Thursday, June 30, 2011

Matt Hughes Archonate Blog

And speaking of writers' blogs, here's another that might interest you: Matt Hughes' Archonate blog carries Matt's advice to writers. Besides being an extremely successful SF writer (on my personal top five list!), Matt also does a fair bit of freelance development editing and teaches courses and workshops on writing, so his advice is worth reading.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Creative Process

Found this at but I'm not sure who the original creator is....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Arthur Slade's Blog

I follow a bunch of author blogs, but the most interesting and the most useful for other authors is undoubtedly Arthur Slade's. When he talks about selling books on Kindle, for example, he gives you actual sales figures, charts and graphs and a concise analysis.... I find I get more insight into the real life experiences of a (highly successful) professional author from this blog than almost any other. Unlike other authors who make all sorts of pronouncements on how to write or on the writing industry, Arthur just says, 'I've tried this and this is how it turned out for me' with the implication that your mileage might vary. And he has a lot of interesting ideas -- I like the discussion of losing weight while writing for example.

One basic principle that Arthur demonstrates by example is that if you want people to come to your blog on a regular basis, it has to be about more than just your latest book release. Slade's blog is fascinating: personal and yet helpful, accessible yet no talking down to readers. A lot of author blogs I look up are just announcements of book releases and accolades received. I seldom return to such blogs because they are ultimately boring even for the most fanatic fan. Slade includes lots about his latest book's progress so fans can answer the question "When is the fourth Hunchback book coming out?" but there is enough other stuff to keep the rest of us coming back again and again just because Slade is one of our more interesting virtual neighbours. I don't mind reading his commercials: I hadn't known the third Hunchback book was available until I returned to his blog to see how his experiment in digital book publishing was going, and then went out immediately and bought the book for my daughter. But I was there for the content. I humbly suggest that if you want readers for your blog, then you'd better have some actual content to hold their attention between commercials. The better the content, the more likely people are to refer friends to particular entries: I discovered Slade's blog because someone referred me to the entry on typing on a treadmill, and because I found that such an exciting idea, I stuck around on a regular basis for the rest of his blog -- including the commercials.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Become an Author, in 5 Incredibly Difficult Steps by Robert Brockway is a painfully funny, sadly accurate account of writing for a living. Well worth a few minutes reading. (Thanks to Dave Laderoute for bringing it to my attention.)

One thing that took me slightly aback was his complaining about his initial advance of a mere $30,000. Not that his math isn't correct and that that worked out to less than minimum wage for the hours he put into the book. He's completely correct that one could make a lot more pumping gas at the local 7-11, and with a lot less angst. It's just that $30,000 is still a lot more then the average beginning SF novel advance of $3,500 to $6,000 (from those publishers who still pay advances -- more and more, the smaller presses simply can't afford to offer anything beyond editorial assistance). Once one has established oneself as a dependable seller, someone whose books are likely to sell more than a few copies, well then advances might well go up. But for SF writers trying to break into the market with no previous credentials, $6000 is pretty much top dollar. I know I'd be deliriously happy if I got anything close to five figures for my first novel. I can count on my fingers the number of Canadian SF writers who can actually make a living just from their writing--and on one hand the number who make a good living at it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Piracy

Interesting and largely convincing perspective on book piracy by Tobias Buckell (brought to my attention by Silvia Moreno-Garcia) which argues authors have to step back from an emotional response to having their books pirated and look at the issue from a business mindset.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Setting

On of my favorite blogs is "Sociological Images: Seeing is Believing". One of today's entries is entitled "Humans Across Time and Space" and features a trailer from the BBC series, "Human Planet" along with Lisa Wade's brief commentary...

And I thought, Interesting glimpse at the idea of "setting" as determining character and story...worth 3 minutes if you're ever feeling in need of a little inspiration re setting....


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Writing for a Living

Came across reference by Simon Rose to a column from a couple of years back on authors taking about writing for a living. Worth a look.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Writer Beware

You are probably already aware of Writer Beware, but thought I'd just mention the site again. SFWA's Writer Beware" site lists on a website that is open to the public the various schemes, scams and pitfalls that threaten writers. There is also a blog by A.c. Crispin and Victoria Stauss that makes for fascinating reading.

I note with interest that some of these scammers are charging $250 in reading fees...time to raise my rates, eh?