Tuesday, December 30, 2014

?Writer

While I'm wrapping up 2014 I thought I'd finally address the white elephant that has been sitting on the blog since May -- the fact that I have no new releases and I haven't sold anything (that you can know is my work, anyway).

I've had my ups and downs with Publishing, and sure, this year could be called something of a downer. The series it took me four years to sell and two years to promote was cancelled one month after publication of the second book -- not what anyone would call uplifting. I consider this series the best thing I've written in years, however, so I'm happy I got the shot, and grateful to everyone who supported it. I will probably write a couple more stories set in the Toriana universe for fun, and post them online as free e-books, but that's likely all that will happen with Kit and the crew.


Of course I could go indie and begin self-publishing some new books on my own, because that's what almost everyone does now when their publisher says adieu or traditional publishing isn't working for them. Some authors are doing both indie and traditional, while others are bypassing publishers entirely and just moving ahead entirely on their own. I have immense respect for all authors who go this route; I think they're the most courageous writers out there.

I have been self-publishing for fifteen years by posting free stories online (yes, everyone forgets that.) I do need to make a living, however, and while self-publishing for profit is tempting, I've found something better.


Since October I've been freelancing as a copywriter and writer-for-hire, which is the better something. I was fortunate to land a couple of terrific ghost writing gigs, and I just accepted one client's third contract offer in as many months. Every project has been fast and fun, with extremely reasonable deadlines, and the pay is comparable to what I was making publishing my own works (I'm also paid for my work on the same day I turn it in, which never happens with traditional publishers.) One of my recent ghost projects became a bestseller* two weeks after it was released, so that was a nice confidence booster, too.

I can't tell anyone what I'm writing, which I admit sucks, but such is the nature of ghosting. It's a trade-off for all the other things I don't have to do, such as selling it, negotiating a fair contract, dealing with editors (good bad or indifferent), being on-call for the publisher 24/7, proofing and usually rewriting the copy, fighting for decent cover art, correcting bookseller listings, writing bios, dodging bio photo requests, sending it out for review, promoting it on the blog, and imposing on other bloggers to help me promote it, waiting months or sometimes years for payment, etc.

If I opted to self-publish, I'd have to do all of the above and more on my own, and to turn out a professional-level book I'd also have to hire an editor, a cover artist, a technical person to help me with all the technical details, and possibly some sort of publicity service. Which as all indie authors can tell you can get very, very expensive. Once I paid for all that (assuming I could even afford to), I'd put my self-pubbed book out there and hope enough people want to read it that I can make a profit -- out there with all the other hundreds of thousands of self-pubbed books -- all while praying the self-publishing host doesn't change their terms, demand a bigger percentage, mishandle my listing, etc.

This is another reason why I admire indie authors -- just thinking about dealing with all they have to do freaks me out. So while I respect indie publishing, and I am happy for everyone for whom it works, it's simply not a good choice for me.

Ghost writing costs me nothing. I write, I get paid, and I'm done. I'm valued and treated with respect by my clients as well, which is very nice. I don't know if I'll keep ghosting forever -- I'd love to work with Adam Wilson over at Pocket again, as I think he's pretty close to the perfect editor -- but for now I'm enjoying the freedom and the complete lack of hassle involved in my writer-for-hire work. More importantly it pays the bills, the IRS, my medical insurance premiums, my kid's college tuition and so forth, all of which I know isn't your problem, but I need to deal with most of these things for the next fourteen years until I can officially retire.

I'm also considering putting up a writer-for-hire section on the blog, which if I do will just be a page on the sidebar that lists my services and rates. I don't really want to use the blog in this way, but again I have to be practical, and it wouldn't be in anyone's face like ads or buy buttons.


I became a writer first by using longhand on a legal pad and then tapping out my stories on a manual typewriter. I spent ten years getting rejections in the mail every week before I landed my first contract offer. I've never been scared of hard work, putting in the extra hours, and taking the road less traveled. I'm also not afraid of change. The changes I've made this year have contributed significantly to making my writing life less stressful and more productive.

I know the fact that I'm focusing now on writer-for-hire work will disappoint some of my readers. I'm sorry about that, too. After putting so much work into the last series only to see it cancelled, I feel just as disappointed, but I need to be realistic. I also don't want to drag out hopes for another series revival for years and years, as I did with StarDoc and Darkyn. I don't think that's fair to you or me.

I'm still making a living doing what I love, and no matter what form that takes, for me it will always be a privilege and a joy. I also love this blog, and the people who visit here, and you have to know that's not going to change. So: let's move ahead, not worry about the future, and see what happens as it happens.

*I am not the ghost writer who penned the book for that Youtube chick Zoe whatever, just in case someone is assuming that.

25 comments:

  1. I can't think of a better opportunity for a writer--and for you especially because your work is already respected and admired. Ghost writing isn't for everyone. Egotists and those that need the validation could never do it. You have neither of those chains.

    Post your info on the sidebar or create an entire page dedicated to your other job. People should know that you're available for hire.

    It's exciting work and I'm proud of you. Best of luck in 2015.

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  2. And now people will understand exactly why I love this blog and the people who visit here. Thank you, Maria.

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  3. Hi Lynn,
    I like your style of SF writing. I'm reading the first of your Stardoc books.
    What are your ghostwriting fees and what is your schedule like for new work?
    Thanks,
    Ann

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  4. Thanks for the kind words, Ann. At the moment my ficition writing schedule is booked through the end of Spring 2015, although I'm available for smaller projects and copywriting basically any time. I'm also not sure if I want to advertise my rates online, so until I decide that issue if you have something specific in mind you can e-mail the details to me at HirePBW@aol.com and I'll work up a quote for you.

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  5. Sounds like a good plan to me! Happy 2015.

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    1. Thanks, Robin -- and I hope the New Year brings you much happiness, too.

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  6. Aww. Totally bummed to hear the Toriana universe was cancelled. I loved your two first books!
    I'm pleased you are able to find less stressful writing, there's a lot to be said for that!
    I hope we will get the opportunity to enjoy more of your non ghost-writing work, but I wish you every success, no matter what you are doing!

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    1. I appreciate the kind words, mk. And don't worry -- no matter how much ghosting I do next year, I'll still be writing free stories for my readers and posting them online.

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  7. Well it goes without saying--though of course I'm going to say it anyway--that I will miss the Toriana stories (okay, Dredmore), but totally understand the direction you're taking for the new year.

    Maybe in a future post, you could explain how ghost writing actually works. I'm curious how an author (you) can write a story that another person (them) claims as their own...or is that not how it works? See? Inquiring minds need the deets... ;D

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    1. There are different kinds of ghost writing, and I could certainly cover the basics. As it happens I've not yet written fiction that another person has passed off as their own work because I've only ghosted for publishers, not individuals. I've either written under my byline or under a fictitious byline owned by the publisher, and transfer the copyright to them once the project is complete. But yes, I should write up more details in a future post.

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  8. I understand completely. I think I've mentioned before that I write naughty stories as my 'for pay' writing these days. They are easy (for me) to write, I don't do advertisement (they sell themselves if you tag properly), I do very basic covers, and they make me oodles of solid cash. Can I tell family and friends about them? Ahahahahah, no. Is it the most fulfilling writing ever? No. Does it pay for my mom to begin to retire? YES.

    I've (finally) taken the jump to writing full time, and I'm confident I can pay all the bills this way. Like ghost-writing, writing Erotica gets very little respect. Most writers won't touch it. (And I'm not writing the fancy erotica that gets talked about in RWA, I'm writing the stuff that sells.) It's OK by me that others denigrate it. Their loss, as you said years ago.

    For me, I can use the money to pay my bills and support my family, easily and without stress. My day job was so awful it began affecting my health (my blood pressure shot from 110/70 to 140/84, which I'm sure you know my doctor was Not Thrilled about.) I'm able to set aside plenty of time to write the stories that *I* love, which is just gravy. For all that people sneer at my genre, the e-publishers (Amazon, Nook, Smashwords) pay on time, exactly as promised, and I can bank that.

    I've got an editor who'd like to publish some of my for-love writing, and I'm thrilled about that, BUT. I don't expect any real money out of that. It's just 'play money', and it'll be invested or spent on writing toys. Not considered reliable income. Too risky.

    There's plenty of work for a writer who has skills and is willing to change to meet the needs of the readers. Not every writer can, and that's fine. BUT, for those of us who do shift our writing to meet the market (whatever that might be), I think there should be no shame, either. What's more honorable than feeding our families and meeting our responsibilities? That's how I see it, anyway.

    I'm glad you've found a low-stress way to keep doing what you love. I hope you have plenty of time to play in the worlds YOU love, just for the sake of that, because I think it's good we get to play sometimes. But there is nothing quite as satisfying as paying for necessities with the work of our hands. I'm thrilled you've found a way to keep writing.

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    1. I'm with you on every point, V. I'm certainly not ashamed of writing strictly for income; it allows me to use my talent to pay my own bills and contribute to the household. After being out of work for so long it's doing great things for my sense of self-worth, too. When time permits I'll still write for me, and for my readers as I've always done.

      I don't think any of us should feel we have to apologize for the choices we make in our writing lives, either. We do what we have to in order to take care of ourselves and our family, and anyone who sneers at that is an idiot.






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  9. I think you're awesome no matter what way you write, but before you discount the idea of self-publishing entirely (like I almost did), read Let's Get Digital. It made the process way less scary for me. So much so, in fact, I'll be leaping into self-publishing this year - tentative release for my first book in March. You're already a name people recognize, so the PR part will be way easier for you. And with all the people who love you, you'll have plenty of support out there. Just sayin'. If you have any questions, email me. K? :hugs:

    And YAY you for moving ahead in a way you chose. You rock.

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    1. You're a doll, B., thank you -- and I'm not ruling out self-publishing entirely (I really can't.) I think the reason ghosting is working so well for me right now is that it is so simple and hassle-free, which at this point I need as I get back into earning a living as a writer. Thanks also for the book rec.

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  10. So sorry to hear there won't be any more Toriana books. I loved the first two. But the market is getting more and more crowded, and with a million and more people shouting "Look at me!" it's more tiring than ever before.

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    1. Agreed. It's also getting harder to find decents reads, traditional or indie published, which is worrisome. I'm getting to the point where I don't want to even try anyone new to me anymore, because so many have disappointed me recently. I don't want to think like that, but maybe the glut of substandard fiction is wearing me down.

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  11. Good luck. I agree with terlee about a post on what a ghostwriter does. Sounds interesting. Finally, any new publications (self-pub or trad) that you ever put out I will snap up. Love your writing.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, and I will always write something every year for my readers, Laurie -- even if they're just freebies. :)

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  12. Wishing you the best, Lynn! I still think your publisher was crazy for canceling Toriana. I hope you get back the rights to it very soon. I'd love to read more in the series if the muse nudges you in that direction.

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    1. I appreciate the sentiments, Deb, and don't worry -- I have a few more Toriana stories to tell.

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  13. I really think Toriana has some strong potential self-pubbed. Please don't mentally shut that door entirely. Eggs and multiple baskets, y'know?

    Also, with as excellent as you are at the cliffhanger, you'd be perfect for the short serial-style books that seem to be the future of Kindle. (Think Dickens.)

    Good grief, had StarDoc been released in this format and era... I think EVERYONE might have a broken Kindle or two because they were so impatient for the next release they threw it against the wall!

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    1. Self-publishing even one more Toriana novel was really tempting, Shawna, but if I couldn't make a success of the series with wonderful cover art and a great editor and full support from the publisher, then I doubt I could do half as well going indie (even if I could afford it, which at present I simply can't.) I'm not slamming the door shut, however, because I do think I need to keep my options open.

      It would have been fun to see StarDoc published in the digital book age, but I doubt it would have done as well. Everyone and their brother is a self-published SF author now, so it probably would have ended up buried in the glut.

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  14. Keita Haruka6:29 AM

    I'll add my voice to those saying adding the ghost writing thing to the blog would be a good idea. It's an option for writers, and we've all learned a LOT from you over the years. I know I have. :-) So why not this aspect of the industry too? To me, it makes a lot of sense to add it.

    I can just imagine how disheartening it must be to watch something you love and worked hard on cancelled. The series didn't deserve it. I'm glad to hear that it won't die entirely though. :-)

    Of course family and paying the bills must come first! Only selfish readers would suggest otherwise. And we have to take care of ourselves, or nothing at all will get written.

    Best wishes for 2015!

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  15. Susanne7:48 PM

    I honestly think that you should give us a option to pay for your stories - I would like to pay for the stories you give away for free now. I pretty sure that you would not make a fortune....but money is a nice form of appreciation ;-) I would also like to wish you Glückliches Neues Jahr, Gesundheit und nur das Beste für dich und die Menschen die du liebst.

    Susanne

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  16. I love your books and find your blog just as enjoyable.I hope to see a book with your name on it in 2015 via traditional or self pubbed. I think you're awesome

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