Author Topic: Hi - some advice please for a newbie  (Read 15976 times)

Offline skirabbit

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Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« on: February 11, 2008, 08:59:30 AM »
Hi All

I have just decided to quit my job and write - it was (is for a while longer) a very high paying executive job, but I got to the stage where I could not handle the corporate "greed" any longer. Anyhow - people have always told me how funny I am and how well I write (mostly articles and short stories for local newsletters etc.) so I have decided I should do what I love doing and that is write and be funny!

Now for the $64K question - having 3 kids, a mortgage and a wife who doesn't work - this is not something which has to just be fun, but it has to be something that puts food on the table, helps me educate my kids and allows my wife to continue living in the way she has become accustomed to  ;D - so what's the skinny people - if you write a book and it gets published how much can one realistically expect to make? I know we are talking ranges - between the £8 billion of JKR and the $0 of many wannabe writers who never produce anything - but given that I believe I am a talented funny person, willing to work, with some great ideas - and oh did I mention modest? - would aiming to make mmmmm I don't know - £300k a year be ridiculous?

OK send me the answers, I have a thick skin I can take it - reality doesn't scare me (much)!

ciao

Skirabbit

Offline rewh2oman

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2008, 09:10:13 AM »
Hi Skirabbit and welcome.

I congratulate you on your stupi… (err….courageous) decision to quit your job and become a full time Writer! What big "ones" you must have! I haven't the guts (or enough in my bank account) to up and quit (although I'd sure love to) and take up the challenge.

Best wishes and if you happen to be able to eek out a living, please let me know the secret.

…Russ


PaulW

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2008, 09:44:37 AM »
Hi  and welcome to MWC. We are all pretty friendly so feel free to dive in. The Forum Etiquette Guidelines http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=7415.0 will tell you about our few rules, I'd recommend you read it first (it won't take long) and there are guides to posting in them at the top of each of the review boards.

If you have a specific subject of interest, the search bar at the top of the page is your best friend but don't be scared to ask for help if you need it. The moderators are the guys with the blue stars under their names, though all the members are helpful. Most of all, have fun and don't be scared of joining in.

As to your question; it's impossible to give a sensible answer. I read something recently that says 50% of the cash going to authors goes to the top 5%. This probably includes celebrity 'authors'. I also recall it quoting the average yearly take of most authors at somewhere round £4k, a little short of your target. This is assuming you do it through novels. You can get a steady income from other routes such as scriptwriting, if you have the contacts and your writing style is suited to the medium. Nick, who runs this site has a course on how to make money from writing, which may or may not fit your requirements.

Being totally honest with you. I think you'd either make a lot more or (much more likely) a lot less than your target figure with comedy writing. It's a very hard market to crack. If you're another Terry Pratchett you may well achieve it. If you're not... Even with tons of talent, it's a very hard industry to break into at the top levels. To make really big money you need to crack the international market - notoriously difficult to do with comedy. More seriously though - if you don't know all of this already, you need to do MUCH more research before finalising your decision to quit your job.

It's your life though and only you can make these decisions. Why not do a market test though? Struggle through and get one novel out, see if that pans out before diving in? It sounds like you are writing anyway, so  write your novel rather than stuff for local rags.

Paul (the master of the word 'though' which he has free licence to overuse in everything he types, though.)

« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 09:46:37 AM by PaulW »

Offline skirabbit

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2008, 10:23:38 AM »
Hi thanks for the honest feedback - top 5% get 50% - I like those odds, I have always been in the top 5% sort of guy :-) Yup I suppose it is going to be tough - but then if it was easy everyone would be doing it. As for quitting - oops too late - but then I have always found that people fight the hardest for something when they have no choice - while you have a fall back  - you do just that - fall back!

So can you give me a specific answer on what an author gets per book - say the books sell for 7.99 - does the author get? a %, a fixed fee - does it depend?

Thanks for the warm welcome

ciao

Skirabbit

PaulW

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2008, 11:14:25 AM »
http://www.danutakean.com/blog/?p=279

This link should help you figure things out more. You'll generally get a percentage, and an advance against expected sales. That is such an oversimplification though that I'm cringing while I write it. Getting published is such a complex process, requiring luck as well as talent. (If a reader at a publishing house doesn't 'get' your humour the book can be canned without anyone reading more than a few pages. If they're in a bad mood and not receptive, the same. If they're oversubscribed on 'comedy' or want to put out another autobiography of the latest big brother winner instead, same thing happens.

You may want to ask yourself whether you'd start up an engineering plant without weighing up the market first. Perhaps you would, but giving an expected salary without knowing about publishing routes, the effect of the current supermarket/online bookshop/traditional bookshop wars on the industry with the dropping of a price-agreement they've worked to for years, all seems a little naive. Note that I'm not disparaging your ability at all - just trying to show there is a lot more to making money from books today than just having talent. Still, that is just a reality check. People DO get published, new authors are getting onto the market every day.

You are right about going for broke. I did it myself last year, putting my own company on hold to write. And I'm making money from writing, though not through the channel I expected (yet). The trouble is, the way money comes in is far more complex than in a salaried position. You probably won't make a fortune off one book (unless you sell the film rights and it's an international best-seller, etc) but when you have a few books out there - i.e. more than one revenue stream, it builds up. So for me personally, I'm doing OK off it. I'm in a different position to you though with independent finances paying the bills and a wife who earns more than I do.

I really do wish you luck. I think you're mildly deranged of course, but sometimes that's just what's needed. ;D

Paul

Offline skirabbit

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2008, 11:41:05 AM »
I must say I do so appreciate your candour - the truth is with my CV I do have a fall back position so it is not like I am putting my children at risk - I also have enough funds to live on for a few years and investments for the future - I was glib and I appreciate your making sure I have thought the thing through. Well at least I now know that writing is like business, talent is a small part of the equation - I am sure that is why we all think every time we read a so so book - man I can do better than that. I am also looking to maybe lecture or something as well just to keep some kind of cash flow - always revert back to consulting :-)

Thanks so very much for caring enough to take the time to write back to me each time! That gives me some faith back in humanity.

ciao

Ski

Offline SteveJ

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2008, 11:51:27 AM »
I'm a new writer like yourself, Ski, so I can't offer much help, I'm afraid, but I wanted to welcome you to the forum; I hope you enjoy it here :)

Steve
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Nadine L

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2008, 10:13:11 PM »
Seems to be that the first book is mostly priming the pump (collecting attention and a following of readers), so crank out that first book, get it shopped, and keep writing on til morning...third star to the right.

The only way you'll get where you're going is to start and don't look back. Ignore discouraging voices, even the ones in your head, and have a grand time with this. I believe readers can tell if a writer enjoyed writing the story they are reading. Go for it!

Nadine

Offline thatollie

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2008, 01:37:07 AM »
Welcome aboard.

Quote
reality doesn't scare me (much)!
Really, it scares eight shades of brown outta me.

Quote
top 5% get 50% - I like those odds, I have always been in the top 5% sort of guy :-)
You're a top 5% kind of guy [if you were being honest] in whatever it is you were doing before. Writing is something else, but you'll learn that on your own soon enough.

Well, you did want answers.
Never make a decision standing up.

Offline AJ Barnett

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2008, 02:25:34 AM »
Welcome to the site.

I agree with Ollie, eight shades of brown!!

I've read quite often said that most new writers vastly overestimate the potential sales for their books (provided they get published in the first place - quite a hurdle). Even so, we keep churning out the odd word or two, in the hope the sales will come soon, or that the next book will do better!!!
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for mine - I certainly wouldn't have thrown up my job for it -Don't want to be a wet blanket - just being realistic.

Anthony
Author of <a href="http://amzn.to/aoTuEI">SHORT MOMENTS</a> and <a href="http://amzn.to/92VNu3">WITHOUT REPROACH</a>

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Offline Omni

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2008, 02:30:34 AM »
Maybe you could post your funniest short story, show us what you can do.

Welcome, and good luck.

Omni

Offline thatollie

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2008, 02:47:14 AM »
Just keep on doing whatever comes naturally.
I have to go now, this writing thing just shouted at me to get back to work.
Never make a decision standing up.

Offline skirabbit

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2008, 03:19:31 AM »
Yup I was being honest  ;D that is one of the reasons I want to leave the corporate rat race - there is little honesty left there - only the numbers count now - make them anyway you want - I read the article by the way it is 10% of writers get 50% of the money - so the pool just doubled! Of course being a top performer, even in a variety of fields, doesn't mean you will make it in a new one - but if you think about other things - like sport for example - I imagine that the odds are nowhere near as good - something like 0,5% of golfers make 99% of the money - so time will tell and maybe in 6 months of so I will be running back to the corporate world with my tail between my legs and you will all be saying "another one bites the dust"  ;D

ciao

Ski

Offline thatollie

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2008, 03:25:32 AM »
Listen man, even if you do decide to go back to your old job. Writing might keep on bugging you, there isn't a rule saying if you go back you have to stop writing. Let's just hope you don't need to.
Never make a decision standing up.

Offline Omni

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Re: Hi - some advice please for a newbie
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2008, 03:31:10 AM »
It's pointless talking about these 10%s and 50%s. It means nothing to you. You're not buying a lottery ticket. Success (for all but a tiny handful) requires a lot of hard work, talent and luck. And the publishing world is just another rat race.

Omni