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Rocket Sheep
March 22nd, 2004, 05:08 AM
Confessions of a semi-successful author (http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2004/03/22/midlist/)

March 22nd, 2004, 05:38 AM
Originally posted by Rocket Sheep
Confessions of a semi-successful author (http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2004/03/22/midlist/)

RS you have a knack of hitting me where it hurts. FOCL Damn good article.....

March 22nd, 2004, 06:08 AM
Wow. What a terribly informative, truthful article. But I guess that you can always count on the truth to rip out your heart and force you to eat it. Excuse me while I crawl into my hole to silently cry, now that I have a better grip on my future career.

March 22nd, 2004, 08:09 AM
Interesting. And yet it strikes me that she needs to make her mind up about what she's trying to achieve. She's being told her books aren't commercial enough.....if she wants to make money then she needs to write more commercially. If she wants to win awards and 'be true to herself' then she needs to stop expecting everyone to want to read her material.

I suspect from the article that she is writing what I (so humble in my opinions) tend to think of as 'highbrow crap'. You know - the books where the writer has tried too hard to be clever, to 'write well' (which means with many long words and interesting page breaks) and has just ended up being...well, a little dull. The kind of book that wins the Booker prize, and that Orange prize etc etc every year. So call 'literary' prizes. Does anyone actually enjoy any of these? And not in an 'emperor's new clothes' sense. The shortlists are worth checking out, but with rare exceptions, the book that wins is...just snobbery, really.

I know the publicity helps, and it sucks to have your new book judged by the old, but at the end of the day if her stuff is published - out there on the shelves - and it's not selling, then the most likely reason is that most people don't like it very much - and the most likely reason for that is that it's not quite good enough.

I guess the word at the end of the day is 'mass appeal'. There are a lot of writers here with just that. I wouldn't see this article as any reason for them to despair.

ironchef texmex
March 22nd, 2004, 08:43 AM
I'm shocked, stunned, floored..... $240,000 in advances for three books! Where do I sign up for this (imagine fingers doing the quotes thing) abuse.

Maybe the moral of the story is that we all need to keep our expectations somewhere below the stratospheric cloud layer - especially since I'm told the typical advance for a beginning SF/F writer is $5,000 not $50,000.

Out of the 1,500 or so writers in the Science Fiction Writers of America only a few have ever been able to quit there day jobs. Still, I think most writers enjoy the time they get to be writers. Besides, as opposed to being surrounded by glum, wallowing in their own dissapointment mainstream writers, writing in SF/F means you get to hang out with all the interesting fan-types like myself.

PS. if any of you ever grab me, shake, and go on about how awful it is to be on the New York Times bestseller list like our friend 'Patty' I'll kick you right in the nads.

March 22nd, 2004, 09:45 AM
I am what the article describes as a mid-list writer. Unfortunately a lot of the article is spot-on (although, I'd kill for the kind of publicity dept that gets me on TV and radio!!!) but it is clear to me that she writes what we think of as "mainstream" - although I wouldn't pre-judge her work, it wouldn't be fair...

There are pros and cons in writing genre fiction. The biggest plus is hanging out with other people - fans and writers - at cons and events. I was moaning at my husband last year when a bunch of 'chic-lit' writers (whom I had worked with on a successful anthology - I was the only Fantasy bod!) were all invited to the Edinburgh Internation Book Festival to do appearances and talks etc - but I wasn't! My DH pointed out that they don't have things like 'Chic-lit Con!' to go to.

In the genre we do inherit a potentially loyal and intelligent readership and also, in my experience, other authors are willing to help and advise newbies like me! They are generous with their time and 'Pass it Forward' - unlike things I've heard about other genres.

As for the money? Sorry, but it's true, for most of us it's a pittance. I work full time as a writer but I couldn't do so without the support (financial and otherwise) of my hubbie. He does describe me as somthing of a long-term investment! :rolleyes:

So I guess the upshot is: If you're in it just for the money - erm... write "womens stuff" or some other cash-cow.

If you love what you do - find a way to move forward and keep on DOING IT!
(Of course, if you can do that AND make shedloads of dosh - even better!)


March 22nd, 2004, 09:49 AM
Well, I don't think many (if any) of the aspiring writers here actually think that they are going to make a fortune out of writing.

It all comes back to the reason why we write, already covered in a few threads recently.

We would all love to get paid to do what we love, but are happy in the main part just to be able to do what we love. If we get paid for it, bonus.

I do feel sorry for the author, who wouldn't jack in their job and think they had made it after getting $150K for their first advance!!! Only to slowly fade away.

Better to start at $150K and wilt, that $10K and wilt I say. Or indeed, never start at all... I would say pottering around in the submission and rejection game your whole life is far more frustrating and there must be millions out there who do just that.

Wouldn't it be great to have a genuine SFFW success story, and by that I mean a long-time member who has been submitting again and again, to finally find success.

Of course we have a number of authors and a couple with bona fide publishing deals (who still have day jobs after books 3/4/5 by the way!!!).

Chin up guys, keep writing and submitting.

March 22nd, 2004, 11:57 AM
That was inspiring! I found nothing disheartening about that story. To have 4 books in print (5 if you count the ghost write)! I could only dream. To me, the author let herself (himself?) down with grand expectations. Allowing rejection break her (his?) will. To start at the top and tople down I'm sure is difficult.

My take: This author is a romance writer. Most Fantasy/Sci-Fi writers don't write single novels (most write a series/trilogy/quinology). Most romance titles have extreme imprints (15 and 10 in the article). Romance readers are the most fickle in the industry and romance novels the biggest selling (If I recall, over 40% of all books sold are romance).

I can see how the author got down about what happened, but I'm not quitting my day job until I see the six figure deal. Then I'll know I'll never have to work again. I could invest that money and spend my life writing. It wouldn't matter if I got published anymore. As long as I was happy doing what I wanted to do. In the end, that's all that really matters. Are YOU happy?

For now I'll sit, crank out a short sotry for $10, $25, or even just CCs (Contributor Copies). I'm happy with my style and my writing. One day, I'll have a book with only my name on the binding. One day. :)

Rocket Sheep
March 22nd, 2004, 05:40 PM
Just quietly... if she were a romance writer... the mind begins to boggles when she's describing the amount of research she had to do for the later novels!

"Book takes two years, hellish research, difficult and delightful to write."


March 22nd, 2004, 06:38 PM
And as an interesting UK counterview, try here (http://www.thealienonline.net/blog/alien_ed_blog.asp?tid=7&scid=76&iid=1202) from March 7th onwards, though the March 9th blog is the real eyeopener, IMO.

It's a tough world out there....