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Any Writers in Here? 
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NitroForum Oldster
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Post Any Writers in Here?
I mean fiction writers. I know there are several esteemed non-fiction writers here. Have you ever written, published or unpublished, a fiction piece? I just finished writing my first science fiction short story, about 13,000 words. I've written and had published several non-fiction articles over the past 30 years, but this fiction stuff is hard!

So, you accomplished or aspiring writers, speak up.

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Thu May 22, 2008 7:27 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
OK, I think I have my answer.

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Fri May 23, 2008 1:30 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
I've written and published fiction and at one time thought it was a useful way to spend time. Then I counted up my friends and acquaintances who were (1) quite well-known names and (2) turning out one popular novel after another, and picking up the odd award and (3) slowly starving to death.

So I turned to nonfic. Doesn't necessarily pay any better but at least you can claim to be making a contribution to the intellectual holdings of the world. :P

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Fri May 23, 2008 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
James Gifford wrote:
I've written and published fiction and at one time thought it was a useful way to spend time. Then I counted up my friends and acquaintances who were (1) quite well-known names and (2) turning out one popular novel after another, and picking up the odd award and (3) slowly starving to death.


A little starvation in my case might be beneficial, but I rather doubt I'll earn enough to quit my day job. I'm just doing it because I've always wondered if I could. At this point the verdict is still out but we'll find out soon enough.

James Gifford wrote:
So I turned to nonfic. Doesn't necessarily pay any better but at least you can claim to be making a contribution to the intellectual holdings of the world. :P


Well, you've certainly done that. I like to think my non-fiction contributed a little to the expansion of knowledge but I was more of a provocateur.

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Fri May 23, 2008 8:50 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
Jack Kelly wrote:
A little starvation in my case might be beneficial, but I rather doubt I'll earn enough to quit my day job. I'm just doing it because I've always wondered if I could. At this point the verdict is still out but we'll find out soon enough.

I found it sad to watch friends who were practically venerated by their readerships have to take day jobs or sleep on other folks' couches while their books lined the bookstore shelves.

James Gifford wrote:
So I turned to nonfic. Doesn't necessarily pay any better but at least you can claim to be making a contribution to the intellectual holdings of the world. :P

Quote:
Well, you've certainly done that.


Well, thanks. I'd like to say - perhaps a bit in advance - that you ain't seen nothin' yet. My plans for the next project are some significant multiple, if not order of magnitude, over the RAH efforts. I'd hoped to unveil the starting place before my vacation in June, but it looks as if it will be sometime after I return in July.

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Fri May 23, 2008 9:40 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
Jack Kelly wrote:
Have you ever written, published or unpublished, a fiction piece?

I have published a handful of (rather "hard") SF short stories in French magazines
over the years.

Quote:
A little starvation in my case might be beneficial, but I rather doubt I'll earn enough
to quit my day job. I'm just doing it because I've always wondered if I could.

Same here, basically (although I wouldn't quit my job to become a full-time writer,
even if given the opportunity...).


Fri May 23, 2008 10:37 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
On what basis are fiction writers paid? Percentage of the total funds generated? If so, what is a typical percentage for a beginning author?

I realize rate is negotiable if you are already a superstar author or perhaps not an author but a very famous person who everyone wants to read a book by/about, but is rate at all negotiable if you are moderately successful author? or is it stratified into a schedule based on prior success and with little flexibility?


Sat May 24, 2008 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
JohnBlack wrote:
On what basis are fiction writers paid? Percentage of the total funds generated? If so, what is a typical percentage for a beginning author?

I realize rate is negotiable if you are already a superstar author or perhaps not an author but a very famous person who everyone wants to read a book by/about, but is rate at all negotiable if you are moderately successful author? or is it stratified into a schedule based on prior success and with little flexibility?


Rates generally aren't negotiable unless the author is in high demand. The only market rates I'm familiar with is science fiction. For short stories, the top tier magazines (Asimov's, F&SF) pay 6-8 cents per word, so for a 10,000 short story the payment is less than $1000. For novels the average advance for a first novel is $7000. For experienced authors the average advance is higher and depends on historical sales, but the average is about $12,000. The most popular science fiction authors rarely receive advances in excess of $40,000. If the novel sells enough copies to cover the advance, then royalties are earned at a rate of 8 to 10% of the cover price. Given the number of hours required to produce these works, the average author, even if relatively successful, rarely earns as much as minimum wage.

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Sun May 25, 2008 12:06 am
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Post Re: Any Writers in Here?
Jack Kelly wrote:
If the novel sells enough copies to cover the advance, then royalties are earned at a rate of 8 to 10% of the cover price. Given the number of hours required to produce these works, the average author, even if relatively successful, rarely earns as much as minimum wage.

It's often much worse than that. There are so many gotchas, trapdoors and hidden terms in most book contracts that very few copies actually generate the stated royalty. A typical one, which applies to nearly every sf novel that enjoys slight success, is the book club clause. Sales to book clubs are either at half-rate (4-5%) or are a flat fee sale of which the author gets half (usually on the order of $1,000, meaning $500 to Joe Scriblerus). There are usually several of these "oh, and" clauses that end up eating deeply into the nominal royalty rates.

My first book was published by a house that, oh, and, happened to BE a book club. So all the copies sold by their left hand (which happened to be nearly all copies, because of their sales structure) generated only 4%. The number of copies that generated full rate was miniscule.

The situation has gone from bad (a few decades ago, when authors were merely beaten and left for dead by publishers) to worse (the market utterly driven by the terms offered a few superstar writers, leaving nothing for lesser writers). Trying to make money, much less a living, by writing for the publishing trade is a sad, sour joke.

The only good news is that the traditional publishing trade is going the way of the big three TV networks - into eclipse.

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sun May 25, 2008 6:26 am
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