It’s Aussie August month! This week on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf we are joined by Australian author, Jane Routley. Jane has put together a great post about earning a living as a writer and she is offering an ebook giveaway for her novel, Mage Heart (see below).
Cleaning a 10 foot long chalk drawing of a penis off a station platform is not what people expect of the writing life but its part of mine. Despite 4 books published by Harper/Collins U.S. and two Aurealis awards for the Year’s Best Fantasy novel, I’m one of the 90% of writers who don’t make a living out of writing.
When I started to get RSI in my librarianship job 6 years ago so that I was too sore to write in evenings or weekends, I decided to make a change of life style and find a job that gave me more time to write and didn’t involve any data entry. So now I work at a railway station. Though it was a scary decision at the time, it’s the best one I ever made and I “regret nothing”. Except slightly, when my friends go on overseas holidays or buy new kitchen appliances that work properly.
But now I have all afternoon to work on my books and I meet as strange a mixture of humanity at the station as you could want. I love my railway job. There’s a novel there somewhere. Someday.
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was five. There was a clock in our school library then and I can remember watching the hands of that clock swing round to opening time with infinitesimal slowness and thinking “Wouldn’t it be great to make up my own stories so I didn’t have to wait for the library.”
Now I’m completely hooked on writing. If I don’t work on my stories for a week, the world starts to get greyer. The longer I don’t write the greyer it gets until after a month or so I start to wonder if there’s any point to life.
It’s not that I like the actual writing much. A lot of writers are like this. Writing is very confronting – scary. You feel like you are putting pieces of your precious private imagination out there for people to criticize (and they do too.)
I have to force myself to sit down and do it. I make a time to write and I sit at the computer for 2 hours and even if I don’t actually write I am not allowed to do anything else with that time. Usually I write something and more and more as time goes on I have those satisfying days when you feel that you’ve made something good. That’s the pay off. Writing fills my life with colour. Now I’m just about to embark on a new and yet more scary enterprise. E books!
It seems ungracious for someone who’s done the Big publishing route to say this but Big Publishing can be grim if you are not a bestseller straight out of the gate. Even the 10% of writers who are best sellers tell stories of being let down; stories of bored trainee editors who’d rather be doing Harry Potter but have taken you on because their boss tells them too, stories of review copies not sent out and of distribution that has fallen apart. More and more these days the Big Publishers, who are feeling the pain of the internet, concentrate only on publicizing their best sellers and let the rest of us get by as best we can. I’d always hoped that my publishing company would look after that stuff for me. I hate blowing my own trumpet.
So when Clan Destine Press said they were interested in doing an ebook publication of my first three books I jumped at the opportunity. Ebooks solve the distribution problem. Now your friends will always be able to find copies of your books. As for the marketing – to be honest I’m pretty scared by that, but at least I know the review copies will be sent out. It’s just a matter of working out where to send them and of taking the knock backs when people say they don’t review ebooks or fantasy. And not being shy (the hardest thing of all for most writers) It makes sense that I take responsibility for my own marketing no matter how hard and embarrassing it seems. I am after all the one who cares most about my work.
Already people are publishing books about how to market ebooks and writers on forums like GoodReads, Amazon and Smashwords are sharing lists of who does and doesn’t review ebooks. Its not always a shark pool especially if you are willing to help others in return.
Who knows. I may make enough money to buy kitchen appliances that work. Or if not, at least I’ll find some new readers. And no matter what happens, I’ll always have the writing.
Thank you for your great post Jane!
Mage Heart: Provincial and naïve, – and a powerful mage – orphaned Dion is an innocent adrift in a world of intrigues and treacheries where hungry demons lurk just beyond the borders of legal magic. She has been called out of her safe academic life to serve the Dukes favourite mistress the extraordinary Kitten Avignon. The mesmerising courtesan is a woman in dire jeopardy, stalked by a powerful necromancer who will not sleep until his beautiful prey is destroyed. As she blossoms into womanhood, Dion will be forced to recognize the extent of her own power and the danger of her darkest desires. Mage Heart is available through www.clandestinepress.com.au