Monthly Archives: September 2011

Clearing the decks for action

Isn’t odd how like army a writer’s life is? Long periods of nervous waiting. Then ‘hurry up we want it yesterday.’  You can also guarantee this will happen just when everything else does. I am now expecting the editorial notes for CUTTLEFISH  soon. Tomorrow, or the next couple of days.  And no doubt they’ll want them back sooner… And I need to do this as I have other books to write. But… we have a filk harpist coming over on the ferry to visit with her harp, for a week, and my friend Peter coming over to open Aladdin’s cave… uh, his container which has just shipped over (which has 50kg of flour, rice, oats, polenta, oil and a slew  of other dry good he’s kindly bringing over for me, and new tires for the ute – which I have to service and replace those at latest next week.)  And the weather looks to be improving (so our fish stocks – which are getting low need replenishing. We manage to live on my income, by growing it, catching it or making it ourselves) .

So today I cleared the decks.  I find the state of my office has a huge impact on my productivity (possibly more effect than cause. When you’re depressed you couldn’t be bothered to tidy it.) I reach a point where I simply can’t live any clutter any more. And sorting it out IS good for me and my mind.  Oddly it helps to fix stories too.

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Well, just heard from Lou Anders (Pyr books) that he’s busy with his editorial notes and loving the book so far.  I, on the other hand, am looking forward to some different editorial input. I do know that a good editor can lift a book from mediocre to brilliant.  It’s incredibly hard to structurally edit your own work well, and one has to learn (I have a lot, from Eric mostly. He’s very good).

It’s been a present worry that my work might not sit well with Pyr, so  this is a comfort.

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Collaboration, economics and a general grump

So I just got what to my enormous relief is the last of edits for the three way Heirs books (I write the first drafts and they go to the co-authors, before coming back to get a final edit). It’s a relief that its the last, but I really don’t even want to look at the unpleasant vast amount of work I know will be involved.  I have one more book to do in this universe, but it’s with Eric, who is a good structural editor,  and knows a great deal about writing.  He also is meticulous about his homework – you won’t have to fix myriad continuity errors and he gets the history right.  He’s also really good about consulting.  Obviously I want to do books on my own,  firstly because they’re mine, and secondly for financial reasons. Eric and I split the advance 50:50, but Mercedes took 50% and we got 25% each — which doesn’t actually reflect the work (by word count I’ve done 75-98% of the books, and for the all bar the first had barely any prior outline above a 1/4 page – which I wrote) or by adding another 50% onto the sales.  It’s not worth it, and to get 2% of the cover price of a paperback I won’t do it again.  Well… not unless someone came up with a truly vast advance. I suppose for  1/4 of a million dollars – which would replace (it’s a lot more expensive here) the home and farm we had to sell to emigrate and to move ourselves and the dogs and cats.  That would leave me in a position to say that I will only self-publish e-books thereafter, and if people want to read my books, well and good. Right now, it’s take a full-time day job (there is a possibility) and cut back on the writing hugely, or continue to try and build the e-books and make a little from traditional publishing. Traditional publishing and distribution and bookselling have certainly made enough from me, for which, partly because of collaboration, and partly because of  authors getting a very small share of gross, I haven’t seen much.  For example, Shadow of the Lion has paid royalties, but my advance was $7500.  In the end I have about doubled that… Not bad for a book that grossed  more than 2/3 of a million – for the rest of the chain. I worked out the other day that by now ‘my’ books have grossed over 3 million dollars. For the last ten years of average 14 hour days (to take out the advances and books that are still forthcoming)… I’ve earned 124K.  I know.  That’s  their gross earnings. They still have costs, you say… Yes, that’s what is usually  ignored in these assessments:  it’s their gross, against my gross.  And when you look at their costs a small part of that is paper and print. The rest is premises, staff and equipment… which are my expenses too.  I know. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. I chose to become an author, and I enjoy doing what I do.   I still love it, but this can’t continue.  I need to start earning a living, or start doing something else and writing as an occasional hobby.

Which is why I am pushing hard to sell some e-books.  To make a web presence. Because I want to write, and I want to be able to.


Filed under books, economics, publishing, Writing

Left Behind

Naked Reader Press put up one of my very odd short shorts as a freebie on Amazon Kindle.  It’s ranked at No. 27,  No. 1 in Fantasy ranks, and 17 in Genre Fiction.  This does help to get my other work noticed so if you like my books and stories downloading  Left Behind  while it is free will cost you nothing and will help me.




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Bolg PI snippet

She put the money down next to the left side on the seat, as instructed, leaning over me to put it down. She’d just stood up straight when the stake came flying out of the darkness, aimed straight at her heart.
Only the top of my helmet was in the way. A microsecond earlier and it would have been through the visor, but I heard or saw something. I’m not sure which but react first and worry about the details later is always good.
I’d knocked her sideways and turned and ducked in the same move. That was good, because it meant the stake angled up off my helmet, knocked me over but didn’t kill me, and just ripped across her breast and shoulder–something vampire-bacteria will laugh at repairing. Whereas the heart being torn out of the chest by a rowan-wood stake is more of a long term challenge. So, from the being alive so you can get paid by a live client point of view, it was all good. Maybe shucking the Glock and shooting back into the darkness wasn’t quite so smart.
Not as dumbass as her transforming into a cloud of injured bats, and leaving me in the cemetry, with a brown paper bag with twenty five thousand dollars in it, a pair of red stilettos heels, a bloody coctail frock, a torn bra, no nickers (she’s a vampire, for crying in a bucket) and the dee dah dee dah of police sirens in the background.
You still think my rates are a bit high?


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The Changelingomicon

The Changelinomicon  – which is all Ori’s fault :-),  is a sort of experiment in serial story.

Oh… if you click on the link it takes you to – where I’ll homestead this story.


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Pioneer go home…

I am probably as typical a guy as a pink sixteen foot tall rhino is a typical guest at your 8 year old daughter’s sleepover party.  Which sometimes makes writing for an audience… interesting. With the riot about YA going on in Mad Genius, I got to thinking about the books I loved most as kid/teen.  Like most kids of my era I liked the Enid Blyton – not Noddy or particularly the secret seven (although the magic faraway tree has a soft spot),  but the one where the kids had to hide out on an island and make do for themselves was probably my all time favorite. Not the characters, or the story, but what they had to do. It was my favorite side of Swiss Family Robinson too – which is why the emigrating and settling on the Island blog is called Flinders Family Freer. Likewise THE BLUE WORLD by Jack Vance. It wasn’t the Kraken, or the satire, or the adventure… it was how you survived and prospered and built up out of nothing, in a world without wood, or metal or even stones (the involuntary settlers are castaways from the crash of prison-ship on a water world, and live on the floating vegetation).

I loved the sheer ingenuity of it. The extracting of iron from blood, etc. That aspect probably was one of the driving forces in making me a scientist, making me choose to live on a remote island.

The current trend in YA is dystopian.

I usually guess trends wrong, but I find the idea of rebuilding after the dystopia a lot more interesting. The politically incorrect pioneering phase.

What does anyone else think?


Filed under books, philosophy, Writing