However, I think these posts might be a bit too dire. Way back when I got my first book deal in 1997, it was for $12,000 for the first book and $15,000 for the second, so far more than the $5,000 or $6,000 that many of these examples start with. Maybe mysteries pay a little better than the horror or science fiction they were talking about in the linked articles. And as your career moves along, hopefully your career is building and your backlist is still selling.
Plus there are other ways you can make money as a writer, although none of them are sure things. Audio books, foreign rights, book clubs, movie options. If you write books for kids, especially younger kids, you can get paid to do school visits. (My first five books were for adults, so it was a real shock to learn this.) And books for kids tend to stay in print for a long time. My first YA came out in 2006 and is still, as of today, in print. Anything that has gone out-of-print I have put back up as ebooks. A few times when things were lean I taught classes at my local bookstore.
Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but for past couple of years I have made well more than I did when I worked in corporate communications for a big health care company. I will say that my husband has helped tremendously by having a job with health insurance and regular bi-weekly paychecks. I've also learned that money you don't expect to come in does and money you did expect to come in ends up being delayed for months, but somehow it all balances out.
The one thing I don't like is that it's very hard to crystal ball it, hard to look more than a year into the future. I'm getting better at living with that uncertainty. If you are self-employed, I highly recommend The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs. You need to get good at paying your retirement, your taxes, and your emergency fund up front. This book has helped me do that.
Author Jim Hines looked at his finances for 2012 here. He also has a full-time job in addition to his writing.
Anyway, if you are thinking of quitting your day job, don't despair. I believe it is possible. You may find yourself working like a dog, but you'll also be making up stories, your commute will be from your bed to the computer, and you will be your own boss. Even if I was making less (and who knows, I might soon be), I would still say it was worth it.
Normally I look forward to reviews as much as I look forward to dental work, but this one wasn't all that bad. :)
BALOG, Cyn. Dead River. 256p. Delacorte. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-385-74158-3; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-99012-0; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98578-2.
Gr 7 Up–Kiandra Levesque’s father has kept her away from bodies of water ever since her mother killed herself in the river near their New Jersey home. Now living in Maine, Ki, 17, skips prom to go on a white-water-rafting adventure with her boyfriend, her cousin, and an annoying travel companion. As her group tells ghost stories, the teen has visions of the deaths of the individuals in the legends. She also begins seeing the spirits of those who died in bodies of water, and as she gets closer to the river, she hears voices. During her first journey on the Dead River, she is pulled out of the raft by something supernatural and is saved by Trey, a ghost from one of the stories. Ki, it turns out, is a “Mistress of the Waters” and has great magical powers . . . Balog tells a unique story providing supernatural romance fans with plenty of adventure, paranormal mystique, and angst.–Adrienne L. Strock, Chicago Public Library
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
This week 6000 people attended Canada’s largest children’s literature event, the Forest of Reading, Festival of Trees—two days of award ceremonies, writing workshops, author signings, and other exciting activities that celebrate the shared experience of reading.
Child readers from participating schools across the province of Ontario chose the winning books. The awards in each age category are named for a different Canadian tree, and the winner plaques feature original art by a child reader.
|Blue Spruce award winner Martin Springett|
2013 Blue Spruce™ Award Winner (K-grade 2): Kate and Pippin by Martin Springett and Isobel Springett (Puffin Canada/Penguin Group)
2013 Silver Birch® Express Award Winner (grades 3-4): Margaret and the Moth Tree by Brit Trogen and Kari Trogen (Kids Can Press)
2013 Silver Birch® Fiction Award Winner (grades 5-6): Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic Canada)
2013 Silver Birch® Non-Fiction Award Winner (grades 3-6): No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs by Rob Laidlaw (Pajama Press)
2013 Red Maple™ Fiction Award Winner (grades 7-8): The Vindico by Wesley King (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin Group)
|Red Maple Non Fiction winner Bill Swan|
2013 Red Maple™ Non-Fiction Award Winner (grades 7-8): Real Justice: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death by Bill Swan (James Lorimer & Company)
|White Pine winner Jeyn Roberts and nominee Lena Coakley|
2013 White Pine™ Award Winner (grades 9-12): Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Le Prix Tamarac 2013 (French language fiction, grades 5-6): Le mystère des jumelles Barnes by Carole Tremblay (Bayard Canada Livres)
Le Prix Tamarac Express 2013 (French language fiction, grades 3-4): Billy Stuart: 1. Les Zintrépides by Alain M. Bergeron and Sampar (Éditions Michel Quintin)
Le Prix Peuplier 2013 (French language fiction, grades K-2): Le zoo de Yayaho by Geneviève Lemieux and Bruno St-Aubin (Bayard Canada Livres)
Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.
Witchlanders, her debut novel, was called “a stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews. It is a Junior Library Guild selection and an ABC new voices selection.
See also New Voice: Lena Coakley on Witchlanders.
|Read the novel by Suzanne Collins|
From the promotional copy:
"'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a 'Victor's Tour' of the districts.
Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.
"'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' is directed by Francis Lawrence, and produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the second in a trilogy that has over 50 million copies in print in the U.S. alone. 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' opens Nov. 21."
Why should anyone feel guilty for stepping back? I wondered. After all, blogs and Twitter feeds and Facebook pages are all optional; most of us are not paid to do them and make no promises about when we'll post. Nobody's going to die over whether we post or not. (OK, if you see a tornado coming and tweet about it, you might save someone's life. But that's an exception!)
But entering the online world is entering a community. Most of us interact with a core group regularly, as well as with whomever else clicks on by. We have a horror of being thought of as the writer who became "too good" for her old blog buddies once she signed a book contract. We hate the idea of losing touch with friends once we tie the knot or have a baby. We don't want to disappear when we change jobs.
We like our friends and don't want to lose touch with them.
There's also the fact that sometimes when people disappear, it's because they've had a crisis, and we know people may worry. I can think of one writer I used to see on LiveJournal. Our relationship was at the "acquaintance" level, and many people migrated from LJ to other platforms, so it wasn't until I heard of her untimely death (from another social-media site) that I remembered her and realized I hadn't heard anything about her in a long while. It made me wonder about all the other people I used to see online but don't anymore. I assumed most of them just got tired of blogging or moved over to Facebook, and I know some of them went back to school or got new jobs or simply got so swamped by book promotion that they stepped back from the blogosphere--but now I wonder. Are they okay? I may never know.
So in one sense, I understand the desire to explain our absences from social media. And I think it's a nice idea to say, "I'm going offline for a while" if that's what we're doing. But I don't think we owe anyone an explanation. I don't think we have to justify our absences. Although I've been disappointed when my favorite bloggers stopped posting, I don't believe they owed me anything. They put up a bunch of free content that I enjoyed; we had some fun interactions; how can I complain about that?
Most of all, I don't think social media should have to be a chore. I do think it's important for writers to have at least one place online where readers can find them if they want, one place that provides a bio and author photo and a list of their books. But that can be a single page and doesn't have to be updated too often. Beyond that, it's all icing on the cake. It's about having fun and connecting with people, and if we're not getting that fun and connection here, or if we simply need to focus attention elsewhere, it's natural to step away. The Social Media Police will not come after us. :-)
A lot of the mainstream debate about testing and education standards sort of takes it for granted that it's not, ultimately, an ideological debate. Everybody wants children to learn; everybody wants children to have good teachers. Right? You can criticize how many days are spent on testing and how much school is lost just practicing filling in bubble sheets, but -- it's sort of off-limits to say, as Stephen Krashen says, that Common Core is above all about making money for the people who conduct the testing; it's off-limits to say, as Michael Rosen says, that
The real reason for all this is down to the point we have reached in society, the era we are in. We are living at a moment where the decision has been made that the UK can only survive financially in the world on the basis of having an extremely low wage economy, with no job security. One way to assist this process is to release on to the labour market each year, people with low grade qualifications or none. To bring this about, you have to produce a) a tiny elite b) a large cohort of failures.
That is what these 'reforms' are really about. Schools are being made into the servants of an economic imperative that is bringing poverty and hardship to millions while the superrich are increasing their wealth.
In all the debate about whether teachers are underpaid or overpaid, whether teacher's unions are a force for good or a force for evil, there's a kind of misdirection from the ideologies of the public education system. People talk about how schools or teachers are failing children because they can't admit that even if everyone got mechanical engineering degrees and computer science degrees, there wouldn't be jobs for everybody.
This entry is also posted at http://owlectomy.dreamwidth.org/272759.h
Divya Srinivasan on Octopus Alone: an interview by Chris Barton from Bartography. Peek: "'Loner' seems such a negative word, and so definitive. I liked showing a character who loves her home, but realizes she needs some space, and who then ends up finding a place that feels all her own, like a precious secret."
Finding the Perfect First Sentence by Jessica Brody from Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing. Peek: "Sometimes, as a writer, all you get is one page, one paragraph or even one sentence to hook a reader. So it’s crucial to pick the right opening."
Physical Attributes Entry: Butts from The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: "Physical description of a character can be difficult to convey—too much will slow the pace or feel 'list-like', while too little will not allow readers to form a clear mental image."
Saying "No" to an Editor by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "You can refuse a contract for any number of reasons. Money, vision for the published manuscript, an unkind word. You never have to sign a contract."
Where Are All the Black Boys? by Varian Johnson from They Call Me Mr. V. Pek: "Either people will think it's not relevant to them because it features a black boy. Or they won't buy it because they'll think it's about slavery or racism. Or people won't buy it because it's not true Black History Month material." Note: don't miss the continuing conversation in the comments. See also 2013 Middle Grade Black Boys: Seriously People? and Judging Covers by Andrea Davis Pinkey.
|Will Konigsberg's "influential" choice|
An Ongoing Discussion, an Ongoing Question by Charlesbridge editor Julie Ham for CBC Diversity. Peek: "Can authors or illustrators write about or illustrate cultures and races different from their own?" See also Diversity in the Caldecott Winners & Honors (Or Lack Thereof) from Children's Literature Network.
What If? A Method for Developing Ideas by Elizabeth S. Craig from Mystery Writing is Murder. Peek: "You can brainstorm this way. You can even outline this way. You can get yourself out of plot holes this way."
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Children's Literature from Colorín Colorado. Peek: "...celebrates family traditions and the rich diversity of Asian and Pacific Americans with books, activities, and a variety of resources and ideas for ELL (English language learners) educators."
Genre Bending/Blending by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog. Peek: "There's something inherently rebellious about writing fiction. And there are writers who find themselves, even if they begin writing in a certain genre they love to read, wandering."
Guest Editor Danny Fingeroth on Submitting Graphic Novels from DearEditor.com. Peek: "...having pages of the story drawn and lettered to include with the proposal is generally a good idea, although there is the chance that some editors may not like the look of the art, and so may reject the story even if they like the writing, and even if you make it clear you would be willing to work with another artist."
- Ball by Mary Sullivan (PB)
- Nothing But Blue; Me, Penelope & Country Girl, City Girl by Lisa Jahn-Clough (YA)(3 books!)
The winner of Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith was Amanda in London, and the winner of Eternal: Zachary's Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle, was Brandon in Florida.
See also Interview with Joy Preble & Giveaway of The Sweet Dead Life from Cari's Book Blog.
This Week at Cynsations
- Sharron L. McElmeel on Creating an Author/Illustrator Website with Teacher-Librarian Appeal
- New Voice Tamera Will Wissinger on Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse
- Shirley Reva Vernick on Defining Success
- New Voice Kit Grindstaff on The Flame in the Mist
Here's a peek at my comings-and-goings last week in the Austin children's-YA lit scene.
|At the YAB Fest reception with Jessica Lee Anderson, P.J. Hoover & Danny Woodfill of The Book Spot in Round Rock.|
|Julie Dinkel Woodfill of The Book Spot & author-editor Madeline Smoot|
|Author E. Kristin Anderson & librarian Jen Bigheart|
|Authors Cory Putnam Oakes & Krissi Dallas|
|Jen & author Lindsey Scheibe|
|Authors Lindsey Lane & Shana Burg at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting|
|With authors Susie Kralovansky & Bethany Hegedus|
|Author-speaker Lynne Kelly|
As for this weekend, Joy Preble will speak and sign The Sweet Dead Life at 3 p.m. May 18 and Lindsey Scheibe will speak and sign Riptide at 2 p.m. May 19 at BookPeople in Austin.
See also Cynthia Leitich Smith on Eric Gransworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic) from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature.
- Krissa Hillman Created Cupcakes for Literacy
- Tarot for Writers
- Carol Lynch Williams & WIFYR
- Blog Tour: Sirens in the Time of Gatsby (featuring Janet S. Fox)
- Launching a Book with a Tea Party by Catherine Stier
- What's the Point? Five Writers Offer Lifelines for MFA Despair
- Astronauts Set to See "Star Trek Into Darkness" in Space
Cynthia Leitich Smith at 6:30 p.m. May 25 at Round Rock Public Library.
Join Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith at 11 a.m. June 11 at Lampasas (TX) Public Library.
Join authors Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Nancy Werlin and ICM Partners literary agent Tina Wexler at a Whole Novel Workshop from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, sponsored by the Highlights Foundation. Peek: "Our aim is to focus on a specific work in progress, moving a novel to the next level in preparation for submission to agents or publishers. Focused attention in an intimate setting makes this mentorship program one that guarantees significant progress." Special guests: Curtis Brown agent Sarah LaPolla, authors Bethany Hegedus and Amy Rose Capetta.
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
Funny how we writers shoot ourselves in the foot. I’m talking about the merciless way we pressure ourselves to be successful.
Actually, I’m talking about the way we define success, and how that definition can cripple our creativity.
"Sell more copies!" we command ourselves. "Boost that amazon.com rank!"
How can the creative juices flow on our next project when we’re so worried about the numbers on our current publication?
Clearly, sales figures are important for those of us who are trying to make a living. But obsessing about our stats can trigger productivity-quashing anxiety.
I think we need to expand our definition of success in a way that stimulates a more fertile mindset. A mindset where we give ourselves the freedom, the personal permission, to write from the heart and feel good about it, bestseller list or not.
Here is my new definition of personal success. Aside from the sales reports, I am succeeding if:
- I’m enjoying my work—writing with enthusiasm and honing my craft.
- My teenaged daughters are seeing me working hard in pursuit of my goals.
- I’m getting positive reviews.
- People are visiting my website and Facebook author page.
- I’m receiving speaking invitations.
Take my first book, The Blood Lie, a YA novel based on a real anti-Semitic hate crime that happened in the 1920s. When I first got the idea for the book, some people in my circle tried to warn me off. “Historical Jewish-America—it’s too narrow a subject of interest,” they advised. “No one will buy it.” I, however, saw a broader theme, one with immediate contemporary relevance: intolerance. The book was published and went on to win several awards, including the Simon Wiesenthal Once Upon a World Book Award.
Remember Dippy (Cinco Puntos Press, May 2013), is also a story from the heart. In this novel, 12-year-old Johnny is dreading summer vacation because he has to help out with his autistic cousin, Remember.
Remember is fanatical about Twinkies. He’s awkward. He watches the weather channel for fun. So Johnny is sure the summer is going to be a bust. But when some jewels go missing...and the local jock gets stuck in the lake during a storm...and a lonely new girl comes to town...things get more exciting than either boy could have imagined.
The story was inspired by the people in my life (some of whom are relatives) who have cognitively-based behavioral differences. I felt I had to write this story, and I think the book’s writing reflects that commitment.
Moving on to the point about positive book reviews. Does this mean that any less-than-stellar review constitutes a failure? No! This is a lesson I’m still learning. I have to remind myself that, no matter the inherent value of my work, there are going to be people who don’t love it and rave about it.
Just as there are professors who never give A’s, just as there are people who like us but don’t want to be our best friend, there are going to be reviewers who criticize. That’s just life.
|Shirley's window view|
|Twinkles, the muse|
|Jiffy, the distraction|
...Which will mean that we're moving when I'm 8 months pregnant. Eep! Plus we're moving into a smaller house, so we need to do a massive purge of stuff beforehand (not just books anymore!), not to mention getting the whole house clean and organized for the movers to work with...
But whatever! Sometimes we just need to stop and be happy about what we've got. Right now, I am happy that my pre-submission rewrites for Low Road are finally done, and we have a good house to move into before the new baby comes. Those are both really big sources of satisfaction and relief! (And please wish the book luck as it flies out into the publishing world!)
Also, about an hour after sending off my rewrite, as a reward for myself, I started reading an e-ARC of Jo Knowles's new book, Living With Jackie Chan - and oh, I fell in love. It is wonderful. You can read my full review on Goodreads, but here's the short version: if you're a fan of Sarah Dessen or just a fan of great characters, heartfelt stories, and a strong narrative voice, you will love this book. It's my favorite of all of Jo's novels so far, which is saying a lot.
I gave myself yesterday as a day off, because I needed it after the last, manic two and a half weeks of super-revision. I met a friend for cake at my favorite new cake café in town - tea and apple sponge cake, mmm! Afterwards, I helped MrD make a fun craft project. Then I spent the evening hanging out with more friends at a fun clothes-swap event, laughing and gossiping, eating more cake, drinking (nonalcoholic) apple ginger beer and taking home a sparkly new scarf, a knee-length waterfall cardigan (that luckily falls around my massive pregnancy belly!), and a sparkly beaded bag.
This morning, it was time to get serious again. I wrote 3,043 words of my next freelance project, which is due in just two and a half weeks. This weekend, I need to sort and clean the house like a madwoman - and, if I can, write another 2,000 freelance words as well, even though I won't have any long writing sessions to do it in. I am Back to Work, in every possible way...
But it's good to take the time to celebrate. It really is.
Hi! Today we’re celebrating the release of Ashley Elston’s THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, which came out on Tuesday!
She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky… But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.
I love the hook of a girl in the Witness Protection Program! It reminds me of a childhood favorite, Lois Duncan’s DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU. Meg is a tremendously sympathetic main character. Her dad is keeping secrets about why they’ve got to endure this, her spunky little sister is going silent and childlike, and her mom’s drinking is getting out of control. After being abruptly yanked out of her original life and several placements, leaving friends and identities behind in each place, it’s totally understandable that she’s decided not to even try in Louisiana. Of course, that’s before she meets Ethan, who really is adorable. Her attempts to push him away are, again, understandable, but I appreciate that instead of being endlessly patient, he gets frustrated with her and demands the truth. I love the charming small-town setting and the rich family dynamics – but what really kept me flipping pages is the mystery of what got Meg’s family into this situation and the very real sense of danger following her. The neat ending struck me as a tad implausible, but it’s possible that the sequel will make it all make sense. I’ll definitely be reading it! Recommend!
Now for our interview with Ashley:
1. Describe your main character in 3 adjectives + a noun.
Meg is a smart, scared, determined sister. (JS: I loved the sisterly relationship here!)
2. Describe your book in 3 adjectives + a noun.
THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING is a mysterious, romantic, thrilling novel.
3. Describe yourself in 3 adjectives + a noun.
I’m a happy, independent, kind adventurer.
4. If you could travel to any 3 countries, what would they be?
Australia, Ireland, Argentina
5. If you could take any 3 non-writing-related classes, what would they be?
Pottery, cake decorating, French (JS: ooh, cake decorating would be so fun!)
6. If you could have any 3 alternate careers, what would they be?
Photography, horticulturist, archeologist
7. What are your 3 favorite flowers?
Gardenia, hydrangea, Louisiana Iris
8. What are your 3 favorite foods?
Crawfish, German chocolate cake, sushi
9. What are your 3 favorite books?
GRACELING by Kristin Cashore, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor (JS: awesome choices! I love all of these!)
Ashley is offering up a swag pack to one lucky winner in the US (necklace, bookmark, and stickers). To enter, leave me a comment telling me what fake name you’d choose if you had to go into hiding. I’m going to go with Lia!
Thank you for stopping by, Ashley! I hope you’re having a fabulous debut week!