What is a writer worth? (Repost… because I’m lazy like that.)

The typical scene after a writer cashes his first royalty check.

So what does a blogger do when he runs out of things to say?  He reposts old blog entries.  This is from February 12, 2008, the day John Scalzi shook my world and actually announced how much money he made as writer.  Totally insane and undeniably educational!

Ever wonder what a working writer makes? Wonder no more. John Scalzi, winner of the John W. Campbell Award and a Hugo Award nominee, gives a very revealing look into the finances of a working writer. Along with letting you peer into his wallet, he also gives you some salient advice on how to manage your money and stay out of credit hell. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s possible to make a good amount of money as a writer. Most writers don’t. You should assume, strictly for business purposes, that you won’t, or at the very least, won’t for a very long time. It’s not all about you, it’s also about the market. Don’t get defensive. The median personal income in the US in 2005 was $28,500. You have a lot of company in the bottom half.

It’s a long article (or posting or whatever you call a blog entry), but it is well worth the read. John is a very successful writer. The key to his success is beyond being an exceptional novelist he is also a gun for hire. By his own admission, he will write most anything as long as the money is good. Click here to read the entire post, and I would also make it a habit to visit John’s blog on a regular basis. He’s got a lot to say and most of it is worth listening to.

If you’ve never read any of Scalzi’s books, I recommend Old Man’s War. It’s a military sci-fi novel, but the writing is good enough to make it enjoyable even if you’re not into that particular genre.

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My blog is 100,000 views old!

First milestone reached.  Now, onto that cure for cancer!

First milestone reached. Now, onto that cure for cancer!

I just noticed that the blog surpassed the 100,000 views milestone.  Yippee, for me.  You really do like silly and useless postings.  I sensed that about you.  And before you ask, the answer is no.  The 100,000 views do not include my own visits to this blog.  WordPress doesn’t count my own views.  I’d be well on my way to half a million views if that were the case.  I just can’t get enough of myself!  I’m no John Scalzi, but this does mean that if he were to develop an allergy to blogging and have to stop, I could very well pass him in views in about 15 years, but then again that would leave me with no one to steal style and material from.  So, rock on Scalzi.  Happy to be in your wake.

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A Belated Recounting of My Experience at Book Expo America

Brooke Shields, yet another person I didnt meet at BEA!

Brooke Shields, yet another person I didn't meet at BEA!

I promised to give a follow-up report on Book Expo America sometime ago, and I’ve put it off much too long. So get a snack, pop a top on your favorite beverage, and take your phone off the hook because you are in for a treat. Here we go… It was… transcendent isn’t the right word… weird… a little… exciting… at times… uneventful… 95% of the time.

This is my third year going to BEA, and it never ceases to amaze me the sheer volume of products and services related to the world of publishing. This year they even had a teeth whitening booth. For $99 you could have your teeth whitened in 15 minutes. The problem is you could only drink clear liquids for 24 hours. Coffee is a staple for the convention floor and a nice frothy lager is a staple for after. I had no 24 hour window where I was planning on imbibing just clear liquids. This BEA being in LA, I did see a lot of stars… kind of. – Dr. Ruth (she is smaller than small), Leonard Nimoy, Kevin Neland, Dave Madden (Reuben Kincaid from the Partridge Family), Jamie Lee Curtis, and Bernadette Peters’ hair (Bernadette was attached to it, but I couldn’t see her for the crowd). You’ll notice that there aren’t any names of literary note on that list. I wasn’t invited to any of the parties where those types gather and talk about conjugating verbs, diagramming sentences, passive voice, and how much they hate the proliferation of text speak, i.e. lol, rotflmao, btw, cul8er, etc. Not being in their circle yet, I only imagine this is what they talk about. I’m sure the conversations aren’t nearly as exciting.

This year, unlike the previous two, I did do a signing. Actually, it turned out to be two signings because someone canceled and they wanted to fill the slot. It was surreal. I’m not famous. Not even moderately so, but I had lines. Some greeted me as if I were a rock star, some greeted me as if I were an extra on Star Trek, some greeted me as if I were someone who might be somebody someday so they better get their signed copy so they can sell it on ebay. Seriously, a week after I got back there were signed copies of my books on ebay. I didn’t have the stomach to see if anyone ever put in bids on them. One gentleman even got angry when I ran out of books. It was flattering and terrifying all at once. Apparently, I’m just unknown enough to complain to. I bet Stephen King doesn’t get yelled at when he runs out of books at a signing.

I did meet John Scalzi, and managed to creep him out. See my open letter to John where I explain my strange behavior.

BTW – Wish me luck. I have several major publishers considering picking up the Oz Chronicles. If I sign with them, maybe I can finally get invited to one of those literary parties at BEA.

I’m Not a Stalker – An Open Letter to John Scalzi

SciFi at its best!

SciFi at it's best!

Dear John,

I hope all is well. We exchanged greetings at this year’s BEA, and I may have given you the impression that I am a stalker. I’m not. I realize that no stalker thinks they’re a stalker, but I promise you I’m not. Allow me to explain. First, why you may have gotten the impression that I am a stalker:

I walked up to your signing table at BEA just as your session ended. I had a signing right after you. I introduced myself to you and you very kindly offered to give me a signed copy of Zoe’s Tale. I happily said “Yes.” While you were signing the book, I said the following; “You don’t understand. I talk about you every day.” To which my friend and co-worker said in a very exasperated voice, “Yes, he does.” Before I could explain why I talk about you every day, I was called away to tend to something behind the curtain. I never had a chance to explain why a 42-year-old man talks about you every day.

Any reasonable adult male may have been creeped out by hearing that another adult male talks about him every day. My friend and co-worker who was there even confirmed that I came off quite stalkerish.

Now, let me explain why I’m not a stalker. My job (beyond the author gig) is helping author’s develop marketing strategies for their books. I advise them on how to build a community around themselves and their book. I use your blog as an example. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of the Old Man’s War universe, and once I get through with some of my own projects I plan on jumping into Zoe’s Tale. And if I were ever to stalk someone you would be on my list. But in this case, I am merely turning authors onto your blog so they can see how a blog should be implemented and managed.

So, sleep tight. I’m not a crazed fan.


R.W. Ridley

Back From BEA and Poorly Rested

Well, I zoomed into Los Angeles on Thursday, grabbed some cheap Chinese food and locked myself in my room cursing my advancing years and the three hour time difference between Charleston and Los Angeles. I worked the floor and met some interesting people, but the fun started when I hit the signing area. I only got two books signed. One I previously talked about, Dave Madden. The Partridge Family was a big part of my life growing up, and I still consider the comedic timing between Danny Bonaduce and Dave Madden one of the best of that era in sitcoms.

The second book I got signed was Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi, and I think I totally managed to freak Scalzi out. I consult with authors every day about how to market books online. I use Scalzi as an example of an author who has successfully built an online community and maintained a substantial fan base that basically serves has his volunteer sales force because they love him so much. This is what I should have told Scalzi, but instead I said. “John Scalzi! I’m a big fan of Old Man’s War and your blog. I talk about you every day.” To which my coworker Whitney said “Yes he does!” (It’s a small office, and we all hear each other’s phone conversations.) Scalzi looked somewhat alarmed as this 42-year-old man is staring him like a stalker. I never explained to him in what context I talk about him. I imagine he assumes I have pictures of him in my cube with candles burning and a plastic bag with a lock of his hair. I did get an ARC of Zoe’s Tale hastily signed by Scalzi with an eye towards the closest exit point.

I’ll be back here later to talk about my own signings. It was great getting to meet some of the readers, and a little strange at the same time.

If you’ve never been to BEA, go! It’s in New York next year. I’ll see you there.

Cory Doctorow and his Little Brother

Science Fiction author and Internet Celebrity, (We should come up with a word for that. How about “Internebrity?”) Cory Doctorow has a new young adult novel on the market, Little Brother. I haven’t read it myself, but it’s getting a lot of great buzz. I can tell you that another Science Fiction author and Internebrity, John Scalzi gives it a big recommend. Below is a video clip of the two authors interviewing each other. Doctorow is an interesting case study because he’s made it a common practice to give away the PDF versions of his book. In fact, he inspired me to do the same with my own book, The Takers. I’ve put Little Brother on my reading list. If you’ve read it, feel free to let the rest of us know what you thought of it.