Thursday, May 26, 2011

Following the Money



Whereby I debate the definition of selling out.

Not my Cat but like the pic...
Yibus know I'm broke, right? That almost three years ago HWMNBMOTI got laid off, and we moped for 4 months and then he admitted he might be ready to train for a real job... so he has been a STUDENT since then, and we've been pretending I make enough for our family of four to live on, but I don't... That is where this story begins... The money is gone... Oh, some comes in every month... about a thousand dollars LESS than I need to break even if there is no water bill (which comes quarterly) or insurance (in February)...


I have a Cozy Mystery contract which provided a SIGNING advance, and then pays a little when I turn it in (got first one in Feb) and when it is published (first of those will be a year from now)... it's a trickle... on the month I GET one, I am okay for the month (except that whole February is insurance month detail), but writing isn't currently making up the difference between my (very good, mind you) day job and what it costs to live in Ann Arbor.


I have my young adult Kahlotus begging for a rewrite (which I will do this summer). And I have my Conspiracy Trilogy from which LEGACY needs just ONE MORE round before trying it out out there... I have Confluence which needs a rewrite... But the problem with ALL these books is they go on the slow road... long meandering sales track...


One of my BuNoWriMo ideas is ALSO that... Medium Wrong is the name (the talk to the dead one I mentioned yesterday)... and it is a lesson in be careful what you pretend to be... one of those cosmic justice teaches us a lesson things... and it is a GREAT story, as I see it... but it ALSO goes on that slow road... and it is ALSO one I really want to get RIGHT and I think it could use a few more months to stew...


If you can see through, why bother?
Because I have an idea that I KNOW I can sell, and sell sooner than later... There is a HEAVY market for trade mystery... my sassy Microbrew based, not-quite-cozy... my agent has expressed interest in the idea... she wants to see it when I have it... and SHE KNOWS editors who do this, who will contract not on the WHOLE POLISHED BOOK, but on a synopsis or outline and three BANG UP chapters (or so—50 pages). Now being ME, I really don't want to shop it until I have the first draft done, but if I could sell something right away that in the immediate term only had to be polished through the first quarter... that would REALLY help my cash flow...

And I have wanted to WRITE this series ANYWAY... I'm excited about it.

The premise: McKenzie MacIntyre (Kenny) tried the real world. She wore a suit, marketed for a software company, married a finance banker and had a son. But when the bottom fell out of the NASDAQ and her marriage fell apart, she decided she wanted a life with more tangibles... she opened a Microbrewery.

I am setting the brewery in Old Town Portland (the old industrial district, where warehouses are now lofts and art galleries mingle with Portland's remaining underbelly). She has an easy friendship (and not a little sexual tension) with her (currently attached) brewer; employees are made up of the Portland standard pierced and painted young artist types, and she has a teenage son whose (uptight but quickly going broke) father thinks a brewery is no place for a boy.


I hate to have money drive decisions I make... I WILL write the other... but I am just thinking it would be nice to have the bread and butter on the table while I wait for the main meal to come... (because the YA WILL pay more in the end... These mysteries sell so easily because people devour them, but they can devour them because each one doesn't cost a fortune (or pay the author a fortune)... and honestly... they are easier for a writer to get right—the audience reads fast and is forgiving... they are still a LOT of work, but the easy spot they fill makes it easier to get it 'right'.


This and Kahlotus by Joris Ammerlaan
Another Though Milling Around

(much more fuzzy) I am flirting vaguely with self-publishing my trilogy that won't fall neatly into YA or adult because of the MC age problem... I am WAITING a bit... If my current agent wants my YA stuff, then I think she will want to take on my full career and she may have strong opinions there—I don't want to burn any bridges and she deserves a conversation. If I end up with a DIFFERENT agent for Kahlotus, I think I will keep the three strands of career separate... Mystery with my current agent, YA published traditionally and this funny, hard to genrify batch I will do independently. I intend to formally edit (I have it on good authority one of my Burrow peeps has her eye on an editing career and I'm willing to bet she'd let me pay her a percentage of what I earn until she's paid). I would also want to pay my buddy Joris, who did my FABULOUS book covers gratis, but if I actually make MONEY using the covers, he deserves to be paid.

I want to do my rewrites though, before publishing the first, so the second and 3rd could be up with just a couple months between...I even have my pricing strategy figured out... I think I could do pretty decent with them.  They are good stories. They just don't FIT easily anywhere.

None of THIS is a sure thing... I'd prefer to sell traditionally... Heck, maybe I will submit Legacy to ABNA next year instead... if only the hook for it was easier... but then there is a lot of help on that front.


The PLAN
(evil cackle)

By May 31: Finish first draft of Cozy 2
June: Write Microbrewery Sassy
July 1-21: rewrite Cozy 2
July 22-August 7: Cozy 2 to peer reviewers. Edit Kahlotus.
Aug 8-21: edit Cozy 2, send to agent
Aug 22- Sept 15: edit Microbrew beginning. Send to agent when she returns Cozy 2
Sept 16-30: final polish Cozy 2 (turn in Sept 30)
Oct. One of rewrites
Nov. Medium Wrong
December Start Cozy #3

Now all this could change. So far this year on plans, I have missed an editing month (well, 2 really) because this Cozy has taken a lot longer to write than I thought, but I've done okay... Other goals all met.

And if ANYWHERE along this line someone who might lead me to money makes a request, I will jump... because while I dislike hoops or being told what to do, writing for a living is MUCH less of that than anything else I've ever done, so I will take it until I make it...

30 comments:

Christine Murray said...

I hear you on money being tight. Are household has been on the end of a financial cliff for the past two years. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable and out of control.

I wouldn't feel bad about letting money trump creativity in your decision making process. Stress, after all, is corrosive. If you're anxious, you may find it more difficult to relax and make affect how your new book flows and develops. If you write the cozy first, you can relax a bit more with the rest of your writing and you'll probably end up being more creative.

It makes complete sense to me. Best of luck with it :)

Trisha said...

You guys have done REALLY well to manage on that low income for the past few years. Hoping you'll get a break soon that will at least give you some breathing room!

Ca88andra said...

I hear you on financial difficulties! And if it were up to me I'd say follow the money and bless you! I sincerely hope you are not only successful but also financially successful.

Old Kitty said...

Naked Tart!!!! You will sell - you will!!! Oh your trade mystery sounds good!! Why not go with what you know will sell quicker and with the highest return? It's still you in the creative driving seat!! GOOD LUCK!!!! Take care
x

Caledonia Lass said...

You've got to follow whatever is going to pay at the moment. You can do it! It sucks to have to live pay check to pay check... and sometimes not even that... but there are SO many things that can be done to help micro manage your already stressed finances. But it's already been said, if you are stressing too much about it, the creativity might be hindered too much and you cannot afford that, literally, to happen.
Best of luck to you, girlie-Q!

Jan Morrison said...

Oh dear Tartlette, we are soul sisters! And on this one, I wish we weren't. We've been on the brink of financial collapse for the past three or four years - OK, I'll admitt it - five - ever since we built this house that I love beyond reason. We get little dabs of money that seem huge to us and they don't really make a difference as we simply don't make enough to cover our rising expences. And I'm on this slow slow path too. Two mysteries, two literary novels, and folks saying "why don't you try and write a column for the paper?" and the industry going down the tubes faster than you can say residuals.
I won't pretend to tell you what you should do because if I knew that I'd be doing it. I only send love and stuff - and remind you that the corrosiveness of money anxiety is well met by the joy of creativity. May we both rise out of this dung heap into the glorious light of publication and some dough!

sue said...

All I can do is send the best of everything positive that could happen.

BTW I found the pic of the beers very distracting. I do like a light brew with Indian food and a good dark one as a sustaining little something on a cold evening...like right now! Sue

Siv Maria said...

Money, money, money...must be funny...in a rich mans world...You never give up, you fight, you make plans, you move forward. You my friend deserve a lot of respect for that.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Whatever you do, just go on faith, Hart.

Lisa said...

I love how you set goals with dates and everything. Do you have any idea how huge that is?

Did you read the Freakonomics article about self-publishing? Interesting, practical advice though some of the language about the publishing industry is going to bunge folks up.

I'm confident that you'll achieve. Money issues are so dang distracting.

Write on, my inspiring friend.

Hart Johnson said...

Christine-sorry you've been on the edge of it, too! And thank you!

Trisha-did I give the impression we were managing? teehee--not so much...

Cassandra-yeah... that's the plan... Fingers crossed...

Jenny--true that... that stress is bad for the process...

Mel-yeah, I've never had any extra on that front, try as I have... thanks for the luck!

Jan-those houses really CAN be money-sucks... heaven as it may be, I know they always cost more that you plan (or have). I wish we weren't both in the pit, too.

Sue- yeah, I can appreciate a variety, though the lighter colored version in my world need to have a bitter bite... teehee

No giving up--thank you Siv!

Alex-I try... though there is a lot of delusion sprinkled in...

Hart Johnson said...

Lisa-you snuck in there! I did NOT see that, but I will look at it... hopefully I can follow, though I confess to anything that looks remotely legal putting me off... the other publishing terms though, should be okay...

Terry Odell said...

I don't see anything wrong with following the money. As the author, unless you're really up there, you don't get enough to live on. I'm looking to get more of my back list back, and working on adding an 'original' to the series.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i think it sounds like good plan! And here's the thing - if you're worrying about the cashflow (and wouldn't it be AMAZING if we did't have to worry about money?!) You probably won't pull off the best draft of your YA book, because you'll feel guilty about not writing the mystery (which, BTW, sounds GREAT).
So write the mystery. The YA MS will wait and probably be the better for it

GigglesandGuns said...

If you lose everything have you really accomplished anything?
Use the creativity to make the money and ease your situation. It won't be forever.
Go get those goals, Hart.

Liz said...

I've had a fair bit of luck "sassifying microbreweries" as you well know my dear. there is money in it according to my Pay Pal account. feel free to ask any questions of me you need from the "owners/marketing" side. BTW I'm taking delivery of 30 more barrels of fermentation capacity AND firing up the bottling line next week as my labels finally showed up. wanna collaborate on the brewery thing? I have some ever-improving connections but they are all "e" which I know many scoff at as a real writer but...(see above for "pay pal account")
I've just inked a new publisher who is wooing me with promises of exclusive promotions AND Floor Time the trilogy is getting serious consideration with one of the Big Boys only after a gut busting, lengthy and brutal re-write/ re-org with beloved Editor. My own sabotage/murder/sex/Michigan beer book is about 10k words shy of 100k but we know what that means: Massive Rewrite before subbing! hang in sista--can I buy you a beer? seriously They ARE good even IF you can see through them--we won a couple of national bronze medals for two of them! love ya! Ann Arbor Writers Unite.
Wench/ET/Liz

ViolaNut said...

Yup. Money (or rather, lack thereof) freakin' sucks. Hence the editing thing (I'm assuming you meant me, ne? ;-) ). So YES, follow the money, and Thing 1 will be out of the house in a couple of years (although college, yikes!), and by then you'll have books on the shelves which (provided I don't kill my boss or get fired or something stupid) I will hand-sell to every person who so much as LOOKS at the mystery aisles, and, erm, yeah. Ugh. BuNoWriMo, here we come!

Hart Johnson said...

Terry-yeah, I know very few can pay their way... I'd just like the supplement to the day job to be adequate... I think getting that back list has to help--I think with the self-selling stuff, the bigger the list you've got, the better you do.

Sarah-it WOULD be amazing if money weren't an issue! I'd love to just be flush with no worries (and maybe a vacation now and again... and a llama, but never mind...)

Mary-very true! I don't think we'll LOSE it all... I hope... I am scrappy... I'll figure it out...

Liz-I can't believe how much you accomplish... Do you sleep? Is any of your stuff self-pubbed? It's not is it? You've got an ePublisher. And I will take you up on that beer soon!

Hart Johnson said...

Leanne-yup--meant you, and YOU ROCK! Thing 1 is probably community college bound initially, so home longer, but less spendy than setting her up on her own. Thing 2 knows he's expected to earn full ride *shifty* But yeah... hopefully by then, there is a little money...

Cheeseboy said...

That's right, stick to your guns. Your mean, lean writing guns.

Also, I really like that book cover. So cool.

Misha said...

Wow, you've got a lot on your mind. Things sound really tough on you right now, so please remember that I'm thinking of you and praying for you.

Things will fall into place for you.

Good luck with your plan!

:-)

Michael Offutt said...

I hope things improve for you really soon Hart. Everyone should have enough money to live comfortably on in my opinion.

Cold As Heaven said...

There's nothing wrong about selling out, if your a writer, or a heavy metal band for that sake. Start by building a platform that gives you the economical stability. Write stuff that sells like ice cream in Hell. Then you can turn to literary art, if you want to. Good luck. I hope you will succeed >:)

Cold As Heaven

Johanna Garth said...

Writing is a job! You shouldn't feel any guilt about wanting to be paid for it!

Btw, I love books set in my hood. the PDX microbrewery mystery sound like a lot of fun.

Laura said...

I love the sound of the microbrewery books! Doitdoitdoit... and isn't it so much easier to be creative with the rest of it when you haven't got that level of money stress just buzzing at you in the background?!

Go forth, write, earn money and be proud :)
Lxxx

Stacy Gail said...

Whew! That's a lot, but totally doable. One step at a time, and I really like the idea of getting that trade mystery in to keep everything financially happy. Please let me know if I can be one of your readers, okay? I love your "voice", you're such a fun read!

Holly Ruggiero said...

Oooo Tartie, so many decisions, but you have a plan - a crazy busy plan but a plan none the less. Good luck!

Michael Di Gesu said...

You're SO not alone. My past few years have been LEAN as well, but we do the best we can.

Sell whatever sells. Sometime we have to do things in the beginning of our careers that fall beneath our expectations. But, Remember, each writing is an experience and it will just build to the phenomenal writer that you are.

LTM said...

UGH! I HATE to hear you're struggling. We had one month of no paycheck and that was enough to make me leave the beach, so you know my little pants were scared right off. Not that you'd think that was a bad thing... :D

BUT! How totally cool that you've got an idea for a sassy mystery AND an agent waiting to sell it! Write that thing, girl! Those other books aren't going anywhere.

And wait on the self publishing. Wait to see what you hear back on K~ <3

Helena said...

My heart goes out to you -- I know what it's like to be in the financial hole and I don't even have a family to support. But you're so creative and disciplined that surely more money will come your way. I'll let you know about the financial ups and downs of self-pub (including the e-book versions) as soon as I can. Meanwhile, all my positive money thoughts and feelings are headed your way.