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Umm, rich no. But quit my day job at some point was the hope. Oh yeah, I have to actually finish something first. *Smile*

Crawford Kilian

Mileages vary, but I'm really glad I kept my day job. Writers who make their whole living from writing have a couple of problems:

1. They have to write whatever comes their way, whether it's interesting or not. On the couple of occasions when I had to write a novel for the money, it was like pulling my back molars with my fingers.

2. They end up writing novels about novelists writing novels.

Still, Robert Heinlein did pretty well as a fulltime writer (until he got old and successful and self-indulgent). He also left us his five rules for writers:

1. Writers write. They don't wait until they "have enough time" or "inspiration strikes."

2. Writers finish what they write. No matter how much they hate the current project, they slog through to the last page.

3. Writers never rewrite except to editorial order. Writing a novel is like building a deck or renovating a bathroom--you don't want to rip everything up and do it all over again. So you plan carefully, do it right the first time, and don't keep fussing with the story.

3a. (Kilian's Exemption) When you're starting out, you need your novel in progress to teach you a lot, so it's OK to go back and revise your ms. on the basis of what you're learning.

4. Writers put their work on the market. They don't just inflict it on friends and family.

5. Writers keep their work on the market until it sells. So the first 15 or 20 rejections don't matter; you send it out again.

Heinlein argues that writers fail by breaking one or another of these rules, and he's right. I wrote my first novel in the army in 1966, sent it to one publisher, got rejected, and never sent it out again. Bad as it was, some wretched publisher would eventually have bought it, and my career would have started a decade earlier than it did.


1. Writers write. They don't wait until they "have enough time" or "inspiration strikes...

I was coming over to search for this particular quote and here it is. I was looking for those wise words so I can get motivated to finish an essay I'm entering in my local paper's Christmas essay contest. $50 prize. Not a lot, but I'm not motivated by the money, I need to be writing and submitting just like you say - not talking about writing and submitting. The deadline is Friday; I am determined to make it!!

Crawford Kilian

Go for it, Teresa! Here it is only Monday evening--you've got plenty of time, and editors like writers who get stuff in well ahead of deadline.


Writers write. They don't wait until they "have enough time" or "inspiration strikes...

Yes, yes, yes, I need to remember these words!


Another option: self-publishing

This page was conformation that my decision to self-publish instead of do the royalty thing was a good one. Here's the math...

I sell my books for $7.99 (which currently equates to $10.40 for my US customers). Subtracting my initial editing and printing costs, plus the royalty I pay to the fellow who illustrates my covers gives me an approximate profit per book of $2.50 for Canadian sales and $4.40 for US sales. I've sold 1000+ copies of my first book and 600+ of the second one; the third book was published Dec. 1st and already it's taking off.

Going by Crawford's royalty numbers I'm probably way ahead of most published Canadian authors, except for the handful who are in big leagues. Life is good! Check out http://www.autumnjade.com/ to see how I do it...

suhaIl khawaja

Publishers typically pay large advances to authors, Why and how does this benfit both the author and the publisher?

Crawford Kilian

Actually, large advances are pretty rare. A typical advance for a mass-market US paperback might be anywhere from $5,000-$10,000--not really very much if you figure out how many hours the book required to write. In some genres, the advances for first-time authors are even lower.

In many cases, the author gets no advance at all; this is especially true of textbooks. On the other hand, a successful textbook may make a huge amount of money and go through several editions.

When a publisher pays an advance on a novel, there are several reasons:

1. To keep the writer from going to a competing publisher.

2. To establish a relationship that will, the publisher hopes, last through many books.

3. To reflect the publisher's estimate of how well the book will do (if your first few books do poorly, expect the advances to fall).

4. In the rare cases of very big advances, to recruit or retain a successful author, and to use the size of the advance as a marketing device ("First-Time Author Wins Million-Dollar Advance!").

Isaac Asimov, a very prolific author, stopped demanding advances. He didn't need the money, and publishers were happy to bring out his books without the up-front expense of an advance. Asimov knew the books would make somemoney, but could wait a year or two for it.

And the publishers were more willing to bring out even a money-losing Asimov book because the next one would do well enough to cover the costs of the money-loser.


Hi! I just wanted to thank you for putting up an explanation of how royalties work - I have to write a pamphlet on my career choice and one of the things I have to include is "salary and benefits". Hah!

More royalties for your articles.

They companies listed here create a market place for your writing and offer lifetime royalties for your creative work. If you have a creative flair, if you have a unique ability to express yourself and after all, if you are hard working, I can bet that you are going to make a difference.

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