About the Writing Life

Busy, busy, busy!In case anyone is curious what the life of a writer is like, especially an indie-published writer. In addition to the Day Job, and looking for a new Day Job since the old contact is ending, I’m doing the following stuff for the writing side of the house:

  1. Edits on "Clash By Night," targeted for an October publication in the anthology, The Curator.

  2. Getting ready to staff and run my first table at a convention. I’ll be at Capclave 2018 with Tannhauser Press in Rockville, MD on Sep 28-30 selling books.

  3. I’m on Programming at Capclave 2018, so I’m prepping for four panels, including one that I’m moderating.

  4. I’m putting the final touches on the 2-hour workshop I’ll be conducting at Capclave: "Writing Killer Fight Scenes That Matter."

  5. I’m in the middle of writing a time travel story (the working title is "Time Vortex").

  6. I’m prepping for second draft edits to "Pivot Point," a military steampunk story with airships, elves and dangerous science.

  7. I’m finishing a story called "Death Comes to Town" for publication in an anthology called Outsiders.

  8. I’m getting ready to publish my story "Bitter Days" in print and ebook next month (October).

  9. I’m finalizing the ebook for "The Rooftop Game," which will be published about a week after Capclave.

  10. I’m prepping my story "Road Trip" for solo publication in December.

  11. I’ve started writing a series of “Writing Exercises” for my Writing Group, the Hourlings. These will also be released for free on my web site in PDF form.

So, yeah, I’m staying busy.

Oh, and just for the heck of it, I highlighted in red all of the significant pieces of content I’m working on in one form or another right now. From copyedits to second draft changes to publication prep.

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So Clueless It Hurts

I was recently at a…well, let’s call it a networking event…for writers and science fiction fans. I ended up seeing a man there that I knew from other events, a writer in perhaps his late fifties. Now, I probably hadn’t seen this fellow, who I’ll refer to as Bob for the sake of anonymity, in probably six months. When we’d last talked, he’d mentioned that he had a novel that was in the process of being published by a small press.

“Hi Bob,” I said, walking up to him. “Nice to see you again. It’s been ages.”

We exchanged some pleasantries, and then I asked, “Hey, how’s that book coming along? Has it been published yet?”

“No,” Bob said. “It’s still in process. It’s a small press, you know, and the owner, well, they guy had some health issues.”

“Oh, sorry to hear that. I hope he’s doing OK.”

“Yeah, he’s on the mend, but he’s way behind,” Bob said. He took a sip of his drink. “He’s hired some staff to help him get caught up.”

“Do they have a publication date for you yet?”

“No, but they’re working on it. The guy offered me my rights back if I wanted them, but I told him no.” Bob shrugged. “I can wait. I mean, he produces really nice looking books.”

I was a bit incredulous. His publisher is at least six months late on publication, and he’s acting like this is no big deal. Casually, I probed further. “So, he can’t tell you when it’s coming out?”

“No, but I’m not worried. I’m not losing any money. Besides, I only get paid when copies get sold.”

So now he’d basically told me that he didn’t get an advance for the novel. I’m not too worried about that because, frankly, advances are more of a “big trad publisher” thing than a “small press” thing.

But he’s apparently never heard of “opportunity cost.” If you have a story that’s done, and it’s not out there where folks can potentially spend money on it, then the time that passes erases any money that you could have been earning if only it had been available. In business, time really is money.

Let’s say that his novel had the potential to earn a $1000 a year (assuming some reasonable marketing). Bob was clueless that he’d just lost perhaps $500 of potential earnings.

Even worse, if the small press owner was unable to get the book out on time because of illness, what were the odds that he’d be able to market it effectively? That’s a business consideration, as well, and one that almost certainly would warrant terminating the contract.

This is basic business stuff and Bob was totally clueless about it all. He was so focused on getting his book published, that he didn’t think about opportunity cost, marketing or even income. In my humble opinion, this cluelessness towards the business aspects of a writing career is why writers like Bob have been taken advantage of so badly by publishers, agents and other folks over the years. And it’s why so many otherwise talented writers are unable to make a living at writing.

It’s great to be creative. It’s great to be a writer. But if you really want to have a career, take the time to learn the business side of the writing life. Please, pretty please.

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