The Secrets by Michael Stackpole – podcast/newsletter review

Another podcast I like to recommend to fellow writers is one that, while no longer in current production (it’s still available, but new episodes aren’t being made), is Michael Stackpole’s “The Secrets.” This is an excellent resource for the nuts-and-bolts of writing, and for writing exercises, idea generating, and general good advice.

If you find yourself at the end of “The Secrets” podcast and want more from this author, you can always subscribe to his newsletter. Aside from the writing itself, Stackpole (via podcast, newsletter, and blog) routinely confronts the question plauging writers today: what do we do about the mess in the publishing industry? While doomsayers (who have realism on their side) claim that beginning authors have very little real hope of getting published, Stackpole leads the charge, insisting that the future is here and we’d be fools not to embrace it. His heartening logic is that the collapse of traditional publishing is a good thing, that instead of readers paying $15 for a book that a writer sees 60 cents of, that authors selling their books electronically for $5 makes reading more affordable for the audience, more profitable for the writer, and that the meddling middlemen (those publishers and fickle book sellers) don’t deserve to gouge either party a minute longer.

I like the sound of it and I think, for already published authors, there’s good sense in that view.  But, for unpublished beginners?  My own suspicion is that without the trusted gatekeepers (agents, editors, publishers, and bookstores), unknown authors will struggle – perhaps entirely in vain – to sell their work without establishing themselves by some other means first.  Certainly, an author like Scott Sigler is a fine example of an electronic-self-made wonder… but he’s also the only example I know of which merits the word ‘wonder.’  I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, I’m just saying a person should be prepared for a really long, very-much-uphill fight.  (Okay, having said that, who’s with me?)


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