Richer than the Queen of England

When I was a young girl, I never thought about how writers got paid. I didn’t care. I wanted to be a writer, but I lived with my parents and they handled all the sticky financial details. Why should I worry?

Somewhere between moving out and having a family, I learned what it meant to be financially secure, to be stable and pay bills on time. I’m the household financier, actually. I found that I liked paying the bills and keeping track of the stacks. It was all functional.

Now, however, becoming an author has thrown me into the murky depths of intellectual property, royalties, and other things that go bump in the night. I had no idea where to turn. You can find fifty thousand books on writing by writers, but you can’t find one about the publishing and financial side. It’s in the best interest of the publishing house to keep those details quiet, so that they can keep their proprietary place in history.

No wonder publishers hate Amazon. They’re up front with everything. 30% of each sale goes to Amazon, and 70% goes to the author. You can find that up front on their website. Now, Amazon’s not going to give you an advance. That’s still in the realm of publishers. But that may be what is holding old school publishers back. An advance is a projection of anticipated sales. There is some formula that exists, that helps project an author’s sales.

I am not a mathematician, but I have been an app developer, and I know when a company makes projections on things they’ve never done before, the numbers are approximately as accurate as a five year old child who doesn’t want to get in trouble. When you have data, say, a previous title that sold, it is much more likely that the advance will be accurate, or at least within tolerable limits.

In other words, whose system is prejudiced to the known quantity?  Publishing houses.  Whose system wins no matter who is published? Amazon’s.

It is true, right now there is more poor work being churned out because of the simplicity and lack of quality checking that Amazon provides. I have read some bad stories because they were cheap and in my genre. On the other hand, I’ve read some really bad books that were on the New York Best Seller’s list. Much like the show, So You Think You Can Dance, the point isn’t about America’s best book, it’s about America’s favorite book. Fifty Shades of Gray, anyone?

This will be a learning experience for everyone involved. I’m still worried about getting my checks, but honestly the worry is a pale thing beside how my book is going to do. Not for the financial gain, but for the terrifying reality that my work is out there, in the world, being read and hopefully enjoyed by a lot of people, who will then want to read my next work.

If I can succeed with that, then I truly will be richer than the Queen of England.




A journey wrapped up in an expedition inside a quest.

How does one become a writer?

That’s easy.  I believe that inside everyone there is the ability to write.  The trick is, to make it more important than any other thing in your life.  Some people find that to be difficult, and turn to gardening or scuba diving.  For some poor, afflicted individuals, it is not so much a choice as it is a state of being.  I was a writer from the moment I was literate; in Kindergarten, when our assignment was to write a paragraph, I would write a page.  When I was twelve, I remember looking up from my notebook as a shadow fell over me.  It was my father.  He asked me what I was doing.  When I told him I was writing, he said, “It’s summer.  You don’t have an assignment.”  I told him I was writing for fun.  He shook his head and said, “I could never do what you do.”

Which was the first inkling I had that perhaps being a writer wasn’t for everyone.

I took a major hiatus from writing after moving from Wyoming to Washington.  I was a teenager, I had lots of new friends, and discovered LARPing.  (For the uninitiated, it’s Live Action Role Playing.  Or, dressing up as vampires and werewolves and running around looking silly.)  LARPing was great, because now my stories had a new venue.  An appreciative audience who could give me instantaneous feedback.  I was enthralled with this new form, which became an enormous time sink and rolled up improvisational acting, costume design, and good old let’s pretend into a cohesive whole.  At the height of this time, there were 90 players attending Western’s drama club, and I was not only telling stories for those people, I was keeping things organized as well.  No wonder I had no time or energy for my writing!

Eventually I moved to Seattle with several dear friends, but I didn’t leave LARPing, or gaming in general, behind.  We started table top gaming, which was much less interactive than LARPing but still told stories.  I was content.  A little too content, honestly.  I professed to love writing but other than a few false starts here and there, I’d never finished a novel!  I wasn’t even concerned about it.

My husband, Luke, was absolutely concerned about it.  He made a heroic effort to get me back into writing.  I wanted to, but I knew that if I went back down that path, it would mean I had to stop gaming, which was also my social outlet.  I was reluctant to give up my lifestyle that I had gotten so settled into.  It wasn’t until Amanda, Luke’s mother’s partner, took me literally by the hand and asked me to write a story, that I thought about getting back into it.

The dam broke.  I wrote The Corsican inside of a few months.  It wasn’t a great story in my opinion, but it was a good story, and the first novel I had ever completed.  (Yes, I said my published novel was only a good story.  This was 2009, and I hadn’t much editing on it yet.)  Not long after, Nanowrimo rolled around, and I started a new story, A Modern Fae Proposal.  It was quite a jump.  The Corsican was a science fiction adventure story about slave children who are rescued from their captors and taken to a new planet where slavery is not allowed.  A Modern Fae Proposal was pure urban fantasy.

I finished The Corsican in 2009.  Finished was a loose term.  It had a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The characters were solid, and the plot only had a few holes in it.  This is where The Corsican would stay, on my hard drive, gathering spectral dust, until 2012.  That’s when a friend of mine posed the query, “Say, you have a finished manuscript, don’t you?”

Cue panicked resurrection of said work, and an intense editing regimen.

Tune in next time, when I answer the musical question, “What do you know?”  (Mission, by Pucifer)

The Internet is full of cats.


I’m test driving my new blog.  It has been suggested that since I am endeavoring to become a full time author, that I should share my experience with the world.  It’s the new way to keep up with the Jones.  It’s a lot less expensive than buying a Mercedes, so I’m giving it a try.  After considerable resistance to the idea.

(By the way, that reminds me.  Amanda, I owe you an apology.  I’m sorry.  I should have listened to you earlier.)

I would like to start by saying something insightful and witty, but I have spent the last 6 weeks on a manuscript polishing binge, and just sent it off to my publisher today.  I haven’t quite been reduced to posting a cat with a heart painted on it, but it was a near thing.  I knew that perhaps I was in too deep when I heard someone use passive voice in everyday conversation, and I saw a cursor pop up, delete the offending language, and type in the correct verb tense.

So, where do I start this tale of an epic journey of a writer through her first novel?  Three years ago, of course, when a wise and wonderful friend turned to me and said, “Tina, I want you to write me a story.  I don’t care what it’s about, I just want you to write it.”

Her words galvanized something in me, and I decided to do just that.  In all fairness, however, my husband deserves a lot of credit for this as well.  He had tried for years to get me to commit myself to my passion, but I refused to listen.  He laid the crucial groundwork that got me to the place where I could hear Amanda’s request and respond to it, but it seems terrifically unfair for him to do a lot of the work and get none of the credit.  Unfortunately for him, he’s married to an artist, and we’re fickle.

I knew what I was going to write within days of Amanda’s request.  It sprang into my mind, fully formed, my Athena of previously considered story lines and already developed characters.  Self, I asked myself, can I do this?

Of course I can, I replied.