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 Confessions of a semi-successful author

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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Wed May 14, 2008 10:06 pm

Most of the members here aspire to becoming full-time writers and imagine that fulfilling that dream will bring wealth and happiness. Maybe it will, but not for this author:

"Never an enthusiastic employee, I quit my job at age 35 to become a full-time writer, to live life on my own terms. After publishing four books -- each of them critically acclaimed, several of them award-winners, none of them big enough sellers to ensure my next book contract, let alone the lifetime of book contracts I crave -- I feel less in control of my finances, my schedule, my priorities and my well-being than I did when I had bosses and employees to answer to. "

Is this what you really want? Read this article and then decide for yourself:

http://dir.salon.com/story/books/feature/2004/03/22/midlist/index.html

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JoElle
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Wed May 14, 2008 11:36 pm

I suppose it depends on what we are looking to accomplish with our writing.

My goal is to write stories. I'm not seeking fame nor fortune.

And I love my 'day job' enough that I know I would actually miss it if I were to quit it to write full time.

The article is very helpful, in that it paints a realistic picture of what MOST writers will face upon gaining some success in writing.

And while many do aspire and have a dream, it is important to have realistic expectations.

I don't know, I think the longer we are at it, most of us know that most books on the shelves at the stores are by writers we don't know. Only a handful are 'big names'.

Thanks! It is a very good piece!
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 5:47 am

Yes, a good article all the way through. I guess I had no delusions about fame and fortune. My thought in writing was to offer hope and perhaps encourage other women. I have already received enough feedback to know that I have accomplished what I set out to do. If it goes beyond that, will be happy, but for now I am satisfied. Perhaps I will aim higher with the next ones!!
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lin
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 7:31 am

I read that aritlce when in came out on Salon. Very interesting and good, gutsy piece.

And a good dose of reality for those who figure if they can just get a book done and it gets bought and published and well-reviewed and takes good sales life will open up and have meaning and treats.

Here is somebody all that happened to, and she didn't screw up, and the whole thing fell apart and she's less happy now than before her "success".

An interesting contrast would be Sue Sunshine's post on the fifth page of the "Plot of not to plot" thread.
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Forest Elf wrote:
I suppose it depends on what we are looking to accomplish with our writing.

My goal is to write stories. I'm not seeking fame nor fortune.

And I love my 'day job' enough that I know I would actually miss it if I were to quit it to write full time.

The article is very helpful, in that it paints a realistic picture of what MOST writers will face upon gaining some success in writing.

And while many do aspire and have a dream, it is important to have realistic expectations.

I don't know, I think the longer we are at it, most of us know that most books on the shelves at the stores are by writers we don't know. Only a handful are 'big names'.

Thanks! It is a very good piece!
I love it when I post information and someone interpets it exactly the way I did.

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P. Gordon Kennedy
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 3:41 pm

Well, basicly I write my stories, because I like to write them. I love inventing fanciful new worlds....always have. I don't make fame the focus of my work, I realize the odds are heavily against being famous. Fame is not my goal, I'm not afraid of it, but it's not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to head through this journey we call life and enjoy the ride.
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 4:11 pm

Shelagh wrote:
Is this what you really want? Read this article and then decide for yourself.

The short answer is "yes."

First, thanks for sharing the article. Depressing as it is, it's a wonderful read, almost refreshing because all of us know this is how it goes, but most people think one is being "overly negative" when they mention it.

Second, while I wouldn't trade my life as it is with anyone, it's fair to say that I would prefer to have had four books printed with the results the writer describes in the article than to have two POD books printed after years of fighting with editors and agents.

Third, like others here, I enjoy writing and write because I more have to. I'm as passionate about it as breathing.

Odd thing is this: The writers with clout aren't helping. We read the quotes about the "way it used to be" and "how hard it is to get in the door, especially now" and there never seems to be a writer's strike (figuratively speaking) to protest, to leverage proactive change.

What I want to see is this: A bestselling author telling his publisher and/or agent that if they don't start looking at unsolicited queries again, he or she is leaving. Then I want to see other bestselling authors joining in. How passionate we are about the business BEFORE we get one or both feet in the door, but once there, nobody wants to rock the boat and lose an income that exceeds that of my entire street. Heck, if I'd already made several million dollars or so in this business, I'd have enough to live on for the rest of my life even if I did tick off HarperCollins. I could afford to write the way I wanted and place my books with a small press who promised to give aspiring writers a real chance.

Malcolm
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 5:06 pm

Well said, Malcolm, but I doubt that will ever happen. Unless you make it big, that is! That would be refreshing, to say the least.
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Sue
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 5:35 pm

I just want to write. I believe that what I write will be placed in the hands of who needs it at the time. But you must remember, right now I am doing non-fiction. It may be different if I get involved with fiction. I look forward to the changes that will make in my life. NOT! *giggle*
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Sue
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Thu May 15, 2008 8:49 pm

I had to quickly run off when I was writing the above post. I would like to add that it all depends on what we consider successful as to what someone else may consider successful. Also, I have discovered by reading this thread that it depends on the school of thought you have gone to that ends up deciding what is right or wrong in the writing and publishing business.

Like I said before, what I was taught about English, grammar, and punctuation is not the way I write. Does it make it wrong? In my foreword the lady said it was colloquial. I write the way I talk. Growing up that was a no-no in Journalism. It had to be a specific way. People actually love my book because it isn't the way I was taught to write. It is me, plain and simple. They say it feels like I am actually there talking to them. To me this is success! And to me this is the right way to write... for me!

I believe as writers we need to be true to us and what we are writing and to our readers. Not to those who set "standards." JMHO Thanks for reading and listening to me vent.

sunny
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Karina
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Fri May 16, 2008 9:58 am

I'd love to be a best selling author. Realistically that's not going to happen.

I'd love to have a literary agent. Realistically that's not going to happen either.

I write because I enjoy it. I get some much pleasure knowing people are reading my books.

I want the world to read my work. I don't expect to make much money from it. That's not why I'm doing it.

By the end of this summer I'm hoping to have made the 600 sales mark.
I'm turning In Times of Violence into a screen play ( very difficult) and I have a new release due out the end of this summer.

As long as my readers continue to love and praise my work, then I'm a happy lady.
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lin
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Fri May 16, 2008 3:28 pm

Let me put another perspective on that, Karina.

OK, so you sell 600 books in 3 months. Unworthy of notice by the book world.

BUT, your publishing model allows you to pop out 2,3,4 books a year.

You are bound to start experiencing some snowball/crosslink/returnpurchase from that as it grows.

So if you have 5 books out in two years, and they are all performing at 1000 sales a year, that's 5,000 books.

During the time it would take for a book to hit the stores if you scored immediately with the traditional model.

Another 4 years and you easily be topping 20,000 in sales if things just go the way they are now.

My main interest in POD publishing is SPEED. Get the stuff out there and let the market make it's decisions rather than fool around with the process.

Good luck
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Fri May 16, 2008 5:24 pm

In most posts concerning writing, it is suggested that one does not give up their day job. That is good advice.
When I was an instructor for people seeking a business of their own where most could start it part-time, I gave the same advice. "Don't give up your present job until your part-time income exceeds your full-time income." Some ignored that advice saying that if they were to succeed they needed to give their new endeavor 100% of their time. They usually lost. Why? They were giving 100% of their time to something where they had little or no experience. They ignored the fact that 95% of all new businesses fail in their first year. There is a learning curve that not only applies to the business or product but also to the person doing it. Does she/he have what it takes to run a business?

I think there are similarities with writing and getting published. Keep learning, keep writing, keep seeking publication while at the same time retaining the means to eat - to survive. If nothing else, you will have a great hobby, learn much and meet lots of nice people like those on this forum.
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Sue
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Fri May 16, 2008 5:32 pm

Lin, I had never looked at it that way. You may have something there.

Just this morning I was thinking about the next book(s) and thinking that since I don't even have this one "out into the mass population" I shouldn't be thinking of the others. Your perspective allows me to do that.

Thank you for giving me another way to look at things.

sunny
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: Confessions of a semi-successful author   Fri May 16, 2008 5:52 pm

Abe F. March wrote:
In most posts concerning writing, it is suggested that one does not give up their day job. That is good advice.
When I was an instructor for people seeking a business of their own where most could start it part-time, I gave the same advice. "Don't give up your present job until your part-time income exceeds your full-time income." Some ignored that advice saying that if they were to succeed they needed to give their new endeavor 100% of their time. They usually lost. Why? They were giving 100% of their time to something where they had little or no experience. They ignored the fact that 95% of all new businesses fail in their first year. There is a learning curve that not only applies to the business or product but also to the person doing it. Does she/he have what it takes to run a business?

I think there are similarities with writing and getting published. Keep learning, keep writing, keep seeking publication while at the same time retaining the means to eat - to survive. If nothing else, you will have a great hobby, learn much and meet lots of nice people like those on this forum.
I couldn't agree more Abe. Very sound advice. Unfortunately, not everyone will follow it and will end up losing.

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Confessions of a semi-successful author

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