Re: paying the artists: the spike

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Jul 29 2000 - 07:06:59 MDT

At 02:54 AM 29/07/00 -0400, Eli wrote:

>we do have one noncopyright strategy; publish work that's important
>enough and maybe someone will pay you to keep doing it.

Hmm. This might apply to the odd mutant supergenius programmer, but doesn't
port well to many artists. I seem to recall Brian Atkins explicitly
suggesting that artists ought to go seek out wealthy patrons. (I might have
the ascription wrong.) Clearly, the history of painting and sculpture in
the 20th century (and most of the preceding epochs a fortiori) is a tally
of initially unpopular work funded by rich connoisseurs. I've never heard
of this working for novelists, although some poets might get away with it.
*Institutional* patronage and elite awards, of course, support a large part
of highbrow art of all kinds.

>Damien Broderick is fortunate and
>*rare* in being able to make a living at skiffy (sci-fi)

Ha! < quiet choking sounds >

>the very existence of SF magazines

Which appear to be on the way out; certainly their print runs are shrinking
at a shocking rate, something like 20 percent a year I seem to recall.

>Writing short stories doesn't pay -

Of course it does. 5 cents a word or more, isn't it? $375 for a 7500
worder. True, it doesn't pay *much*.

>writing novels does

For anyone less than a bestseller, $7500 for a 150,000 word novel, average
length by today's bloated standards, would not be especially low. Besides,
plenty of sf novels (at any rate) are `fix-ups' - compiled from shorter
linked stories, most previously published.

>> just pointing out that your empirical evidence is not especially
>> representative of the way most artists need to make a living from their

>Yes, I believe I said as much in my original message ("you can't run an
>industry that way").

You *can* run an *industry* by ripping off (in a financial sense) the work
of people who are weirdly skewed toward wanting to produce creative work,
or by publishing out-of-copyright classics, etc. You just can't easily run
a *life* that way if you're one of the sheep begging to be shorn.

Damien Broderick

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