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Old 21st May 2007, 12:16 PM   #226 (permalink)
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In a quandry

Hi John et al I could really use some advice...

I've been writing professionally since '92. I've been lucky (and frugal) enough to be able to make it my sole income for the majority of that time; my publication history is stretching towards 90 professional credits, serious non-fiction, novels, pop-culture, stories, health guides, game stuff, all sorts of things.

Now, I know that will sound like a dream to many of the people on here, and please don't get me wrong, I know I've been incredibly fortunate. The trouble is that almost all of that work has been commissioned in advance... and the pay (and terms) are pitiful. Fifteen years on, and I'm still pulling down burger-flipping money many years.

Obviously taking time out from earning to write a novel of my own is a risk, but I don't really have much clue if it's a sensible risk or a stupid one. I know there are lots of unknowable factors that play a part, of course. My fiction has been in the area of "supernatural thriller" -- Neil Gaiman and Susan Cooper are two of my very favourite authors. As for my writing, well, you were complimentary about it a few years ago when I floated a fantasy partial past you, but you didn't take the project on *grin*.

I'm currently torn between risking financial disaster to work on a novel on spec, sticking to my current work and living in countries where £300 is a good month's wage, or (sigh) resigning myself to flying a desk, rejoining the mainstream, and just writing freely distributed web.stuff as a hobby. If the former, I guess I'd be aiming at territory roughly half-way between Laurell Hamilton and recent Gaiman.

So I have three key questions (for anyone who wants to answer!), in order of descending fairness.

1) YA fiction aside -- my mind doesn't work that way -- is "Supernatural Thriller" actually a genre yet, or is my history just going to make me look like a hack and scare people off?
2) Realistically, what kind of money are novels in that area actually earning nowadays?
3) Do you have even the slightest intuition of whether it is worth the risk or not?

Thanks to anyone who read this far *grin*, and massive thanks in advance for any feedback, comment or advice

Tim.
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Old 21st May 2007, 12:24 PM   #227 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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I day dream that maybe one day I might be able to include the day dob into my writing time. But I am know enough about the business and the quality of my writing to realise that won't happen

That comes across as a teeny bit defeatist – rather than day dreaming, isn’t it best to try and apply your abilities and shape your dreams into reality? Sure, I empathise; although you can always chip away at your goals whilst keeping your feet on the ground and keeping your head above water in the real world. If you think you can never do it, those vibes will eventually trickle through and hold you back. Keep those thoughts to yourself – and tell the world you are capable instead.
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Old 21st May 2007, 03:02 PM   #228 (permalink)
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Re: In a quandry

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Originally Posted by Tumbleworld View Post

3) Do you have even the slightest intuition of whether it is worth the risk or not?

Thanks to anyone who read this far *grin*, and massive thanks in advance for any feedback, comment or advice

Tim.
Have you thought about re-entering the "real world" on a part time basis? That's what I do. I've been working part time for about four years and earn just about enough to live on. My job gives me the valuable extra time to concentrate on writing novels. A few years back I realised I couldn't hope to hold down a full-time job and seriously try to pursue my passion for writing fiction.

I don't know whether anyone can tell you what to do - only you know best - but I will say that if you have a passion for writing, if you do go back to work, you may find your heart isn't in it. If you do choose to pursue the fiction route, you may have to sacrifice other (material) things- as I understand it the money really isn't great.
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Old 21st May 2007, 04:04 PM   #229 (permalink)
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Re: In a quandry

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Originally Posted by Tumbleworld View Post
Hi John et al I could really use some advice...

I've been writing professionally since '92. I've been lucky (and frugal) enough to be able to make it my sole income for the majority of that time; my publication history is stretching towards 90 professional credits, serious non-fiction, novels, pop-culture, stories, health guides, game stuff, all sorts of things.

Now, I know that will sound like a dream to many of the people on here, and please don't get me wrong, I know I've been incredibly fortunate. The trouble is that almost all of that work has been commissioned in advance... and the pay (and terms) are pitiful. Fifteen years on, and I'm still pulling down burger-flipping money many years.

Obviously taking time out from earning to write a novel of my own is a risk, but I don't really have much clue if it's a sensible risk or a stupid one. I know there are lots of unknowable factors that play a part, of course. My fiction has been in the area of "supernatural thriller" -- Neil Gaiman and Susan Cooper are two of my very favourite authors. As for my writing, well, you were complimentary about it a few years ago when I floated a fantasy partial past you, but you didn't take the project on *grin*.

I'm currently torn between risking financial disaster to work on a novel on spec, sticking to my current work and living in countries where £300 is a good month's wage, or (sigh) resigning myself to flying a desk, rejoining the mainstream, and just writing freely distributed web.stuff as a hobby. If the former, I guess I'd be aiming at territory roughly half-way between Laurell Hamilton and recent Gaiman.

So I have three key questions (for anyone who wants to answer!), in order of descending fairness.

1) YA fiction aside -- my mind doesn't work that way -- is "Supernatural Thriller" actually a genre yet, or is my history just going to make me look like a hack and scare people off?
2) Realistically, what kind of money are novels in that area actually earning nowadays?
3) Do you have even the slightest intuition of whether it is worth the risk or not?

Thanks to anyone who read this far *grin*, and massive thanks in advance for any feedback, comment or advice

Tim.
To be honest, I would never advise anyone to give up the day job. The majority of authors I've published still worked, at least part-time. So until a writer has several novels in print simultaneously, which are all selling well several years after publication and giving them regular royalty payments, and their advance level is increasing steadily, I would not suggest to anyone that they should gamble on whether or not a new novel will sell, no matter what genre it's in.

Yes, supernatural thriller is now an accepted genre. Orbit alone publish around eight or nine authors in that area in the UK. But of course, they have also turned down HUNDREDS of others in the same genre. I'd say you may have to keep the bread on the table and take more time on a novel in a genre you really enjoy writing that is also commercially viable. Hope that helps.
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Old 21st May 2007, 05:49 PM   #230 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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For me there is a difference between love and faith with my work. I love the first novel I actually finished. I drag it out, still edit, polish, and pick it over. I even send it out to some poor agent/publisher now and then. But do I have any faith that it will sell? None at all. I know each of its faults, the patches of bad writing that no amount of editing will remove. Plot holes, characters that wander round and do nothing, its all there.

But I love it to death.
If you know where the rough points are in your manuscript, surely you can chip away at them and polish it until you're left with the diamond underneath. I think it's writers that don't know where they're going wrong that won't ever improve. Surely the fact that you're seeing these errors means you've got a hope of fixing them.

I'm a firm believer that if you love your story, it will show through in your writing. Perhaps, since you've always loved that particular tale so much, it's time to listen to what it's telling you and edit. You could even retell it again, starting with a fresh, blank page. Your experience will have improved your writing, so maybe this next rewrite will give you a story you have faith in; the baseline of the tale obviously has something which appeals to you.

Just a thought!


Quote:
I have what I call "writing time", which is sandwiched in between my life and my day job. I day dream that maybe one day I might be able to include the day dob into my writing time. But I am know enough about the business and the quality of my writing to realise that won't happen, but it is nice to think about it happening.

I have over the last twelve months learned to submit a good query letter and had a few bites. Even sold a couple of short stories. For me that is a lot further than I ever honestly thought I would get.
I don't think writers can expect fame and riches. Sure, it's nice if you do achieve that, but ultimately writing is for the love of telling a story. Similarly, getting your work into print isn't about being able to say "I'm published", it's about having others take pleasure in what you've written (though, of course, not everyone will like your writing, as some Amazon reviewers are eager to point out!). Just think about it: the people who've read your short stories have left their lives for a while (if even for a short while), to become immersed in your world. That's a fantastic achievement; you've took them somewhere else and introduced them to people they'd never have known otherwise. So yes, good work, I say! Well done.
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Old 21st May 2007, 06:16 PM   #231 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Quote:
I don't think writers can expect fame and riches. Sure, it's nice if you do achieve that, but ultimately writing is for the love of telling a story. Similarly, getting your work into print isn't about being able to say "I'm published", it's about having others take pleasure in what you've written (though, of course, not everyone will like your writing, as some Amazon reviewers are eager to point out!). Just think about it: the people who've read your short stories have left their lives for a while (if even for a short while), to become immersed in your world. That's a fantastic achievement; you've took them somewhere else and introduced them to people they'd never have known otherwise. So yes, good work, I say! Well done.
If you're in it for the fame and riches, you better become an actor or singer.
But yeah, you put it down very nicely. We're in for it to bother other people sucking out precious minutes of their oh so short life.
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Old 21st May 2007, 09:00 PM   #232 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

JJ > majority of authors I've published still worked, at least part-time. So
JJ > until a writer has several novels in print simultaneously, which are all
JJ > selling well several years after publication and giving them regular

That's about what I thought, thanks.

JJ> Yes, supernatural thriller is now an accepted genre. Orbit alone publish
JJ> ... Hope that helps.

Very much so. Thank you. It's good to hear that supernatural thriller has made it to a genre, too

Y> Have you thought about re-entering the "real world" on a part time
Y> basis?

*wry grin* Yeah, often. I've tried it before without any real luck, but perhaps I ought to try it again.

Y> I will say that if you have a passion for writing, if you do go back to
Y> work, you may find your heart isn't in it. If you do choose to pursue
Y> the fiction route, you may have to sacrifice other (material) things-

*smile* You're pretty spot on there, in both cases. Staying writing has required the sacrifice of pretty much everything else tangible to date, but that's OK, I'm not a materially motivated person anyway. Thank you very much for your thoughts.

Tim.
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Old 22nd May 2007, 07:44 AM   #233 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Originally Posted by Leisha View Post
If you know where the rough points are in your manuscript, surely you can chip away at them and polish it until you're left with the diamond underneath. I think it's writers that don't know where they're going wrong that won't ever improve. Surely the fact that you're seeing these errors means you've got a hope of fixing them.

I'm a firm believer that if you love your story, it will show through in your writing. Perhaps, since you've always loved that particular tale so much, it's time to listen to what it's telling you and edit. You could even retell it again, starting with a fresh, blank page. Your experience will have improved your writing, so maybe this next rewrite will give you a story you have faith in; the baseline of the tale obviously has something which appeals to you.

Just a thought!
I am not the same person that wrote that story, certainly not the same writer. I have tried, but found I can't go back. And maybe it is best not too. You can never recapture a moment or time, no matter how you try. That story belongs to a younger and pain-free me.


Quote:
That's a fantastic achievement; you've took them somewhere else and introduced them to people they'd never have known otherwise. So yes, good work, I say! Well done.
Thank you. I am proud of selling the stories.

Wayne;

Yes, maybe I am being a bit defeatist, maybe the vibes will trickle down and hold me back, but in my opinion it is not just telling the world how good you are, it is showing them. And at present I have not produced a novel length work that shows them this, and perhaps I never will. I personally need to face the fact I might not make it so I can keep on trying. Sounds stupid I know.
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Old 22nd May 2007, 03:58 PM   #234 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Confidence is good, believing in yourself is good -- but unrealistic expectations can lead to bitterness and early defeat. From what I know of Sue, she seems to inhabit a healthy middle ground between starry-eyed and losing faith.
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Old 22nd May 2007, 07:00 PM   #235 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Yes, I absolutely agree with Teresa.
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Old 22nd May 2007, 08:06 PM   #236 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Confidence is good, believing in yourself is good -- but unrealistic expectations can lead to bitterness and early defeat.
Crud. There's me thinking multi-million GBP advances, multi-mega book deals and high-brow celebrity extravaganzas were feasibly attainable...
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Old 22nd May 2007, 08:21 PM   #237 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Oh you sarky tinker, Wayne!!!
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Old 22nd May 2007, 08:35 PM   #238 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Crud. There's me thinking multi-million GBP advances, multi-mega book deals and high-brow celebrity extravaganzas were feasibly attainable...
You forgot 6 figure deal with the toy manufacturer for the six inch, figurine of your main character, with clip-on accessories And the mug that changes colour when hot liquid is put in, and..........
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Old 22nd May 2007, 08:48 PM   #239 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Yes, that's what I like to see, a sense of balance and reality...
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Old 24th May 2007, 07:41 PM   #240 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

You may have noticed that some of our UK members have a somewhat - how can I put this? - darkly humorous, even gallows humor, approach to this. I blame the smogs in the 1950s, personally. Some of which I remember, sadly...
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