A Lazy Life of Sex and Mojitos (26/7/2013)

I signed a new contract a couple of weeks back. I’ve got another one to sign right in front of me. I’ve got an offer on the table for some more. The last few weeks have been one big sigh of a long-held breath of thank-fuck-for-that. Because things have, for a while, been a little tense.

Now and then, when people ask what I do for a living and I tell them I write books, they act as though this is some amazing thing that makes me somehow immensely special. I’ve taken to simply rolling with that. I’m not sure I buy it. I think what I used to do was actually more challenging and took more training and more skill. For some reason it doesn’t strike me as all that clever that I write books. In part, I think, that stems from the sense of having pulled some great con trick on life so I get to do this thing that I largely greatly enjoy and somehow scrape a living out of it.

Now and then I also meet people who assume that being a writer equates with being rich. I’d laugh except it still hurts too much (stupid infection)

So far this year, then, work has consisted of the following:

  • Copy-editing and proof-reading various manuscripts coming out this year. Totally about 550k words.

  • Two proposals (unpaid) written for series of novellas / short stories. One has turned into a contract, one hasn’t and probably won’t.

  • Editorial revision of a ghost-written piece of about 100k words

  • Manuscript delivered for editing (The Splintered Gods, 210k words)

  • Speculative manuscript delivered (title TBA historical fiction, 80k words – kinda hopeful this one will sell)

  • Speculative manuscript delivered (SF, 100k words – no idea if this will sell)

  • Half a manuscript delivered for editing (BigSekkrit SF, 40k words)

So that’s 430k words delivered so far this year. For reference that’s about equivalent to A Storm of Swords.

The rest of the year is going to consist of:

  • Another manuscript delivery (Empires: Extraction 80k words)

  • Two novellas delivered (announcement soon, 30k words each)

  • Editing The Splintered Gods and BigSekkrit

  • One more speculative manuscript bashed into shape for delivery of about 120k

  • Starting work The Silver Kings or something else.

Which will bring the word count up to about 700k for the year, consisting effectively of three contracted novels and three speculative ones. In order to make ends meet this year, one of those speculative ones needs to sell for something more than a bottom-of-the-range advance. That’s to keep a family of four going who have fairly low overheads but with a penchant for an occasional extravagance.I guess if I was single without dependents I could get by on half that. And then it’s a different game again, I suppose, if you have a second income from somewhere.

In order to do this, I’m sat in front of a laptop working for 5-6 hours of almost every day of the year.

Don’t take this as a gripe in any way – I work a fairly average number of hours every week, I get to do it wherever I can take a laptop at whatever time of day I feel like and I’m largely beholden to no one doing a job that I largely enjoy. My point – my only point – is that for most of us, it’s not the lazy life of sex and mojitos that some people seem to think, dammit.


4 Responses to “A Lazy Life of Sex and Mojitos (26/7/2013)”

  1. Kristjan Helgi says:

    Keep up the great work. As for the mojitos, we fans can take care of that while reading your work ;)

  2. E L Jasmine says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from. But you won’t be able to convince people otherwise who are not in the game of writing for a living.
    Take for example E L James made $50 million dollars writing her Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy. So a lot of people now want to jump aboard and think that they will make the same amount of money if they write an erotica book.

  3. Stephen says:

    One person in thousands has a visible success, but of course we never see or hear of all the rest. It must be so disappointing to think everyone else is doing so much better when in fact they’re not.

  4. Stephen says:

    Update a year on (for anyone who’s interested):
    Well, BigSekkrit was Elite, for anyone who didn’t guess that already, and one of the speculative projects got taken on and is now published (The Royalist), but the advance was pretty small and so I spent the first half of this year freelancing my old skills.

    So this year is panning out to be:
    – 6 months of working a normal dayjob
    – Two novels and one novella delivered (370k words)
    – Assorted copy-edits and proofs.

    Four novels came out this year, across two different publishers. I have Fantasy, SF, historical and game tie-in covered. I am about to be out of contract with all three of my publishers. After the end of this month, when I’m done with the edits for this year’s submissions, I don’t have the first idea what I’ll be working on.

    Mojitos, possibly ;-)

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