Friday, July 21, 2006

Some money arrived in my letterbox yesterday. $25 dollars as payment for my story (currently out in print in Fables and Reflections 8).

It's always nice to get payment for a story, particularly at the moment where the bills seem to be greater than the sum of all else.

It got me to thinking about writing and income.

Since 2004 I've won a couple of prizes in competitions and had a few small press publications.

Some of those publications are unpaid eg. Antipodean SF. There is nothing wrong with unpaid markets. These market (in fact almost all small press markets) are run by folks who do it for love, giving up their time to read through piles of submissions, pick stories they like, edit said stories and get them into print be in on paper or the web.

Some of these markets are what are called 'fanzines'. Fables and Reflections is a good example of this. Lily puts F&R together once or twice a year. Pulling together four or five stories, a couple of reviews and an essay usually. She edits and prints on paper. She has just lifted the rate she is paying for stories from $10 a story to $25 a story - moving her from being a fanzine to a semi-pro market. She's paying for the printing, paying the writers and hoping to sell enough copies of the publication to fund the next one.

Ticonderoga Online pays $25 a story and prints online - so the cost of paper printing is saved - but yet again I'm not sure where the income comes from to pay the writers - probably out of the pockets of the dedicated editors.

My one 'professional' market sale has been to 'Shadowed Realms' a webzine. Once again Ange puts this together as an act of love. She and her team read slush, pick stories, edit and then publish to web every second month. She receives no income for the publication that I'm aware of and pays writers 8 cents a word. It's a short fiction market (up to 1000 words).

American markets for short stories tend to be a little higher paying than Australian. Strange Horizons will pay 5c (US) a word for stories. Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine 6 - 9 c (US) a word. Just like Australia there are also a range of smaller fanzines and semi-pro that pay smaller amounts.

What am I trying to say? I guess I'm ruminating on the fact that writing and publishing at this end of the market is an act of love, not just by the writers but also by the publishers / editors. Most of us won't write a JK Rowlings style best-seller. Those of us that do write and sell a novel can expect to receive approximately $5000 (give or take a thousand or so) for our first novel. If we sell it. Many novellists never make enough money from writing to give up the day job and write full time - and if they do they are often earning considerably less that your standard day job pays.

Since 2004 when I started trying to write seriously and get my words into print I've earned approximately $233 from writing. (Which to be honest I'm pretty chuffed about. I also won half a dozen books for a flash fiction competition I won.)

I've spent far more than I've earned on attending Cons, writing workshops, buying paper and mailing off stories to competitions and publications. Why? For the love.


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