Last Tuesday we put out a request for pictures of your muses–we asked to see the people, spirits, or things that inspire you to keep filling the blank page with words.
We received some great results! Here they are, in no particular order:
Dave Williams: Twin Muses
“This is ONE of my rescues – Sancho,” she writes. “We have two dogs and two cats, all from shelters. But this guy makes me laugh every day. He loves sprawling on his belly and ‘snakes’ off the sofa. Epic cuteness.”
Last Friday we shared some pix of where the TKZ bloggers write. This week, it’s your turn. A number of readers responded to our request with some great photos of their writing spaces. Here we go!
Basil is a self-described “on the go, write-where-you-can” kind of guy.
“I have three primary butt parking spots where my literary juices tend to spike highest,” he says.
I vote for #2, the comfy, cozy chair.
Blogger Emeritus John Gilstrap sent in a view of his office as you come in from the front door. I have to say, John’s writing space comes closest to my ideal vision of a bestselling author’s writing space!
OK, forget the office–just look at Mike Dennis’s place (I think it’s hidden behind the palm trees). It must be great to work in paradise!
“As you can see, British writers don’t tidy up the desk before wandering off to pointlessly take photos, even leaving both dogs in the shot to prove we’re not idly ambling around the lanes instead of working,” he said, with lovable British sarcasm. “No. We’re sitting indoors pretending to concentrate on the next book, while actually taking photos of the ‘workspace’ instead. Work displacement activities are a wonderful thing! Hope you like the way I took one photo, didn’t like it, so took a second while leaving the first on the screen … yeah, I forgot.”
Oh, and the second dog? If you look under the desk, you’ll spot a nose.
Zoe gets her creative juices flowing in an unlikely spot–her car.
“I get a lot of productive work done in the car on motorway journeys,” she says.
Seriously, Zoe? Be careful doing that in Southern California–they hand out tickets here for texting and using a cell phone, much less tapping out the Next Great American Novel!
Michael is shown working in his office.
“This is me, our dining table and, yes, that is my permanent ‘office.’ It is where I work when I am not writing on the bus or a train,” he says.
I’m a dining room table writer too, Michael. Thanks for sharing!
Richard Mabry sent us a photo of his office from his iPhone. Very cool!
“My office used to be in the basement… and my youngest son wanted to move down there so I switched with him,” Mark says. “I rather liked the solar system hanging from the ceiling, so I left it up.”
The acoustic guitar provides an additional outlet for creative expression.
Terri describes her office as “very much my cocoon.”
“This is my little corner of the world where I write and run my business,” she says. “It is in a free-standing apartment built inside my warehouse. I rescued the desks and wall mount cabinets from the alley behind an insurance agency (there is another on just like it to the left holding all my graphic design printers). Then I decorated the office around the desks.”
I love the HOPE sign on top of the cabinet. Every writer needs one of these!
Sending out a big thanks to everyone who shared their pictures and stories about their writing spots this week. Hope we didn’t overlook anyone. Please share your story today in the Comments!
By John Gilstrap
Before getting to the meat of this week’s blog entry, I wanted to share a bit of very cool news. As every TKZ regular knows, Basil Sands is a frequent and entertaining participant here. A year or so ago, when my fellow Killzoners and I published Fresh Kills: Tales From The Killzone, Basil volunteered to produce audio versions of the book and podcast them. If you’ve listened to his narration, you know that he’s very good at that sort of thing.
A few weeks ago, during a routine email exchange with the folks from Audible.com, the people who publish the audio versions of the Jonathan Grave series, I mentioned to them that they might consider adding Basil to their stable of narrators. I’m not sure of the details that transpired between Basil and Audible.com at that point, but I am thrilled to announce that Basil Sands will be the narrator for my next Jonathan Grave novel, Threat Warning, which will be released on July 1.
Having heard the great job he did with Fresh Kills, I can’t wait to hear his take on Threat Warning. For the second week in a row, then, here’s to serendipity! Way to go, Basil!
We now return to our original Blog programming:
New York publishing went Hollywood back in the mid nineties, throwing high six-figure and even seven-figure advances at first time authors. It’s a shame that so many of the authors who received such largesse didn’t know that the big money would ruin their writing careers.
A million dollar advance puts a writer in the position of having to sell something like 300,000 copies in hardcover for the publisher just to break even, and 350,000 for the writer to start earning a royalty check. Those are hard numbers to achieve even for established authors; for an unknown rookie, the odds are one in thousands. Whereas in a normal world, rookie sales of 75,000 or 80,000 copies would be the stuff of cork-popping and the terrific launch of a career, those same sales for the anointed and overpaid were a source of embarrassment for the team that forked over the cash.
But the big advance was only part of the problem. In order to have a chance at recovering their investment, publishers had to throw another couple hundred thousand bucks at marketing and promotion. Back then, when a “big book” failed, it failed big. If the disappointment was public enough, no other publisher would touch the author, who would forever join the ranks of one-hit wonders.
First lesson of New York publishing: The bad stuff is always the author’s fault.
Meanwhile, because all the marketing dollars were going to the big books, the midlist authors who were lucky to be pulling in $30,000 advances got squat in promotion. Their success (or failure) was driven largely by efforts of independent booksellers to hand-sell. Back then, even if a midlist title didn’t earn out, the independents would still order the next title of an author whose work they liked. There was a tacit agreement between publishers and booksellers to “grow” and author over time. That was before computers started running the business.
Now the indies are virtually all gone, and the hundred-year-old publishing business model is in turmoil. Virtually all of the legacy houses are stuck with bazillion-dollar contracts that have virtually no chance of earning out, and to cover their downside (backside?), many are establishing eBook lines that will provide a steady stream of revenue against greatly diminished costs. Among the diminished expenses are the size of authors’ advances.
This is a game-changer for writers who make their living exclusively through writing. A reasonable advance (pick your own number to define reasonable) keeps the lights on and the kids in shoes during the period after a book is bought and before it is published. The advance is what writers use to pay bills while writing the next book. If advances implode, I’m not sure how full-time writers will make ends meet.
Self publishing will become the solution for some, I suppose, but I continue to believe that the only writers who have even a remote chance for success via self publishing are those who have already established their names via traditional means. There’s just too much noise out there for newbies to have a real shot.
While my crystal ball is notoriously cloudy on all things, I’m confident that there’ll be a solution to all of this that will keep publishers in business, and will continue to make mega-selling authors mega-wealthy. But if publishers have a brain in their collective head, they’ll have to find a way to pay less up front in advances, and more in royalties that are distributed more frequently. That would be the everybody-wins solution, I think.
What about you, dear Killzoners? For those of you who dream of canning the day job and writing full time, do you see yourself rolling the dice on self-published sales, or on royalties alone, or is an advance a critical component of your plan?