Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pay the Writer

After reading Monday's blog post, my friend Loren emailed me to ask: "How soon do you realistically think it will be before you make money from writing?"

I wrote up this response:

I've been submitting short stories to magazines; if and when one of those sells, I might get a couple of hundred dollars (depending on the publication). The short fiction is mostly for practice, and to accumulate professional credits.

After I finish this month's rewrites/additions to the novel, I'll start querying it; if it sells, a typical first-novel advance is about $5,000. (Last year at VP, I talked to one of the staff who had signed a 3-book deal for a total advance of $60,000. That's insanely great for a new novelist. Her agent had managed to get two publishers into a bidding war.)

More on first novel advances:
http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/10/05/author-advance-survey-version-20/

I also have a couple of screenplays in the trunk. I have no idea what the going rate for those is, but my impression is it's highly variable depending on a variety of factors (no pun intended). I'd have to do quite a bit of work to get either of them into fighting shape.

Realistically, I probably won't ever make a living from writing alone; most fiction writers don't. I expect to get back into web consulting in a few years--I've already started attending the various open-source events here in Portland--or doing other types of freelance work.

Those are the facts. I'm luckier than most to be able to take a few years off to chase this dream--I've already won the lottery once, figuratively speaking. I have no illusions about my chances of becoming a bestselling millionaire novelist (to wit: vanishingly slim), but I believe I have a good chance at getting published, sooner or later. I'm working on the "sooner" part.

~CKL
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