Thursday, August 19, 2010

The author's lament

At the Times, Jennifer B. McDonald ponders the wonders of Jennifer Egan's website.

Hmmm, I really want to read her new book, in fact between that and the Franzen (though I think that is not yet in stores) I discern a minor Books & Books spending spree in my near future - but a story like this also makes me really grumpy.

It is the tyranny of modern authorship!

How much does it cost to have a website like that made? I really have no idea - $5000? Couldn't really be less than that, I'd guess - might be more - this is aside from the time the author has to put in making content (in this case, Egan was obviously interested and excited about it - I had an idea of that vague general sort for my last novel that I would have liked to execute, involving putting bits and pieces of alternate history excised from earlier drafts and maps and so forth on a website, but was stymied by logistics and cost issues - and really my talents just don't lie in that direction). That money comes out of whatever the author receives as an advance, it is not paid by the publishers - it is the rare author whose finances truly can permit that sort of investment of cash up front, though I quite see that it is worthwhile, when truly building a career as author, to make that sort of investment (just as I quite see that it is worthwhile to hire an independent publicist, though it is not what I have done thus far).

Sometimes it seems hardly worth the trouble of writing the books in the first place when there is all this dreadful need for follow-through (at a time when one would really prefer to be writing a new book instead!)...


  1. $5,000?!?1?!?!? Today is my first day back on the WWW in a week and people "Keep" saying OH LORDY J.E.'S WEBSITE IS THE DOPEST and I keep going there and clicking on things and thinking... wha? I could find you someone to make you a website that complex for $333.45, professor Davidson. AND NOT TO MENTION: still mops the floor with or whatever it's called, purely on the force of the INSANE QUANTITIES OF ORIGINAL, CHARMING, USEFUL, BRILLIANT "'CONTENT'" that lives and grows here!!!!!!! and blogspot eez free!! (minus the surely considerable hours of maintenance-work you mention above!!!!!)

  2. I am laughing at this comment, which thoroughly cheered me up - thanks!

  3. Well, I do think there's something to be said for a website with a lot of material (if my website were as easy to update as pp all sorts of things would be more readily accessible). Mine's certainly not as exciting as Egan's, but I think it cost about $200 to get it set up; I don't think it would have cost a lot more to do more. (Web designers may, of course, be cheaper in Berlin.)