Not So Sweet Mysteries of (the writing) Life
Tuesday is critique night for the Pearl Street Gang. We meet for dinner and to catch up on any news and eventually get around to doing the job we come to do--critiquing. But last Tuesday after the food and the work and the gabbing, Warren Hammond, Aaron Ritchey and I hung around awhile and talked about the "business."
Warren and I have been writing (and published) the longest. Aaron just had his first book released but he's been writing for a long time. The subject naturally came up about what a writer can do to best promote himself, leading, one would hope, to actually earning a living by (gasp) writing!
For those of you who know Aaron, you know he's outgoing, charming and probably the smartest man I know. He has a thousand stories buzzing around in that head of his and when he sets out to write one, it's always told in a unique voice and style that sucks you right in. If judged by talent alone, he's got it made.
If it were only that easy!
So how did we answer Aaron? Warren had it right when he said if you were an athlete, you'd split your income 80/20 with your agent. If you were a actor, the same. Only in publishing does the house, agent and bookseller make more than the artist. And from your cut (maybe $1 - $3 a book) comes promo--swag, travel, conference fees, advertising.
Discouraging? If your aim is to support yourself and maybe a family? Definitely. Lightning does strike, though. And there's always the chance the gods will reach down and pluck you up to join the ranks of J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. Or Alan Ball will be looking for a book in an airport book shop and pick yours to make into the next HBO blockbuster.
More likely, you'll keep your day job. You'll write because it's what you want to do, what you love to do, what you have to do. You'll count yourself lucky when you get each new contract because you'll see your friends lose theirs. You'll go off to cons and do your best to pretend you're an extrovert for four days when in fact, you only really feel comfortable in front of your computer. You'll fall in love with your characters and feel you know them better than most of the real people in your life.
And you do.
It occurred to me that maybe that's why we keep writing. We have very little control over the details of our contracts, our pub dates, our covers. But we do have control over our characters and our fictional world and how we win the fights over the big bads. So the answer is clear. The next series I write will be about a NYT Best Selling author whose books are picked up in an airport book store and made into a mega-hit movie where my fictional author gets a walk-on roll and her publisher throws money at her to keep writing. The only conflict will be whether she wears the Badgley Mischka or the Marchesa to the Oscars.
Think it would sell?
Speaking of conferences: Here's my panel schedule for RT next week.
THE GRAVEYARD SMASH-UP WEDNESDAY, 4:45-5:45
A discussion of vampires and their appearance in various gen¬res. How do you mix the undead with other elements in order to create a winning novel? Captain: Caridad Pineiro Panelists: Eden Bradley (aka Eve Berlin), Clay & Susan Griffith, Kerrelyn Sparks, Jeanne C. Stein
URBAN FANTASY: Kick-Ass Characters that Make Us Cry & Keep Us Coming Back For More FRIDAY 2:45 – 3:45 PM
Urban Fantasy is often known for its fantastic elements and worldbuilding, but at the heart of each story, it's the characters that readers can't get enough of. Listen as authors reveal what it takes to write the addictive characters that drive this genre, discussing everything from anti-heroes and inner conflict to relationships and star-crossed lovers. Captain/Moderator: Richelle Mead Panelists: Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris Christina Henry, Chloe Neill, Jeanne Stein
SEVEN MINUTES IN URBAN FANTASY HEAVEN FRIDAY 1:30 – 2:30
Join us for the most intense urban fantasy hour ever. Authors will find their funniest, most romantic or most action-packed scenes … and have just seven minutes to read them aloud to you! You’ll get a whirlwind trip of different creatures, styles and characters — as well as the chance to win books from all of the participating authors.
Moderator: Richelle Mead Panelists: Lynda Hilburn, Suzanne McLeod, Kristin Painter, Nicole Peeler, Jeanne Stein, Jaye Wells.
If you're attending, look me up.