December 29th, 2006
Mixed Bag

First off, dh added RSS feeds, so you can now subscribe to my blog. YAH dh!!! SWAK!

The lists and blogs over the last few days have been such a mixed bag of entries. A lot of people are switching to blogging schedules. (Can’t really blame them.) There’s been discussions on reviewing etiquette (why people flock to snarky sites), the state of the publishing industry (always uplifting…NOT), 2007 goals, used books destroying careers, and making a living via writing. (Most readers don’t understand that used books don’t count as sales for an author, but that’s a blog for another day.)

This has been a tumultuous year for a lot of writers. Between the lessons learned and the loss of book deals, several people are questioning the sanity of continuing. I’ve experienced both over the past couple of years, so I have followed the conversations closely. Some people are finally coming to the understanding that the only thing you have control over is the work. That’s it. Nothing more. Everything else is out of your hands. Sound depressing? It is…BUT it’s also extremely liberating. When I wrote RED, I knew there was a VERY good chance that I’d never sell the manuscript. It doesn’t fit neatly into a box and people tend to love it or hate it. Not many ‘in between’ emotions. Did I care? A little, but not enough to stop writing. See, I loved the book so much that it didn’t matter whether anyone else agreed with me. I feel that way about the urban fantasy.

Now maybe I’ve come to this point through the lessons I experienced this year. I’m not sure. But it’s definitely a better space to be in for my writing. I’m not saying that I don’t give a shit about the business. I do, but it helps to cultivate a little of that attitude. (wg) 😉

This brings me to the next subject that’s been discussed online, making a living by writing. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m approaching the topic from a different angle this time. Can you still make a living from writing, if your name isn’t Nora, Stephen, JK, Stuart or Patricia? Yes. You can. There’s a catch though. (Isn’t there always? *g*) Much depends on what you consider a living to be and what you’re willing to do to survive.

Back in the old days *cough* it was much easier to make a living writing for the epubs. The industry was new. There wasn’t a lot of competition. And readers were hungry for something different. (I believe the latter hasn’t changed.) You could easily survive on your earnings…as long as you didn’t count on them coming in on a certain date. Several writers I know still make a living by writing for the epubs, but you have to work a lot harder and much, much, much faster. The key is producing quality work in bulk. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it is possible. In addition to doing the above, you also have to be willing to write outside of the industry. (ie magazines, newspapers, technical guides, etc.) The key is to diversify and be prepared to work your ass off.

I don’t make what I’d consider a living from writing. Right now, I’m more at the part-time job stage. This has been my choice. I could’ve pushed to get a lot more written and released, but I didn’t want to hate writing. It was when I tried doing this a couple of years ago that I discovered that even though I wanted to be a writer for hire, I wasn’t. I didn’t have it in me to write consistently to the market. It bummed me out, but it was a good lesson to learn. It changed how I approached writing.

You’re probably wondering if I have a point to this entry. LOL! No, I don’t. Hence the title. *ggg* What have you been seeing on the web lately that has made you think happy/unhappy thoughts?

22 comments to “Mixed Bag”

  1. And you found the right fit in urban fantasy! Hooray!!!! RED is an incredible book, and you should be damn proud of it.
    Though I still love your sexy Atlanteans. Must be the alpha-male heroes…with their 6 inch tongues :0.

  2. Hmmm…none of the blogwars have really affected me since I am naturally a detached voyeur, but I’ve had to cut back on surfing the blogosphere because I used it to procrastinate and doubt what I wanted to write(damn that PW subscription! *g*). What’s funny is that I start out full of confidence and optimism, but getting too involved in what everyone else chats about tends to errode my confidence and turns me into a pessimist.

  3. Thanks Julie! I don’t think you’re the only woman impressed with the Atlantean’s attributes. *ggg* I’m still crazy for Ares. 😉

  4. Camilla, I think it is easy to waste time and doubt yourself when you’re reading too many blogs/lists. It’s been interesting, but this is the first year I haven’t ‘cared’ where I fit in. Maybe it’s the sale to Tor or maybe it’s just the ‘new’ writer me. Either way, it works. 🙂

  5. Jordan, all the snark that’s being going on all over blogland has finally worn me out. One of my new year’s rezzie’s is to stop blog hopping. I’m wastign energy by reading a bunch of negative bullshit.

    I also had an epiphany yesterday. It finally occurred to me that I need to stop worrying about whether I make it or not as a writer, and just write what I love. I’ve been obssessing over numbers this year, and review and all kinds of stuff that is completely out of my control. In 2007, I’m just going to concentrate on creating a great story and living my life.

  6. Vivi, I’m surprised that the negativity isn’t getting to me this year, but so far I’ve just shook my head at the whole pot load. YAH on the epiphany!!! You’ll be amazed how much happier it’ll make you. 😀

  7. Blog-hopping is generally good for me (except when I do it too much, and I do). Think I tend to walk around with my head in the clouds too much. A healthy dose of realism here and there does me good. But if I overindulge, I do tend to get discouraged with all the talk about how tough it is to succeed in the biz. :-/

  8. Raine, I think that’s really easy to do, especially when the people doing the talking are well-established authors. At least that’s when it freaks me out. :-/ Besides, the view from the clouds is quite pretty. 🙂

  9. I’m really selective with blogs, so I’m missing most of the negative snark. I cut out a lot because of that, but I believe in feeding my head with good stuff. You know what they say; garbage in, garbage out. I’m with you Jordan: you can control the work, not the vagaries of the industry. Seeing others think this way makes me happy because it means happier writers which leads to good product coming to market, and since I’m an avid reader, I’m excited about good writing. What’s saddened me on the internet: the usual gossip over the washline stuff, flame wars, Lee Goldberg’s stance on fan fiction (cause you know, everyone’s racing out to write Murder She Wrote fan fic), agents deciding to promote themselves more than thier writers. Steve Axelrod spoke at our RWA meeting a few weeks back and helped clarify this for me, it’s been kind of a nag, but in reality, when the agent is angling to be a bigger star than his/her writers, there’s a glitch in the gears somewhere. Same goes for editors. Excellent post. Gets one to thinking. Last, I’d say, be present in the moment as a writer, be in tune to the work, and your creative drive: I’m seeing that theme repeating and I like it.

  10. I really like the cover snark blogs. They are entertaining. As to writing for the market place, I think it only works if you enjoy writing whatever genre happens to be selling. Getting your manuscript take on a popular genre picked up by an agent is a different story. The big names made their particular market place, but they had a heck of a time doing it.

    I never thought I’d like a first person narrative with a female bounty hunter, but I like Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum. She’s funny, and she doesn’t have her character doing superhuman stuff. Can others do the same thing, and sell? Sure, but they may not make a living at it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s nice if you have a day job. 🙂

  11. Am I the only one here who can’t afford to get a day job? Seriously, if I couldn’t work at home around my kids’ schedules, I would have a baby and a preschooler in full time day care and/or preschool and there’s no job around here that would pay enough to cover that and leave what I’m earning over. I’m grateful every day to have a vocation and avocation that allow me to make money and be a mom both.

    I think it’s true that it’s gotten harder to make a living epublishing, that you have to be fast and prolific. But I think that’s true in trad. publishing as well.

    Around the web, well, I avoid a lot of sites. If I come across negativity I tend to not go back. When I find a site I enjoy, I spend my time there instead. As a result I never seem to know what big to-do is going on or who’s involved. I’m the person in the corner going, “huh?”

  12. Ursula, I do think it will make for happier writers in the long run. 🙂 I didn’t catch the fanfic entry. Sadly, I try to ignore all of that stuff. *g* You brought up a wonderful point about agents. I hadn’t actually thought about it, but it did seem like this year, more than others, that there have been several agents who have shifted to building their own names more than their clients. I wonder if that’s a new trend. Too many rock stars and not enough roadies. I sure hope not. 🙁

  13. Bernard, You definitely have to be unique in this particular marketplace. The same old, same old isn’t flying anymore. As for the day job, it’s a little late for that. I quit the airline in 2002. Oops! 😉

  14. Charli, I don’t have kids, but I do understand the expense of keeping them in day care. Sometimes it is cheaper to stay home. You’re fortunate that you have a job that allows you to do so. 🙂 You’re probably making more money by staying home than you would be working outside the house.

  15. I think some people do not get the difference between snark, which is clever and subtle but not bitter and meanspirited, and well, bitter and meanspirited. Anyone can be mean, it’s easy and the low road. Not everyone is clever enough to manage snarky (Smart Bitches can do it so well! But not very many sites that like to say they’re snarky actually are. But still, it’s my very big resolution/goal to keep my ass out of flamewars and to avoid the bitter sites. I have enough negativity in my life and it’s not helpful to me at all.

    As for making a living – my husband and I were just talking about this earlier. I’m fortunate, he makes a good living and although it was tight before with me at home, my writing income is a nice supplemental one. If I were on my own, I’d have to at least work part time and probably more because I’d need healthcare for my kids. EC has been very good to me, but it’s only now, after two years that I’m seeing any real results because I’ve built up a backlist.

  16. You have a day job Charli, and a pretty important one at that. How can what a stay at home Moms worth be calculated? Anything you happen to earn on the side is extraordinary income. As was pointed out, anything you took on, which made daycare a reality, will cost its weight in money and anguish. My point with having a day job, is while the perception of a starving writer/artist may be romantic, the reality of it sucks. 🙂

  17. Lauren, Sometimes it pays to stay out of the fray. I’m fortunate too that my dh makes enough for me to sit here like a lump most days. *ggg* I would definitely have to work at least part-time, until I got more of an EC backlist built up. I may have been writing for them since 03 (sold to them in 02), but I don’t have enough books out to breathe easy. For now, I’ll have to be content with donating a novella to the cause here and there, while I write the single titles elsewhere. 🙂

  18. Bernard, You’re right about the starving artist thing…says the woman who used to date a musician. *ggg* To be fair, he wasn’t exactly starving. 🙂

  19. I’ve done my best to avoid most of the snark this year, catching most of it after the fact like a bad car wreck =)

    As to making a living writing, I’m not under any illusions, not as a single parent with two kids and a pittance in child support coming in. I’m just lucky my daycare days are pretty much over.

  20. Amie, Me too on the snark. Yep, being a single mom isn’t easy. My mom raised me alone for the first four/five years of my life.

  21. Yes, making a living writing is indeed possible but that’s not to say it’s easy and it involves plenty of patience, effort and commitment–which is just one of the reasons I don’t have the time or inclination to get involved in snark, squabbles, flame wars, etc.

    Best wishes, Jordan, for a new year filled with joy, love, good health, friendship, and enough of whatever you want and need to fulfill your deepest dreams and desires.

  22. Daisy, Thank you! Same to you. 😀