Exploiting the Concept of ‘Family’ to Make Money

I have two families. The first is the one I was born into. The other is the one I’ve chosen, made up of friends I keep close.

Some publishers want to be my family. They actively perpetuate the idea that we’re related to one another and put out the warm and fuzzies on a pretty constant basis.

I get why they do that. It engenders loyalty, and loyalty translates into sales for the company. Writers keep bringing their new babies home to the family.

I’m not saying they don’t mean it when they refer to themselves and their writers as family, but I’m old enough to take that with a big grain of salt. 

A friend of a friend opined some months ago during a casual conversation that people who weren’t saving for their future were making bad choices. I pointed out that not everyone earned enough money to put something away for a rainy day, or that when they managed it, the car broke down or a kid needed braces and the savings consequently disappeared. She insisted saving money was possible for everyone, and repeated it: “They are making bad choices.”

This person is an investment counselor. She makes a living off other people’s money. I consider her a parasite, and I don’t think nearly as highly of her as I did before that conversation.

I bet she considers her clients family, and she no doubt goes out of her way to foster that notion because without those clients, she makes no money. She doesn’t produce anything, she doesn’t create anything, she lives off what her clients produce and create.

So do publishers.

Publishing is a business. It exists to make money off what writers create. Without us, they’d starve, and these days, writers can do fairly well on their own. So it behooves them to make us feel like one big happy family.

It’s well known many writers have fragile egos and a wrong look will make it impossible for them to write for a week. Those authors probably need that feeling of family in order to do their best work. They like knowing they have a home for future manuscripts. There ain’t nothing wrong with that!

But if you write not only because you love it but because you need the money, you need to remember that publishing is a business. They suck off your life blood to live. ‘Family’ is all well and good, but you want a house that’s professional, one who’ll get the job done, whether it’s creating that cover on time, sending your royalties on the date promised, or doing a great editing job.

Talk to other writers. Ask about their experiences with their publisher(s). Maintain your perspective and make good choices. Where you place your manuscript makes all the difference in the world.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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2 Responses to Exploiting the Concept of ‘Family’ to Make Money

  1. W. Lotus says:

    When I first started working, I took that “family” stuff seriously. I got burned very often. I am wiser, now. So yes, I agree with your advice about taking it with a salt lick, and not just with regards to publishing.

    • I had a job once in a small place of business. These people hired friends and relatives and although I was neither, they welcomed me warmly and told me I was part of the family.

      At another company, this one consisting of over a hundred employees, I was told over and over how valuable I was by managers of several different departments.

      All bullshit. I was laid off from both places the instant the financial shit hit the fan. No business chooses ‘family’ over money. Always watch your back.

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