Do You Need Expert Help?

Question mark in Esbjerg

Question mark in Esbjerg (Photo credit: alexanderdrachmann)

Have you ever needed some expert advice? I’m talking about advice from a real expert, not a relative or friend who claims to be all-knowing about everything. I have plenty of those folks in my world. What I am referring to is a person who from experience, research and someone who has spent a great deal of their time studying a particular subject. Writing an article or book may require asking an expert. Perhaps you need some clarity on a subject that has left you in a fog of questions. I have visited a site that has experts on every subject you can imagine. Have you ever heard of ExpertClick.com?

The experts found on this site are all categorized in a free pdf download titled “The Yearbook of Experts.” Categories range from blogging, self healing, media coaching, massage and so many other areas that it can be a bit overwhelming. The directory holds 324 pages of information with reference to bios, links, images and more.

If you are an expert, journalist, writer or just simply curious, I would recommend checking this out. If you know of any other sites where writers can find an expert please let me know. As always, happy writing and researching.

Writing To Live

Making a living as a freelance writer or novelist is a tough gig. If you aren’t aware of how to get started or what some of the terms truly mean help is here.  I love finding useful information for new writers and even for writers who are stumbling a little in the void. There is too much information out there and it’s difficult to grasp all of it. Over at Bubblecow, there is a terrific list of helpful terms and how you can utilize them in your real life writing.

English: Traditional freelance writer work system.

English: Traditional freelance writer work system. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How To Make a Living as a Writer

Posted August 31, 2012 by  & filed under Get Published.

So you want to make a living as a writer? Well despite what some writers will have you believe traditional publishing still offers writers a realistic chance of making a living as a writer. However, it’s not easy and it takes some planning, but it can be done. So here’s how to make a living as a writer…

The Tools Needed to Make a Living as a Writer

Advance

To build any kind of meaningful discussion, I am going to need to work with generalisations. Forgive me for this, I know there are exceptions to these rules, but I have tried to stick to ‘real life’ as far as possible.

The first generalisation is that most books deals begin with an advance. This is a sum of money, paid by the publishers, to the writer prior to a book’s publication. This advance is exactly that, an advanced payment of royalties the book will (or should) earn. It is possible to negotiate a deal without an advance, but if an agent is involved then an advance will almost certainly be paid.

This brings us to our second generalisation, the size of the advance. Once again these vary greatly and depend on the book’s potential market, the writer’s potential selling power and the agent’s ability to negotiate. However, as a general rule of thumb, an advance for a debut novel will be anywhere between £500 and £10,000 (or more). Advances tend to be paid in two instalments. The first is on signature of the contract, the second is on delivery of the manuscript. Since we are generalising, I am going to use a figure of £5000 per book. In the US it is pretty safe to work with a figure of $10,000 per book.

Royalties

A royalty is the amount of money that a writer receives for each book that is sold. This sounds simple in theory but is painfully complex in practice. The writer will receive a percentage of… something. It may be the cover price or the price at which the book is sold to the trade, or something else determined by the publisher. Add to this, differing rates for different vendors, varying digital models and promotions and you can quickly see a complex mess of confusion arising from the gloom.

I know this will be controversial, but I would not build royalty payments, beyond your advance, into your immediate calculations. Many books never sell enough copies to earn back the money that a writer has been paid as an advance, and those that do often don’t start paying out until after a full year of sales (if not more). In short royalties are important, but when starting out it is dangerous to rely on royalty cheques to pay the bills.

Rights

Rights, be them foreign or film, are potentially a rich source of income for writers. The problem is that they are unpredictable and often beyond the control of writers. Agents and publishers will wrangle over the rights when a contract is negotiated, and then proceed to try and sell them through their own departments or third party companies. Whether a writer is luckily enough to sell additional rights is largely in the lap of the gods. However, a general rule of thumb (more generalisations, sorry) is that the better a book sells in the home territory (UK, US etc.), the easier the rights will be to sell.

Foreign rights are often the key for many writers to making a full time living. Foreign rights are the rights for a book to be published and sold in another country. What normally happens is a foreign publishing house will pay an upfront, a one off fee for the rights to publish the book. In addition, the writer will also receive a percentage of future sales, in essence a second royalty stream. In terms of figures, we are once again into the realm of generalisations, but you are probably talking £5,000, rather than £50,000. However, three or four foreign rights sales and the writer’s income suddenly starts to become attractive.

Film rights are another potential source of income. What tends to happen here is that a film maker will option a writer’s book. This means a lump of cash is paid for an exclusive period of time in which the book can be turned into a film. If the period lapses, and no film has been made, the rights revert back to the writer (but they keep the cash). So how much can a writer expect to get for an option? The answer is – it varies. The better the book sells in the real world, the higher the option price. You hear stores of hundreds of thousands being paid, but in general terms, for a first time writer, it is more likely to be in the tens of thousands. Read more here.

 

Kickstarter: A Good Tool For Writers?

kickstarter logo

kickstarter logo (Photo credit: AslanMedia)

I was approached by a family member who thought I might be interested in Kickstarter.  If you’ve never heard of this project, they basically give authors, film makers,  entrepreneurs and anyone else who has an idea or dream, an opportunity to promote their project and ask for money to fund it. It’s an excellent idea and provides lots of support for anyone who would like to generate a following  which encompasses not only financial support but just support in regards to like minded individuals who may share the same idea.

Over at Litreactor, lots of reasons why Kickstarter can be good for writers. They’ve listed prime examples of how it could be a benefit and also a few that show why it may not work for everyone. If you have had an experience with Kickstarter or are considering it, I would love to hear all about it.

Is Kickstarter A Viable Tool For Writers?

It used to be that if you wanted to record an album or write a book, you had to beg your parents for money or get a job flipping burgers, just to keep the lights on and the booze flowing while you toiled at your art.

That paradigm has shifted, thanks to crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, where you can post a work-in-progress, request funding by enticing people with exclusives and rewards, and ultimately fund your dream without the indignity of filing out an application at the local Starbucks.

It’s like a public endowment for the arts. It democratizes the process; the people choose what they want to hear or see or read. Sounds cool, right?

But the site and the process aren’t without criticisms. Some people regard it as little more than digital panhandling, and Kickstarter has been accused of not policing its own back yard; allowing projects that never come to fruition, and not protecting customers when money disappears.

Quick aside: Last night, on my commute home, I sat on the subway next a couple in their mid-30s. The guy was telling the girl about Kickstarter, and said they should figure out some way to get people to give them $10,000. Read more here.

R.E.A.D. 7 Tips For Writers

Before we are writers we are readers. Perhaps that is the one thing that encourages us to start a writing journey of our own. I’ve discovered some inspiring tips from Emma Dryden of the SCBWI. Her philosophies in regards to reading, expanding, adapting and investing in our writing are very useful.  Happy Writing!

Do you love reading? [Explored #28]

Do you love reading? [Explored #28] (Photo credit: Fiduz)

Staying on the Road: 7 Tips for Authors & Illustrators

I was asked recently by my colleagues in the SCBWI-Oregon region to share some inspirational thoughts for authors and illustrators. I am happy to share these remarks with a wider audience:
 
                          R.E.A.D.I.N.G.
Read.  Read as much and as often as you can. Read books within the genre and style in which you write.  Read books in genres and styles with which you’re less comfortable. Read aloud – from books you love, from books you don’t love, and from your own work – to learn about voice and narrative flow. Read in order to become a stronger writer.
Explore & Expand. Explore all options for yourself as a writer or illustrator—explore creative options and publishing options. Expand your thinking as a creative person to try new styles in your own work. Explore new avenues for the exchange of ideas and for inspiration, be it through social networking, critique groups, conferences. Expand yourself and expand your art – try something you’ve never tried before in your writing or artwork.
Adapt. Adapt to change. The creative environment and the publishing environment are underdoing significant changes right now and it’s critical to remain as adaptable as possible. Be flexible and open to new ideas, new strategies, and new business models.  Be flexible and open to new approaches to your own work. Adapting to the new environments in which we live and work doesn’t mean giving up any creative instincts; rather, it means expanding the possibilities for yourself and your work.
 
Diligence. Be diligent with your craft. Practice. Write and rewrite. Sketch and re-sketch. Be as diligent with revision as you are with the first draft of anything you create. And be diligent as the marketplace throws up its barriers: if you get rejected, keep sending out your work; if you get feeback, revise; if you have questions, take time to figure out the answers.
Invest. Invest in your work and in yourself. Figure out what you’re willing to invest in your craft and recognize it as an investment in your future, your career, and your confidence. Investment can be many things: saving up to attend a conference or two throughout the year; working with a freelance editor and designer to ready your work before you submit or self-publish; taking the time to research the marketplace, agents, and publishing options. Read more here.

Know Your Copyrights!

First page of Constitution of the United States

Image via Wikipedia

As writers we know we risk our work being copied or plagiarized every time we put something out there for the world to see. For the most part it shouldn’t be a concern. Writers should just write. Making a statement or sharing an idea is what writers long to do. Self expression should not be inhibited because someone doesn’t have enough talent or creativity within themselves to produce their own project. Having said that, your work is protected.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Just in case you were wondering what isn’t protected by copyright:

  • Choregraphics not recorded
  • Improvisational speeches or performances not written or recorded
  • Ideas
  • Works that come from common property and contain no original authorship

Want to learn more? Visit www.copyright.gov