> "How long you been doing it?"
> "25 years."

David -
Your down-home Texas philosophizing is generally one of the best things on
Clayart. But this particular example is just a creative string of bullshit
with little relevance to the topic at hand. There's not really anything
wrong with that, because a good string of bullshit can be very entertaining.
But let's not pass it off as rational thinking.

> The truth is, both the ranchers and the authors get compensation
> that is agreeable to them or they wouldn't continue.

Well duh. Of course they get some sort of compensation, but is that the
reason they start writing books or keep writing books? That may be the case
with Susan Peterson, Richard Zakin, and a few others, but there are a host
of more important reasons why people write books. I am a newcomer to
having books published, but I've been working on my book in one way or
another for about ten years. There are others on Clayart who have published
multiple books and can speak on this with more authority.

> "Exposure, publicity, opportunity," the authors say.
> Now they sound like a speaker at a multi-level marketing
> recruitment meeting.
> In reality, the authors themselves, not photo contributors,
> receive the lion's share of name recognition and invitations
> to speak or show that result from publication. When you donate
> a photo to them, you are helping to further their careers as
> much, or more, than your own.

Well duh again. OF COURSE the author receives the lion's share of
recognition, and of course the book furthers their career more than that of
the individual photo contributors. Should it be otherwise? Why state the
obvious? But this in no way diminishes the recognition received by those
whose artwork is published in a book. It is always considered significant
acknowledgment and recognition for any artist to have their work published
in books or magazines, and as you know very well there are many positive
outcomes. The additional line on the resume can be significant in any
circumstance where a resume is required. Having your work published in a
variety of magazines and books drastically increases your visibility, helps
your sales, and can draw you into a wide variety of opportunities.

> This is the classic pyramid sales set-up. If you are on the
> bottom rung, you do the work, and are paid for it, but the
> higher-ups are also paid for your work, since they brought
> you into the organization.

This is so ridiculous as to hardly be worth a response. You are a wise man
regarding so many things, so I have no idea where this comes from, unless
you are just interested in rocking the boat, which is not at all a bad thing
in a discussion format like this. Classic pyramic sales set-up? You think
that authors ask for photos of work as part of some insidious strategy to
further themselves and their own work, at the expense of the "little guy?"
Do you really think that it ever occurs to most authors to be that
manipulative and self-serving? If so, you know nothing about the psychology
of authoring.

> So, is this a bad system you should refuse to participate in?
> Well no, it works because everyone benefits.
> Can you make a reasonable argument that contributors should
> be compensated for sending in photos that are used to make
> money for the publisher and help promote the author? Absolutely.

Sorry, but this does not hold water at all. Of course the system works for
everyone's benefit. No one looses out. But I want to hear more. I cannot
see how you can make a valid arguement that artists should be compensated
for images appearing in books or magazines. As I have said, being published
means recognition for them and their work. It is an excellent opportunity,
and they have much to gain by it. Whoever writes the book certianly
deserves to be compensated for their labors, but when artists are asked to
submit images of work there is no reason at all to offer monetary
compensation. The author and publisher are doing all the work and investing
all the time and money, and there is little expense for the individual
artist, and the artist wins in the end. The artist does deserve to get the
slides or transparencies back, and in this day and age, once the publisher
has digitized the image they are usually willing to return the materials, so
the artist has no net costs other than postage and the temporary loan of
their photo materials.

Much of my feelings on this have to do with the whole notion of writing
books, disseminating information, and documenting cultural accomplishment.
It is of enormous benefit to society to make these things proceed as easily
and gracefully as possible. Authors doing research for books gather
information from a wide variety of sources. They gather facts and figures,
and they gather images and illustrations. For all of our benefit, they need
to be able to do so with minimal encumbrance. The more expense that is
loaded upon authors and publishers, the less chance the research and
publishing will ever be done at all. Your comments degrade the whole
situation in a way that is a little surprising. As I know you agree,
researching and writing is a noble venture. Unless an author gets on the
Oprah Book Club or the NY Times Best Seller list (which is relatively
unlikely in this case), writing usually pays VERY poorly for the time
invested by the author. It should be obvious that this is not why we do it.

> As my neighbor Glen Parsons says, "Once them dang cows get
> in your blood you can't never quit."

Yea yea yea, Merl Travis said the same thing about coal mining, and others
have said it about logging, commercial fishing, even studio pottery. It's a
nice down-home Wil Rogers analogy, but of course it has absolutely nothing
at all to do with the subject of discussion.
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Crafts
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166
Home -
Work -
615/597-6801 ext. 111, fax 615/597-6803

Edouard Bastarache on thu 15 mar 01

Hello Vince,

I agree with you 1,000 times.

"Unless an author gets on theOprah Book Club or the
NY Times Best Seller list (which is relatively unlikely
in this case), writing usually pays VERY poorly for the time
invested by the author.
It should be obvious that this is not why we do it."

"I am a newcomer to having books published,
but I've been working on my book in one way or
another for about ten years."

I have spent the same number of years on my book,
in different languages.


Edouard Bastarache
Irr=E9ductible Qu=E9becois
Dans / In "La Belle Province"