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The Big Bucks....

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Sep. 3rd, 2006 | 06:44 pm
mood: hungryhungry
music: Clicking of claws on the cave floor....

Question of the Month: September '06

Dear Dragon:

I’ve read so much about bestselling Fantasy series these days, I’m thinking that writing a book would be a great way to start a “treasure horde” of my own! What do you think? Is the Dragon’s lair full of gold and jewels?

Golden Girl
My dear tender little morsel, right now the fantasy is in your head. Why do you think there are so many of us sharing this lair? Treasure goes a lot farther when you split expenses.

That’s not to say you can’t earn a few doubloons scratching away at parchment, but if you’re doing it for fame and fortune alone the tooth-and-claw reality will shred your dreams faster than a dragon can strike. (And unless you want to find out how fast that is, stop standing on my tail.) Now, if you really want to write, if the stories, not the money, are what really matters, you will write. You will submit your writing. Some of it may sell. This may or may not lead to significant money. Keep your source of mundane dollars and cents, and then reach for the treasure.

Dear G.G.
Multi-volume series are a hard sell. Publishers are always looking for fresh talent, but they usually would prefer to start with one book. Why should they commit to a ten-book contract when they don't know for a fact that you can deliver the goods. If you research the authors of those mega-series, you will find that they have lots of previous publishing credit. Sometimes, you can write a stand-alone novel, and happen to strike gold. Once you've written (and published) a few novels, you might -- and keep in mind this is very rare!) manage to hit that magic formula that has readers writing to you and to the publisher saying, "When are there going to be more books about Glasko the Wonder Troll?" Then you'll know it's time.

Until that happy day, you'd literally have an easier time selling iceboxes on the Arctic Circle (Hey, it's the only way to keep food from freezing!)

If the lightning bolt scar strikes, then yes, gold and jewels will be yours. Reality is that the average full time fiction writer makes about $6,000 a year. And yes, that's figuring in Stephen King and J.K. Rowling and any other block-buster author you want to add in.

So basically, don't quit your day job

As you know, GG, not all writers make it big. In fact, most of us don't. Many talented authors start out well, and then for one reason or another, they founder. It's not always even a matter of talent, but of placement, promotion, and patronage. Even for fantastic authors, every single book sale can be a struggle.

Don't take this to mean that you shouldn't write, but keep in mind that success is never guaranteed. Yes, you might sell a book, or even do a three-book deal, but to plan much further than that is a pipe dream.

Finish what you're working on and promote that, honey. Don't count on the money materializing until the check is in your hand. Don't think that selling a book or two is a guarantee of eternal success. Even fantastic authors sometimes have to switch to a pseudonym because they just can't sell anything under their own name anymore….

Fans are fickle (unless you're Robert Jordan).

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Comments {2}


(no subject)

from: melissajm
date: Sep. 4th, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)

Now, now, Ol' B&G, no eating the competition!

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Max Derembourg

(no subject)

from: Max Derembourg
date: Mar. 24th, 2012 04:18 am (UTC)

I must admit ignorance of who Moonchild is, but I can only assume she's not in Fantasy. In fact, the opposite is quite the truth in -SPECIFICALLY- the field of Fantasy.
The truth is, publishers (in Fantasy especially) simply DON'T make money on one book. Especially in Fantasy (often in sci-fi as well) they ONLY want series...series are where the money is, baby.
This is exactly why The Lord of the Rings is not a single book, neither are Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), as well as The Shannara SERIES, the Belgariad SERIES, The Sword of Truth SERIES...the Wheel of Time SERIES...the Dune SERIES, the Harry Potter SERIES, the Elric SAGA, the Conan BOOKS (scores of them), the Alaria SERIES written by the same author as the Harry Dresden SERIES...
In fact, one would be very hard-pressed to find any truly successful Fantasy that was NOT a series...
Publishers of fantasy know this QUITE well, I assure you... and are definitely NOT interested in "starting with one book." They know full well that if the story doesn't have legs for a SERIES, it doesn't have earning potential.

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