1.10.2007

Why are you worried about this anyway?

Thank you for answering my "how much do writers make" question.. I have a follow up question:

So from that 10k advance, you take a percentage for all your hard work. Does that mean that if I want to be a professional writer I should focus on writing MORE books rather than writing THE BOOK, one Great American Novel?

Consider: Assuming you take 20% of the $10,000 commission, that must mean there's tremendous market pressure (read: rent/mortgage) for you to sell a LOT of books to live in New York (if you live in New York). At LEAST 20 books a year. And does THAT mean you, as an agent, seek prolific writers more than gambling on potentially Great Writers?

Let's say you have one dude who squirts words like a dairy cow freebasing recombinent bovine growth hormone. He reliably cranks out 4 decent books a year. Is that writer more valuable to you than signing on 4 people who reliably crank out 1 book per year?


Agent commissions are 15%.
I don't think anyone in their right mind can "crank out" four books a year.
Books don't stop earning once they are published if you've done your job right.
Sub rights kick in to the kitty too.

I find this fascination with money a tad disquieting.

I don't sign clients based on how much money I think I can make. I sign clients who write great books and then I make deals that reflect that.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I find this fascination with money a tad disquieting."

Hmmm. This does not sound like the Miss Snark we know.

Idealism is a nice touch. The questioner , however, just sounds like a sane person who prefers food and shelter...rather than doing without.

illiterate said...

If the dude 'squirts words like a dairy cow freebasing recombinent bovine growth hormone', I seriously doubt, that the books he 'cranks out' are 'decent'.

C.E. Petit said...

The questioner also — incorrectly — assumes that advances will remain constant over a writer's career. That is, if the first novel advance is $10k, that writer will earn $10k for every later book.

That's incorrect. Unfortunately, it's not always an increase over that 10k for later books; recent trends among established midlist authors have included considerable pressure to reduce advances for works that are not clearly different in nature from an author's previous published works. In turn, that can result in the commercially mandated pseudonym (e.g., "Robin Hobb"), a practice that may violate federal law as a false designation of origin. (Yes, really. Under some circumstances, anyway.)

On the other hand, for at least a few novels the advance is almost certainly going to be greater than it was for the first novel. Miss Snark's job is to ensure that, and I'm certain that between KY and the stilettos no sane editor would refuse. On the third hand, "sane editor" may be just as valid as "civil war"...

Anonymous said...

I don't sign clients based on how much money I think I can make.

Is this the same Miss Snark who said she was reluctant to sign authors of mature years because their careers would be too brief to be sufficiently profitable?

Anonymous said...

If you don't care if they're edited or yanno, coherent, I could give you four books a year.

Mostly I just wanted to say that, "Let's say you have one dude who squirts words like a dairy cow freebasing recombinent bovine growth hormone," is the best sentence I've read in the last week.

ec said...

Nora Roberts writes more than four books a year, but I suspect that if her DNA was analyzed, we'd discover that she is not entirely human.

Okay, so you're planning your writing schedule for 2007. Should you write four media tie-in novels for whatever TV show is currently popular ("Heroes," maybe) at a $5000 flat fee each? Or should you work on a creator-owned project that may pay considerably more and/or be an important first step in a writing career, but, conversely, may do nobetter than one of your tie-ins, or may not sell at all? The sad truth is that even very good books sometimes fail to find an audience, or even a market.

Or you could take that H&R Block training course and be guaranteed gainful employment, especially in early April.

I'm not being sarcastic (well, maybe just a little...), but rather pointing out that when it comes to writing, there are no simple answers or risk-free paths.

Katie said...

The average "literary fiction" author (I think that's college undergrad English professor speak for "someone we will force you to read in class") takes four to five years to write a book. They taught us in college writing to expect to need a day job. Or maybe that was a subtle hint that our workshop stories were that bad...

ejustian said...

Miss Snark, you are awesome and snarky, if not snarkishly snarktacular.

Lemme just pull up a little nugget of Snark wisdom (note the lavishing of praise; Great steaming buckets of praise) from the "Middle of the Bell Curve" post:

"I would venture to say most published novelists don't write for money, but to get something published, money enters and controls the equation."

You're right, of course (buckets of praise). Money controls the equation of any project that takes up weeks or months of time, unless you have a sugar-mama (or sugar-daddy). But the blog talks so little about it so far. So I thought I'd ask.

Ryan Field said...

As long as the public is willing to applaud a hot dog (just watch the Emeril cooking show)there will be some agents scouting for the next pop culture sensation, and money is the goal.

I represented many artists in my gallery for years (and my commission was 20%, take it or leave it...)and very rarely signed clients I'd display in my own home. At the time landscapes, even the most generic, were what I sold. This is what people wanted and that's what I gave them. It didn't matter if I personally liked the work or not (though, they had to have talent). I was surrounded by other galleries who only represented what they loved, but who also went out of business in a year's time. Personally, I like money, and, more than that, I like making people happy. I once sold the most awful painting to a young lawyer, as a wedding gift to her new husband. It was hideous drek, but she loved it, would love it for many years to come, and that was all that mattered.

While I agree with a certain amount of idealism on a personal level, I don't think many agents are in touch with the people who applaud for hot dogs, or the millions of people who call in and vote for American Idol, or the people who only want generic landscapes in their homes. And book sales are proving that.

Heidi the Hick said...

Dude, you need to sit your butt down and WRITE. That crack about the cow was pretty funny. Write more of that.

I don't see any guarantees in this business. There is no promise of making a living here. I just have to write or the voices get to loud. And yes, I do fully intend to write well enough that somebody will take on my work and sell it, but I'm not aspiring to a mansion and a jag.

If you need to pay rent while you're struggling as a writer, you have to work. No TV, no bar hopping. Come home from the paying job and sit down and write. I'm lucky to have a man in my life who brings home the pay while I sit here and type. I'm lucky. but I still have to work at this!

blah blah blah I'm done.

Anonymous said...

One of my best friends actually kicked out SIX books in one year.

They were extremely clever and well written.

She also held (and still does) a demanding on-call 24/7 job requiring several trips to Europe that year.

She was guest at several s.f. conventions.

She designed her webpages and wrote almost daily in her blog--even doing extra short stories there for her fans.

AND that SAME year she successfully fought off a bout of breast cancer.

She is a most exceptional genius.

I'm not good at multi-tasking, but when something bad happens to me I think, "If she can do all THAT, then I can certainly do THIS."

Rachel Caine is my hero.

http://www.amazon.com/
exec/obidos/search-
handle-url/104-3290209
-3940709?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-
type=ss&index=books&
field-author=Rachel%20Caine

Anonymous said...

Two words, Miss Snark: Georges Simenon.

desert snarkling said...

The questioner , however, just sounds like a sane person who prefers food and shelter...rather than doing without.

Whatever career path he takes, he'd better be prepared to have another source of income while he learns his craft. That seems to be the part of the equation this guy is completely missing.

Jeremy James said...

Anyone else see the parallel between publishing and the music industry? Or for that matter, Hollywood?

Not everyone is going to go platinum / win an Oscar / become a brand name bestseller.

There are the Mick Jaggers of the world, and there are the bar singers.

But one thing I know for certain: no one sets out to be a bar singer for the rest of their lives.

That said, the bands that never make it past singing at your local pub eventually must make a decision: Do I love music enough to keep performing even though it doesn't pay the rent? Or do I free up some time to go earn better money in a more conventional / additional job?

There's no "right" answer to this.

I'm just amazed at how many writers who haven't made it yet (or possibly never will) whine about the publishing industry. I've been friends with a lot of musicians and actors, and those folks don't cry about their respective industries nearly as much.

Bottom line: find a way to do what you love--for pay or for free or some combination thereof. If you want to be a "star," then act accordingly.

Success takes TALENT + HARD WORK + PERSISTENCE + LUCK. Hard work and persistence are entirely under your control. Talent can be honed, and if you didn't have any, you probably wouldn't enjoy writing books in the first place. As for "luck"...

I had a soccer coach tell me that if you kicked the ball at the goal 10 times you're bound to make one of them, which is a roundabout way of saying: If you focus a well-honed talent to write GREAT books, writing more of them, over a long enough period of time, sure won't hurt your chances.

Anonymous said...

Depends what kind of books you're writing, too. I know that most people here are all about fiction, but I know someone who writes tech books who produces six books a year and makes a very comfortable six-figure annual income from it. And he's been earning that at that level as a full-time author for 20 years. (He's also the smartest person and most disciplined writer I know.)

Inkwolf said...

Here's my worry about advance money...

Miss Snark said that a 5k advance was standard, but I have three published friends who didn't get anything near that. One romance novel, two picture books. (Several years ago, admittedly.)

Miss Snark also intimated once that you will be expected to put a certain amount into promoting the book, too. (Does this mean I can't scream WOOHOO and pay my overdue bills, because I'm going to need travel expenses and a decent wardrobe for book signings?)

I'm not sure about the romance writer, but of the two picture-book writers, one didn't see a dime of the advance until practically a year after it was promised, and was considering getting an attorney. (That small publisher declined to publish a second book by the author, too, though it was an award winner, and featured by the CCBC.)

The other picture-book writer, on inquiring after sales figures, was told the book had only sold one thousand copies, even though the writer had widely promoted it herself and sold nearly a thousand copies on her own. (She worked as a travelling storyteller, and could sell the book at her public appearances.)

Anyway, the experiences of my friends and the idea that I need to invest in promotion myself don't encourage me that writing is likely to be a lucrative business.

Or is the real problem that none of my friends had agents? Or had I better start studying the finer points of ATM robbery for my secure retirement?

Laura Ware said...

Ok, at the risk of getting majorly snarked, I'm not sure why writing 4 novels a year is seen as an impossibility.

Let's say you can write 1000 words/day. If you did that for 300 days of the year, you'd have 300,000 words. 300,000/4 = 75,000 words per novel.

You still have 65 days left in the year for polishing, too.

So why is it so incredible?

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Greatest line of the week so far:

"squirts words like a dairy cow freebasing recombinent bovine growth hormone"

LOVE that!

Didn't really read rest of it though because we ALL know it's about the book, ya know, the BEST book you can write. How many times does she have to say that? C'mon.

Minnie Bittertiddoff said...

How many does Danielle Steele put out a year...books, not babies?

Anonymous said...

Laura Ware: To write four publishable 75K books in 300 days, most* authors would need to, at least:

1. Write (1st draft) 1000 words/day
2. Revise (2nd draft) 1000 words/day
3. Polish (3rd draft) 1000 words/day
and
4. Proofread (final copy) 1000 words/day

*Every writer is different, of course, so some first drafts are cleaner than others.

ejustian said...

Hercules Segers was a print maker in Amsterdam back in the 1600s. A brilliant man. He was one of the first to experiment with color prints. His vision was to be able to produce colorful artwork that the average person could afford. He worked for love and started using the linens from his impoverished family in order to produce prints. He died poor, believing he was a failure. The only reason we know about him was because a fellow named Rembrandt loved his work and bought a few.

Then there was Dali who was an avid self promoter who earned a pretty good living and had a deeper impact on mankind's artistic legacy.

So who d'ya wanna be? Segers or Dali?

Asking about money isn't so much asking "Should I focus on the craft?" It's asking "How will I make this craft into my life's work?"

I'd argue that any serious artist without another source of income should be deeply concerned about this question. Do you expect to get RICH from it? No. Do you want to make a modest living off it so it can be your focus? Hell yeah.

BernardL said...

Money may not be a driving force for writers or agents, but it certainly adds excitement to the task of writing or representing writing. :)

adrienne said...

To me what got me most about this post was the implication that being a great writer and being a prolific writer were mutually exculsive. This always really annoys me. The author Jon Connolly wrote in his blog just recently about this very subject, check it out if you want: http://johnconnollybooks.com/blogger.html

canwag said...

We all know that you shouldn't quit your day job until you're signed, because all the creative frenzy in the world won't pay the heating bill (unless you place all the rough drafts in the fireplace, of course.) However, we all should take into consideration the fact that there may be one or two hopeful writers out there who cannot work at all, and so must stretch their measly disability checks until they squeak to pay the bills.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think many agents are in touch with the people who applaud for hot dogs, or the millions of people who call in and vote for American Idol, or the people who only want generic landscapes in their homes. And book sales are proving that."

I agree with the concept, but don't hold agents to be entirely at fault. I think that would be the editors are not in touch with what the public wants. Agents sell what editors want. If you want to blame someone for having bad taste, blame the editors.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

I see how an established agent has a long enough backlist to make a living. But how does the editor-turned-agent put out their shingle and start making a living from scratch? I'm assuming they have other income coming in or a lot in savings.

As far as pumping out multiple books a year...you would have to balance this with promoting books already published. Also, I had a non-fiction book under contract and six months later had a (totally unrelated non-fiction) book proposal circulating. My agent said some of the editors were concerned about the other book's publication schedule. Maybe they felt it would be confusing to have two things out close together.

I think most writers write a book when they have something to say or a great idea. Without this driving the product, you (or at least I) would be hard-pressed to put words on the screen.

M. Takhallus. said...

Oh, please you big babies. I've written (and been paid for) 14 books in a year. Granted, they were short. Still it was just about 2,000 pages. It's not that hard.

10 pages a day first draft times 14 days is one middle reader in two weeks. Take a week to rewrite. Send it. Rinse and repeat. A little coffee, a little Scotch, a lot of greed. No big deal.

In the last 13 months I've written two much longer novels, one adult, one kid, totalling better than 200k words. Not counting other stuff - ad copy, proposals, a blog and so on.

ORION said...

It's ironic really.
Money has never been a motivator to me. I am compulsed to write stories that I want to read. That I think other people want to read.
I can't help but write.
I focus on learning about the business of writing and the the craft of creating a novel.
I never in a million years conjectured what my advance might be.
My agent was surprised that I never asked her how much she could sell my book for. She was the one who brought it up.
There was no one more surprised than I about my auction and significant deal. It is not the norm.
I am always surprised that this subject comes up over and over again at conferences and message boards.
The novel and the writing needs to be the focus.
The other will be what it will be.

Zette said...

Let me ask you a question:

If you knew someone who only wrote 100 words a day -- and perhaps didn't work every day -- and who took five years to write a novel, would you automatically assume the person wrote a good book?

No?

Then why would you assume that someone who writes 1000 words a day, and who writes more than one book a year, automatically writes badly?

Doesn't it actually depend on a number of things which has nothing to do with how fast the person can type or how much time he might have to devote to the work?

I think the quality of the work has nothing at all to do with how quickly someone can get words down on a screen or paper. There are some very good slow writers, but there are a lot of really bad slow ones as well. There are some horrendous fast writers, and there are some very fast good writers -- Rex Stout is one of my favorites, and he was incredibly fast and prolific. So was Isaac Asimov.

There are good and bad writers in both camps. Ability to write well is not based on speed. There are a number of factors, including ability to edit, ability to imagine a coherent story, and the ability to write good prose.

I think judging people's writing without ever seeing it, and based only on how fast they write, is a really egotistical prejudice.

I'm a fast writer, but I'm not a particularly good one. I'm working on my abilities, though. And I have learned that the more I write, the more I learn about the craft. Others learn in different ways.

I might never make it past the small press publications I already have. Or I may have a breakthrough and step up to the big leagues. I can guarantee, if that happens, it will be based on ability, and not how long it took me to write the book.

Jeremy James said...

To inkwolf and her sub-5K-advance writer friend:

1) Try to write the kind of book that gets $50K-plus advances.

2) When finished, compare to a well known bestseller of your choosing that writes in your genre.

3) Is your book as good or better? (Be honest; ask other people if you have to).

4) If "No," rewrite the book until it's as good or better than Joe Bestseller's latest release. Repeat step 3, or write another book entirely, until you can answer "YES" to step 3.

5) If step 3 is a "YES," get a good agent. Let them shop your manuscript around to the highest bidder. Get a decent advance. Repeat, but get higher advances each time if possible until you hit a certain threshold of success. Congrats, you can stop here...

6) But if you can't get a "YES" for step 3, no matter how hard you try, consider making up for low advances by writing a whole slew of books each year. Certain genres release multiple titles per author.

7) If you aren't able to write fast enough to make a living from multiple (but low) advances, OR the royalty money that (hopefully) starts trickling in, try to identify what's keeping you from better earnings as a writer (talent? mastery of craft? storytelling ability? style? voice? etcetera) Decide if you can fix whatever's holding you back.

8) If "YES," then fix it and go back to Step 1.

9) If "NO," decide if writing makes you happy enough to continue doing it for very little pay.

Who said this was supposed to be easy, or that everyone who "tries" will succeed?

Miss Snark hated my most recent attempt at a hook. Oh well. Life sucks. Get a helmet, or get out of the game.

Anonymous said...

The average "literary fiction" author (I think that's college undergrad English professor speak for "someone we will force you to read in class") takes four to five years to write a book.

That reminds me of something Stephen King said after a reporter asked him how he could write so many books. He said something along the lines of "Any writer who takes seven years to write a book is not thinking deep thoughts, he is dicking off."

Anonymous said...

I make a reasonable if not spectacular living as a literary novelist. This is because my agent is wonderful and she has taken the long view from the beginning. Here is my advance history:

First novel, pubbed in 1995, $12,500 advance.

Second novel, pubbed in 1999, $25,000 advance.

Third novel pubbed in 2003,
$87,500 advance.

Fourth novel pubbed in 2006,
$87,500 advance.

Fifth novel under contract for $100,000 advance.

MWT said...

For those who seem to be putting out 4+ books a year, I have to wonder: is that from first draft to finished? Or did they just happen to be published that year, while really they were written and worked on for years beforehand?

Also, writers who have had a lot of practice (e.g. Danielle Steele) are probably going to be able to produce publishable books (from first draft to finished) much faster than those of us who are merely aspiring. Just due to the extra experience they've had doing the craft.

I couldn't do four books a year at the stage I'm in. I can't even do one. ;) In fact, I seem to be on the "one book in five years" plan at the moment.

However, I'm also not trying to turn it into my main source of income. I work two "real" jobs and write when I'm not working or sleeping (and do very little else). It's a hobby, not a job.

Anonymous said...

To produce a book a year, write a page a day, as a rule of thumb. How long does it take to write a page? With practice, WAY less than an hour. So you work WAY less than four hours a day for four books. There's plenty of time in an 8-hour day for the rest of the related work.

But what that means is that if you want to make a living at writing, you probably aren't going to do it on an hour "most days," with weekends off, and three weeks of vacation, and you can't work during the holidays because the kids are out of school.

That is what Laura is talking about!

a writer with a day job said...

"Miss Snark also intimated once that you will be expected to put a certain amount into promoting the book, too. (Does this mean I can't scream WOOHOO and pay my overdue bills, because I'm going to need travel expenses and a decent wardrobe for book signings?)"

It means you pay for those things yourself, then write them off on your taxes. (Decent wardrobe is only tax-deductible if you wear it for your writing functions and nothing else.)

If you're good at what you do, however, you can also make speaking fees, and have other people pay for your travel.

So, you're right. You don't get to scream woo hoo and pay off your overdue bills. For that, you need a day job.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark,
How do you pay for those stelleto's if money isn't your object? How can K. Yap get his hair done? He is a high maintenance Bichon! You both are high maintenance New Yorkers.
Now, now, if you are only after a quality book, why not pimp mine?
Money is no object with me.I merely want fame and glory. Keep the majority of the royalities.I just want some milk money.
I wrote a wonderful book and self published it. I am now willing to bribe an agent to run with it. I am too tired to query, query, query.
Yours Truly,
M.J.C.http:// www.thebookperfectdress.com and my soon to be set free, Gor'ko!

M. Takhallus. said...

Anonymous:

All due respect, of course you can write while the kids are out of school. Kids are in school maybe 180 days a year. I should take half the year off? My wife and I co-wrote a book while our preemie son was in the NICU. Cowboy up.

I'm being a bit facetious, obviously, but writing isn't a hobby, it's a job. And just like you have to carry your shift at Applebee's or whatever, you have to get your words down on paper. Stephen King is right: if it takes you seven years you're dicking off.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of professional writers, myself included, who can comfortably write and sell three good books a year. If writing's a career, you can't afford to wait around for the money to roll in. You have to work your butt off. Sorry Miss Snark, but here you've missed the mark. For those of us who pursue writing as a career, we have to think about 'disquieting' things like money.

ejustian said...

M. Takhallus, you're talking some straight up, hundred proof, barrel aged, ice distilled, over the teeth, down the gullet, through the kidneys, golden streams of truth, my friend.

A fountain of truth.

Yes. A job. Writing as a JOB. The thing is, I already write for a living. I'm writing manuals and proposals and web copy and other stuff for money. I sit my butt down for at least eight hours every day and write already.

Why so precious about the fiction?

All I wanna know is, how can a fella make a living writing fiction. That's all I wanna know. So let's say I sit on my new swiveling (and reclining) office chair for eight hours a day writing fiction...CAN I MAKE A MODEST LIVING?

Anonymous said...

Well shoot. I was thinking of firing off a grumpish message about how the actual questions (the sentences with those question marky things)in my post were sidestepped entirely while the sentence with the subjuntive mood ("let's say you have one dude who can...") got more snark-answer time time.

But then it occurred to me that I oughtn't look a gift horse in the mouth. You provide a free service, miss Snark, and I've found great value in your blog, no matter what.

So, thanks.

Seriously, though, I'd like to see more information about how writers you know survive. You're an agent. You deal daily with matters of price and money. We need to know more about that. Inspiration is fine. But information is power.

Anonymous said...

Good question, bad answer.

M. Takhallus. said...

I just want to add that of course it's about money.

It's about money for the publisher, and it's about money for the booksellers, and it's about money for the agents. But, oh, when it comes to the writer it's all about sunshine and lollipops.

It's the wierd melding of a sort of campus Marxism that despises wealth, with romanticism that enshrines only the noblest of motives.

Of course it's about money. No money, no mortgage payment, no place to write. When my agent goes in to talk to publishers she asks for more not less.

M. Takhallus. said...

Ejustian:

Yes, you can make a living at it. When my wife and I (we often write as a team) started we were a cleaning service on Cape Cod. We sold a book, sold a second, and were soon working as waiters in Maine. Then we sold some more, And eventually we had a hit series and suddenly I was complaining about the room service selections at the Plaza Athenee in Paris. It took about 6 years to go from rusted out Dodge Dart to Mercedes.

We started off writing crap for Harlequin, went on to ghost write crap for the packager who handles Sweet Valley and other series, got our own series, broke away from the packager and sold a series over the transom, unagented by the way, to mother Scholastic which went to many dozens of books, TV, toys and so on. Along the way we also wrote ad copy and free-lanced to newspapers and even sank to writing for Disney books. (Strangest compliment ever: "you're the best writing 'voice' of Donald Duck we've ever had.")

Point is, we found a weak point and exploited it. At the time there were a lot of series that needed competent ghosts and we weren't too proud to do the work. Lousy money, no recognition, but we learned our jobs. We took on every single book we could get. There were times we were writing four books at once. No sleep, no days off, sometimes 30 and 40 pages a day. (The wife has the record: 54 pages in one day. But then, unlike me, she can type.)

So. Since you're already writing for a living you might look at similar back doors. A packager might give you a shot. If they do and you deliver, they'll give you another. Pretty soon you're the go-to guy. And then you leverage that established competence and reliability to convince a publisher that you can indeed write 14 books a year.

It's an algebraic equation: you need talent, you need to work hard, and you need some luck. The ratio between those three elements can vary.

Anonymous said...

M.J.C.: Most agents don't offer to represent books that are already published, so write a new book. And learn to spell "stiletto". And recognise that Miss Snark is a ficticious person who does not represent authors at all. Her real-life self does, but that person does not take queries through this blog.

whitemouse said...

Seriously, though, I'd like to see more information about how writers you know survive. You're an agent. You deal daily with matters of price and money. We need to know more about that. Inspiration is fine. But information is power.

If you want to know how writers survive, why in heck are not asking a writer?

Holly Lisle has some great articles about an array of things that are pertinent to aspiring writers (check the sidebar in that link). I think you would be most interested in her article on How to Quit Your Day Job to Write Full Time.

Miss Snark is not here to do you favours. She can give you an agent's perspective, but she's not going to do research to give you a published writer's perspective. If that's what you want, then (duh) ask a published writer.

Anonymous said...

What takhallus said. In spades, redoubled.

I work another full-time, professional job, and wrote my last CONTRACTED novel in about 10 weeks. You have to learn to be fast, and to get it right, or nearly so, the first time. It is a skill that can be acquired, if you WANT to.

(And of course you write when the kids are out of school. That remark was intended to be snarky, but didn't come through *G*)

A writer has to have two people inside (which may be why us Geminis find it so appealing): the creator and the business person. You can't make a living without both sides. Be as sunshine and lollipops as you want when you're creating, but the rest of the time you had better be a business person. And that has to include setting your work schedule and keeping to it. The only time the sunshine and lollipops come into play is when you are actively in writing mode, and putting words on paper.

Or accept that your CHOICE is to be a "hobby writer." Which is a perfectly acceptable CHOICE, but recognize it as such. Then the money and business and all the rest doesn't really apply.

But I can't imagine that "hobby writers" are very attractive to agents, not when they produce a book every 5 or 10 years. That won't keep the gin pail full.

desert snarkling said...

The thing is, if you're writing 14 books in a year, there's a good chance they're going to begin sounding pretty generic--competent, perhaps, but also pretty much interchangeable with the next generic writer who comes along and is willing to go for a slightly lower advance. Which is, over the long term, as tenuous a way to build a career as spending a year or so writing a less generic book.

But doing that often means spending more than a handful of days on revision, too, and giving the book more than a single cursory revision pass. For many writers, revision is more than simply giving the book a pretty polish--it's where you dig deeper and move the book from something kind of okay to something really good.