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Where Do You Want To Go?

Where do you want to go as a writer? And are you willing to pay the price? Could you do something other than writing and be whole?

More and more I find my advice to newby writers starts with it.  The reason is that you can’t get anywhere unless you know where you’re going.  It’s hard to make a map that takes you nowhere in particular, and if that’s where you want to go… you’ll get nowhere in in particular. And right now there are different routes and prices to “author destinations.” Very different.  And it’s worth considering.So I always ask my fledgelings:

Where do you want to go?  Aiming for the sky, what career would you have?

As I see it these are the choices:

1- I want to see my book on bookstore shelves.

That’s fine.  It’s a hard road, and a difficult price, but if you have the chops and work the right way you can do it.

First, you have to go traditional.  It’s difficult these days, but if you’re willing to work for peanuts and take some quite unreasonable clauses in your contracts, you can do it.  It will take probably a few years.  It’s speeded up by going to conventions or writers’ workshops, meeting editors, becoming friendly with them.  And stay friendly with them, mind, otherwise you could have 6 books out in a year and not a single one on bookstore shelves.

Other prices you might not think of: you will be competing for a limited number of slots with a large number of writers.  You know, I read Spartacus at 14 and was highly impressed with “Gladiator, don’t make friends with gladiators.” (I WAS fourteen.) If you’re going this route, you can make friends with other writers, but be ready to have your heart broken several times.  Some people will do anything to keep or take a slot.  Watch out for knives in the back.  There will be some.  Worse, there’s a risk you’ll find yourself becoming the stabber.

Also be prepared to kill a lot of babies.  My average was selling half my proposals, which was almost indecently good, but even so, three chapters and a full outline, those people are alive and in your head. And sometimes that series you loved dies because… well, most of the time because someone at the publisher’s office is either incompetent or doesn’t care enough.  Sometimes because they developed a crazy grudge against you, even though you met them like once or twice in passing and couldn’t pick them out of a lineup.

Has happened not just to me but everyone I know.  And you have another ten books planned in that series, and it was doing so well, and there you are, having to move on because “it just isn’t selling.”  It might not strike you as a price now, but it is one.

2-  Bestseller: for all but the very lucky few, all of the above with iron boots on and tapdancing.  Also, if you’re used to a certain level of income and someone at your publisher for reasons known or unknown or because it’s Wednesday through incompetence of malice screws up your releases or decides you’ll never sell a book to them again, you’ll be left scrambling.  There are still bills to pay and your route to continued success is gone.

Sure, if it all works out you get money and you get adoring fans.  You also get intrusions in the weirdest places.  A friend was delivering her baby with her gynecologist’s alternate (because the baby was early and doctor was on vacation) and suddenly the doctor realized who she was… and was a fan.  Imagine trying to be professional and answer questions on your books while actively giving birth. My son — you think you raised them right! — tried to start a conversation with the late Terry Pratchett in a bathroom.  You might think these things are funny, but when I hear them from friends, they seem to wear thin really fast.

Also you travel.  Sometimes at the beginning, when you are trying to get known, but always when you’re a bestseller: signings, meetings with reps for booksellers, trips abroad for translation houses, etc etc.  One of my bestseller friends often spends as much time away from home as a traveling salesman.  Time to write in peace becomes scarce.

Yes, maybe you can swim in a money bin every morning, but you pay the price.  Oh, you pay the price.

3- I want to be recognized as a great writer, win awards, be on the reading list.

It’s a goal.  It’s even a valid goal.  Had I started trying to be published in college (I wrote, but being published in Portugal is more complex and definitely not profitable) it might have been my goal.  Degrees in Literature, even if you just take them so you can get all the languages (French, English, German, Italian, Swedish.  I only didn’t take Russian because you had to join the association for Friendship of Portugal and Russia, and it was a communist front, where I’d fit in as well as a fart in church. I’ve found I don’t study languages well on my own.  Though now there’s Great Courses and I’m hoping to brush up on Latin and Greek in my copious spare time, and maybe the others as they provide them.) still affects how you think.

Well, you’re going to have to go traditional. So, number 1. But there’s more to this.  You must be able to tell where the political and taste winds are blowing. And you must be or at least be able to pretend to be the right political color.

I’ve actually always been very good at telling where the editorial taste and politics were.  Probably a side result of growing up in the midst of a political mine field.  But by the time I got here, I just couldn’t pretend anymore.  I came close once or twice (Magical British Empire.  Yes, still editing it  into an “Author’s edition.”) but in the end it wasn’t worth my soul.  And besides I didn’t want the “literary writer” lifestyle.

Sure I can write “literary” (which is really just a genre) and even enjoy it at times.  (If you only read my baen books, you might what to buy Ill Met by Moonlight and the rest of the trilogy.)  But I don’t want to do that ALL THE TIME. It depresses me. (Weirdly I’ve recently realized that though I write fantasy, romance and mystery my happy spot is Space Opera, which is not the best selling thing around.  May G_d have mercy on my soul.)

Because the Ill Met trilogy was my first published books, I found agents and editors both pushing me to “Maybe you can write a book every two years and get a college teaching job to make money.”

Awards help you get teaching jobs.  So if that’s what you want to do this is perfect.

It’s all on your destination.  I already had a masters and had worked as a lecturer in college.  It’s actually fun, but dear Lord, I wanted to write.  That’s all I really ever wanted to do.  Teaching just got in the way.

4-  Self-supporting writer.

You want to support your family.  You want to make enough money to do that.  You don’t give a good goddamn if your name isn’t a household word (or would prefer it weren’t, if you’re a private person and have small kids), you might attend a con or two a year, but don’t want to be flying all over all the time.

You want the money.  Sure, the writing too.  (If you don’t want or need to write, or are pushed into it for other reasons like physical disability, I tell you what Orson Scott Card said in his book on how to write SF/F which I read at the beginning of this crazy journey, now 33 years ago: “Whistle as you go. You’re a free man” (or woman.)

Like Heinlein, you write to support your family (or in my case help support and hopefully financially survive the college years which — dang it — would be much easier if the kids weren’t taking the longest possible professional training ever.) You also enjoy writing, want to write, need to write, and act like an addict whose drug was taken away when you can’t write, but your career goal is to support your family.

This is getting hard to do in traditional, and I’ll be honest, it was never very easy.  It was doable — and I did it for 20 years — if you were prolific as hell.  Before I was prolific as hell (and willing to take work for hire and ghost writing, and G-d knows what) I made less than 5k a year. Even when the books sold well.  That’s not an income, that’s a tip jar.

But if you’re prolific as hell, and willing to do or pay for the very little work of typesetting and cover work (around $500 if you shop carefully.  I do my own because I’m cheap as hell.  This might change as I become more indie-prolific.  I’d rather be writing) and trade copyediting with friends, (or indenture one of them) you can do very well indeed in indie.  Better than most midlisters did in trad, and with less psychological damage and more control.

To me, one of the best part of indie is that I can be friends with writers.  Really friends, with no reserves.  Tell them the ugly side as well as the good.  And if you don’t think that’s a huge benefit, you aren’t far in this crazy profession.  The only ones who understand you are other writers.

Yes, you might still decide to kill a series — if it’s not selling and your time is best used somewhere else — but at least it’s you making the decision, not some bumbling fool you might never have met, or some concatenation of circumstances beyond your control.

But you’ll pay the price all the same.  There’s scheduling, and worse, there’s realizing that what you put in is what you get out, which might encourage you to pour yourself away in writing.  It’s a price.  It’s just a different price.

And some of you — you know who you are — will feel like velveteen writers and need someone to tell you you’re a real writer.  I have a certificate here somewhere (someone who is better at search find it.)  I declare you a real writer. Don’t sell your soul for affirmation.

Yes, it’s obvious where I stand, I know.  And maybe I stand where I do because I tried the other way ad cut my feet raw on the stones of the path.  Maybe indie will be as bad, who knows?  Doesn’t seem to be for my friends though.  And honestly, if it had been available when I was young I’d never have tried trad.  This is more in line with what I wanted from writing.

Which is the point of all this.  Choose your destination, draw your map.  Good fortune to you and maybe fate be kind.


  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    For me, its “I wrote a story (or stories) that other people enjoyed”.

    I’m not sure that I have the “push inside” to keep at it but that’s the dream. 😀

    August 22, 2018
    • Me, too – making money would be nice, but I decided a long time ago that even if I had to put stuff up for free, as long as I had an audience, that would be enough.

      August 22, 2018
  2. Deena Campanile # Here’s the certificate. 🙂

    August 22, 2018
    • Azure&Green #

      Okay, I really needed to read that link, and this post. From now on, if someone asks me if I’m a real writer, I’m going to say, “Why yes! Um, according to Hoyt…” That has such a nice CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE feel to it.

      But my problem isn’t the velveteen writer so much as the velveteen publisher. I think the term indie could easily be replaced with entrepreneurial, be it writing or software. And because it is so very difficult for one new to writing to evaluate one’s own writing’s commercial viability, one hesitates. I think that’s the real validation many writers are seeking and it’s a good example of the logical fallacy of authority.

      I need and want to draw a map to category four. I don’t even want to be traditionally published, I want control of my writing business from cover to editor to publishing venue. I don’t even like New York. ;^)

      Being anonymous is good, but that might be going to far. Do people here write under a pen name?

      August 22, 2018
      • Yes. Some people have more than one. ; )

        August 22, 2018
      • Yep. I can think of three of us, off the top of my head, who have pen names, and once you include commenters, it’s more than ten. Some us have pen names for all our books due to legal reasons/category of employment/personal choice, some have pen names by genre for differentiation.

        August 22, 2018
        • Azure&Green #

          What would be your advice to an unpublished author? For a first book it seems little silly, but then once your name is out there you can’t take it back. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

          August 23, 2018
          • First, do an internet search of your name. If there is another author or well-known individual with that name, I highly recommend a pen name. If not, then find a name that suits you, and do another search.

            My first choice of pen-names turned up a plaintiff’s attorney as the top ten hits. I got a new name. 🙂

            Especially if you write certain sub-genres where fans can get a bit “intense,” I would recommend a pen name. Otherwise, use your name if you want to.

            August 23, 2018
          • Some authors go with pen names so as to better fit their genre. I know a writer whose real name is Mark Anthony (and he has a portal fantasy series under that name), but when he took to writing historical romance with magical elements, that name would either be too male or too much like he’d picked it for the classical resonances, so he uses a pen name. My legal name fit my genre just fine, so I ran with it. (I am also not shy.)

            August 27, 2018
  3. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    My internal drives seem like they might be satisfied by a day job in a certain occupation, and a hobby of writing. The money is better in that occupation, writing only would very much not satisfy all my drives, and fame is too much like an overdose of human company.

    August 22, 2018
  4. S.D Antoine #

    My goal is to build a small press business. I’m also an artist so I’d like to include that as an aspect as well. The idea of making quarterly subscription box for books, small prints and various art merch really appeals to me. I also want to do cons and open studio events. Meeting people and giving them a memorable experience is a good way to create fans.

    Down the road I’d like to expand into media but that’s a long way away. 🙂

    August 22, 2018
  5. I have two jobs – Day Job and writing. Day job takes up 80% of my time 75% of the year. Writing takes up 50% of my time 100% of the year. Without both of them, I’d go nuts. And read a lot more. 🙂

    Day Job will never pay enough to fully support me. So I toss books out and hope for the best. And because I love telling stories and making up worlds and playing “what if…”

    August 22, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      So by my math, you’re giving the proverbial 110%. You ought to try out for the New England Patriots!

      August 22, 2018
  6. I never wanted to write full-time. My goal has always been to be Clifford Simak. A respected mid-tier sf writer who writes a book a year on the side of a daunting, impressive day job.

    August 22, 2018
    • And that’s valid. Completely valid.
      Me, I wanted to write what I wanted and make the money we need. That’s fine.
      BTW not related but amusing, I’m re-reading Out of Their Minds today. 🙂

      August 22, 2018
      • TRX #

        My favorite Simak:
        Way Station
        They Walked Like Men
        The Goblin Reservation

        In my lengthy binge through the pulp magazines at, I’ve found a bunch of Simak’s short fiction that I’ve never seen anthologized…

        August 22, 2018
        • Cosmic Engineers is my favourite Simak. Yep, I know, but it’s still my favourite. And besides, Stephen King likes it, too.

          August 22, 2018
          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

            Who’s Stephen King? 😈

            August 22, 2018
            • I heard rumors he’s a monarch who rules the the horror shelves.
              At least until Cthulu get’s through with ‘im.


              August 22, 2018
          • Out of their Minds was my first Simak, so I’m biased.
            Other favorites include They Walked like Men, Way Station and the Werewolf Principle. The Werewolf Principle was my favorite romance for decades.

            August 22, 2018
        • link?

          August 22, 2018
      • Since the earliest thirties, to read science fiction is to read Simak. A reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science fiction at all.

        — RAH, 1977

        August 22, 2018
      • Zsuzsa #

        How valid is that path with indie? I mean, I know nothing would physically stop you from doing it, but a lot of the chatter makes it sound like if you go more than about three months without putting out a book, you might as well be dead. Is it feasible to have a relatively successful indie career while only putting out a book a year or so?

        August 22, 2018
        • You have to start somewhere. And there are a few people who write well enough, in a niche that’s begging for new stories, that they do OK to well on a book a year.

          August 22, 2018
        • Try two. Two are feasible. It will just take you longer to get there.

          August 22, 2018
        • There are two answers to this:
          1.) It’s going to be a lot harder, because you won’t get the frequent release boost from Amazon’s algorithms, but hard is not the same as impossible;

          2.) In the long run, a lot of what’s behind an author getting well known is backlist, and exposure. People who put out a lot of backlist quickly have a lot for people to go through and buy quickly, like and recommend… but if you treat this as a twenty-year project instead of focusing on thirty-to-ninety-day visibility, a book a year for twenty years is still twenty books, and twenty years of people saying “Hey, you ought to try this guy. He’s good, you’ll like it.”

          There’s a LOT of short-term focus in indie in part because it’s such a young field; KDP is only 10 years old this year. Most people have been doing it less than 5 years. So it’s hard to talk about 20 years down the road, when your experience is only three years deep.

          This doesn’t mean what’s working well right this moment will work great in two years, much less twenty – except the basics: write and publish good books that people want to read. That advice never goes out of style.

          August 22, 2018
  7. Back in the good ole days . . . I got slush pile rejections, finely found an agent young and hungry enough to try to hawk my stuff . . . I sold a single short story.

    Getting published traditionally is not going to happen fast, no matter how brilliant you are sure your work is.

    And the small presses that might have taken my early work weren’t very good at getting your book into bookstores. And they expect you to do a lot of the marketing, at your own expense.

    So I jumped right into Indie. Still not self supporting, but it’s getting better every year. I figure two more years and I’ll be there. Yeah, not terribly encouraging, but since I do so little marketing, it’s close to miraculous.

    August 22, 2018
  8. TonyT #

    IIRC, most of the “classic” writers (before say WWII) would be in category 4 – they wanted to make a living from writing, not try to be literary.

    And I suspect that, say 50 years from now, that the books from our era that will be considered classics will come overwhelmingly from category 4, too, with some from 1, 2, but NONE from category 3.

    August 22, 2018
    • Uncle Lar #

      It was a job, a lot of them were reporters so words came easy to them.
      And their meat and potatoes was the pulps and periodicals.
      Even the novels were invariably first serialized in one of the many magazines that carried such material.
      Cat 1, you quickly discover that to the traditional publishers you are just the author, they take your poorly formed clay and polish and transform it into something wonderful. Except if it still doesn’t sell it’s all your fault.
      Cat 2, honestly your chances, unless you’re writing a celebrity or political tell all, is to indie publish and hope for lightning to strike. I understand that trad pub now mines the sales reports for successful indie writers and offers to take much of the load off of their shoulders. Just be aware that you will be in effect selling your birthright for a mess of potage.
      Cat 3, go for it, but be aware you won’t ever be able to give up your day job, or at least your spouse won’t.
      Cat 4, welcome to capitalism in action. Produce a product that a significant number of buyers are willing to purchase, somehow figure out how to get the offer under their eyeballs, and keep track of the direct deposits to your account from the Zon.

      August 22, 2018
    • Sure. I believe so too. But I do like playing with words and academic concepts oh, once every ten years.
      The attempt to push me in that direction ONLY made me clinically depressed.

      August 22, 2018
  9. I’m looking for a good, solid “F-List” with quite a ways to go yet (Somewhere between “L” and “K” right now). Most important step toward that right now is working on improving my productivity by getting more consistent in my daily output.

    August 22, 2018
  10. wolfwalker #

    I’ve never been published – never written anything good enough to submit — but I think there are some good stories inside my head, and I’d like to share them with other people. Where does that put me?

    August 22, 2018
    • Uncle Lar #

      Until you actually write them, pure wishful thinking.
      Write your stories and folks here will help you be your own publisher.
      If they truly are good your chances at decent sales are just waiting for you to take advantage.

      August 22, 2018
    • decide where you want to go. Then go there. No one can read what you don’t write. Do you want those stories to die with you?

      August 22, 2018
    • The only way to learn how to write is to write. Also, as far as I can tell writing is a cluster of related skills rather than a single skill, so you can’t git gud in one area and assume you’re ready.

      Get a notebook or other durable medium, write down your ideas, and pick one to practice with. If you don’t want to use up ideas you like on practice projects, you _might_ try fanfic but if you do then try to subvert or ignore the Stations of the Canon so that you’re not neglecting the skills involved in plotting. Likewise do the narration and dialog in your own words as much as possible, because if you’re quoting the original work you aren’t building your own description/narration/dialog skills. (Sarah Hoyt’s Pride and Prejudice nudist fanfic, for example, doesn’t quote the original but the wit etc. of the characters are very much present.)

      (If you pick a story that you have a love-hate relationship with, you have the fun of fixing where it went wrong and hopefully the motivation to see it through. Beware of writing lecture-fic, though.)

      You’ll want broad, vigorous feedback where people are willing to tell you why something sucks so that you can try different things until the scene in question sucks less. (Lousy writing is a given, note. The joke about trash-binning your first million words is truth-spoken-lightheartedly.) A fiction-centered forum with a lot of activity works well for that.

      You might have or develop a ‘spidey sense’ for when a particular passage you wrote could suck less. If you do, treasure it and listen to it unless all of your readers assure you otherwise. (But they’ll tend to agree with it, in my experience.)

      Once you finish something you can publish – indie publishing is more promising than traditional, at least a lot of the time – but then make sure to have people read the current draft and ask questions like, “What parts are boring?” “What do you think of character X?” “Was there anything that strained your suspension of disbelief?” “Is there anything you felt didn’t get resolved?” You know what you’re trying to communicate, which makes it really hard to know what you actually communicated.

      Amazon seems to be treating authors mostly okay, as long as the authors don’t try to game the system. Ain’t perfect, but I hear it’s a lot better than most traditional publishing.


      August 23, 2018
  11. TRX #

    Some people seem to get hung up on writing a specific genre. Others write some of this and some of that, and find whatever sells or pays the best.

    August 22, 2018
    • Uncle Lar #

      Heinlein had to write because he could not hold down a job that required physical strength for medical reasons. It’s what got him discharged from the Navy in 1939. He wrote whatever would sell at the time, but quickly found that SF was his sweet spot.
      Much the same could be said for any number of his compatriots of that era, though their sweet spots tended towards adventure or westerns.

      August 22, 2018
  12. Christopher Chupik #

    “So, I want to be a science-fiction author. What’s it like?”

    “Well, we get in political slap-fights over ridiculous made-up BS. Also, we conduct witch-hunts against anyone who might have a different opinion than us. Sometimes we take time off from that to attack and defame the great SF authors of the past. We cap it all off by applauding when a small group of insiders pass around a trophy among their friends and call it ‘diversity’.” (pause) “Please stop crying.”

    August 22, 2018
    • Synova #

      I sometimes feel like I fell in a hole and the real world is up there somewhere and it’s full of readers who have no notion that the hole exists and who buy crap tons of Galaxy’s Edge novels.

      August 22, 2018
    • LOL. But stop scaring the newbies…

      August 22, 2018
  13. My initial dream was to write ONE book and have it published. That was when I was around 10, so you’ll have to forgive me for thinking that would make me RICH. Yes, I often laugh at the things my 10 year old self thought (I actually thought my dad was a super-hero, but since we lived on a small farm far away from the big city there wasn’t enough work for super-heroes, so he had to get a real job).

    Now that I have a better handle on reality. My ultimate dream is to eventually replace my day job and write full time. Fame? Fortune? Recognition? Awards? Naa.. What I really want is to write, and for people read and enjoy.

    August 22, 2018
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      That . . . sounds like a good setup for a superhero story.

      August 22, 2018
      • Does, doesn’t it? (Not all that bad for a 10 year old to think that, either – keeping a farm running, I think you’re about halfway to superhero already…)

        August 22, 2018
        • Older son thought I was an international Jewel thief.

          August 22, 2018
          • That brought to mind the scenes from “The Pink Panther.” Nope, just can’t imagine you in a gorilla suit…

            August 23, 2018
            • Draven #

              because we have LawDog for that?

              August 23, 2018
  14. Kord #

    I want to write a Brother’s or Sister’s Hardy space story for nine to eleven year olds.
    Or rather I want to write it in two versions, one pink, one blue, only changing the names of the heroes. (Clearly stating “A Manly Space Adventure for Boys” or A Girly Space Adventure for Girls. For some reason “Boyish” and “Womanly” don’t work well here.

    Fairly well off with job and side-lines, but my pleasantly weird schedule comes up with free days that fairly screams “Go write something!”

    August 22, 2018
  15. Synova #

    I think that right now what I want is a book, or maybe three, but a complete novel or trilogy that is objectively well written and has a story that I enjoy reading and feel proud of, printed in paper so I can hold it in my hands, with a great cover and all the trappings. Which maybe puts me in the “vanity publishing” sphere for the moment but at this point what I want is to have done it and be able to look at the proof sitting on my own bookshelf. The price is time, some work ethic, and production funds for art and whatnot.

    Not going into debt in the process would be a bonus. Actually making some money… I almost need not to consider that because it puts my goals beyond what I feel like I could control and I’m super duper great at self-sabotage.

    Once I get that first goal, though, it will be time to reconsider and figure what I want and if I am willing to pay the price for the next goal.

    This was actually quite helpful, I think. And now I’m going to take the rest of my lunch and go walk… and consider my health, goals, and the price I’m willing to pay for them.

    August 22, 2018
    • I just have to say that that is what I did two years ago. I finished writing the story in my mind and put it up on Amazon. I managed everything on that list except a good cover — didn’t really understand that concept — and I spent very little money — a good cover would have changed that but not by an unreasonable amount. You can actually achieve this…

      August 22, 2018
      • Synova #

        I think that doing it a second time I’d need to expect to keep it all in the black, but the first time I’m okay with “this is an expensive hobby” and then at that point do the hard deciding about writing career goals.

        The sort of self-sabotage that I tended to do back-when, when I was trying to have a writing career and sending out short stories, back when there was one and only one way, was the experience of utter terror that I’d write something really good, sell it, and then *have to do it again* but not know how.

        At least I’ve gotten over that! 😛

        August 23, 2018
  16. I’d like to get to the point that I’m writing a couple of books a year, rather than taking a couple of years (plus) to write a book.

    August 22, 2018
    • Me too. Part of that is getting (WAY) better.

      August 22, 2018
  17. Part of me wants to go full Mollari

    The realistic side of me just wants to finish writing the current book, finish the other two I’ve started, oh and write a few more short stories. That’s it.

    Money, that would be nice, too.

    August 22, 2018
  18. As a short term goal, I would like to re-order my life a little and schedule regular scheduled writing time. This writing when I have a few minutes here and there just isn’t going to work. 🙂

    August 22, 2018
  19. I am cushioned to a certain extent by a military pension, social security (as of this year) and a mortgage that is within a couple of years of being paid off. I’d like to make enough from writing to enjoy some … extras. An impulse purchase of some art, or an expensive book, a weekend at a spa. And perhaps do that little weekend refuge in the Hill Country; a small old-fashioned house on a quarter or half an acre, on the edge of some small scenic town.
    I’d like to be able to go full-out on a book and finish the first draft in a white-hot blaze of energy the way I did with my first one, but … special case. I’d been writing that in my head for years, putting it all in pixels was just a formality.

    August 22, 2018
  20. 23 skidoo

    August 22, 2018
  21. I want to get past writing the second book. Number one was a lark — can I do this? Number two has a bit more emotional weight — if I write this are there ten people who will like it? I’d like to double the number of people who read the second book as compared to the first… ; ) (That won’t actually be hard…) I’d like to write a third book in one year.

    August 22, 2018
    • Oh yes, number two. That one is not being helpful, especially with all the distractions of I Have Kids Now, or If I Push I Can Get the Backyard Fixed Up, or I Really Want to Have a Garden Again.

      August 27, 2018
  22. Peter is working on writing enough to be a full-time job, supporting both of us. Some years we come really close, other years he’d had some medical adventures that resulted in only one to two books out, and large medical bills, but on the whole, he’s getting closer to steady and sufficient new releases and backlist sales every year.

    Me, I have a day job that helps smooth the ups and downs of royalty income, helps with insurance, and varies from making sure we can tackle the medical bills and get food on the table on the bad years to making life more comfy and paying off the debts on the good years so we can get to the point where we don’t need near as much income to live happily ever after. I like my day job, and am unlikely to quit it unless we ever get to the point where we can snowbird, or feel like tackling the country in an RV. (Since writers can write anywhere.)

    Thus, I have two books out, but I don’t want to make this a full time. I just want to have books out there like I want to read. Realistic, fast-paced action, competent heroes, a soupcon of romance without sex scenes, adventure on strange new worlds, explorations of humanity that are believable, exploration on how technology will affect culture, sense of wonder, laughter, the works.

    August 22, 2018
  23. Draven #

    i’d like to get paid

    I’d like the pay rate to work out to be more than minimum wage.

    August 22, 2018
  24. I want to finalize my first book and get it up on Amazon, get the rough draft for #2 done by the end of September, and #3 done before the end of the year. I want to get my writing average for the week above 10K on a consistent basis.


    August 23, 2018
  25. L. Douglas Garrett #

    Sarah, this is just the sort of summary of options in the modern writing environment that I needed to see. Being a couple weeks into the process that comes after finishing a novella (readers; proofreaders; “rework-and-repeat” process), and seeing the light at the end of tunnel on the creative side… the decision about where to go with the work is forefront now.

    The World I knew of books and publication, oh… 25 years ago now, is no more. I look forward to the challenge of the new world! Thank you.

    August 23, 2018
  26. KR #

    I don’t care about the money, I want to be “secretly famous” by selling a gazillion books under a pseudonym.

    August 23, 2018
  27. I wrote some 34 short stories when I was trying to sell, and about a third of a novel with a ridiculously sad ending (Curse you Thomas Hardy!). I sold one short, and it took me about 18 months to get my $14 payment (they paid on publication), but I got a nice note from Ray Bradbury whose writing had inspired it (along with an autographed poster from the movie version of Something Wicked this Way Comes that he was working on at the time). I used to want to write an occasional story that was deep enough to illustrate a decent moral point, but I did not have the talent of Orson Scott Card, and I soon discovered that what the publishing world and I considered moral were widely divergent.

    I have no regrets about abandoning that world for a very rewarding day job, but now with indie available and potential free time looming, I find myself worrying that somebody needs to write the kind of stuff that RAH & company put out to inspire a new generation to do great things. I’m firmly convinced that Paul Allen, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the other D.D. Harrimans must have read some Heinlein in their youth as I did. I want that to continue.

    August 23, 2018
  28. “suddenly the doctor realized who she was… and was a fan.”

    Story time! I was working as a radio board op when the local gardening guru (whose show fell in my shift) showed up a couple of weeks early with the tomato plants he’d promised me. Since he’s very insistent on planting times, I asked why—and it turns out that they’d just discovered he had full-blown heart disease and he was going in for multiple bypass surgery.

    Ten days after the surgery, he came in for a partial shift, and related that when he was getting prepped, they had to shave a large part of his body (because they get the blood vessels from all over.) Nurse #1 starts shaving, and asks him gardening questions. Nurse #2 starts shaving, and also asks gardening questions. Nurse #3 comes in, and starts talking about his garden… and I guess something similar happened with the doctor and anesthesiologist.

    Mind you, he’s a wonderfully snarky raconteur, which is part of the reason his show has been so popular for decades (and goes on for four hours on two different stations), but dang, that has to be awkward.

    August 27, 2018

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