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How To Lose a Third of a Million Dollars Without Really Trying

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by A. E. Lowan, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    They were given 6 figures twice and managed to squander it? Got to be honest, that's on them, and I'd be real happy if I had the opportunity to risk becoming a cautionary tale like this!
     
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  3. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    Agreed. I think it proves that artists are pretty silly people. But it also proves that we MUST be our own best advocates for our professional lives.

    And speaking of silly, ignore that I misspelled "Really." I was yelling at the cat. >.<
     
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  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    She keeps calling it a pay cut - which I think shows that she's thinking about it all wrong. It's not a job. She wrote the book, and she sold the book. That's not the same thing at all.
     
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  7. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    Thing is, it is a job. Just one paid by a lunatic with little rhyme or reason - or so it seems most days. You have to think of writing as a job to be able to churn out one or two or three books a year, to show up everyday at your desk (or wherever) and make pages. It just doesn't pay like a normal job.
     
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Publishing a book is much closer to running your own business than it is to a job or to freelancing work. You've got a product and you're selling it through distributors. Seems pretty straightforward.
     
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  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I have known several people with radically different jobs who ended up in similar straights.

    My older brother died back in the 90's. He'd checked all the right boxes on the various insurance and benefit forms. His wife (cashier/custodian with the school district) got the house free and clear, plus six digits in cash (be substantially more today), plus a check for her preteen daughter. She blew through the entire heap and then some in just three years. Trips. Golf clubs (gold plated perhaps?) Other stuff. At the end of that time all she had to show for it was a new husband and a half built garage on a house with a second mortgage.

    About fifteen years ago, tail end of my pizza delivery days, I worked with a guy who came into a barely six digit judgment as a result of a medical malpractice suit (close relative died on the operating table, basically). Now, he wasn't rich, had kids - and debts. Bill collectors came swarming out of the woodwork, and latched onto a big slice of that pile. The rest, he and the wife just sort of blew through. Clothes. Vacation. That sort of stuff. Then one day he woke up and realized that six digit stack now stood at less than fifteen grand. He put his foot down *hard.* Stopped all the BS spending. Bought a decent used car, used the remainder as a down payment on a modest house. The wife was so severely ticked off she dang near divorced him.

    Then there is the other extreme. Can't say I knew the guy - nobody did, the last ten-fifteen years of his life - but there was an old homesteader hereabouts who struck it rich in real estate - his 160 acre homestead became a pricey subdivision. He became richer yet when his relatives died. Then things took a ugly turn. My involvement came about as a quest for a dependable used vehicle - a 'running around' rig. Dad said he knew of one I could latch onto at an estate sale he was headed to; he'd already bought a generator and needed some help getting it moved. When I mentioned it to my aged boss at the time, he became highly interested. We followed narrow back roads way out in the woods, past the utility lines I expected the usual cabin and shop type deal found on the older homesteads, Instead, there was a clearing in the woods dotted with CONEX units (metal transport containers normally toted by semi's. Surrounding these units was literally pile after pile of trash, along with crates and canisters, giving a sort of 'meth-lab in a landfill' vibe. Giant dumpster in back - not the wimpy compact car sized ones, but one big enough to park a pickup in. Poked around a bit. Started noticing things - like high end, top quality power and shop tools in the one CONEX unit. About thirty fishing poles, each with an easy three digit price tag. Good quality solar panels and inverter's. And the generator, a mechanical beauty in its own right. But living quarters? Well, that was just a single room in the end of the one CONEX unit. Anyhow, we loaded up the generator and waited for the estate executor to show up with the vehicle (a van). Talked some more. Learned this was the third time they'd had that size of dumpster out at this place. She spoke of mailing thirty some boxes, each 50+ pounds, packed with silver. Finally gave some money for the van and left. More talking on the way home. Seems that homesteader went a bit wacko - actually a lot wacko - during his last couple of decades. Feuds with surviving relatives. Feuds with the IRS - story goes he was supposed to have buried a CONEX unit filled with treasure at one point. Refused to pay taxes. In the end he retreated to this...dump site...and faded from view. In his will, he attempted (and failed) to leave the estate to a two year old. Yes, he was loaded. But was it worth decades of paranoia and isolation?
     
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  10. Yora

    Yora Sage

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    I've always been of the opinion that trying to make a living as an artist is insane. First you have to become a succesful artist, then you can start thinking whether your art makes enough money to live off.
     
  11. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Following along with ThinkerXThinkerX's stories, I was also reminded of a few I've read over the years, where some low-paid employee—a janitor here, a school teacher there—had built up a fortune over decades simply by living moderately and saving cash.

    Yeah, it's like many corporations. You have a great product that practically flies off the shelves, but you either have to keep developing new products, innovating, or over time you'll end up without a business. Which has happened many times in our economy. One-hit wonders in music, or actors who leapt into the public consciousness via a single role who subsequently disappeared: examples in art. Not everyone produces a Minecraft that can keep going and going and going forever bringing in the big bucks.
     
  12. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    That's exactly it. Writing is a volume business. Book series - especially in my genre, urban fantasy - traditionally don't pick up steam until Book 5 or 6. To merely survive you have to put out one or two or three, preferably two or three, books a year just to keep up with demand, so multiple series are recommended. A slower writer like me struggles with this pace, though we're working on ways to speed up my production.

    Gaming is an excellent example. Games like Minecraft and Warcraft stay popular because they are always releasing new content, keeping players interested. In writing a series, we're basically doing the same: releasing new content. It's the reason for the flashes and shorts and standalones between the numbered books.
     
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  13. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    And here I thought I was an artist and not a factory.

    Sorry, carry on.
     
  14. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    That's the state of the arts. It's not what we dreamed of but it's what we've got.
     
  15. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Maybe we could seek patrons? Find an Elon Musk or Pope Francis or Donald Trump who will let us live in a little cottage on their estate while supporting our artistic endeavors? Are there any de Medici still alive and not already tapped out? :whistle:
     
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  16. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Well... You can alway try the Monk route and see PF thinks about the deal?
    A few years back there was a local news story about a Potter that had moved in to a Widow's garden shed after the war and had spent 30-40 years making ceramics and living rent free. He had to move when she died and her relatives through him out. It was a very nice garden shed by the way...
     
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  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    There are .... not really any more of those. There are plenty of patrons, but they shoot for breadth in the way they support the arts. For instance there's tiny island resort that's been dedicated to letting writers live in peace and write, but they'll only take people for a few weeks. I suppose the next best thing is to become a publishing house darling, and let them be your patron, but then again, that's what lead us to this conversation. Anyways a benevolent patron of the arts could drop you as easily as a company, so it's not better.
     
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  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Yeah, you'd probably have to dedicate every book to them, with effusive praise, or else write only on the themes and subject matter they wanted for your works, to even have a chance for long-lasting patronage.

    Wait, am I talking about the publishing houses or the single wealthy eccentrics? I forget.
     
  19. Slartibartfast

    Slartibartfast Dreamer

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    The first article was a bit hard to swallow. After being paid mega-bucks for her first five loss-making books, instead of being cast out of the fold she was paid double the profits of her previous book to try again... and offered an extra contract which she turned down. Yet the tone indicates that she seems to think this (along with the paucity of spontaneously materialising mentors and consultants) is unfair. She's now 'merely' making double the average advance despite not exactly having a stellar record of making money for her publisher.

    A part of me feels pretty bad that she was disappointed but we can all ignore our debts, have a millionaires weekend and be broke by the second of the month. She just got to do it with more money than most of us will ever see.
     
  20. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Something, something, Patreon. Why choose one patron if you can have many?

    Making that work however...
     
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