Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Become an Author, in 5 Incredibly Difficult Steps by Robert Brockway is a painfully funny, sadly accurate account of writing for a living. Well worth a few minutes reading. (Thanks to Dave Laderoute for bringing it to my attention.)

One thing that took me slightly aback was his complaining about his initial advance of a mere $30,000. Not that his math isn't correct and that that worked out to less than minimum wage for the hours he put into the book. He's completely correct that one could make a lot more pumping gas at the local 7-11, and with a lot less angst. It's just that $30,000 is still a lot more then the average beginning SF novel advance of $3,500 to $6,000 (from those publishers who still pay advances -- more and more, the smaller presses simply can't afford to offer anything beyond editorial assistance). Once one has established oneself as a dependable seller, someone whose books are likely to sell more than a few copies, well then advances might well go up. But for SF writers trying to break into the market with no previous credentials, $6000 is pretty much top dollar. I know I'd be deliriously happy if I got anything close to five figures for my first novel. I can count on my fingers the number of Canadian SF writers who can actually make a living just from their writing--and on one hand the number who make a good living at it.

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