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RJHubbard53
06-13-2011, 03:28 PM
There is a lot of good information below in the article posted by CD. However, I have an honest question for many of you "real" authors and/or writers.

Do you make a living at this?

I'm new to writing - I don't know the terminology, publication process, methodlogies, etc. but am intrigued following the conversations on this board.

I'm no dummy; unlike the Gen Y population, I realize that career progress and compensation are dictated by experience, practice, and competence. I don't expect overnight success but am curious about expected earnings in this field.

How long did it take you to break into this and transition from hobby to career? How much do you typically receive for your short stories when published in anthologies or magazines? If you are skilled enough to get a book deal - in this genre - what's your typical pay? If you're in a dry spell and aren't getting much interest in your stuff, how do you make ends meet?

Thanks!

RJ

ozmosis7
06-13-2011, 03:33 PM
I guess that depends on how you define living. I've met some that claim to support themselves, but now days there are far too few professional markets and plenty of awesome authors to submit to them. So the chances of getting in a pro-market are much like winning the lottery by the odds, although your skill will play heavily into that. A lot of those I see making the most money do the self-publishing thing, but doing that will likely taint you with agents and traditional markets. I would think that most authors aren't making enough money to live off of it unless you see their name listed at a place like this or above. Even then they might be doing some side work. I'm just guessing though as I have yet to get to that point myself.

RJHubbard53
06-13-2011, 06:59 PM
thanks for the response, Ken. After following these threads, checking out some website, blogs, etc. I was curious about it. Especially in horror; it's not exactly Oprah Book of the Month material

C.W. LaSart
06-13-2011, 07:07 PM
I can say that I am only one year into my career, and have made next to no money as of yet. In fact, when my book comes out this Fall-I will not recieve any royalties until close to Summer of next year-if any books sell. It is a hard business, but you have to realize that the first couple of years are more about getting your name out there and building publishing credit than about raking in the bucks, unless you get VERY LUCKY! I am just thrilled that my publisher has invited me to participate in the World Horror Convention next year!

ozmosis7
06-13-2011, 07:08 PM
I've treated my wife to McDonald's...and SUPER-SIZED IT!!!! :)

C.W. LaSart
06-13-2011, 07:12 PM
I've treated my wife to McDonald's...and SUPER-SIZED IT!!!! :)

Quit bragging! LOL!

Craig Wallwork
06-13-2011, 08:02 PM
I once made $36 for writing an erotic tale about a woman who buys a shark-shaped dildo. To add weight to the adage, sex really does sell. Other than that, I have a couple of royalty checks/cheques (depending on which side of the pond you reside), that might, if I'm lucky, pay for a new pair of socks.

RJHubbard53
06-13-2011, 08:10 PM
oh the glamor/glamour!

ozmosis7
06-13-2011, 08:16 PM
I once made $36 for writing an erotic tale about a woman who buys a shark-shaped dildo.

LOL! I just literally fell out of my chair.

RichardThomas
06-13-2011, 11:55 PM
It's very tough to make a living at being a "writer". I have one book out and royalties from a few anthologies and have gotten paid enough to make it into the HWA (Horror Writers Association) but it's nowhere near enough to live on. If you can get a couple books in rotation and keep them selling, are able to sell some stories, and even put up some eBooks/eStories that should earn indefinitely, you can make a little bit. Pair that with a teaching gig (I just got my MFA) and maybe editing and you can get by. That or sell 50,000 books. It's funny though. I've been a freelance art director for 15 years, so I make anywhere from $30-75/hr. So when I get my check for $12 or $56 or even $325 for a story or a royalty payment, I kind of laugh. But someday...maybe someday. But it's really hard to do.

Draven Ames
06-14-2011, 01:40 AM
I can say that I am only one year into my career, and have made next to no money as of yet. In fact, when my book comes out this Fall-I will not recieve any royalties until close to Summer of next year-if any books sell. It is a hard business, but you have to realize that the first couple of years are more about getting your name out there and building publishing credit than about raking in the bucks, unless you get VERY LUCKY! I am just thrilled that my publisher has invited me to participate in the World Horror Convention next year!

Very true to life story. If you are doing it for the money, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Draven Ames
06-14-2011, 01:41 AM
It's very tough to make a living at being a "writer". I have one book out and royalties from a few anthologies and have gotten paid enough to make it into the HWA (Horror Writers Association) but it's nowhere near enough to live on. If you can get a couple books in rotation and keep them selling, are able to sell some stories, and even put up some eBooks/eStories that should earn indefinitely, you can make a little bit. Pair that with a teaching gig (I just got my MFA) and maybe editing and you can get by. That or sell 50,000 books. It's funny though. I've been a freelance art director for 15 years, so I make anywhere from $30-75/hr. So when I get my check for $12 or $56 or even $325 for a story or a royalty payment, I kind of laugh. But someday...maybe someday. But it's really hard to do.

I've been accepted into the HWA, but I'm still waiting for it to happen. Sad.

ozmosis7
06-14-2011, 01:46 AM
They have like 5 levels now don't they? Which membership did you guys get?

ozmosis7
06-14-2011, 02:02 AM
I was able to buy copies of my book for near cost and make my investment back plus buy a new desk chair. That was really my goal, because writing while standing up sucks. And I still have like 20 copies to sell, but I have linked to Amazon instead trying to move up the charts. I hit like 300k on the kindle version for a while. My first quarterly check was laughable, but as has been stated, it isn't all about the money all the time. You have to take your licks getting to the center. ah - 1.....2....

Draven Ames
06-14-2011, 02:04 AM
I don't remember the level, but not very high yet. But it will go up, I'm sure. I've also got a movie in submissions for the Nicholls Fellowship. That should be interesting. 6500+ entries.

C.W. LaSart
06-14-2011, 02:22 AM
Very true to life story. If you are doing it for the money, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Oh, I'm in it for the money ;) LOL_but I don't have to be a bestseller to get by. My beloved just finished his degree and when he gets a better job, interview tomorrow, I won't need to make much to stay at home and write. I only bartend 3 nights a week as it is.

RJHubbard53
06-14-2011, 03:18 AM
well, luckily i am a trophy husband. My wife works damn hard; I work but not as hard so have some extra time. i've never expected it to be a career; more of an accomplishment. thanks for all the answers; you're all very honest!

ozmosis7
06-14-2011, 03:20 AM
Sure, maybe we will meet up in OC sometime...only..you're buying the McD's and I expect the supersize!!! :)

ozmosis7
06-14-2011, 03:21 AM
Oh and McD's is code for dirty martini's, hold the vermouth. :P

C.W. LaSart
06-14-2011, 03:40 AM
Well I will make the martini's I guess-dirty or otherwise! I am the professional...bartender that is! ;)

ozmosis7
06-14-2011, 03:47 AM
[Find's a spot at Caren's bar] Twelve please!

RJHubbard53
06-14-2011, 04:14 AM
Well I will make the martini's I guess-dirty or otherwise! I am the professional...bartender that is! ;)
I used to be but now just an afficionado - my specialty is the margarita, fresh squeezed and no triple sec!

C.W. LaSart
06-14-2011, 04:15 AM
I used to be but now just an afficionado - my specialty is the margarita, fresh squeezed and no triple sec!

Then you can make those!

Pooks
06-17-2011, 04:09 AM
Ozmosis7, why do you say that self-publishing will taint you with agents and traditional markets? I would think that they would like to see a following for a book and see the possibilities that nationwide/worldwide marketing could do?

ozmosis7
06-17-2011, 04:26 AM
Ozmosis7, why do you say that self-publishing will taint you with agents and traditional markets? I would think that they would like to see a following for a book and see the possibilities that nationwide/worldwide marketing could do?

Well, it's one thing if you have a following like Amanda Hocking. But, success like that self-pubbing is as rare as a traditional success. When you go the self-pubbing route, you have established you are fine with working on your own, and thus I would imagine taking money out of agent's hands, as well as a publisher. However, there's several layers, like an onion, in between those two extremes. I have just caught wind that there are several agents/publishers that won't bother looking at you once you self-pub. This is why when you go to sell your book, other authors ask you that question. If you've already self-pubbed, I don't think it marks you so much, as if you have a track record. There is a lot of talk out there, and I am not sure anyone knows the modern rules of the game, but that's what I have heard from some pretty straight up people. All that being said, if you can reach Hocking's success, go all out for it. Also, if you feel the traditional route will never find you well, you might decide to try to take that route. After all, very few successful ends take the same roads.

ozmosis7
06-17-2011, 10:51 AM
Thinking on this more, rather than post links I've found, I'll just state what it was. There was an article about Hocking, discussing how she made so much she was untouchable by publishers. Recently, she did just sign with a publisher.

Jeff Strand used to self-pub, and was picked up for a publishing deal. One of the guys he co-authored a self-pubbed book with is still doing so successfully, claiming he will make over $500k this year. Whether or not some of his success comes from having co-authored a book with a Stoker award winner is up in the air.

Many others who have been kind enough to share their earnings from self-pubbing, are reporting 20 or copies sold per a month of their books. That isn't quite as successful. A lot of that could be due to marketing techniques, as the one author above that is doing well had a strategy he lived by. I have seen another self-pubbed author use the same marketing techniques and be successful as well. So there is something to that.

So a very successful author might do fine, and get a traditional contract. I've just been told by a lot of authors with bigger names that is a bad idea to go that route. They claim that there are several publishers/agents who won't even look at you once you self-pub. And again, everything I put here is from articles, research, and word of mouth, so its fallible to a degree. But as much as there are some that won't look at you, I am sure there are plenty that will if you are successful. And that last part has been proven.

Hope that clears up some and helps. Good luck.

mlouisdixon
06-17-2011, 02:03 PM
Jeff Strand used to self-pub, and was picked up for a publishing deal. One of the guys he co-authored a self-pubbed book with is still doing so successfully, claiming he will make over $500k this year. Whether or not some of his success comes from having co-authored a book with a Stoker award winner is up in the air.

The guy who collaborated with Jeff was probably J. A. Konrath. He already had a pretty good following before he went the self-publishing route. Sure, he's a big proponent but is he a model example of the success an unknown author can achieveónot at all.

I donít know about agents or publishers dismissing authors whoíve already self-published. Seems a tad bit extreme. Most the agents and publishers that Iíve spoken with would love to represent or publish someone who comes with a successful selling record. People hate to take risks.

My friend John Rector actually published his first novel through Amazon as an E-book just as an experiment. He got tired of the novel getting rejected. Turns out it was a bit of a success. He then got a publishing deal with Tor for his next book. Now heís done a major deal with Amazonís publishing house. Pretty awesome for him. He still recommends going the traditional route. Thereís nothing like having your work vetted by a professional publishing house to validate you as an author.

MLD

ozmosis7
06-17-2011, 02:26 PM
Wow, that's awesome. I think it depends on who you ask or what you read, as to what you hear. Like I said, I think this was once the case, and in the modern day, no one really knows for sure. Seeing someone get a deal that way first hand though, is great. Tor is certainly a pretty big name too, so it's good to see, but they also aren't all thats out there. My statement just said some. So the idea is that you would be limiting your audience. Could this all be some old hoopla, that has been carried over into an age where it isn't really true? Who knows, but there is also a reason why you see so many authors publishing their books with small presses, rather than going the self-pubbing route.

I believe you are correct about the name of the guy I was talking about too. I wasn't saying he was a model, so much as his marketing strategy was if you are going that route. I doubt any of us would shake our heads at making $500k a year. So, if you are going that route, it's worth reading his blog, because he talks about what he has done. I would read others too.

This is also what I meant by the no two roads to the same end thing. Those words come from an article where the author proposes you just do what you do, because you have as good of a shot making it regardless of which path you take. I will say that I have come across more of the 20 per a month types, than the other though--so it is just as difficult a road. I think some of that is due to not having an editor--maybe.

From everything I have heard and seen though, I would exhaust all of your avenues through the traditional route first. Give it a real god shot, and try to get better as a writer. If nothing else, you prepare yourself better for self-pubbing. But I guess it also depends what you want to get out of your writing career. If you don't care about such things, than why bother worrying about it? Heck, if I was a rich man I'd have all the CD books and be throwing my stuff up on Amazon for $.99--maybe. :)

ozmosis7
06-17-2011, 02:43 PM
Also, that many roads concept can go back to one great quote that should inspire...

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ Thomas Edison

Keep on writing.

Craig Wallwork
06-17-2011, 02:56 PM
My friend John Rector actually published his first novel through Amazon as an E-book just as an experiment. He got tired of the novel getting rejected. Turns out it was a bit of a success. He then got a publishing deal with Tor for his next book. Now he’s done a major deal with Amazon’s publishing house. Pretty awesome for him. He still recommends going the traditional route. There’s nothing like having your work vetted by a professional publishing house to validate you as an author.

MLD

That's great to hear. I think there is a tendency, as mentioned, to steer clear of self-publishing because there is the assumption those that do it have failed getting a publishing deal, which then has people questioning if it was any good or not. Axel Taiari self published his vampire novella, A Light To Starve By, via Amazon and it's been very well received. We've discussed this subject in depth and there is a real divide. i think most people will go down the traditional route of publisher first, but once they've landed on their arse for the 1000th time, the temptation is there. Regardless of what we think of SP, it still gets your words out to the masses. Too, there is already a shift with certain publishing houses only releasing electronic versions. I think this a happy medium. If you can't get into print, but don't want to self publish, then look for publishing houses that do electronic editions only. With kindle taking off big time and outselling hardbacks on Amazon, people will move more toward electronic versions. Myself, I sometimes buy a Kindle version of a book first, and if i like it, buy a first edition hardback from Abebooks.

Good luck, whatever route you take.

ozmosis7
06-17-2011, 03:05 PM
I agree, Craig. In hindsight, my initial words were much too harsh--and thus it is not the kiss of death. I have heard it called that though, and that is why the words came to mind.

RJHubbard53
06-17-2011, 03:37 PM
I've heard it mentioned here that if a story is posted in a public setting, it is not marketable. Why is that? Also, if one were to have a blog and post their short stories, is that considered self-publication? Is that story then not-marketable to plublishers?

ozmosis7
06-17-2011, 03:47 PM
I've heard it mentioned here that if a story is posted in a public setting, it is not marketable. Why is that?

Most publishers ask for 1st rights, and if the story has been posted somewhere, than it has already used its first rights. However, it can always be pulled down or altered, etc to make it marketable. And the publisher would have to see or hear about it to know. I just wouldn't leave something up in plain view if you are going to try and sell it


Also, if one were to have a blog and post their short stories, is that considered self-publication? Is that story then not-marketable to plublishers?

Many authors write serial novels or the like to draw fans to their websites. I am currently trying this myself for the 2nd time. Once you are done, typically the story is pulled down, and it is treated like a rough draft. So you basically are reworking the story for the purpose of selling it, but usually you divulge that information to the publishers.

RichardThomas
06-17-2011, 03:50 PM
I've heard it mentioned here that if a story is posted in a public setting, it is not marketable. Why is that? Also, if one were to have a blog and post their short stories, is that considered self-publication? Is that story then not-marketable to plublishers?

I think we talked about that earlier, but yes, if you have a story "out there" in any form, it can be considered "published" even if it's your blog. Depends on a publisher. Why would an online site want to run your story if it's available easily and for FREE elsewhere? If you have a story that you want to shop/sell then don't put it on your blog or anywhere else. Pull it at once. Editors DO Google your name and story. If you pull it, sure, you can shop it. If it's in a PRIVATE forum that is not available to the public, you can sell it. I even did a Google search on my own story here at CD in the contest and nothing came up on the first few pages. I'm shopping that story. And if I don't make the finals, and/or don't make the final three I'll pull it at once, since I'm shopping it as we speak. Hope that helps, RJ.

RJHubbard53
06-20-2011, 02:23 PM
thanks, Richard. Here's another question regarding submissions. Many do not accept simultaneous submissions which means you can only "shop" your story to one place at a time, right? Upon rejection, that story is free to submit to others, right? If I am right on this, it means you have to have many manuscripts and stories ready to go. Do you find yourself writing for a specific market or writing a piece and finding a market?

RichardThomas
06-20-2011, 03:36 PM
thanks, Richard. Here's another question regarding submissions. Many do not accept simultaneous submissions which means you can only "shop" your story to one place at a time, right? Upon rejection, that story is free to submit to others, right? If I am right on this, it means you have to have many manuscripts and stories ready to go. Do you find yourself writing for a specific market or writing a piece and finding a market?

i just posted up about this in another thread - SS are tough, unless they have a fast response time, i tend to ignore them, especially if the market is <1% acceptance rates, as the odds are just so against you - yes, upon rejection you can keep submitting, and i often have several stories out to anywhere from 5-15 markets all at the same time - that's why i use duotrope.com to keep track of it all, i'd lose my mind if i didn't - sometimes i write towards a specific market, but most of the time, say 75% of the time, i just write what excites me and then look for a market when it's done

here is my column on simultaneous submissions:
http://whatdoesnotkillme.com/2009/08/31/simultaneous/

Craig Wallwork
06-20-2011, 04:34 PM
thanks, Richard. Here's another question regarding submissions. Many do not accept simultaneous submissions which means you can only "shop" your story to one place at a time, right? Upon rejection, that story is free to submit to others, right? If I am right on this, it means you have to have many manuscripts and stories ready to go. Do you find yourself writing for a specific market or writing a piece and finding a market?

Richard pretty much covered it, RJ, but yeah, there is a tendency for people to ignore that rule and SS anyway. If you get accepted at two places, two places that you really wanted to get into, then ethically it's unfair that you went through the process, and frustrating for the editor you have to apologise to when you say, "Oh, did I submit to you? Sorry, it must have been my partner. They do that sometimes. I really need to change my email password. Sorry."

That said, I'd avoid submitting to them again for a while.

RJHubbard53
06-20-2011, 04:47 PM
Richard pretty much covered it, RJ, but yeah, there is a tendency for people to ignore that rule and SS anyway. If you get accepted at two places, two places that you really wanted to get into, then ethically it's unfair that you went through the process, and frustrating for the editor you have to apologise to when you say, "Oh, did I submit to you? Sorry, it must have been my partner. They do that sometimes. I really need to change my email password. Sorry."

That said, I'd avoid submitting to them again for a while.

thanks, Craig. i think i'll take a more conservative approach and try to avoid pissing off any editors in my early days of submissions.

Nocdar
06-22-2011, 04:28 AM
Writing: you do it because you need to. Even most authors have a real job.

KT Wagner
06-22-2011, 06:06 AM
Write non-fiction and on contract to pay the bills. Write fiction as you can.

Gradually work to shift the balance.

Randy D. Rubin
06-22-2011, 09:13 AM
I have a question now for the professionals. It has to do with copyright. Is it true that all one has to do is mail your manuscript to yourself and leave the envelope sealed and that work is protected under copyright law? I'm afraid I don't have a clue how to protect my ideas and stories from "rip-off". Quick story. In college. Assigned creative writing assignment. Wrote haunting ghost story with a twist (of Lime?). By college journey's end two years later, my story is included under professor's name (complete with character name changes and setting differences) in text book. Now I'm terrified to let go of stories ever since. How do we protect our ideas legally, folks? Some guidance please?

ozmosis7
06-22-2011, 01:41 PM
Now days, your stories, artwork, photos, etc are protected the second they are made by the digital millennium copyright act. Mailing it to yourself gives you just that same amount of protection, so it's kind of pointless. An actual copyright to a story can end up being costly, but if you can afford it, it is worthwhile.

I've read of an actual case of multiple plagiarism that has been going on for a while. I know a group is suing the guy, but haven't heard of the outcome yet. Last I saw he had taken and used more than a half-dozen or so pieces from other writers and used them as his own.

Having that actual copyright will make it easier in court if such a thing happens to you, but the DMCA seems to do the trick well enough as long as you can prove the piece is yours. That isn't hard to do with most writers or artists as we become crazy about backing things up. If you don't, I would work out a system where you back things up to CDs or DVDs that you store in a fire safe. This is the same thing as mailing your story back to yourself. It has a time stamp, and that is the key.

Hope this was helpful.

Randy D. Rubin
06-22-2011, 02:11 PM
Hey thanks Ozmo! So all these writable CDs when downloaded become time/date stamped automatically by the internal workings of my computer or do I have to apply a time/date myself?

ozmosis7
06-22-2011, 02:13 PM
Every time you write anything in word or any other program it gets a time date stamp. When you save it to a disk it gets another. So a history of these is what protects you. So the old rule is save often, backup frequently.

Randy D. Rubin
06-22-2011, 02:22 PM
Oh and I thought the old adage was, Save backup and often frequently. I had it all wrong. lol