Sunday, March 01, 2009

Keeping It Real

Writers are on my mind a lot these days, but then they usually are because I’m always reviewing someone’s book, meeting with my critique group, plus chatting with and making new online friends all the time. But with the Left Coast Crime conference coming up in Hawaii, I’m especially thinking about this special gathering of writers. Some of my favourite authors will be there as will many new writers eager to sell their books, meet potential fans and schmooze with the famous. I hope they won’t be disappointed.

Disappointment’s also been on my mind lately. It was triggered by a comment from the famous octuplet mom, Nadya Suleman. She was speaking to an interviewer about supporting her family and how she liked to write and wanted to write a book. I wasn’t clear whether it would be about her experiences or a work of fiction, but my immediate response was, “Oh no, don’t rely on writing income for your livelihood.”

The truth is that only a small percentage of authors make a living from writing, mainly after years of learning their craft and building writing credits. There’s simply too much competition and too many writers willing to work for little or no pay. Perhaps Ms. Suleman’s fame and unique situation will result in a publishing contract with a big advance. But with acquisition freezes and massive layoffs in the publishing world these days, who knows?

What really worries me is that I’ve heard and read about people who are counting on writing income as part of their retirement plan. And some of these people are just starting to write as they approach their retirement years. I hope they do their homework.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful to dream and ambition is necessary, but I worry about those who set themselves up for failure because they didn’t learn how the business of writing really works. If you know someone like this, make sure they take a reality check before they place every egg they own in their creativity basket.

See you when I'm back from Hawaii!!

To read excerpts of Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption, visit Both books are now available on Kindle.

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