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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The following blog is now featured at the new and improved Vincent Zandri Vox:
http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/2011/06/you-can-write-on-side.html?spref=fb



I just read a great blog by bestselling thriller author Aaron Patterson, who also happens to be my publisher at what might arguably be the most successful indie press in business right now: StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink. In his blog he talks about WORK, and how there's no real magic bullet when it comes to sales other than old fashioned hard work, the ability to adjust to new trends and circumstances, and personal character development that will allow you to ride out storms and low periods with a certain grace. Because after all, publishing is a cyclical business of terrific bursts of sales in which it seems the whole world is buying up your novels, and other periods of relative disinterest where you can't even get your mom to purchase a copy.

This afternoon, I will have a meeting with my agent to discuss interest from the major publishers in my new novel or novels. As many of you know I've published with the majors before, and recently, two of those novels, THE INNOCENT and GODCHILD have gone on to become major Amazon Kindle E-Book Bestsellers, both having hung out in the Top 100 for more than two months, and the former in the Top 10 for an equal amount of time. In fact, in three months time, I've moved around 200,000 of these E-Books. Which of course makes me, Vincent Zandri, Inc. register, or in this case re-register, on the radar of the biggies.

As many of you know, I believe that an author is best served by maintaining a mix of both indie press published books, self-published books, and traditional legacy published books. It seems to me the best way to maximize your sales and marketing potential while assuring you a nice financial cushion to rest your laurels on while you write. But the only thing I will be wary of when talking to my agent about a major deal is this: how long will my rights be tied up for? How much of an advance can I expect? What would be the advantages of a traditional deal over that of the deals I've struck up with my present publisher? What kind of lag time will there be between a contract offer and date of publication? What kind of royalty can I expect on E-Book publication? And how much will a traditional publisher charge for said book? (WARNING: I can name at least two very successful indie authors who signed with the biggies and who now, do not sell!!! Yikes!)

As I write this I can't help but think of those horrible couple of years I endured during the middle part of the last decade, when I couldn't get a book published if I pressed a pistol barrel to an editor's head. I was living in a big house in a suburb of Albany (my father in-law put up the down payment) with a woman I loved but who could no longer bear the writer's life, such as it was. Her parents were practically yelling at me to get a job or go back to work in my dad's construction business. "You can write on the side!" they insisted, with scowls on their faces. Even my wife insisted that I was selfish. And when she looked at me coldly and said, "I'm sorry the writing thing didn't work out," I knew that the time had come for me to get back to work writing the best book I could, even under circumstances that were pure domestic hell.

Even though my choices cost me my marriage, I've never regretted making the decision to remain a writer. In a real way, I don't feel that I had a choice but to remain a writer. For me, there is no other way to be; no other way for me to identify with myself. And today, I'm back to making a great living not only as a journalist, but mostly as a novelist. Now it's possible I'll be publishing with a major outfit once again. Of course, nothing here is a sure bet, and for all I know, the renewed interest in my work from NYC will fade away.

But somehow, I don't think so.

Somehow I believe I'm going to have to sit down with my friends God and Conscience and do some serious soul searching over the next few weeks. In any case, one thing will be for certain: I will continue to publish with my family at StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink for as long as they will have me , and I will one day (I know, I know, I keep saying it...) take the plunge and self-publish one or two of my novels. And, who knows, one day soon, I might sign on with a traditional publisher once again, for a book or two. If I do that, I will have come full circle.

Oh, and by the way, I ran into my former in-laws this past weekend at a play my six year old daughter was in. They are very nervous in front of me these days, and they can't find the strength to look me in the eye. As we exited the theater, I happened to mention about how I'd worked on the building many years ago "back when I was in the construction business." "Thank God I don't have to do that kind of work anymore," I added with a laugh. I guess I kind of expected a response. But they both just put their heads down, and walked quietly away.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)
 

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I'm not exactly sure what the focus of this post is, but if it's to say that you can't write on the side (have a day job) there are many, many successful authors who do it. 

It's quite possible.  It's done all the time.  Lots of authors wish to have only writing as a day job, but it isn't always possible.  Some authors even do better WITH a day job--with forced discipline and set hours to write.
 

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I'm glad you are so successful today, but your ex-wife and in-laws are a sad bunch. Sad because the in-laws abetted in talking your ex out of her marriage. Sad because she lost faith or couldn't see the potential in you. Sad because the bottom line was the family's love for you wasn't unconditional.

As writers I believe we are better parents in this aspect: We encourage kids to find what they love to do, and to do it well.  

Your daughter will learn, through your example, to follow her dreams. What an incredible gift.



 

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MariaESchneider said:
I'm not exactly sure what the focus of this post is, but if it's to say that you can't write on the side (have a day job) there are many, many successful authors who do it.

It's quite possible. It's done all the time. Lots of authors wish to have only writing as a day job, but it isn't always possible. Some authors even do better WITH a day job--with forced discipline and set hours to write.
Yeah, this. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a 'chin up!' sort of anecdote or an off-hand slam to those that actually DO have a full time job and write on the side. Just because you have two jobs doesn't mean you care about one less than the other...
 

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VincentZandri said:
nah, if anything, I totally support the "not all the eggs in one basket thing" which is why I'm still a journalist too...
Believe, I learned the hard way....
V
I really took that as very good advice as well.

I'm signed with an epublisher, signed with a small press, freelance in magazines, and self-publish. I might try my hand at larger press in a couple of years, depending upon the project.
 

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Her parents were practically yelling at me to get a job or go back to work in my dad's construction business. "You can write on the side!" they insisted, with scowls on their faces.
You know they weren't exactly incorrect in saying that. People do write on the side. They were worried about their daughter. They weren't trying to be mean.
 

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AnnaM said:
As writers I believe we are better parents in this aspect: We encourage kids to find what they love to do, and to do it well.
Your daughter will learn, through your example, to follow her dreams. What an incredible gift.
So, so true. Yes, there's a fine line between chasing a pipe dream and working hard towards a high, but achievable goal, and we can teach them that, too, but what message would I be sending to my children if I did nothing other than grind away at a day job I dislike, without pursuing my dreams "on the side"? Maybe I'll never sell 100,000 books, but I'm gonna have a good time trying!

--Maria
 

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I LOVED this post.  Nothing negative hit me here... but rather the voice screaming FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!!!!

Life is full of choices and cross roads - praise to you my friend for sticking out the path, no matter how dark.  I did something similar in March, giving up a full time job, moving an hour away into a place so that I have privacy to write.  Big huge massive *gulp* right there...

Congrats to you for all your success and your vision... I agree that as writers, why not take advantage of it all?  The rift between trad and indie should be broken - who cares?  It's about writing and getting books to readers.  Each path has its own advantages and disadvantages, of course.

I wish you the best luck in your decision and hope the NYC people give you a deal. 

Oh, and another great praise to you for constantly thinking about the press that has you now - shows tons of respect! :)


-jb 8)
 

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Asher MacDonald said:
You know they weren't exactly incorrect in saying that. People do write on the side. They were worried about their daughter. They weren't trying to be mean.
Just wanted to echo this.

I'm glad you've found success, but I admit your post rubbed me the wrong way as far as judging your in-laws so harshly for being concerned about the security and stability of their daughter and grand-daughter's lives. Your dream is important to you, but not having to worry and struggle financially is still important to the rest of your family. I'm sure your in-laws were aware that it's not impossible to write "on the side", and they were just asking you to make providing for your family just as big a priority as writing. That doesn't seem totally unreasonable to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh it's definitely true the in-laws were asking me to provide more security, but what I neglected to add is that when my ex-wife and I first met, I was on top with a mid six figure advance, and traveling all over and touring, and she was coming with to place like Paris and NYC, and it was all a great time. The parents were buying books and giving them to friends, etc. But then came a down-turn due to the corporate restructuring, and I was essentially out of work. So, the reason I kept at it is not only because I was only as good as my next book, but they had really enjoyed the good times, and now that things were "temporarily" difficult, they all seemed to want to bail...or something like that. Anyway, thank God we have shoulders or we'd constantly be looking at the past...Time to move forward:)
V
 

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Clearly this essay was NOT about the fact that you can't write on the side. It was a great essay -- just badly titled for this forum.

This forum tends to have a very literal "give me explicit instructions and a formula to follow" attitude, so that title really set people up to have the wrong expectations. It would have been a great title for the essay at the back of a slick magazine or something, but here it drew people to read it who are looking for encouragement and tips on how to write on the side.

Here's the thing I think those who take offense missed: Most of us have a day job and also write. Duh. This essay was not really about whether you have a day job, but about your attitude toward how important writing is to your life. For many of us, that full-time dayjob is the thing that's "on the side." Writing isn't.

With indie publishing, we're going to see more an more people who actually are writing as a hobby -- just as the OP's family expected. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's a different lifestyle. The OP's wife married someone who is A Writer first, and anything else is and always will be on the side, and she and her family just didn't understand that.

It was a great essay -- but it was just more about the human condition than a "how to" or opinion piece on whether you should or should not write on the side.

Camille
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It was a great essay -- but it was just more about the human condition than a "how to" or opinion piece on whether you should or should not write on the side.

Yup, you definitely hit the nail on the head. I didn't even think of other writers looking at it as a How To, but now I can see where they would have...You really can teach this old dog some new tricks....ha:)
Thanks again all for commenting...
Cheers
Vin
 

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daringnovelist said:
Here's the thing I think those who take offense missed: Most of us have a day job and also write. Duh. This essay was not really about whether you have a day job, but about your attitude toward how important writing is to your life. For many of us, that full-time dayjob is the thing that's "on the side." Writing isn't.
Camille
Ha! So true! At my house, we have developed a code for what Mom is doing when she's at her computer. The kids ask if I'm "working" or "goofing off", where we have defined "working" as writing or marketing my books, and "goofing off" as the stuff my current employer pays me to do.

:) Maria
 

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VincentZandri said:
So, the reason I kept at it is not only because I was only as good as my next book, but they had really enjoyed the good times, and now that things were "temporarily" difficult, they all seemed to want to bail...or something like that. Anyway, thank God we have shoulders or we'd constantly be looking at the past...Time to move forward:)
V
Now this adds a bit more to the story. I was trying to figure out what the posting was about, and this clarified things for me. "For Better and For Worse". So duing the good times, which also included writing as the main income, things were good, but during the bad times, a "temporary slump" they just couldn't hang on.

So yeah, they need to have their heads down. And you should feel good about that. A mistake on their part for not believing in you. It would have been a totally different story if you NEVER was at that point, but you were. And EVERYONE knows that a person who makes money can always make money again. They have the tools for it and the "know how". They won't be down for too long, at least no more than two-three years anyway. And if open communication was there to explain the steps you were doing to get back to the glory days, then I don't see a problem with that. They just didn't want to wait.

That's totally differeent from someone who keeps trying and trying and keep failing but not making logically steps to get to their dream. Some people need to go all out for their dream "Pursuit of Happiness" anyone?

On the flip side, sometimes it's hard to know when someone who is going after a dream is going to reach their goal and those who have the "pipe". Yet, I still believe there are signs that would tell one the difference.
 

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I think this provides a very valuable lesson for writers with partners: Make sure you are both on the same page in regards to what you want in a career/marriage/both. My husband is a freelance artist. Some years he pulls in money, some he does not. I am the one with the day job. It has never ever bothered me. My husband has always been a freelance artist, so it's not like this was a shocking revelation to me. We both knew going in that I was going to be the one with the dayjob.

A big change in relationship structure can really kill a marriage, because both partners might not be happy with the change. Sadly, these are not conversations most of us have ahead of time.
 

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daringnovelist said:
Clearly this essay was NOT about the fact that you can't write on the side. It was a great essay -- just badly titled for this forum.

This forum tends to have a very literal "give me explicit instructions and a formula to follow" attitude, so that title really set people up to have the wrong expectations. It would have been a great title for the essay at the back of a slick magazine or something, but here it drew people to read it who are looking for encouragement and tips on how to write on the side.

Here's the thing I think those who take offense missed: Most of us have a day job and also write. Duh. This essay was not really about whether you have a day job, but about your attitude toward how important writing is to your life. For many of us, that full-time dayjob is the thing that's "on the side." Writing isn't.

With indie publishing, we're going to see more an more people who actually are writing as a hobby -- just as the OP's family expected. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's a different lifestyle. The OP's wife married someone who is A Writer first, and anything else is and always will be on the side, and she and her family just didn't understand that.

It was a great essay -- but it was just more about the human condition than a "how to" or opinion piece on whether you should or should not write on the side.

Camille
What Camille said.

I think this is an exciting time for authors, who may actually become the engine of publishing. And there are many many choices to be made. I think it's good to be as diversified as you can be, because one stream of income can dry up. (Hope not, because that's all I have right now.) You have to really think about your choices, and I'm glad for the info you've given us today. As writers, we have to think smart. Not just with our hearts, not just with our heads, but with a combination of both. Thank you, Vin. You have straightened me out more than once! I owe you, brother.
 
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