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Talking money

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
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Write the New Thing (because it was funded. And I love it, but that's secondary)
Finish Inish Carraig 2, because people are waiting for it and it should sell well
Then go and do Abendau prequel, and maybe the sequel. I'd much rather write these than the IC sequel, because I adore Abendau's world, but it will not sell as much, it will not give me as much promotional presence, and it will do little to enhance my career.
Looking at this, I don't see any mercenary work. It's not like you're speech-writing for Donald Trump or ghost-writing a 20-year-old footballer's memoirs to make a buck. You're working in genres and styles you love and making decisions about how to be best able to continue doing so.

How and when to take the leap of reducing day job hours is a tough decision! Best of luck to you whichever path you take!
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I've done that—chosen which book to write based on what would sell, or to be more accurate let someone else make that decision, but I went along with it quite willingly. I had two different stories that I wanted to work on, so I wrote up proposals for both of them and sent them to my then editor. She offered me a contract for one of them, made vague noises about how we might think about the other one later (we never did), and of course I went on to write the one that had attracted the offer of a three book contract and advance. I think I would have been crazy not to, because they were both stories that I was enthusiastic about writing. Possibly there was one of them I wanted to write a little bit more, but if so, at this late date I have no idea which one that might have been.

But even at such an embryonic stage it's rare for me to have two ideas that interest me that much at the same time, so as it happens I've never been in that exact same situation again. Still, for those who do feel drawn to more than one idea at the same time, maybe even multiple ideas at the same time, I've always said that it only makes sense to write the one that you feel most confidant you can sell.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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Looking at this, I don't see any mercenary work. It's not like you're speech-writing for Donald Trump or ghost-writing a 20-year-old footballer's memoirs to make a buck. You're working in genres and styles you love and making decisions about how to be best able to continue doing so.

How and when to take the leap of reducing day job hours is a tough decision! Best of luck to you whichever path you take!
Aye. There's a big difference between looking at the money to decide which ideas to keep and which to chuck, and looking at the money to decide which ideas to have.

Which is presumably why Jo hasn't written a rip-off of Twilight where an Irish-American returning to the old country is seduced by this mysterious brooding Sidhe.
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
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I also think it depends on where you are in your writing career. For someone like Jo, who already has a few things published and name being built, I think it's more than reasonable to think about the market when choosing new projects to work on.

Established authors usually work in the way Teresa described:

I had two different stories that I wanted to work on, so I wrote up proposals for both of them and sent them to my then editor.
So for instance, my friend who writes contemporary YA had a 2-book deal based on one book written (a stand-alone, not a series). The editor looked at proposals for the second book and chose which one she'd be interested in.

But for someone starting out and working on a first novel, I'd say go where your passion leads you. Wait to worry about the market.

In my case, I have other concerns. I have two books out that haven't sold much, with no contract for the last in the trilogy. So I took time off from the last book to write something new, since my own goal right now is to find an agent. So that's a whole different sort of marketability, one that makes sense for me at this moment in my writing life.

I guess what I'm trying to say in a really long-winded way is, it depends entirely on your immediate and long-term goals, as well as where you are on your journey. :)
 

sknox

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The comments about proposals gave me the idea that maybe we all ought to write book proposals. Sure, many of us are indie, but writing the proposal--while the book is still at the idea or outline stage--strikes me as a good exercise. It will, after all, eventually form part of that bugaboo, the blurb. (Bugaboo the Blurb is surely a good title for something)

It may also help with the OP question. Here I have two ideas. Both seem good. Which should I go with? Write a proposal for each, a serious one, as if you'd send it to your agent or to a publisher. Then go with the one that is clearer.

If you still can't decide, maybe take each proposal and look at book summaries and blurbs that seem close to your proposal. Whichever category seems to offer more opportunity (number of sales, number of books published in that category, whatever metric feels right), go with that one.

My guess is that somewhere along the process, one story is going to start feeling more substantial than the other one. Write that one, and tell the other one it gets to be next.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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The comments about proposals gave me the idea that maybe we all ought to write book proposals. Sure, many of us are indie, but writing the proposal--while the book is still at the idea or outline stage--strikes me as a good exercise. It will, after all, eventually form part of that bugaboo, the blurb. (Bugaboo the Blurb is surely a good title for something)

It may also help with the OP question. Here I have two ideas. Both seem good. Which should I go with? Write a proposal for each, a serious one, as if you'd send it to your agent or to a publisher. Then go with the one that is clearer.

If you still can't decide, maybe take each proposal and look at book summaries and blurbs that seem close to your proposal. Whichever category seems to offer more opportunity (number of sales, number of books published in that category, whatever metric feels right), go with that one.

My guess is that somewhere along the process, one story is going to start feeling more substantial than the other one. Write that one, and tell the other one it gets to be next.

I did once set out to write a proposal with the intent of posting it here for critique, but got sidetracked. I think its a good idea.
 

Dan Jones

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@sknox I think that's an eminently sensible suggestion. Of course when one has an agent or editor to hand that possibility opens up. While on places like Chrons we don't have that, instead of an editor we have the community, and I think some aspiring writers could make better use of it.

In fact it's not uncommon for new members to post threads in GWD saying "I need an idea for my fantasy book," or something along those lines. IMHO they would be better served by fleshing out the idea themselves and then asking for responses to it, or even create a poll.
 

sknox

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@sknox ... we have the community, and I think some aspiring writers could make better use of it.
True dat.

Once I'm done wrestling my current story (which is an ungrateful, writhing mass of words undergoing a stern edit just now), I'll be doing something along those lines for my next book. My notion is to write a proposal letter and post it (here and elsewhere) and get feedback.

Then, a second step. I'll post a message that explains what I *wanted* the letter to say, what I wanted it to communicate, and let the hive mind help me bring the words closer to the goal. I am convinced, without proof, that doing this is going to help me craft a blurb, a summary, and an elevator pitch, further down the road.
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
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To be a professional writer the hard truth is, you need to sell your work but when?
In the past I have written books and tried to get an agent/publisher based on that book, which got some really positive replies but ultimately failed. More recently I've decided to be more commercial by creating a series of books and writing them, to give a publisher not just a promise of books to follow but the actual books that have followed. The downside is that could mean some half a million edited words written and going nowhere - on the other hand, it could mean final success.
At the end of the day, it is a judgement call - something us writers are famously bad at but so are agents and publishers; as the 27(?) who turned down JK Rowling discovered to their cost. I took the decision to go for it and am still going for it, busy with book four of five. Whether that results in success remains to be seen....
 

Teresa Edgerton

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But the times they get it hugely wrong—as with Rowling—are hugely publicized, while the public hears nothing about the tens of thousands of manuscripts that are turned down for good reason. (And a good reason may have nothing to do with the quality of a manuscript and everything to do with whether it fits well with the rest of a publisher's line or whether an agent has contacts with editors who might be looking for such a manuscript. Most of what they turn down, though, is truly awful.)

However, sending a book or series out to agents and/or publishers need not be the end of the line these days. I do think for most writers it's a good place to start, because how do we know whether someone will snap it up with a big advance until we've tried? But if that doesn't work out, other options remain. So:

The downside is that could mean some half a million edited words written and going nowhere
may not actually be the case even if it hasn't found a home with an agent or a publisher. Once the writer has given the book a decent chance at selling through those channels, they can always self-publish—there are plenty of good ways to do that inexpensively—and see if the books do well that way. When you don't have all the overhead of a publishing company, success in terms of sales can be measured rather differently, and if all the work of writing and editing is already done, why not see what happens? It could establish a career, or it could sink like a rock, but it's a chance, which wasn't available to writers twenty or thirty years ago, and better than leaving the books languishing on a hard drive forever.

Besides, at the very least the books were a learning experience, teaching lessons that can be applied later. And if it was something you enjoyed writing, then you at least have that on the plus side of the how-you-spent-your-life balance sheet. It's a consideration not to be scoffed at either, because from what I have seen, those who write purely from mercenary motives, and write things they despise and don't enjoy writing but which they think will make them rich, whether they be successful or abject failures they frequently display a degree of bitterness about the process that people who write what they love and truly believe in rarely seem to develop.
 

Steve Harrison

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Aside from a few years writing a weekly self-syndicated humour column, my writing has been motivated by the sheer joys and challenges of creating stories. I still dream of writing a novel that hits the big time and generates a lot of money, but that has not happened yet. I've had one novel traditionally published and although this was very satisfying, the publisher is small and so was the money. And the sales.

My strategy these days is keep writing novels in different genres (I don't have a preference). I have a YA SF and a crime thriller novel out with agents and if either of those work out I have sequels in mind. The thriller would be great, as the MC could sustain a series. My WIP is an urban fantasy about a man going through a midlife crisis and I will follow that up with a 'Dan Brown-esque' Vatican based religious thriller.

I figure, if nothing else, this will keep me going until I retire from my 'real' job and become a full time writer. Paid or not.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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Oh, come on, guys! How much effort do we put into writing? And yet we’re happy not to be paid! Or earn a pittance? That’s part of the reason why we don’t get paid - if we don’t value it why should anyone else.

Make chasing a fair return for your effort an admirable goal - if not for you then for the next generation of writers who’ll be earning 5p a copy if this goes on.
 

Steve Harrison

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Oh, come on, guys! How much effort do we put into writing? And yet we’re happy not to be paid! Or earn a pittance? That’s part of the reason why we don’t get paid - if we don’t value it why should anyone else.

Make chasing a fair return for your effort an admirable goal - if not for you then for the next generation of writers who’ll be earning 5p a copy if this goes on.
I don't know any writers who are happy not being paid, but your comments explain exactly why I'm not interested in self-publishing or giving away my work and only interested in obtaining a good publishing deal. Until I can become a bestselling author - which I would need to achieve in order to replace my non-writing income - writing will remain essentially a very enjoyable hobby.
 
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